A look at the 5wt & 7wt Salt Combo’s by Vagabond Fly
The 9’ 5wt fly rod category is surely the globe’s most popular choice of fly fishing tool. The length is universally accepted as a standard & the 5wt weapon offers anglers an incredibly versatile stick to chase any number of species irrespective of where you are in the world. And when matched with an appropriate reel… well then you can just about target anything your nerves would allow.
With this in mind it is little wonder then that we at Vagabond Fly work our way through our fair share of 9” 5wt rod & reel combos and have become pretty particular to what we like, & very often in what application we enjoy different rod characteristics. In other words, we are more fortunate than most! Needless to say however, after our first experience with the GR70 Salt 7wt we were excited to have a pop with the GR70’s 5wt little brother to compare notes. We wanted to see if we could justify recommending this 5wt combination to the average fly fisherman for all his ‘5wt target species’? And the answer is a resounding YES. Then we asked, could we find a reason not to recommend the GR70 Salt 7wt as the next potential rod in your armory? That answer is an easy no!
The Review Lab
Greys® GR70 9ft 5wt RRP – ZAR 4995 (£ 229.99)
Greys® GR70 Salt 9ft 7wt RRP – ZAR 6995 (£ 329.99)
Greys® GX 900 4/5/6 REEL – ZAR 2899 (£ 54.99)
Greys® GX 900 6/7/8 REEL – ZAR 2999 (£ 69.99)
The reality most fly anglers face is that of a single rod for all applications & when the option to purchase another combo arises, it is almost certainly in another weight class to target a different selection of fish rather than a second 5wt. So the 5wt you choose had better be versatile and the additional rod in you quiver similarly needs to be equally effective.
The average fly fisherman will use his 5wt for everything! Ok, so, we chased everything! From Carp to Yellowfish, from Barbel to Bass we threw this GR70 5wt & GX900 combo at every single species that crossed our path for a good few months. We had the opportunity to cast a few different fly lines on it and particularly enjoyed the Scientific Anglers Mastery MPX as the most versatile solution to match our casting circumstances.
No scenario presented itself where we felt outgunned or in need of a superior weapon – this fact pleasantly surprised us!
Editors note: We must make it clear that we were not chasing GT’s in the salt but reasonably testing the GR70 5wt under realistic circumstances.
We then played double-trouble, loaded tackle & carried both the 9” 5wt & 9” 7wt Salt rods on a few excursions to get a handle on what anglers could expect if they opted to get cozy with the GR70 & GX900 ranges through the weight classes. The transition between rods was easy & having some familiarity with the action made handling the different animals a breeze; the change-up between 5wt & 7wt may seem insignificant but the reality is they do offer their own set of challenges. We made a point of switching between targeting Carp to Yellowfish & African Sharp Tooth Catfish (Barbell) & Largemouth Yellowfish on a whim; challenging the rod taper & reel balance to let us down, it never did.
The Outfit & Aesthetics
The GR70 is Greys Fishing flagship rod and when you inspect the finishes you can see why. The range is beautifully made boasting AAA cork for the handle & a sexy woven carbon reel seat. The GR70 range uses line-up marks to ensure perfect section alignment & the first impression when waving both the 5wt & 7wt Salt around is that they are light in the hand & quick to reload, and then well balanced with the matching GX900 reels.
The GX900 Reel is hard to find fault with either. The rulon disc drag system certainly held up against everything we threw at it, and although we didn’t pick up anything to screech the reel we most definitely used the drag to its full effect on a few occasions. Forcing the brakes on some lunkers hell bent on overhanging foliage & undercut banks on both the 5wt & 7wt Salt setups.
The only criticism we have is that of the rod tube. The sectioned rod tube is great for the weekend fly fisher but not so great for those who dally with different rods for fun & like to carry a forest of rods wherever they go.
Where does the GR70 & GX900 Combo shine?
We would happily describe the GR70 & GX900 reel (in both the 5wt & 7wt setups) as lethal all-round street brawlers that gets the job done! Robust & strong we pulled fish hard & cast big flies a long way. We also turned over big heavy flies at close quarters & drifted small nymphs through rough currents chasing Yellowfish and we were never left wanting.
Did we feel like magicians waving a wand? No! Did we feel like manly men hunting our targets? Oh hell yes… and what more do you want if you are in the fly fishing game to chase fish, play hard & enjoy your time on the water. Are there more delicate rods? Yes! Are there more versatile options? You are pushing your luck! Do you get better all round, robust combination deals? Start scratching friends!
When you peel away the hype around fly fishing gear and equipment, what you are left with is a tool for catching fish on fly. Do you want a tool that will last a lifetime with the backbone to heave long lines & with a spine hard enough to pressure fish to the surface? Then here you have it, and you have a range that could potentially open the world of fly fishing by making such quality so affordable. Don’t look past Greys Fishing GR70 and GR70 Salt Range of rods or their GX900 Reels.
We can happily tell you that even being in a fortunate position that allows us access to multiple rod & reel combinations these two set-ups still certainly have a space in our armory!