About a year ago, I found out from T&T that they are making Horizon II in 9'6" and 10' (all 3-piece) length for 5wt - 10wt only for Reading's Fly Shop in Lebanon, Missouri. From the description I got, I became very interested in them and called the fly shop. After spending some time talking about these rods with Charlie Reading, the owner of the shop, I decided to give one a try.
So, I bought a 9'6" 5wt, followed by a 9'6" 8wt later on, and tried it in various situations. I was just amazed how well they handle various things I wanted them to do. Both are fast or medium-fast rod with a remarkably smooth bend curve. They seem soft at first, especially in the top half, but does have more than enough backbone in the butt to handle heavy works. This 5wt is a great all around trout rod in medium to large rivers. It can throw heavily weighted nymphs and streamers (I tried up to size 4 with extra-heavy coneheads) easily 70', yet it can beautifully handle sensitive works with a 7X tippet, fishing midges on the surface and protecting the fine tippet. Roll casts and single-handed Spey casts are really easy with this rod, too. Just a super versitile rod. It's a rod desinged to do just about everything so well, not a rod designed to do one thing super well. Interestingly, the rod feels like a 9' rod when casting. Charlie says that the 10' version does feel like it has some extra length.
Now, even more amazing is the 9'6" 8wt. It shares the overall feel with the 5wt counterpart, and feels like a 9' rod. It's so smooth yet has a lot of hidden power in the butt. I have used it for steelheading and flats fishing, and have been so impressed with its great casting capabilities. I wouldn't call it a long-distance casting rod, although I can double-haul 100' comfortably with it all day. It handles short casts and long casts equally well - no jerky motions required, just a smooth and relaxed stroke will do the job. It loads so well with only several feet of line out because of its fairly soft tip, yet its strong butt doesn't collapse with 60' of line out (with SA XXD 8wt). It's an amazing single-handed Spey tool as well. I used double-Spey and single-Spey with it, reaching 70' or bit more (no kidding) on single-Spey casts (again, the line was SA XXD 8wt). On the flats, it's a wonderful rod for going after small bonefish (up to 24" or so) so long as the wind is 20mph or less. It's my favorite rod for local bonefishing on relatively calm days when I don't expect those 30"+ bones to be on the flats.
I'm now considering a 9'6" 10wt HII.
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