Well,I am a BIG Loomis fan and have been since the older IMX's first got into my hands.I have quite a few Loomis IMX rods from 8-9 1/2ft (as well as several 10ft GLX rods),but all are the older Signature rods that were and are still talked about frequently when the subject of best all time flyrods come up.I simply LOVE these discontinued blanks and fish them often.
After making the GLX no longer available to rodbuilders,Loomis reintroduced the IMX as a blank only and in 3pc models.From what I have heard,they are not exactly the same and the new IMX,which is labelled "SLATE" has a different scrim(someone mentioned it being fiberglass instead of graphite but I can't confirm that) on it so it is slightly heavier.Most reports have been that it is still a very good blank(IF you can get a straight one which many have had problems with and Loomis is less than helpful in dealing with these problems after the fact because they don't pay much attention to the rodbuilding area and haven't for some time now),but it is slightly heavier and not quite a sweet and crisp a feel to it.I can't confirm just how much of a difference there is between the new and old models,but I haven't heard enough praise about them being just as good as they use to be so that makes me wonder.Everyone still talks about the older IMX fly blanks though.They were very sweet.
With the Dan Craft blanks,most people who have used them feel they are without a doubt,dollar for dollar/best bang for the buck,the best blanks out there and I would have to agree 100%.I have quite a few already and plan on using them almost exclusively for all my future rods.There are as good as any rod I've thrown but are a fraction of the price.
I have 5 or 6 right now consisting of mostly his 3pc SIG V series which are INCREDIBLY fast recovering blanks and some of the lightest blanks you will ever see.They are even lighter than a Loomis GLX blank(I also have some FT's in the works very soon) and have compared them to rods like my Loomis IMX and GLX sticks.The SIG V's were similar in action(maybe a bit faster) to my IMX rods as far as where in the blank it bends first under load(about 1/4-1/3 down from the tip making it a medium fast action blank),but definitely has MUCH,MUCH faster recovery than my IMX rods and creates higher line speeds with less effort.The SIG V's actually have some of the fastest recovery speed I've ever seen in a blank.As fast or faster than my GLX.They were not as tip action as my GLX rods,but were easily as fast in recovery(maybe faster) and were actually lighter and easier to cast than my GLX's.I found I could get the same line speeds and distance with less effort on the SIG V's.The fact that these blanks cost a fraction of what the Loomis rods do makes them a much better deal IMHO and a serious threat to big rod company sales once more people get out there and try them.
I've cast my 10ft 7wt and 10ft 8wt SIG V's side by side with my Loomis GLX 10ft 7wt,10ft 8wt,and 10ft 9wt rods and it was a toss up as far as the blank's performance goes(I loved each but for different reasons),but the fact that the SIG V's are lighter(a 10ft 8wt SIG V weighs about the same,or maybe even less,than most companies 9ft 6wt blanks,have the same warranty,and are only $90-110US makes them a MUCH better blank for the buck and I wouldn't dream of using anything else now unless I just had to have a rod with a different look from matte grey,LOL.With all the savings on just the blanks alone I have been able to truely go to town on components(high end ceramic guides for the whole rod,flor grade/or burl cork,Venneri seats for freshwater rods and either REC or Struble seats for salt) to build the ultimate rods in looks,quality,and performance,and STILL keep the cost down to being below 1/2 the price of a factory built Loomis or Sage rod of a similar performance blank built with low to mid end components and mediocre cork.Actually,the Dan Craft SIG V would end up being less than 1/2 the price,yet with the WAY better guides,the SIG V rods are actually the better performing rods between them due to the guide performance gains).
I can't recommend the SIG V enough and if you do a search on www.rodbuilding.org
you'll find dozens of posts that all say the same thing.EVERYONE raves about these blanks.
The new FT model has created more buzz lately on this site than any blank I can ever remember.It is a VERY unique and versatile blank with similar characteristics to the Sage TCR,only the FT is actually more powerful and faster.I've actually read a few posts from a guy who tournament casts and uses a TCR(as almost everyone else in the tournament did as well).He said if the FT had been available he would have chosen it first in an instant,as would his coleagues once they too got to sample the FT.It's a casting machine,but one with more feel.It is litterally a rod that can not only do it's job,but also do the job of an extra 3 rods over it's line weight.One 4wt rod for example could do everything expected from 4-8wt rods,including cast the full line with each.All you need is one rod,one reel and 4 spools,each with a different line weight from 4-8 and you could litterally take just this one rod along for all these needs.This is what guys are finding out.
The FT doesn't sound like the kind of rod I would want if say I wanted a true 6wt but already had a 5wt and a 7wt because it's just too versatile and wouldn't really fit in between them,BUT if I wanted one or two travel rods that could handle a large variety of line weights and flies,as well as handle big fish while still being soft enough in the tip for delicate work,these would be on my must have list.A 3wt and a 6wt FT for example would have you covered from 3wt lines all the way up to 9wt.
I'm not sure how many people here are familiar with the Common Cents System that builders are using to measure the action,and power a blank has(a new property known as "frequency" that several people,including the CCS developer,are working on will soon be added to these existing ones and from what I gather,this will also allow a way to measure blank recovery speed or something),but I'm sure you've often heard people say things like,"this is a 6wt rod but it feels more like a 8wt and it will cast 7wt rod a mile".Well,the CCS can measure the blank's properties and see just how much power it actually has and just exactly what the action is.
Back to the rods,some of the Sage TCR rods have been measured with the CCS and the results show that they tend to be over rated by about 2 lines.By this I mean a typical 8wt normally falls into the 8.0-8.9 range(I'm not sure if this is accurate I'm just ball parking here).The higher the number is,the more power the blank has.The Sage TCR 8wt has a power rating(ERN) of 10.70 which is what most fast action 10wts would be.Having that extra power is what allows for guys to hold more line in the air for longer distances.The action of most TCR's is also quite fast(faster than almost every other fly rod out there) with a action angle(AA) of 73 which is a very tip action blank.These features make the TCR a long distance specialty rod but people have said that in close they just don't have enough "feel".The Dan Craft FT takes the TCR and makes it more fishable believe it or not by making the action even faster!The more flexible the tip,the faster the action,but the more flexible the tip,the more delicate it is and easier to load with light lines.
The new 4pc Dan Craft FT has posted the highest ERN and AA numbers ever recorded by the CCS system so far as far as fly rod blanks go.These blanks are INCREDIBLY powerful(even more so than the TCR) and SUPER fast action(faster than the TCR) and believe it or not,can cast up to 4 line weights over their rated line weight(and we're not talking short distance casting,LOL).For example,the 4pc 9ft 6wt had an astonishing ERN(power) of 9.38(as much as many 9wt rods out there) and a ultra fast action angle(AA) of 77.This rod has rediculous power through it for distance casts where lots of line or large flies need to be airialized and when large fish need to be handled,yet the super fast action and flexible tip allows great close in fishing at almost any range,allows the rod to protect light tippets,and allows the rod to bend enough in the top 1/2 to make playing smaller fish fun(the lighter line weights are even more versatile).
Even though this 6wt blank has the power of a 9wt,it will cast a 6wt line perfectly from 15ft all the way out to 100+.Not only that,but even though the tip is very flexible and thin,it is not weak so guys are throwing FULL 7,8,and even full 9wt lines on this rod as well.Hell,guys are actually throwing full 7wt lines and large flies on the 8ft6 3wt model(it has a ERN of 7.15 and a AA of 77) to tackle some pretty big fish,yet that same rod will cast a 3wt line and deliver tiny flies with delicacy perfectly at all distances as well and bend enough in the top 1/2 to make small fish fun.They are about as versatile as any rod could ever be and guys simply can't stop talking about them(as you can see here,LOL).Best of all,they are only $90US!
For some reason the 10ft FT rods were made differently from the 9ft models and they have very different ERN and AA numbers.I guess they had a different design(not as fast and not quite as powerful) that makes them more like the SIG V for some reason(only Dan Craft knows why he changed the 10ft models but so far all the feedback on these has been EXEPTIONAL).EVERYONE who has tried these rods so far has been impressed with Bob Meiser writing several posts there on rodbuilding.org regarding the 10ft models.He said the 10ft 10wt was the best rod of that size he has ever cast and he had nothing but praise for the 10ft models that he made into switch rods(single or double hand) after extensive casting and fishing with all kinds of single and spey lines,HEAVY heads,and BIG fish.
Anyways,sorry for the LONG rambling session but these are GREAT blanks(both the SIG V for a specialty rod if you need a single line weight,or FT for a super fast,super powerful and versatile rod) and a real steal at their current prices so I wanted to share the word with others.Between these and the current Loomis offerings it's no contest IMHO.Very few people seem to be using Loomis now for rodbuilding since Shimano took over because there have been too many quality control and customer service problems.Dan Craft on the other hand is one of the most popular and well respected brands out there at this time.The All Star Austin and St Croix SCIV and SCV are also turning heads.Anyone considering building a rod should at least check them all out and read what others are saying on www.rodbuilding.org
Lastly,I have absolutely no affiliation with Dan Craft(never met him,just a very happy customer),but anyone who has done business with him will tell you the same thing.You can't go wrong and I will never build on another Loomis again as long as Dan's blanks are out there.
Hope this helps some ast.pierre.You definitely won't regret either a 3pc 10ft(it's actually closer to 9ft9) 8wt SIG V or 4pc 10ft 8wt FT.They both ROCK.