Test casted a bunch of rods
I visited Scott at Bears Den today and he spent a good part of the afternoon letting me cast rods. For those who are interested, I thought I'd share my impressions of the rods I tried:
Winston Boron IImx 10 wt--feels a lot like a nine weight; is very light weight with a medium fast action; like most Winston rods, a pleasure to cast. Would probably be the easiest 10 wt of the ones I tried to cast all day. I couldn't get quite as much distance with this rod as with some of the others, but shortening up the amount of line I was carrying in my false cast and shooting more line helped with distance.
Thomas and Thomas Horizon II 10 wt--the other extreme from the Winston. A very powerful rod that really shot line well and could carry a ton of line outside the guides on false casts. I liked the feel of this rod quite a bit, but my impression is that it might suit someone with a bigger frame. Still, I think it would be the best rod with big fish and heavy sinking lines.
GLoomis 10 wt--this was the one that gave me the best loops and the most distance. It felt a little bulkier than some of the other rods (bigger diameter blank), but wasn't heavy. Scott didn't have a 10 wt Sage Xi2 in stock (he's ordering one), but he said most people find the Sage and Loomis similar. I want to compare this and the Sage--I have a feeling one of these two will be the right rod for me, unless it's the following:
Loop Opti 10 wt--Scott just got these in the store today. This was a very interesting rod with some novel features (like removable weights to balance the reel). It was somewhere between the Winston and the other rods in feel and weight. I got a bit more distance out of it than I did the Winston, though not as much as I could get from the T&T and Loomis. Still it shot line very well. I need to cast this one again before I make up my mind. It's a neat stick and less bulky than all the 10 wts except the Winston and with a bit more power than the Winston.
Sage Xi2 9 wt--Scott didn't have the 10 wt in stock, but he had the nine weight and I tried that last. It felt like a 3 wt after casting all those 10 wts. This rod had a fast action with a stiff butt section, but the tip felt notably flexible. I was able to make very tight loops with the rod, but had to be careful not to overpower the tip and catch my leader. I'll be interested to see how the 10 wt version of this feels. Compared with the other rods, the Sage 9 wt felt most similar to the Winston to me, but I think this was more because the Winston felt so much like a 9 wt than because of similarity in casting feel. The Sage action seems to be more of a two-part action, very fast in the butt section but much softer in the tip, while the winston is more consistently medium-fast in both butt and tip. Or at least that's how it felt to me.
When Scott gets the Sage Xi2 10 wt in, I'll head back to try again and make up my mind. Scott carries Scott rods too--I didn't cast those today, but they're probably worth trying next time as well. It's neat to cast so many different rods together like this--you get a very good sense of how subtely--and not so subtely--different they all are. Only problem is I kind of liked all of them, which makes it awfully hard to decide.