Still finding it hard to believe that I'm the 'first' to review this rod. I would have figured such a product would have garnered much more attention and interest, and those who've bought would have been screaming it's praises!
I've been in the market this winter for a 12 wt big game rod for a trip to Christmas Island to chase GT's and blue water fishes, and to finally have a rod for tarpon along the east Texas coast. Most of my salt water experience has been with 8 and 10 wt class roads for inshore species (redfish and speckled trout) and estuary coho, pink, and Chinook salmon. Have done enough to know what I like insofar as an action for effectively and efficiently casting in the salt water environment. I picked up a 12 wt Altus and Volant rod, taking advantage of the '30 Day Test Drive' option. The Volant has pages of reviews and sufficient press to know its a well liked rod. The Altus....crickets... This review is for the 12 wt. platform....in December....in Idaho....with tropical fly lines (Airflo GT).... Not the most ideal conditions, but what do you do??
To keep this simple - What I Like..... and What I ????
What I like -
- Light, progressive fast-ish medium fast action, with a s**-ton of reserve power in the butt section of this rod. The tip has a nice flex, with strength. the mid and butt sections progressively stiffen, but are still active. In my two comparative casting sessions with this and the Volant, this rod could flat out shoot. Two doubles and I could throw 100' of line with out issue...to target. Shorten things up, and in ready position with one haul back and forward, and 30-60' of accurately thrown line was easily achieved. And at under 30' - with that flexing tip - accurately thrown casts that turn a weighted fly over every time. Loops, while not 'lazer sharp', where tight - 2-3' max - and consistent in their lack of 'wave.'
- Some of the best lateral stiffness I've felt in a long time. I had to work at creating tailing loops with this rod. Even with my questionable technique, the rod and resulting loop of line stayed on plane. No wind knots, no collisions with line and fly, smooth, easy, effective turnover every time. This wasn't something I fully appreciated until I cast this rod. Damn, I'm impressed.
- This rod is light in hand, and light in cast. I have a 10 wt. with a heavier swing weight than this rod. I can truly see my self casting this rod for extended periods of time without much consequence. I could really feel the difference in the amount of (or lack there of) torque on my casting wrist with this rod, when compared to the Volant. This one won't hurt as much at the end of the day, nor will it feel like the rod is trying to twist out of your hand when you cast.
- Excellent fit and finish, and attention to detail. Oversized (i.e. longer) reel seat - check; quality cord - check; clean and well finished guide wraps - check; solid lockup of sections - check. Very impressed.
Am still playing with this rod, sure there will be more plusses as I work with it. I'm looking forward to testing the strength of against Christmas Island GT's in April, will report then;
Ok, my ???'s
- Only one stripping guide (on a 12 wt.), and an undersized one at that, when compared to industry standards. Fascinating. Not what I expected. By comparison, the Volant had your very typical tall, over sized 20, and then 16, corrosion resistant, inserted stripping guides. This one's got a short 16, then straight to snake guides. That's a first on a saltwater rod of this caliber. Talked to the Allen Folks - the response was primarily focused on weight savings. Which I get, having built enough of my own rods. And likely influences the pluses I ID'd above - swing weight, lightness in hand. But still looks odd. Did I miss oversized and the extra stripper? Apparently not. This rod outperformed the Volant with distance and generated line speed, something the over sized and tall strippers on the Volant should have improved on. So, there ya go...... Allen may be on to something. Will definitely re-assess how I build my own future salt water rods.
- Teeny tiny lil' tip top is concerning. And will be replaced. Noticeably different from the Volant, and I have my concerns about clearing leader knots on hot fish. Likewise, the last 3-4 snake guides at the tip seem undersized as well. Not so easy to replace, we'll see how that fares.
- The grip....My hands are just not a fan. For my big mitts, just too small, can feel hand fatigue with that configuration. I've seen similar profiles on other manufactures rods for the bigger saltwater sticks. Not sure why. Will prolly put a shrink-wrap sleeve on and try that. This is mostly a personal gripe, just how my hands are, but like a fuller grip, similar to what was on the Volant.
So, there ya go... One LONG-ASS winded review of a rod I'm anxiously awaiting to fish, but what I feel is a hell of a 'sleeper', at least in the big game market of rods. Again, I'm really surprised there haven't been other reviews of this rod series. If you've gotten off the 'Fastest and Most Furious' bandwagon trend of ultra fast-action rods that everyone else seems to think saltwater fishers want, and are ready to cast a powerful, pleasurable rod that will enhance your casting, step up, think you'll be happy....