It’s the start of trout season in Maine. That means it’s time to dust off my trusty Lamson Litespeed, put on my fleece and wading jacket and start reviewing trout rods! First up for 2016 is the brand new Douglas Sky. If you don’t know Douglas, you should definitely be checking them out as they are making some of the best fly rods at much more affordable prices.
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Fit and Finish
One big difference between the Sky and other rods in the high-end price range is fit and finish. While Korean rods perform as well as their US-made counterparts, they just don’t look as nice. While the production version of the Sky is still a big upgrade from the prototype we saw at iCast last year, it is still lacking the awesomeness of rods like Scott and Winston. But then again, it’s also lacking the price tag as well.
There are also a couple of quirks that are worth mentioning. First, the rod sock is definitely the first I’ve seen of its kind on the market. It’s made out of a mesh material that has some sort of softer material in the middle. It probably protects the rod better than anything on the market, but it’s also a lot bulkier. If you’ve got a multi-rod tube, you’ll definitely want to pick up a new rod sock before your trip. The other oddity is the stripping guide which is angled upward. Again, I assume there’s a really good reason for this, but it looks a little weird when you first pick up the rod.
The Sky weighs 3.05 ounces (86.6 grams). It’s not the world’s lightest rod, but it feels pretty light in hand.
The Sky has TONS of power. Casting this rod side-by-side with the Hardy Zenith reveals that the Sky is actually the longer rod. As far as all-around trout rods go, this one has more distance than just about any rod out there. If you need more reach, you’ll have to go for an ultra-fast rod like the Sage Method.
I cast the Sky side-by-side with the Hardy Zenith. At 30’, neither rod is amazing, but the Hardy was the more accurate rod. Oddly, I preferred the presentation of the Sky, which definitely was more delicate with a lightweight dry. I’d probably rate it an 8/10.
At 45’ the Zenith is nearly perfect, and the Sky was a little too fast to keep up, or maybe I’m just a little used to the Zenith by now. The Sky still works well at 45’, like it did at 30’, but it’s just not picky spring creek accurate, 8.5/10. When I moved back to 60’, the nature of the Sky changed. It’s easily one of the best rods I’ve ever cast! 10/10 (or 11 in the Spinal Tap world) at 60′.
Flex & Feel
No question about it, the Sky is a fast rod. Queue the comments about it being a telephone pole in 3… 2… 1… Let me assure you, that it’s not – but it also not the most forgiving rod in the world. You need to know how to cast to use this rod effectively. It lacks the soft tip that we see on so many rods these days, but it does flex very evenly throughout the rod which gives it quite a bit of feedback.
After a day of reflection, I came to the conclusion that the Sky is a lot like the Sage ONE – a fast rod that comes alive at longer distances. With that in mind, the Sky is also a lot better than the ONE at short and middle distances, and a good caster will make it work at any distance. If I were to summarize the rod, I’d say it’s a faster rod that’s a distance champ, but will work well at any distance. Or a great all-around rod that shines at longer distances. More importantly though, I’m really looking forward to checking out the heavier saltwater versions of this rod, where the characteristics of a faster rod will make it more well suited to the salt.
Who should be fishing this rod?
- Anyone who likes a faster rod
- Anyone fishing bigger rivers, particularly from a drift boat
I cast this rod with GPX, and I think it might even take a heavier line if you wanted to load it a little deeper.
- Super, super accurate at longer distances
- A distance champ
- $200 less than other high end rods
- Not as forgiving as other rods out there
- Some quirky design choices