By Frank Sargeant, Editor
A G. Loomis GLX 853C-JWR baitcasting rod is priced at $455.
Not many of us would dare to buy a rod at that price, never mind telling our wives what we paid for it.
It’s a bit like owning a Ming vase when you have cats in the house-fishing rods, particularly ultra-light, high-tech graphite rods, are highly frangible, and we tend to use them around truck doors and boat hatches. To say nothing of prying reluctant largemouths out of hundred-pound wads of hydrilla.
On braid, yet.
But Loomis offers “insurance”.
“We call it our ‘expediter’ program,” says Bruce Holt, communications director for the West Coast Company, who recently spent a few days here testing his gear on Pickwick smallmouths in the company of Captain Steve Hacker. “If you break one of our GLX or higher series rods, in any way, we’ll replace it for a hundred bucks.”
That’s added to the lifetime full-price warranty against defects in workmanship and materials, notes Holt, so in all there’s a whole lot less risk in buying one of these top-line rods than it might first appear.
And, for those who have the expendable income and the compulsion to own the best there is for their leisure pursuits, it would be hard to argue that the upper-level G. Loomis rods are not about as good as it gets.
“Most of the cost of a rod is in the graphite and the guides,” notes Holt. “The lighter and stiffer the fibers that go into the blank, the lighter the rod is going to be at a given power and action, and the better it’s going to feel in your hand after six or eight hours of casting. The GLX material has a very high “modulus”, that is resistance to bending, and that makes it possible for us to build rods that are amazingly light and fast.”
Holt said the GLX series also uses Fuji Titanium SIC guides, much tougher and more resistant to bending than steel, which feature a ceramic liner that’s much smoother, lower in friction and more durable than conventional guide liners. The guides are positioned on the blank via computer programs that designate the best locations as the blank tapers, preventing line slap on the blank, and the rods also use several more guides than lower cost sticks-there are 11 plus the tip-top on the 7-foot, 1-inch 853C, compared to as few as seven on low to mid-range rods of the same length.
The reel seat is a custom Loomis design with the company logo molded in.
“We couldn’t find exactly what we wanted so we had this mount built for us,” says Holt. “It’s extremely light but very strong and dependable.”
The mount is “skeletonized” to reduce weight, and also features a larger area of exposed blank directly below the reel, where the index finger naturally rests, to increase sensitivity when fishing jigs and soft plastics where the bite is often light.
The cork handle is also top of the line.
“Quality cork is a lot more expensive than the black foam handles on mid-range rods, but it’s lighter, it’s smoother on the hand and most anglers like the feel of it better-it’s firm and yet it’s got enough ‘give’ so that you can keep a good grip even when it’s wet,” says Holt. “It also looks good, year after year, if you just scrub it now and then with a light detergent and water.”
The 853C is designated a medium-heavy power rod with an extra-fast action-this means lots of power in the butt, melded to a stiff and very quick tip section that allows quick, powerful hooksets. The rod is designed for lures of 3/16 to 5/8 ounce, and for lines of 12 to 16 pounds.
“The maximum line test is something that anglers should keep an eye on,” says Holt. “We test rods to destruction to determine how much they can lift, so that’s sort of a safety device-if you put line no heavier than 16-pound-test on a rod rated for that line and put slow, steady pressure on it, it will either lift 16 pounds of fish and weeds, or the line will break first. Beyond that, if you overline it with heavy braid, for example, it may break.”
The exceptionally light weight of Loomis sticks makes them incredibly easy on the arms and wrists, a big plus for anglers who fish daylight till dark. Matched with a lightweight reel like a Shimano Chronarch or similar, these rigs seem like old friends the moment you pick them up the first time.
And odds are, they will become that for the fortunate few who can afford them.
“These are legacy rods,” says Bruce Holt. “You can fish them for a lifetime, and then hand them down to your kids and they can fish them for another lifetime.”
Provided they avoid car doors and hatch lids, of course.