Early last year (2011) I got a new rod for river fishing, a Greys XF2 Streamflex plus in a 4# weight. Its a 9ft 6″ rod that converts to a 10ft with the insertion of an extension piece between the end of the bottom section and the stripping eye on the foot of the second section. At the time I hoped I would get a fair bit of the Grayling season out of it. As it happened it never turned up until mid February ( looks like Greys were a bit slow getting them out) and then the weather was a bit rubbish so I only had a couple of outings with it at the time, on the Czech Nymph and it was later in 2011 before I had a concerted use of it for this purpose, in the mean time I used it an awful lot for dry fly on small streams, rivers and indeed Stillwaters.
With the extension piece in place its a full 10 feet and is very sensitive. You can really feel that heavy bug tapping on the bottom much more readily than I could with my John Dicksons 9ft rod. It flicks the bugs out with ease and mated with my Hardy LRH Lightweight reel its light enough for a full day of bugging at arms length. It can also cope well with a French leader, I have used one out to about 7metres (the limit of my abilities) and it works really well.
I love the matt finish and the general build of the rod, and the tube is strong and looks to be easy to transport with its carrying sling. It has some easy to use alignment marks on each section and joins up cleanly- no joints that don’t butt together.
Criticisms: On a recent Grayling trip to Wales where I used the French Leader most of the time, I did seem to pull a lot of hooks out of a lot of fish. Now this could be bad technique on my part, could be because the rod is a little too stiff for the French Leader (which has pretty well zero stretch) or could be simply bad luck on the day. Certainly bigger fish were getting bounced a lot more than small ones.
Dry Fly River (and Stillwater)
I love this rod, its absolutely brilliant at casting the 4# Airflo line I got with it, as a freebie from Fishtec. They are very well matched and the whole package casts a dry fly beautifully. I love the action and in fact while it was bought and designed as a river rod, I use it most of the time in my loch fishing for Brown Trout up at my club water, Pendreich. Its even not bad into a wind, I absolutely love it. You get a great fight off a three quarter pound fish with this rod and you can fish it all day without effort.
The action to me seems mid to tip (ooer hear me- as if I know what I am talking about- not!) with a bias towards the tip and as a result it puts out a tight loop and as I say you can punch out the 4# line into a head wind quite well with a double haul, which it does well. it seems to recover very quickly and for such a long thin rod there is almost negligible “bounce” in the tip after a cast.
When fishing for Brown Trout I have had no similar problems of bouncing fish as I have with Grayling, far from it, I have lost very few fish on this rod. Again it might be a technique thing, I am (now) aware that in Nymphing for Grayling the technique is to strike more to the side, keep the tip down and the fish low in the water. Almost the opposite of Trout fishing where you tend to lift the rod high and get the fish to the surface. I use the rod a lot for fishing single and double dry fly rigs, as well as “Klink and Dink”, NZ style ( or “Dry Dropper” as the Americans call it, with a single or two small nymphs suspended beneath a dry fly. I works very well with this and casts the heavier beaded flies well.
I have recently purchased a Hanak #3 4in 1 Czech Nymph Champion rod which I have to say I have lost less Grayling on, than with the Streamflex Plus. It might be down to the rod being softer, an improvement in my technique ( I like to think so!) or just luckier. My intention now is to fish the Hanak for Cz Nymphs and French Leader, and use the XF2 for Dry fly. I might occassionally use it for Cz Nymph where I want to have both set ups, French Leader and a short line Cz Nymph set up) but I would imagine those occasions would be rare as you can adapt French leader to the short line style easy enough.
I got mine from Fishtec taking advantage of a discount offer and coming as it did with the free Airflo line which almost feels made for the rod, its all worked out well. Highly highly recommended.