THE XPLORER GUIDE 2 FLY ROD, REVIEWED BY TREVOR HAWKINS
Xplorer Fly Fishing may be a relatively new comer to the Australian flyfishing scene but they clearly have intentions of making some waves in the industry if the enthusiasm and professionalism of their Australian distributor, Tackle Safari are anything to go by. The Xplorer Company itself was established in 1996 and has become the leading fly tackle brand in South Africa and is constantly developing and trialling innovative fly tackle to keep up with, and go beyond the latest international trends in all things fly related.
If their Xplorer Guide 2 Fly Rod and XPLORER T50 rods that I’ve been using for the past two months or so are anything to go by then they are achieving that ambition with bells on! I’ll review the T50 rod in another issue, but first off let’s take a look at the midrange Xplorer Guide 2 Fly Rod which I have to say from the get-go certainly doesn’t present or cast like any mid-range rod I’ve put a line through over the past season or so.
From the first viewing of the Xplorer Guide 2 Fly Rod it was obvious that the designers of this rod wanted to create a great impression straight off the bat. Looks good can’t cast? Not this rod, of course it has to be able to deliver when it comes to the actual cast and fishing, that’s a foregone conclusion, but in a world where there seems to be more rods available than fish at times, grabbing an anglers attention with good looks and attention to detail certainly helps. Xplorer have done this in the best way possible, not only have they made the ascetics understated and pleasing, but they have also made the rod extremely practical. The rod tube is constructed from carbon fibre (forest green colour) with polished aluminium metal end caps. The rod is then wrapped in a cloth sleeve. The Xplorer Guide 2 Fly Rod itself doesn’t come all bells and whistles as many rods do, it’s built to fish with minimal ‘bling’, in fact the only real allowance for show is the gold thread end wraps on varnished olive guide thread. The blank itself is a practical and pleasing matt olive colour that reflects that this rod is for fishing, not show. Each of the four rod sections are discreetly identified on the female section of the ferrule with the model and line number and numbering of each section plus a small alignment dot on each male ferrule section to allow for accurate rod section alignment. Nice touch!
The Xplorer Guide 2 Fly Rod has a keeper ring for those that use these. Personally, I’m not a fan; I prefer to hook the fly in one of the upper runners while looping the (generally) longer leader around the reel itself before taking up tension on the line. This facilitates quicker casts by having longer leaders already out through the rod tip that keeper hooks generally don’t allow for. The quality AA cork grip is reverse half welled in shape and is a good diameter and fits into the hand nicely and lightly while the unlocking reel seat is gun metal grey, lightweight aluminium and complimented with the use of a natural wood burl insert. I’ve been casting a 5 weight forward RIO Perception line through this rod for most of the review time, and while the rod is stated as being ‘moderate fast’ in action, I found it to be more towards the fast action and once fifteen to twenty feet of line was out through the tip it became a real ‘gun’ of a rod that demanded more line to be cast out.
This rod felt more at home with an extended line out, even comfortably throwing a full line. The action didn’t collapse, as some rods are prone to do once a certain amount of line is through the tip. It remained fast and I even felt myself holding back and allowing the dry fly to parachute down on the final deliveries as even at 70 plus feet the rod was still punching line and delivering the fly super fast. It’s a very responsive and powerful rod that allows for precise and accurate casts even at maximum fishing distances.
The Xplorer Guide 2 Fly Rod isn’t your typical small/medium stream 5 weight. It’s closer to a medium 6 or light 7 weights in casting and fishing suitability. I reckon it will be a real winner for casting dry flies to sighted Tasmanian lake fish or for fishing mudeye or smelt pattern flies in our central Victorian or Snowy Mountain lakes. It would be perfect for those that now use a 6 weight for that type of fishing, like I mostly do, and could easily take on the role of the ‘all-round’ big river/lake rod. If you’re in the market for a mid level, medium/fast ‘gun’ that may help you take your casting to the next level then you could do far worse than putting a line through one of these rods.
Tassie here I come!
• High modules XP7 graphite blank.
• Moderate to fast action.
• Premium AA cork grips.
• Pac Bay stripping guides.
• Pac Bay SF–stainless steel single foot guide on freshwater model.
• Natural wood burl inserts with ultra light up-locking aluminium reel seats.
• Carbon fibre rod tube with aluminium end caps and cloth bag.
• Unique No Fuss Lifetime Warranty.