THE XPLORER GUIDE 2, REVIEWED BY PETER HAYES
The Peter Hayes Xplorer Guide 2 Rod Review:
My recent casting tuition tour of South Africa was first mooted at my trout fishing lodge in Tasmania by the South African Womens Fly Fishing Team over a year ago.
It’s hard to believe but now I am here and it was with great excitement that I arrived at the first of many casting courses scheduled all over the country. It was early evening and I was at the Jacaranda Clubs fly casting night in Johannesburg.
I was the Casting Clown and there were literally dozens of keen and enthusiastic fly fishers waiting for me to teach them what I could about fly casting. I felt awkward being just a tad late. Rather than apologise for being late I put it to them that maybe they were so excited they came early ! That’s a casting clown joke!
Before I launched into my spiel I briefly met Keith who was there on the night representing the Xplorer range of fly fishing products. I could recognise his passion for all things fly fishing and over the course of the many casting clinics we both attended I got to like him a lot. We had great fun.
Like the fun I had when I dropped the Xplorer rod on the ground and proceeded to walk up along the butt section. Keith had a fit but the grass was thick and soft and I took a punt. The rod did not break.
Now , more seriously. I borrowed a top of the line Xplorer T50 Fly Rod so I didn’t have to string up my rod. This saved me some time and the rod was fitted with a brand new , hot orange, line that is perfect for demonstrating and teaching casting.
By the way the line was a RIO brand and I think that every fly fisherman on the planet should own one and use it for practicing their casting. Yes, that’s right, practice. For those of you that don’t know, that’s the thing that you do if you want to get better at something!
I truly believe that with a bright orange line you will improve your fly casting 4 – 5 times faster than with a dull line. I quoted to the group that the only thing better than an orange line for practice is 2 orange lines. I later learnt that someone had taken me literally and gone out and bought 2 lines. The casting clown had only been joking and I was starting to worry about how bright you South Africans really are.
Anyway… the first day I cast with the very flash Xplorer T50 Fly Rod which is undoubtedly a nice rod. The next day I cast with a students Xplorer Guide series rod and I liked it a whole lot better. It suited me and my style of casting – I loved it. Keith was mortified when I said I would rather use the much less expensive rod for subsequent lessons.
The Xplorer Guide 2 fly rod that I used (presumably there was a Guide1 and this was an upgrade) has a more medium action than the Xplorer T50. The rod bends more deeply. A slower action if you like. You need to hold the bend in this rod a little longer than it flasher and faster T50 big brother. I like the longer feeling and the deeper loading.
I could very easily cast the whole line seemingly into the next postcode. It had plenty of backbone. The rod roll cast and spey cast beautifully (my crystal ball tells me we will all do more single handed spey casting in our general fishing in the coming years). The Xplorer Guide 2 has a wonderful light and sensitive feel in the hand that made all the presentation tip manipulation casts come easily and naturally. I bet it would be a nice rod to fight a fish on too.
This rod has a matt olive varnish that is not as likely to scare fish as some of the bigger and literally flasher brands. I was pleased to see that Xplorer has the correct number of guides on this rod and they did not try to cheap out with 9 instead of 10.
The guides are all single foot and of generous diameter that provide good shooting ability and whilst I am not personally a fan of single foots ( many of them cause a squeak as the line moves over them) the Xplorer rod performs perfectly and silently. A useful advantage with the single foots is a noticeable weight reduction caused by lessening the total length of the steel guide feet, the binding and epoxy. This weight reduction combined with a well designed taper and modern graphite materials gives the Xplorer Guide 2 its soul that I like so much.
The boy end of each of the 4 sections is marked with an alignment dot and the girl end has the rod model marked to assist line up and I presume to help identify it should you break a section by walking on it.
On that subject Keith told me they have some sort of ‘no fuss warranty’ deal if you break a section. That made me smile and much to his dismay I walked up and down the butt a couple of times every casting course I did afterwards. You will be pleased to know – it never broke.
I would not hesitate to recommend this rod to you. I know you will love to cast it as I did.
Peter Hayes Xplorer Guide 2 Rod Review, Professional Fly Fisher. Learn more at: Peter Hayes Fly Fishing