Edit: The Syndicate is great value for its price point. If you’re flexible on price, check out the Thomas & Thomas Contact, which is my all-time favorite rod.
Syndicate’s Eric Salage was kind enough to lend me a demo rod: a 11′ 3-wt. As I wrote previously here, Syndicate is a new entrant in the tightline nymphing niche, and many competitive anglers are starting to use their fly rods.
I use my Sage ESN 11′ 3-wt. for all of my tightlining, and so, was eager to try another Euro rod. I fished the Syndicate exclusively during my recent long weekend at the Farmington.
Here are my thoughts: That’s a sweet stick, particularly at its price point. Heck, very good at an even higher price point. I’ll be looking to buy their 10′ 2-wt. for the smaller rivers I fish.
The Syndicate features a very sensitive fly rod tip that can pick up the slightest takes. This is important because big fish don’t usually slam nymphs. You’ll see your line pause very slightly or just move unnaturally for just a bit.
You need a sensitive rod tip to pick up on all that before the fish spits out the fly. Wily fish are very good at that. In fact, if you usually fish with an indicator, savvy wish can taste and spit out a fly without moving the indicator.
When I recently landed my personal best, a 22″ brown trout, the line paused for a fraction of a second. I immediately set the hook, and the fish was off to the races.
Don’t let the 3-wt. tag fool you. The tip is like a 3-wt., but as with all tightline fly rods, the fighting butt section is more like a 4- or 5-wt. The Syndicate rod fought like a 5-wt. and had no problems controlling the 17.5″ brown I landed last weekend (video below), which required some tricky and fast maneuvering in a very confined space.
Early in the fight, the fish bolted for some structure on the bank. Browns do this instinctively. They know they can break off your tippet by jumping into debris. I put my thumb down on the reel, the rod kicked in, and I was able to stop it and keep it in the middle of the run, where the current was strong and tired out the fish.
Later, the fish headed for some boulders on the other side of the run. Again, the Syndicate rod let me turn the fish’s head. That’s the impact of a solid fighting butt.
The Syndicate felt like a medium-fast rod. This let me efficiently cast dry flies. It’s faster than my Sage ESN rod, and so, it took a few fish for me to get the hang of it.
Like other tightline rods, this one is limber. So, it can really protect light tippets when it bends and serves as a shock absorber. When water is low, I often fish with a 6.5x fluorocarbon tippet to fool the wily trout. You want that rod to bend when the fish moves.
This past weekend, the 17.5″ brown jumped very high out of the water as soon as it was hooked. It was a complete missile. During the fight, it later jumped two more times. I’m certain that without a limber fly rod, it would have broken me off.
At Amazon, the 10′ #2 and the 10′ #3 are listed at $305; the 11′ #2 is $325. This is much lower than the $700 to $900 some other rod manufacturers charge. It’s roughly in the range with the Cortland Competition and Redington Hydrogen rods that many anglers purview.
So, this is a very good fly rod. It comes with a warranty, too.
You really cannot beat tightline nymphing if you want to catch many fish or land big ones. If you’d like to learn more about the equipment used for tightlining, the Blue Quill Angler in CO has a great post here.
Tight lines to all (no pun intended)!