Looking for a dry fly rod when out loch styling? Andy Taylor reviews the new Airlite 9ft 6in, 5-wt from Airflo.
Airflo Airlite V2 9ft 6in, 5-wt Fly Rod
Many loch style anglers take a second rod out with them when in the boat throughout the summer and autumn months to make the most of any short lived surface activity. I for one fall into the category of using the 7-wt I’ve used for nymphing and pulling for flicking out my dries when the need arises. Why take two rods when one will do?
When the guys at Airflo sent the new Airlite 9ft 6in 5-wt to try this summer I felt that perhaps it was just something else to carry to the boat dock and then clutter up the bottom of the boat. Did I really need a dry fly rod in the boat?
In 2017 Airflo updated its original Airlite series with the V2 bringing out six models: a 9ft 5-wt, 10ft 6-wt, 9ft 6in 7wt, 10ft 7-wt, 9ft 8-wt and a 10ft 8-wt, all now four piece rods as opposed to the three piece original. In 2018 Airflo added to this range with the 9ft 6in 5-wt model designed for ‘top of the water sport with fine tippets. The perfect rod for fishing the evening rise or for wild brown trout on the Lough’
The concept behind the design of this rod was to offer anglers a lightweight tool in which they could fish fine 3 to 4lb tippets, to be able to present dries better, for wise resident reservoir fish, when out afloat.
Out To Test
Its first outing was on ‘home turf’ on the superb top-of-water venue that is Blithfield Reservoir. This I felt would be the ideal water to convince me whether I needed a second rod, which was different to my normal 7-wt approach.
The first thing, which is evident, is that the rod is light in the hand and the half wells handle is smooth and fits well. For me this is a ‘flicky’ dry fly rod. It picks up the line well and allows for quick short casts so you can cover the water in front of the boat quickly, efficiently and quietly presenting the dries gently on the surface. I jumped straight in at the deep end and set up a 14ft leader with two dries on 4lb b/s copolymer. I hooked six fish this evening a mix of stockfish and one fully finned resident all of which made it to the net. The rod has plenty of power in the tip to create tight and open loops if needed when casting and has the backbone to be in control when playing the fish, whilst at the same time having some softness not to worry about the leader breaking or those fine wire hooks straightening.
Since then I’ve used it on Eyebrook pulling Popper Hopper’s through the wave. This meant regular long cast’s which the rod is more than capable of and some aggressive takes which the rod dealt with perfectly. At no point was I in fear of losing fish or the hook pulling out. I was starting to believe that a second rod in the boat for dry fly work was now a necessity and not something that would lay unused.
The rods final outing was a trip to Ellerdine Lakes. Could the rod offer something to the small water angler? I think so. Its quick action and forgiving tip allows you to fish with confidence with small flies and light leaders. I used it to fish with slim nymphs targeting fish close in the margins. Again it handled the average stockfish and some of Ellerdine’s larger fish very well. The rod does have a fast, quick action and this allows for less false casts- important I feel when covering fish high in the water. On all my trips out I paired the rod up with a 5-wt Greys Platinum Extreme floating line. The perfect partner for me with this rod.
Cosmetics And Extra’s
This is a four-piece rod, which comes in a grey corduroy tube, and sectioned cloth bag/sleeve, tied top and bottom. It has a smooth, half wells handle made with good quality cork. The blank has a matt finish so there are no worries about the flash of the rod spooking fish. It has single leg snakes and a smart looking reel seat and the white dots on each section to aid in lining up the rod rings when assembling. The rod retails at £269.99 and comes with a lifetime warranty.
This is a superb dry fly rod. For me it has a dual use as rod for targeting surface feeding fish on the big waters and as a rod for fishing the small stillwaters. It casts a good line and handles the fish caught with control and feel. The only downside for me is that is has no keeper ring, something I find useful with my day-to-day fishing. If your looking for a rod for dry fly work on the big waters that couples as a rod for your local small stillwaters then this could be the rod for you.
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Andy is the Features Editor of Today’s FlyFisher.com following three years as Editor of Total FlyFisher. Andy is a multi-capped England International in both loch-style and bank disciplines. A qualified instructor and lecturer, Andy has a wealth of fishery management experience.