Like most fly-rodders, I share what non-fishermen might more aggressively term a viral disease. Its symptoms include collecting of the most financially impractical sort--I’m always in search of the next “sweet” fly rod. If you think “sweet” is an ineffective way to describe the mechanical characteristics of a fly rod, you’d be right. Nevertheless, it’s the individual-pleasing combination of these characteristics that every fly fisherman is after in a rod, which can be accurately described thusly.
Naturally, “sweet” carries a connotation that is unique to my own preferences. To me, the word brings to mind a subtly beautiful fishing tool. It casts like a nostalgic dream, one with the relaxed but precise air and grace of a deep flex fly rod. Because I prefer to keep things simple, it is versatile, and handles well most any realistic situation I test it in.
All of these qualities came together in my rod hand one mid-summer afternoon in a parking lot in Charlottesville, Virginia as one of the first offerings from the newly-resurfaced rod manufacturer, Tycoon Tackle, established in south Florida in 1935. It was there that the Tycoon Tackle Scion and I began our journey. I had four months of college deferment ahead of me, which translates into about 100 days of fishing, and putting my new asset to the test.
From a performance perspective, it was love at first haul, so to speak, with the Scion. Having worked in a fly shop and formed a habit of casting any rod I can whenever I have the option, I can say that I have never cast a rod that feels quite like the Scion. I couldn’t wait to apply it on the water, and found myself regularly reaching over the four other rods I carried for my new favorite.
The Scion series rod, constructed from graphite blanks, features a moderate action that is a classic throwback in today’s market, seemingly dominated by lightning-fast rods. The result is a rod that casts smoothly and accurately, is a great teaching tool for those new to fly casting, and that is capable of effective casts up close and at any realistic range. Rod action is a highly subjective matter, but this rod agrees tremendously with the relaxed casting stroke that I prefer, and is a pleasure to fish.
Moreover, the Scion’s soft tip and deep flex protects light tippets while retaining enough backbone to handle large, strong fish. This came particularly in handy while fishing the highly-pressured waters of the upper Connecticut River “Trophy Waters” during the bluebird, low-water days of early fall. I found no problem in easily landing wild rainbows up to 20 inches on reduced tippet, even in heavy current.
The Scion excels in making delicate presentations.
One situation comes quickly to mind. At dusk, the silty flatwater of a mid-coast Maine trout stream came to life with the rolling, buttery bellies of brown trout. As I moved up the bank towards the distant rise forms, the fish went down immediately, and reappeared about 70 feet upstream. Realizing what the fish required of me, I was able to make long, accurate casts to place a small terrestrial pattern on the nose of several large brown trout.
About a month later, the same situation arose with a line of wild rainbows sipping emerging brown caddis from the surface of a drought-stage Pine Creek in Pennsylvania’s northern tier. Both of these experiences, and subsequent similar situations, trained me to run for my Scion whenever casting dry flies to finicky fish, for this is when it is where it shines the brightest.
Because I lack the means to purchase a rod tailored to every situation I’m likely to encounter, versatility is an important factor that I consider when shopping for a rod, and the Scion doesn’t disappoint. It can be comfortably under- or over-lined should the situation call for it, without sacrificing casting efficiency or feel. It has helped me catch two-foot trout on streamers in small streams, cast poppers to bluegill and largemouth bass in farm ponds, swing soft hackles and cast dry flies to judgmental Catskill trout, and dead-drift heavy double-nymph rigs to New England brook trout and salmon. Never did it seem an inadequate tool for the job.
Tycoon Tackle prides itself for hand-making the graphite blanks that serve as the base for the Scion series, manufacturing the entirety of their product line in the United States, and for offering a range of customizable options when purchasing a rod. The Scion blanks are a matte black, and are adorned with Snake Brand guides wrapped with a subtle, dark green thread. Each weight is available with either a cigar or reverse half-wells cork handle. A sleek rosewood reel seat comes with either slide rings or a screw-lock system, and an anodized black reel seat comes fixed with a screw-lock system. A hook keeper comes standard.
Simply put, a company’s warranty has a huge influence over the rods I purchase. Tycoon Tackle maintains a lifetime warranty on all of their products, given any defective components or workmanship. During my first semester of college, presumably due to frozen guides, one of the snake guides broke from the wraps, and it was, indeed, replaced for free.
The Scion is worth the money it costs, but it is not a cheap rod. Prices range from $469.95 for lighter weight rods, through $549.95 for an 11-wt.—the heaviest rod offered in this model. Still, for an excellent fishing tool hand-made in America, the Scion demands a moderate price, especially when compared to similar moderate actioned fly rods on the market.
What Doesn’t Work
Though not a true testament of a rod’s quality, cosmetics are often a large factor in people’s purchasing decision. The Scion simply does not feature dressed up blanks. Still, the subtle, black matte finish with subtle green wrapping thread is, to me, beautiful, particularly given the stellar feel that the rod has. Yet, I have encountered fishermen who, when I introduce them to the rod, comment on the subdued cosmetics before even placing their thumb on the cork.
Nitpicky, yes, but the absence of alignment dots is the other detail that those I introduce this rod to take exception to. Yes, they are an efficiency tool, but in light of the fishing tool that this rod is, take my word for it, and learn to align guides the old-fashioned way.
For four months, I carried five rods to cover a wide range of fishing situations, and found myself constantly overlooking the others for the Scion. Tycoon Tackle has created a highly versatile and effective fishing tool in the Scion, that excels particularly in situations demanding accurate, delicate presentations to spooky fish. Its moderate action makes it a great rod for beginners, or for teachers and guides working with clients that will benefit from enhanced line feel. At $489.95 (for a 4-wt.), the Scion series, totally hand-built in the United States, is an excellent rod for the money.