Combo deal: Lamson's new reel, with rod included

Waterworks-Lamson's new 'Center Axis' all-in-one rod and reel
The Waterworks-Lamson 'Center Axis'
The Waterworks-Lamson 'Center Axis' (photo: Kris Millgate).

There's a large, shallow, rectangular casting pond at the International Fly Tackle Dealer's show in Florida. I stare at it more than I use it. It's the show-off spot. That's where you go when your arm's on fire and you have a double haul you think deserves to be on display.

My arm rarely heats up in man-made conditions. I need fresh air to get the most out of my casting. There's no fresh air in a convention center no matter how high the a/c is cranked so I don't cast much at the show.

But the Waterworks-Lamson Center Axis made me toe the fake waterline this year. I like to call the Center Axis the reel-rod because the reel and rod are one in this new piece of equipment. There's no reel hanging on the lower underbelly of the rod. The reel is part of the rod. That's a weight changer and, by ripple effect, a cast changer.

"Fundamentally, the better your casting technique, the more this is going to reward you," Mark Farris, Waterworks-Lamson founding partner says in the Center Axis how-to video. "It's going to speak to you very clearly."

I step up to the show's casting pond to hear what this reel-rod has to say to me. Farris is at my back. A nine-year-old boy is next to me. The kid throws more line than I daydream about. He smiles. I shake. I'm not going to look good in the show-off spot and this nine-year-old is going to know it.

Farris warns me the Center Axis feels different and he's right. The rod tip bounces on my first try. I'm not known for muscling shots when I fish so that's an unexpected response. I strip in, loosen my grip and start over. Less bounce, but my aim is off because the weight distribution is different.

Most of us are used to compensating for a rod with a heavier back end due to dangling reel, but the weight distribution is even with Center Axis, which makes it incredibly light needing no muscle to manage. That's a plus and means ease of arm, but it's an adjustment that may take some time to get used to.

Try three, no bounce in the rod tip and my fly is closer to the mark, but still not dead on. Farris suggests I ease off on arm effort and politely starts tweaking my form. I end up white knuckling and red facing. The nine-year-old double hauling next to me knows he's out done me. I need more time with this rod than the casting pond offers. I hand the Center Axis back to Farris and stomp off like a three-year-old.

This rod-and-reel combo idea from Lamson isn't an industry first, though it's been many years since the fly fishing world has seen a similar product. And, of this incarnation, Lamson says that "casting is believing." According to Lamson, the 'Center Axis' offers a unique combo of a medium action rod with a reel that Lamson says it has made as light as possible. Lamson says the result is a "de-levered" setup that will amaze you.


You never really told us how you feel about it or really reviewed it. You just said you failed to cast it well and then quit. The end. Do you have actual thoughts on this rod?

Hello Wade - The article is merely a bit of news on a new piece of gear introduced at this year's IFTD show in Orlando, with a bit of hands-on experience mixed in. We may have a full review of this product down the road, but if so it will clearly be labeled as a review.

I supposed I could ask Waterworks/Lamson this question as well, but are the rod blanks themselves made by Sage? Or are they rolled and built by Lamson?

I found this so called review to be a waste of time for the reader and of no value! Waterworks Lamson makes a great reel. All rods/ reel setups take some getting used to, and most certainly an integrated set up like this...Find someone to do a proper review on this new product, and if they need time to fish it, give it to them!
You have a great publication, but this review was not in keeping with your typically informative and well written gear reviews. I'm surprised you bother to publish that!

David, I'm not sure where you got the idea that this "so-called" review was a review at all, as all of our reviews are clearly delineated as "Review: " ... Our coverage here is a gear-focused news article with some, thanks to IFTD 2017, hands on experience from the writer. Best, Chad

It appears that your forearm would rub against the rim of the reel when fighting a fish. Did that seem to be the case or is the spool wide enough that there is no contact?

I've had reels and rods fail on extended fishing trips but never together. I would not want an integrated system where if the reel fails the rod is useless or vice versa. I've had the same Lamson Waterworks reels for my Trout, Salmon/Steelhead, and Ocean/Striper/Black Bass rigs for 12 years now. Great reels, I'll stick with separate reels and rods thank you. sometimes jsut because you can doesn't mean you should, Lamson.

What is the cost of the combo ?

Hi Chuck, This article is from 2017. I believe Lamson has discontinued this product.