Thomas & Thomas introduced the Contact series of Euro-nymphing rods a handful of years ago and they almost immediately garnered a cult-like following, with many an experienced nymph angler raving about their performance and build quality. Those ravings were well warranted, given that the original Contact was a superb example of what a thoughtfully designed Euro rod could be. So when T&T announced the Contact II, it inevitably begged the question: could the second incarnation of the Contact series provide a marked upgrade from its well-loved predecessor?
The new Contact II rods are the brainchild of T&T head designer and rod-building savant Joe Goodspeed, who in addition to crafting the original Contact series, is also responsible for T&T creations like the Exocett, Avantt and Paradigm. T&T and Goodspeed have put almost three years of development work into this latest addition to the T&T lineup, which features an all-new blank construction, new components, and freshly designed tapers—all of which combine to give these new Euro-nymphing specialists an action and feel like no other rod on the market.
We’ve had a chance to fish both the 10’ 9” and 10’ three weights of the Contact II lineup over the past few months and have put them through the wringer on wary, wild brown trout in low, clear, tough and technical conditions.
The Contact II features a number of build elements that are targeted specifically at improving the rods’ Euro nymphing effectiveness. One of the most immediately apparent is T&T’s new “Low rider” stripping guide, which is positioned lower and closer to the blank than the first stripping guide on a traditional rod. The result of this specialized treatment is less line sag between your hand and the first rod guide, a detail that may sound trivial, but which in practice translates into enhanced control and quicker hooksets—the kind of detail that can be a difference maker in the technical game of tight-line nymphing.
An extra-dense, Flor grade cork grip offers excellent sensitivity and feel as your nymphs bounce along the bottom of your local crick, and a redesigned, low-profile fighting butt adds balance to the back end of the rod.
Aesthetically, the Contact II is a standout, an arena in which T&T has long been one of the industry’s standard bearers. Brown and olive thread wraps accent the black single foot RECoil guides and are a handsome touch on the Contact II’s black blank. The down-locking reel seat is a beauty, with black anodized machined hardware, etched logo and a burled ash wood insert. All the componentry on the rod creates an elegant, yet stealthy look. And, believe it or not, there’s even something to be said for the rod tube and sock that come with the Contact II—which are top grade and add to the list of little details that make the Contact II a stand out in its class.
Accuracy and Action
The Contact II blank is a blend of both carbon and fiberglass fibers which, combined with newly designed tapers, has allowed T&T to deliver a rod that has responsiveness and recovery unlike any other Euro rod we’ve fished. The super-soft and sensitive tip on the Contact II has been a revelation when tossing lighter flies and hair-thin tippets, and you’ll find that the Contact II loads even with tiny, barely weighted bugs on the line. That tip also delivers superb sensitivity, and you’ll swear you can detect every pebble, stick, patch of moss and sucker’s fin your bugs drift by.
Despite its soft, supple tip, the Contact II recovers surprisingly fast — delivering accurate casts in pocket water and other technical quarters, allowing you to get the most out of short, quick, controlled drifts. And, on those occasions when your nymphs do find their way into a trout’s mouth, that recovery will help you deliver quick hook sets and, most notably, stay tight to the fish without any recoil or “bounce,” a shortcoming which is the bane of many other euro rods.
The Contact II can also double duty as a dry fly stick in a pinch. It’s soft enough to load a mono rig or a competition line (think RIO’s FIPS or Cortland .022 braid core) and throw a dry with some semblance of accuracy on those instances when fish start rising.
While the Contact II excels at tossing small nymphs and light rigs, it also offers plenty of backbone and reserve power and can toss a reasonably-sized jig streamer into some of those deep dark holes where unicorns lie in wait for unsuspecting sculpins. Wrangling larger fish in current is almost always an issue with wispy Euro rods, but the Contact II has heaps of grit to it. Go ahead and muscle that twenty incher in you just hooked on 7X, because these sticks are designed to handle it. The weight-to-power ratio that T&T has managed to achieve with the Contact II is an impressive feat of rod design.
The Reel Seat
Somewhat inexplicably, the Contact II’s downlocking reel seat employs a single locking nut. But, as is often the case with Euro-rods, a larger heavier reel is needed to balance out the system. On more than a few occasions that nut loosened up while out on the water resulting in the reel becoming loose and requiring attention. This is more of a nuisance than anything, and is easily remedied by cranking it down super tight, but I think an extra locking nut, much like what’s used on larger saltwater rods, would go a long way to eliminating this gripe.
Coming in at $825, the Contact II comes at a premium. But, given how light, sensitive, crisp, and a slew of other superlatives that most Euro-nymphers will come to use to describe the Contact II, it’s easy to justify the rod’s price tag. All the rods in the Contact II lineup, when correctly balanced with the proper reel, are lighter in hand than just about every other Euro stick on the market and yet T&T kept that weight down seemingly without sacrificing an ounce of power and stability.
Here in Pennsylvania, the summer has been a rainless desert, and we’ve found ourselves reaching for 6 and 7x tippet more often than not. The Contact II has been the perfect remedy for these unwelcome, difficult conditions.
T&T’s slogan, “The rod you will eventually own.” is a bold statement given the glut of phenomenal rods we anglers get to choose from these days. But the Contact II is a rod that, should you indeed come to own one, you won’t regret it.