4 Best Competition Fly Rods for Loch Style Reservoir Fishing

competition fly rods

Competition Fly Rods

This post relates to competition fly rods for loch style fishing on the reservoirs of the UK e.g. home internationals, Lexus Fly Fishing Championships etc… River fishing is a completely different kettle of fish and requires very different tackle. Also, fishing the wilder lochs/ loughs of Scotland and Ireland can require a different setup. The rods I am discussing here are used in all of the big competitions on waters such as Rutland, Graftam, Chew, Llyn Brenig etc…
A loch style competition angler has an extremely demanding set of requirements when it comes to their fly rod. The rod needs to be capable of throwing a 35 yard cast with a DI7 or DI8 and also be capable of presenting tiny dry flies on fine leaders. The rod will also be required to drag fat 4lb rainbow trout to the boat in seconds, whilst also being capable of delicately landing big fish on small hooks and weak leaders. This is an almost impossible set or requirements for one rod to fulfil. When pleasure fishing two rods may be used, perhaps a 10ft AFTM 5 or 6 for fishing dries and a 10ft AFTM 8 for pulling lures for stockies. However, in general loch style rules only allow one rod to be setup at a time and as time is always of the essence, messing around swapping rods is not an option.

I have been considering changing rods for quite a while and as such have discussed the options with a number of high profile international anglers. A number of rods crop up again and again during these discussions. I have listed the top 4 below, and completed a thorough review of the two that I think are the best (and the ones I have access to). Choosing a rod is very subjective and these are just my opinions, please comment below to let me know what your top 3 or 4 loch style competition rods would be.

Here is what I believe to be the 4 best competition fly rods, based upon discussions with some of the top fisherman in the UK:
Enigma EMG MKIII – (Buy Online)
Sage TCX Buy Online
G-Loomis Max GLX Competition Rod (Buy Online)
Greys XF2 Competitor Special Rod Buy Online

Below is a review of the G-Loomis Max GLX Competition Rod  and the Enigma EMG MKIII.

The following table provides the vital statistics for the two rods (unfortunately the weight is not documented for the G.Loomis rod):

Rod

Length

AFTM

Handle

F.Butt

Action

Weight

Section

Enigma MK3 (Buy Online)

10′

#7

F/Wells

Yes

Tip

4.2oz

3

10′

#8

F/Wells

Yes

Tip

4.3oz

3

G.Loomis (Buy Online)

10′

#7

H/Wells

Yes

Fast-Tip

N/A

2

10′

#8

H/Wells

Yes

Fast-Tip

N/A

2

The statistics for the two rods are almost identical, the only real difference being that the Loomis rod is a 2 piece whereas the enigma is 3 piece. I personally prefer the convenience of a three piece, however there can be a real robustness and solid feel to a two piece rod which is reassuring to a competition angler (who needs know that their rod is totally reliable).

Both of the rods are very light in the hand. I have no data to support this, but I would estimate that the enigma is very slightly lighter. However, the difference really is negligible. Both of the rods have a fast action, particularly in the AFTM #8. The rods are more than capable of punching very long lines into the wind with large flies. However, despite the immense power that both rods have, I would not describe either as stiff even in the AFTM 8# model. There is a lot of feel and sensitivity available through the blanks, which is essential when switching to dries or nymph fishing. This is slightly off subject, but anyone who fishes with a fly at night will recognise the importance of the feel of a blank in the hand when fishing after dark. Some rods are so light and fast actioned that you stuggle to tell when the rod is loading properly, which is horrible when fishing at night. neither of these rods suffer from this problem.

I have to point out at this point, that I think that both of these rods are truly exceptional and meet the lofty requirements outlined at the start of this post. I would be more than happy to use either of these rods permanently. However, there are pros and cons (more pros than cons!) to each rod, as discussed below.
Enigma EMG MKIII, 10ft AFTM 7 & 10ft AFTM 8

trout fishing rod enigma

Enigma EMG MKIII

Here is the manufacturers’ description:

“Truly iconic, it’s fair to say Enigma fly rods have long been respected for their exclusive appearance and their incredibly light weight, but these factors have always been combined with an absolute killer action that ensured incredible performance. So now that the time has finally come to update the range, its taken some fairly significant improvements in technology to help eclipse the original Enigma range. Each Enigma EMG MK3 Rod blank has been developed to load quickly and smoothly, something we are sure will not be lost on even the most experienced caster, helping you get the absolute best out of the rod, on the water where it counts. These Engima EMG MKIII Rods really do have the pedigree to ensure their long term addition to the Enigma range.“

The Enigma MKIII has had to step into some very big shoes. The MKI  and MKII were/ are brilliant rods, and dearly loved by their owners. In fact, some of the world class competition anglers that I have spoken to during the research for this post actually still use the MKI and MKII models, believing that the previous models were superior.

I have used the old models and the current model and there are some noticeable differences. The MKIII model is even lighter than the older models and possibly slightly faster.

The finish on the rod is of a very high standard. The handle is made of high quality solid cork. The reel seat is simple by very effective and holds standard cassete style reels very securely. The blank is slim without being too thin.

The rod throws a very tight and fast loop, which is ideal for punching out long lines. This does mean that the rod is perhaps not suited to a less capable caster. However, given that this post relates to competition anglers, being able to cast a good line is really just the price of admission.

Personally, I think the finish is marginally better on the G.Loomis rod, but this really is just a subjective statement, based purely on cosmetics.

Both the 7 weight and 8 weight rods are capable of shooting out a DI7, however, I felt slightly vulnerable double hauling the 7 weight with the heavy lines sinkers. In my opinion, the 8 weight is the complete all rounder of the enigma series and out of the two would be my choice for competitions. Having said this, if you know you will spend more of  your time fishing top of the water, then the 7 weight would be marginally nicer to use for this style of fly fishing.

The Rod is priced at £329.99, and includes a cordora tube, an M3 Reel (apparently worth up to £99.99) and Free Enigma Cap. Whilst not cheap, in comparison to the G.Loomis (priced at £639.99), it is excellent value, particularly with the extras thrown in.

G-Loomis Max GLX Competition Rod – 10ft AFTM 7 & 10ft AFTM 8

Reservoir trout fishing rod loomis

G-Loomis Max GLX Competition Rod

Here’s what the manufacturer say about the Loomis rod:

“The Max GLX Competition rods are designed specifically to suit the demands of serious stillwater anglers. Made with Hi-Tech GLX graphite, these rods have an extra-stiff action and fast taper design to deliver fast line speed and incredible distance making these rods perfect for the UK competition angler.”

First things first, this rod is aesthetically very pleasing. The finish is of a very high standard, premiuim solid potugease cork, a well designed and attractive aluminium reel seat that holds the reel tightly. G.Loomis have developed their own propriety graphite and resin blank construction system. The result is an incredibly light weight powerful blank.

The G.loomis rod is even faster tapered that the Enigma, particularly in the AFTM 8. I would not recommend this rod for a beginner or even intermediate caster. However, if you are a proficient caster capable of keeping long lines in the air and double hauling at great line speed you will be able to throw an incredibly long line. The loops created with this rod are very tight.

The AFTM 7 is my preference as an all-round rod from this range. I feel that the AFTM 8 would result in some lost fish on dries an nymphs, via pulling out of them on the take. In my opinion the 7 weight is more than capable of throwing  an DI8 and dragging in a double hook-up of stockies.

In my opinion, the 8 weight G.Loomis is stiffer than the 8 weight enigma.

The Rod is priced at £639.99 and includes a cordora tube, so by no means is it cheap!

Warranties

Both of these rods are represent considerable investments for most anglers and as such some comfort can be taken in the fact that both companies offer warranties. The warranties (and major exclusions are detailed below):

G.Loomis limited lifetime warranty:

“This warranty covers G.Loomis branded products (the “G.Loomis Products”) distributed by Shimano Europe Fishing Holding B.V., Industrieweg 24, 8071 CT Nunspeet, the Netherlands (“Shimano”).

Warranty period

Shimano warrants to the original owner that G.Loomis rods are free from defects in materials and workmanship under normal conditions and reasonable use for the lifetime of the original owner.

Warranty exclusions

This warranty does not cover:

  • the G.Loomis Product if it has been modified or repaired by a person other than an authorized G.Loomis dealer;
  • the G.Loomis Product if it has been used for rental or commercial purposes
  • damage resulting from causes other than defects in materials and workmanship, including but not limited to accident, abuse, misuse, neglect, improper assembly, improper repair, improper maintenance, alteration, modification or other abnormal, excessive or improper use;
  • damage occurring during shipment of the G.Loomis Product;
  • products that are not manufactured under the G.Loomis brand (whether or not packaged or sold with the G.Loomis Product at the time of purchase);
  • damage resulting from use of products which are defective or incompatible with the G.Loomis Product;
  • damage resulting from normal wear and tear, including but not limited to damage or deterioration to the surface finish, aesthetics or appearance of the G.Loomis Product (f.e. cork material).
  • NB: Rod breakage due to defects in materials and workmanship occur exceptionally and would normally appear upon first usage.

This warranty expressly provides for the repair or replacement of a defective G.Loomis Product and is the sole remedy of the warranty. Any and all other remedies and damage that may otherwise be applicable are excluded, including but not limited to, incidental and consequential damages.”

Enigma EMG MKIII Warranty:

“Enigma EMG3 rods come with a lifetime warranty. There is a £25 charge for this service. The broken section only needs to be returned to Airflo (address above) to ensure the replacement section(s) are fitted correctly. Please call 0871 911 7001 or email info@bvg-airflo.co.uk if you have any queries. The exlusions and conditions associated with the Enigma warranty are not documented on the website, so this should be investigated further piror to purchasing a rod.”

(it is noted that previous Enigma EMG models are covered by a 10 year unconditional warranty with no charges associated with it).

One thing to remember with the warranties associated with both rods is that they are only valid for the original owner, if you pick up a second hand rod on ebay or fishtec’s secondhand section then you will not be covered by the warranty.

Summary and Conclusions:

In my opinion, both of these rods are fantastic. For competitions, the AFTM 7 would be my preference out of the G.Loomis range, and the AFTM 8 would be my preference from the Enigma range. These rods are truly capable of covering all of the fishing styles likely to be encountered by competition anglers who are reservoir fishing for rainbow trout.

Up until this point I have sat on the fence in terms of my overall choice (i.e. the G.loomis or the Enigma). If money is not an issue, then my overall preference would be the G.Loomis Max GLX Competition 10ft AFTM 7, I believe this is about the best reservoir competition rods you can buy. However, given that the G.loomis is more than double the cost of the Enigma, in reality, I would go for the Enigma every time (and probably will!). In fact, even if I had over £600 to spend on a rod, I would be more inclined to buy two enigmas (a 7 weight and an 8 weight), than one of the G.Loomis rods. I don’t want to detract from the overall superb quality of the G.Loomis rods. The statements are based purely on a reflection of the huge difference in cost for what is a minor difference in performance.

On an aside, both of the rods are also perfect for sea trout fishing and even saltwater fishing for bass. They would be great all round rods for most anglers not just the competition guys (and girls).

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One Comment

  1. Good post – I think the enigma MKII rods are ace, haven’t tried the MKIII yet.

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