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'Wow, beefy' was the first thing that came to mind when I unpacked the Sirrus Co-MATRIX 9 weight rod that Ken Whiting of Sirrus sent me to test as a pike fly rod.
A whole line
Perfect pike fishing tool
This is a rod with one serious butt. Ken is the person that pioneered titanium-tube-reinforced rods for Lamiglass, among others, and he now has a line of rods, both casting rods and fly rods, of his own that use the same concept of a reinforced lower butt half to increase fighting and lifting power as well as quicken the action of the rod.
Instead of using titanium tubes, however, the Co-MATRIX blanks have a butt reinforcement of spiral-wrapped carbon fibre.
The Sirrus Co-MATRIX rods (there are 6 models in total, in 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, and 12 weight) are all two-piece rods, equipped with single leg snake guides, one or two (depending on the model) SiC stripping guides and oversized tiptops. The rod that I tested has basic but perfectly functional hardware. The workmanship and finish on this rod, however, is perfect. Cosmetically therefore, this is a very pleasing rod, although I would vote against that hook-keeper...
However, although cosmetics may tell you something about the quality of a rod builder and the materials they use, and usually are important in selling rods, you can't fish with cosmetics.
Therefore I put this exceptional 9-weight to the test. Testing was done in two ways, dry-casting on a lawn, and actual pike fishing. The dry-casting was done by a small group of excellent casters that I happened to round up during the 2002 Dutch Fly Fair. Casting an 8-weight pike taper line, without fly, their rather unanimous evaluation of this rod was that it is a rather stiff rod, that needs a fair amount of line out to load properly, but that due to its design is capable of aerializing, and delivering, a full line without breaking down. Not a rod for absolute novices, but a definite casting machine. Even I, not being an excellent caster, not by a long shot, was able to cast and shoot most of the pike taper line. I do not own many rods that I can do that with...
Now, if this is a capable, albeit somewhat demanding casting rod, how does it perform while fishing? I've taken this rod out as my only pike rod for the last three months. Originally, this was a decision based on the fact that I had to evaluate this rod. Very soon though, I would reach for this rod when going after pike with a fly rod out of pure preference. While the somewhat stiff nature of this rod makes for slightly demanding dry-casting, once you tie a typical Dutch pike fly on the end of your tippet, it becomes a totally different animal. The extreme wind resistance, and added weight when these flies become water-logged, add enough loading to the rod to make it a perfect pike fishing tool. My effective range with this rod increased a good 30 feet as compared to my previous favourite pike rod (no brands named....). What's even better, the fast action and backbone of this rod makes hooking pike on even a nibble very certain, and the beefy butt does indeed make for improved fighting and lifting power.
Catching pike with this rod is a totally new experience. The only quip I have with this rod while fishing is that it could do with a slightly more sensitive tip to improve its handling close in, i.e. picking up a fly and casting with only 3-4 feet of line out. Where I fish for pike, most fish are actually caught close to shore, many times right underneath your feet.
Summarizing, the Sirrus Co-MATRIX 9-weight is a well-built and well-finished rod, with a slightly odd look due to its beefy butt. Due to this butt and its action it makes a perfect fly rod for pike. And at a recommended retail price of ca $210, it is great value for money. A definite addition to any pike fly rodders arsenal.
A whole line
Perfect pike fishing tool
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