Published Nov 9. 2021 - 2 weeks ago
Updated or edited Nov 18. 2021

The Perfect Seven

Are you looking for a perfect single-hand gear set-up for salmon fishing? Here’s Nils Folmer Jorgensen’s preferred tools, how he ended there and his honest opinion on why.

Resting
Weapons of choice
In the rod holder
Going light in Iceland
Nils Folmer Jorgensen

Before we get into the gear, I would like to mention that these are my opinions and that I’m not “in the pocket” of any manufacturers, which gives me the freedom of having an objective opinion. No brand stickers, no pro staff, no uniform, just an honest opinion.

I don’t consider myself a casting genius but have gathered quite some practical experience from a lifetime on the water, being aware and analyzing. I should also mention that I have designed both fly rods and lines earlier in my career. But there is a major difference from designing at the desk and practicing casting on grass compared to being on the water where the running line is sticking to the surface while your leader is splashing and spooking all the fish away.

Most of my salmon fishing is done here in Iceland where I live, and mostly on small to medium sized rivers. They are often characterized by gin clear water, sensitive and spooky fish – and oftentimes with option of sight fishing.
Single hand rods are in my opinion the best tactical approach for these rivers, which require delicate casting, presentation and handling salmon on very small flies. A double hand rod is too difficult to handle in a small sensitive pools. The heavy line splashes too much, the extra rod length makes you more visible and finally these rods are too powerful to handle fish on a size 14 fly. I have had this discussion endless times and shared my experiences with fellow anglers fishing on the same rivers as me with double handers, and in my opinion they spook off the fish and they often mention loosing fish if they manage a hookup.

Drifting a fly
A typical view
The Loop S1
Light, yet powerful
Bent rod
Rods at work
Nils Folmer Jorgensen

Well, there is a reason for everything, but changing you tactical and technical approach to a single hand rod will give you many advantages:
- It’s easier doing a delicate cast at short range.
- You get better presentation.
- You won’t get as much splashing since the line is much lighter.
- It’s easier to “strip” and work a fly.
- You will loose fewer fish on small flies since the rod is not as stiff and heavy.
Note that even some single hand rods are too stiff for fishing size 14-18 flies!
I know some of you are thinking that Iceland is only small fish. On the west coast, mainly yes. But otherwise we have rivers with big salmon and higher average size. I have caught many fish over 100 centimeters up to 111 centimeters (40-44 inches) in Iceland on #7 single hand rods without any problems. Modern rods have a stiffer bottom section that are not even stressed by these big fish.

Serious fish
Silver bar
Massive
Nils Folmer Jorgensen
Small salmon
111 centimeters in the shallow
111 centimeters
Smaller and larger Icelandic salmon
Nils Folmer Jorgensen

Through the years a 7-weight rod has become my go-to rod when it comes to single-handers for salmon. If I was fishing on the west coast for the smaller salmon, I would use a #5 or #6. I have on rare occasions used a #8, but that rod is an exception. An explanation will follow.
I have tried many rods and prefer rods that are not too stiff or ultra fast. For this kind of fishing, you need a rod that gives you good feedback so you can deliver that fly exactly where you want it without splashing the whole pool to foam. You also want a rod that can easily do a singe-handed spey cast, which in most Icelandic rivers open up for endless fishing spots, which you can't fish with an overhand cast.

Icelandic ambiance
Nils Folmer Jorgensen

Finally, the rod needs to be able to land the fish once you managed to get him the eat your fly. Again, a stiff rod will often pull the hook and even straighten it. I lost many fish this way when trying stiffer rods, and get instantly better results when using a slower rod. I’m not saying a rod has to be slow like in fiberglass, which for me ends up in tailing loops and not being able to cast if there is a little wind. And wind is not an unknown phenomenon here in Iceland.
I would describe the rod actions I like as medium fast to fast. A fast recovery often makes a rods feel stiff when shaking it in the store, but it can fool you. Fast recovery is needed for precision in the cast and maximum energy transfer when you "shoot", and the energy from the rod needs to go into the fly line.
An example of a rod with high recovery, which still isn’t stiff, is the Scott Centric single hand and in double hand, the Loop 7X 8132 is outstanding and a prefect example of this.
But lets stick to those perfect #7 single handers.

Celebration!
One meter plus
Salmon landed
Landing
Nils Folmer Jorgensen

Lines in short

Short, medium or long belly? Front loaded? Even back loaded?
I choose the medium length belly design, a belly with an evenly distributed weight, around 3 meters to 9’ of front taper, and even a small back taper. Classic! This is the best allround solution for my fishing. It performs effectively on both short and long casts. Furthermore this is effective for both overhand and single-handed spey casting. That of course depends in taper, mass, weight, coating and a lot of technical parameters that I promise not to go too deep into right now. But with this recipe, you can’t loose, at least this is where I ended up after a long ride through the jungle of fly lines.
There is an ongoing trend with ultra short bellies. I have tried many and even been a part of developing a few. Be careful with these lines! Some are so short that it is impossible the build up a stable loop and thereby close to impossible to make a good fly cast. I once tried a fly line that felt more like a lure. No matter how much I focused on my cast, I simply could not build up a loop. There was too much mass on the short line to build up a stable loop and turnover. And then it also splashed like a lure.
Also be aware that quite a few lines don’t match the AFTM standard (Association of Fishing Tackle Manufacturers), which is an industrial standard made for matching casting weights in rods and fly lines. Most rods still follow the standard but some lines don't match it at all, and are way too heavy and can completely ruin the cast and experience. Even the finest rod can feel useless with a too heavy line. Then the rod feels heavy and slow. Put on a better matching fly line, and it can be a completely different rod to cast, and when the match is found, you get access to the rod’s capabilities.

Small flies
Tiny flies
Small flies don't call for heavy lines
Nils Folmer Jorgensen

All this of course is based on casting style. My style is a "close to the body" style where you generate most energy with least effort. But it requires a perfect configuration of the gear. Another style is to use a more "open" casting style and make long "drifts" or casting strokes. This casting style does not put the same demand on the gear, but is more like "slinging" out the line. If you look at both casting styles next to each other, you will notice a narrow loop on the short casting stroke and a large, open loop in the open casting style.
Note, if you use a too heavy line for the rod, you will have to "drift" the cast. The the rod will not have enough power to shoot the line with a short stroke casting style!
Fact: Narrow loops give better presentation and works like and arrow into the wind and therefor lead to longer casts. Open loops "fill" more in the wind and can be like casting into a wall.
Note that to perform a good cast and presentation, you need a tapered leader extended with tippet ending up in 1 1/2 rod lengths.
The goal with any rod, line and leader set-up is the present the fly most effectively to the fish, which is one of many steps that increases the chance of a take.

That was a lot of general observation, so now it’s time to become more specific. So, here are my tools:

Scott Centric
Scott Centric
Nils Folmer Jorgensen

Scott Centric 9 feet #7

A rod for the angler who both appreciates craftsmanship, durability and high performance. A beautiful tool and functional down to every little detail, and shows that this rod is made by people who are fishing nerds themselves. I think one of the reasons why Scott and Jim Bartsch are doing as well as the they are, is that they are fishing nerds and have everything designed and manufactured in-house. Why are Simms doing the best waders? The same setup.
The Scott Centric replaces the Radian, which was said to combine fast and feel. I found my #7 Radian stiff, but with the Scott Centric, it's a different story. The rod is sold as fast, yes, but it gives you so much feedback and the feeling makes it a pleasure to cast, and much better at handling the fish compared to a Radian. The Centric is not as fast as the Radian, in fact the deeper bend in my opinion gives longer casts than the soft tip that the Radian had. I am aware that my US colleges love the soft tips but I believe a stiffer tip gives a deep bend and therefor more power.
This rod is a perfect all round tool for short casts as well as long. Being only 9 feet is an advantage when casting in windy conditions, it has less mass to push into the wind.

Lines for Scott Centric 9 feet #7

Rio Single hand Spey #7 (15.6 grams at 9.1 m)
Nam A-Type #6 (the #7 is way too heavy, 18 grams which is #8 in killed the rod)
Loop OptiFlex #7
Scientific Anglers SBT #8 (short belly and 15.5 grams)

Scott Radian
Scott Radian
Scott Radian
Nils Folmer Jorgensen

Loop Cross S1
Volcanic combo
Loop Cross S1
Nils Folmer Jorgensen

Loop S1 9.6 feet #7

Even though this rod is not a US built rod made by anglers for anglers, it has been a favorite of mine for many years! I owned a Loop 7X in #7 but had give in and admit to myself that this old S1 796 is better and simply an outstanding rod! It is lightweight, has excellent feel, and is a pleasure to battle big salmon on. I like the Recoil guides which I saw the first time on my old G Loomis Stinger.
The only minus is that the reel seat makes a squeaking noise when screwing on and off the reel. It would not bother the majority of users, and it's not effecting the performance, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist.
If you come across one of these rods, buy it! Preferably the first ones which came with the 3M Powerlux resin.

Lines for Loop S1 9.6 feet #7

Rio Single hand Spey #7 (15.6 grams at 9.1 m)
Guideline Bullet #7 (15.5 grams)
Loop OptiFlex #7 (16 grams)


Loomis GLX
Loomis GLX
Nils Folmer Jorgensen

G Loomis GLX Classic 10 feet #7

This rod was 20 years ahead of its time! When casting this rod today, I wonder what the rod manufacturers have been doing since. This rod is scary lightweight and has a nice medium/fast action that delivers so much power with exceptional feel. Many fly anglers who have been around since this particular model came out, will say that this is the best #7 rod ever made.
Its few minuses is that it is only two sections, it has a higher swing weight than newer rods, it’s difficult to find and prices are rather high. Also a 10 foot rod can be hard working into the wind.

Lines for G Loomis GLX Classic 10 feet #7

Rio Single hand Spey #7 (15.6 grams at 9.1 m)
Loop OptiFlex #7 (16 grams)


Loomis Asquith
Loomis Asquith
Nils Folmer Jorgensen

G Loomis Asquith 9 feet #8

Yes there is an #8 on my #7 list, but this is the odd one worth mentioning, and a rod I actually have used a lot. This is the first rod with multi directional carbon web, and a manufacturing process leaving less material resulting in a lower weight.
It is said every time the manufacturers launch a new rod that they are lighter and all this marketing stuff but the Asquith is with its new technology really is lightweight and – important during practical fishing – it has an extremely low swing weight!
I met the rod on an industry event in the US, but did not get what all the fuzz was about. But when I got it rigged up and on the river, I was sold.
The G Loomis Asquith is a pleasant tool to fish. Even though it is sold as a fast action rod, it is very sensitive, more than its brother NRX+ 890. It might feel stiff when swinging it in the store, but as mentioned earlier, this is just damping and recovery and on a new level. The rod will bend smoothly with a line matching the AFTM and even with a smaller fish on.
This has become my favorite "wind beater". With a length of only 9 feet, a slim blank, fast action, fast recovery and ultra low swing weight, this is a real wind cutter.
The only minus is a rather boring reel seat which does not justify the rest of the rod. I find it has a cheap feel for such an expensive rod and design wise dose not make sense. I don't understand that a company that started the trend with cool reel seats can end up with something like this.
If you want the lightest swing weight out there, check out the G Loomis Asquith.

Lines for G Loomis Asquith 9 feet #8

Nam A-Type #7 (Yes, #7. This line is 18 grams which is #8)
Rio Single hand Spey #8
Artic Silver MDS short #8 (18 grams)

Asquith #8
Asquith #8
Nils Folmer Jorgensen

Not much space
Nils Folmer Jorgensen

Great value rods

G Loomis IMX Pro 9 feet #7

I got pleasantly surprised when trying this rod and ended up buying one. This rod has all you will ever need in a high performance fly rod. Fast, great feel, in-house knowhow from G Loomis in the USA. This is one of the absolute best rods I have ever fished! So why is it only half the price of an Asquith? G loomis has saved cost by skipping the titanium guides found on Asquith and NRX, and it is said that it is not on the same technical level. Well, there there isn’t the difference indicated by the price. It lacks a little on the recovery side, but it just works. In fact it performs better than many rods out there costing the double.
The only minus is the reel seat. The flashy simple tube does not match the otherwise great looking rod. The adjusters are however ironically better than the double as expensive Asquith. Both G Loomis rods would have so much overall feel and better looks if the came with a simple yet functional black reel seat like for example the Scott Centric. Or all older G Loomis rods.

Lines for G Loomis IMX Pro 9 feet #7

Guideline Bullet #7 (15.5 gram)
Scientific Anglers SBT #8 (short belly and 15.5 grams)

Dangling a line
Dangling a line
Nils Folmer Jorgensen

Sage Foundation #7

At a Sage demo, I had the pleasure of trying all the new Sage rod range a few years back. Without knowing the pricing, I fell for one rod, which suited my needs. I was surprised to find out the was their budget rod. To find such performance in a US-built rod, backed up with a lifetime warranty is simply great value for the money.

Lines for Sage Foundation #7

Guideline Bullet #7 (15.5 gram)
Rio Single hand Spey #7 (15.6 gram at 9.1 m)


Worth mentioning

Sage RPL #7

A legendary rod! Like the G Loomis GLX it was ahead of its time. The 796 two section is not practical, but one of the best tools on the water. The first four-sectioned RPL 790 is still one of the best bonefish rods I ever fished. The quality of these rods was second to none back then. One thing is the in-house production, but Sage also knew that Struble could build a better product than they could themselves, and wisely armed the rods with rock solid Struble seats.


Winston #7
Winston #7
Nils Folmer Jorgensen

Winston BIIx #7

796-4, why did I ever sell it? Mistake by Nils Folmer!
Not a distance rod but what great and good looking tool for scatting a small riffling hitch tube.


The rudder
The rudder
Nils Folmer Jorgensen

There are many good rods out there but since many anglers have been asking me what I use, here the answer.

Reel and fish
Scott NRX 10' #8
Kype and fly
Job done
Icelandic salmon
Nils Folmer Jorgensen
Shooting rainbows
Nils Folmer Jorgensen
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