The Douglas Outdoors line of DXF rods are potentially lost in the revamp among many new mid-priced offerings from well-known fishing rod manufacturers. Based in upstate New York near the Salmon River on the east coast, Douglas Outdoors is a small rod company that makes some of the best rods I have fished for most of the last decade that I spent, among other things, reviewing fishing gear (and especially fly rods, in addition) to make a living.
The DXF rods – of which I fished the 8’6 “4wt, 9’5wt and 11 ‘3wt – impressed me with their attention to detail, especially considering their price. Chances are you won’t be impressed. by the components or the build quality, but when you fish it I bet you will be in awe.
The DXF 9’5wt adapts to your classic all-purpose mussel anglers that 5wt rods have come to expect. It’s not a super fast rod, but regardless, the DXF feels great in the hand when casting streamers, drys, nymph platforms, or whatever else you tie up on a day of fishing. It’s forgiving enough that novice casters won’t have a hard time getting their flies where they want them, while experienced anglers can really get the DXF to work.
A good fishing buddy of mine grabbed the 9’5wt DXF from my quiver on a recent trip to Oregon. Late season BWOs were doing pretty well, but low water and wary fish required 7x tippet. My boyfriend landed several 18-20 inch brunettes without breaking the tip.
This is largely how you play fish, but a soft tip that absorbs big runs and hard head jerks certainly helps.
The softer tips also help steal the presentation. It’s not a precision dry-flight tool like their Upstream Plus series, but for an all-in-one 5wt the DXF does a decent job. I had no problem setting the line gently, and the rod did not suffer when turning long dry fly leaders.
The DXF rod family is not Douglas’ flagship product, but it is representative of all it has to offer. Matte green blanks, hard chrome snake guides, SiC stripping guides and matching dark green wire wraps complete a surprisingly nice cork grip with a beautiful burl wood reel seat insert. Double locking rings – constructed from lightweight aluminum – keep your reel secure.
Photo: Spencer Durrant
What does not work
Most mid-priced rods have a heavy swing weight, and the DXF is no exception. When loading the 9’5wt with a heavier streamer, the swinging weight was especially noticeable.
Your arm won’t drop after a day of DXF fishing, but you’ll feel the weight as your casts get sloppy towards the end of a day’s session on the river.
The soft tip is ideal for playing larger fish on light tips and for delicate presentations. However, there is enough wobble in the tip that you really need to work for accuracy when casting from a distance. A proficient pitcher can get the DXF to land flies accurately up to 50 feet. Beyond that you will notice the wobble of the tip affecting the placement of the flies.
The 9’5wt DXF is one of the most impressive mid-priced rods I’ve caught. The blanks are laminated in Korea and the quality is comparable to other mid-priced rods, even some that produce their blanks in the country. It has the backbone to play and fight big fish, but a tip soft enough to avoid breaking light tips. If you prefer slower rods or are looking for a rod for delicate presentations of small dry flies, you will likely find better choices elsewhere. But as a do-it-all artist, the DXF makes a worthy addition to a rod collection.
In fact, few rods fish as well as the DXF without compromising on quality or charging a similar price to my mortgage payment. At $ 349, the DXF is a steal.