If you don’t count any of the newly added sticks in my vintage cane collection, it’s been a while since I bought a new cane for myself that sparked an honest Wow. The Orvis Helios 3D was the last rod I reviewed that got me thinking, I need it for myself, in a few different weights and lengths, just for good measure.
Then a new Douglas Sky G 9 ‘5wt arrived in the mail, and I once again found myself trying to cook my books to find the money to add one to my quiver. This cane is special.
Like most new flagship rods, it was built using cutting edge technology – in this case, what Douglas calls “G-Tec” pads (small pieces of graphene) added to the resin matrix. Sky G. If you are not familiar with graphene, at ten times the strength of steel (but with only 5% of the density), graphene is one of the strongest materials known to the world. man. Additionally, and in part thanks to its new technology, the Sky G also follows the recent design trend of a more minimalist construction approach, in favor of investing more money in pristine design and production. In other words, Douglas didn’t spend any money trying to make the Sky G sexy, although I’m sure many anglers will appreciate the low-profile and subtle craftsmanship of the rod.
What sets the Sky G apart, however, is what the late Tom Morgan once told me that all fly rods should do. Tom – who owned Winston and is responsible for their stay in Montana – said the best fly rods are the ones that fish the best. It doesn’t matter if you can throw it upside down – the real measure of a rod is how it acts on the water. In this area, the Sky G excels and stands out from its peers.
So what makes it so awesome? Let’s take a more detailed look.
The Sky G 9 ‘5wt – currently the only configuration available, although 8 and 6wt models are on the way – clock at 2.7 oz, according to the folks at Yellowstone Angler. It is noticeably light in the hand and is lighter than any other rod in its class that I have fished. In fact, the Sky G is so light that I wondered how it would handle longer casts, heavier flies, and big fish. It does these tasks exceptionally well, with a weight / performance ratio reminiscent of Fisher’s first pre-IM6 and IM6 Winston graphite rods rolled by Fisher.
This is where the Sky G struts. When you give it the old fly shop move, the rod flexes through its top third section, looking and feeling both like a faster-acting rod. The minute you line it up, however, you realize the rod has a surprisingly nice, medium-fast action that loads deep into the middle of the blank. The rapid recovery of the blank, however, ensures that the Sky G does not enter the oft-maligned territory of a slow-acting graphite rod.
What all of this means is that over the traditional distances for trout – 15 to 40 feet – you have almost unmatched feel and control over your fly line. Since the rod loads so deep into the blank, you get more feedback to improve the timing of your throws. And, using that large chunk of white to throw, coupled with his quick recovery, generates high line speeds and shocking amounts of power.
Or, in other words, I can throw a 15 foot leader with three dry flies at 50 feet without using a double stroke.
Power and line speed
I mentioned them above, but they deserve their own section.
While fishing a gnat trap last week, I was throwing 60-70ft casts (not because I needed them, mind you – I wanted to put the Sky G to the test), letting them drift for a few feet, then pick up anywhere from 45-55 feet of line. The goal was to see how many lines I could pick up and throw in one move. And, unless I was out of sync with my throw, the Sky G picked up the line every distance I tried.
Add line speed to that power and you have a rod that will extend and hit the trout at any distance. Often times I would finish my cast, only to have the line learned against the drag of my reel. Flies fly through the air, delivered on time and on target.
Accuracy and presentation
The problem that plagued faster-acting rods has always been their presentation. Often times, faster action will cause your fly line to hit the water with more force. This causes anglers to try to pull a bit on their cast, in the hopes of softening a fly’s landing, and their accuracy decreases.
Lately we have seen these issues solved by most of the major fishing rod manufacturers. Douglas didn’t miss the memo, as the Sky G is both incredibly precise, yet delivers flies with a subtle grace that often lacks faster sticks.
I have had several other experienced anglers who have spent time with the Sky G and each of them spontaneously noticed the precision of the rod.
What does not work
I’ve heard the argument for one-legged guides – that fewer guides reduce weight, improve flex of a cane, etc. And it may be true. But I like the safety and appearance of a snake guide, and there’s no reason not to use them on an $ 800 rod.
It’s a small thing, but I’d love to see better quality cork on the Sky G. The rod costs $ 795, but it still sports a handle lined with burnt cork rings. Plus, the cap itself is significantly inferior, in terms of quality, to what you’ll find on other $ 800 rods.
The Sky G is a fantastic rod. Douglas took him out of the park with this stick, and it’s a stick that has already earned a permanent place in my quiver. The unique smooth rod action combined with high line speed gives anglers extreme precision and power – useful for both long casts and big fish. I had no problem flipping long dry fly leaders, dry dropper rig, or streamers and sink tips. Its light weight and sleek overall design will make it a popular product in fly shops. With the moderate-fast action offered by the Sky G, you will probably be hard pressed to find a better rod for the 15- to 40-foot distance.
Now, I am not saying that a rod is the âbestâ currently available. What is best is simply too subjective to be quantified.
What I will say, however, is that the Sky G has earned a place among the best fishing rods that I would recommend to anyone looking to buy a new high end fly rod. It’s a truly unique rod that deserves as much attention as the latest offerings from the biggest names in the industry.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE DOUGLAS SKY G (via Douglas Outdoors)
Spencer Durrant is a fly fishing writer, outdoor columnist and novelist from Utah. Spencer’s work has appeared in several national publications including Field & Stream, Gray’s Sporting Journal, Hatch Magazine, Trout Magazine and others. Connect with him on Instagram / Twitter, @Spencer_Durrant.