Review: Stickman Rods P5 Fly Rod | Hatch Magazine

Someone in Montana has my fly rod.

Sitting at the bar at Izaak’s in Craig, Montana, a stone’s throw from the banks of the Missouri River, I’m hit with a hollow pain in the pit of my stomach. Something is wrong, but I haven’t put my finger on what yet. A moment later, I replay the end of our day and realize what it is.

We climb the steep banks of the Missouri, descend the road and return to our vehicle, put down the fishing rods, remove the wading boots in favor of flip flops, remove the waist and chest bags, rip the flies from the brims of the hats and drying patches and throwing it all in the back before heading out into town.

All but one: the Stickman P5 Stealth that I put on the roof of the Subaru Outback that we had rented for the week.

I know better. Placing a rod on the roof of a vehicle is a beginner’s gesture. So I try to shake off the hollow feeling, dismissing it as paranoia, and take another sip of my beer. But I immediately scroll through my memory of our unloading of material and realize that this hollow feeling may be there for a reason.

Returning to the cabin we rented to take inventory, and then to the last known location of the rod on the Missouri side, all doubts were dispelled. Let’s go.

Losing any rod is bad enough, but it’s considerably worse when you lose the this rod – the one you need. And, throughout the previous season, that’s exactly what the Stickman P5 Stealth had become: the rod for me.

What works

If you’re not familiar with Stickman Rods – and you probably aren’t – Stickman is a relatively new European rod company that designs and manufactures rods in Spain and Hungary. The team behind Stickman are European industry veterans who seem dedicated to their craft and their quest to build unique rods on the market. Initial Stickman Rods offerings include a 0 weight lily rod, an 8 weight saltwater series and two more traditional trout weight series – including the focus here, the 5 weight Stickman P5.


I’m not one of those anglers who, when a new rod hits the market, rushes to check the spec sheet for a one ounce count. Of course, lightweight rods are nice, especially when you plan on sticking high all day, talk about a long two-handed weight or maybe a nine-weight that you’re going to cast big flies with. But, light rods are easy to come by and a few tenths of an ounce here and there – especially in trout weight – never seem to be particularly noticeable. It’s also worth noting that, in my experience, the number scrawled next to “weight” on a rod’s specs rarely seems to correlate to how light a rod is in the hand.

But the Stickman P5 is lightweight. Really light. Despite specs that suggest it’s actually no lighter than many of its high-end 5-weight market competitors, the P5 feels as light in the hand when casting as any rod that I cast recently.

Manufacturing quality

When you step into the premium rod range, you expect uncompromising build quality and top-tier components, and you usually get it. Stickman rods are no exception, constructed with top notch components and top quality cork, Hopkins & Holloway recoil guides and tips, Stickman rods are finished in Hungary and feature a distinctive, handmade feel .

Of course, you can label this review as entirely subjective, but if you’ve owned rods from a custom rod builder who obsessed over every wrap, worked on the finish, etc., you might also agree that there’s good quality highlighted by custom. , handcrafted rods that even the most expensive rods in high-volume operations lack.

Stickman’s rods, whether due to their relatively small size or their standards of rod construction, come out of the shop with that fine, custom blacksmith quality.


The light and pretty rods are great for shaking and looking in the fly shop, but if they don’t fish well, who cares?

That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of high-end fly rods out there that fish well. No doubt there are. In fact, there are probably more great rods on the market these days (in all price ranges) than ever before.

When comparing fly rods at any price range, the most important question you should ask yourself is: which is the right one for me, for my casting style and preferences, for where I hunt fish and the ways I like to hunt them? In the range of high-end rods, this line of questioning becomes paramount, as the choices are all rods with the highest quality features, all of which probably offer excellent performance.

As noted, over several months last year Stickman’s P5 Stealth became the go to the rod in my quiver. Stickman seems to have produced something really special in the P5, especially for my casting style.

Stickman calls the P5 series “fast action,” but you probably won’t. The P5 has a distinctly medium action feel and is significantly less stiff than other rods in its price range such as the Scott Radian, G. Loomis NRX, Sage ONE, etc.

Stickman P5 Flavors

The lively rod tip is certainly not too stiff and is an asset for short casts when you won’t have enough line out of the rod to load deeper into the blank.

However, when you do, the rod will load deep into the blank, consistent with its medium action feel. But, thanks to a surprisingly decisive retrieve, the rod carries the line with great energy and does so smoothly and gracefully.

It also recovers with precision. Throws at all distances took place in accordance with the line created by the thrower.

Despite the amount of feel in the rod, it’s still a true performer delivering crisp, reliable curls even at distances over 50 feet. Will you participate in distance throwing competitions with the Stickman P5? Probably not, but it will allow you to confidently carry the line up to 60 or 70 feet and cast energetic, smooth casts.


Certainly due in large part to the action and character of the P5, this is a rod that performs in a wide variety of conditions. Whether delicately casting tiny trolls over calm spring streams or fishing big streamers in windy conditions, the Stickman P5 delivered reliably. It’s not a niche rod, which means it won’t always be the perfect tool for the job. But, thanks to its versatile nature, in an entire season of fishing the P5 Stealth, I rarely felt the need (or desire) to reach for anything else.

If there’s a trout rod more suited to be the lone star of a single-rod quiver, I haven’t cast it yet.

What doesn’t work

When we really like certain products, we struggle to find things to write about a piece of gear, clothing, etc., that aren’t perfect. There is almost always something to find. But, in the case of the Stickman P5, I won’t even care. This is a rod that I unabashedly love after hauling it around the country, and while I’m sure it has flaws, I’m not inclined to go after them.

Last word

More importantly, the Stickman P5 is simply a joy to fish. As stated there is a lot of feel in the rod and you will almost certainly be surprised at the power it has due to how quickly the blank recovers. Yet there is a smoothness to its action that evokes some of the characteristics I imagine – not being a slow cane enthusiast – attracting people to bamboo and glass, although it is unmistakably a high performance rod that can deliver even in demanding conditions.

An oft-quoted friend and far superior angler once told me that you should choose a fly rod that does what you need it to quickly and effortlessly, without you having to think about it, a rod that disappears into your hand. For me, the Stickman P5 Stealth has done just that, time and time again.

Unfortunately, it also disappeared into the brush on the side of a Missouri River pullout.

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