Overwhelmed. Amazed. In love. Shocked. Bled out. Infected (literally). Hooked on. Addicted. Just a few ways to describe my trip at the edge of uncertainty, on the Sudanese Nubian Flats, in May. The EDGE Gamma Beta fly rods by Gary Loomis provided me with ample, dependable, top of the line performance during my first saltwater adventure in Africa. The EDGE Gamma Beta fly rods redefine top performance (II) covers the last part of the review – I decided to split it since the words alone covered almost 6 pages.
Fast Action with a Soul
I called the EDGE 890-4F action „fast with a soul” and you will see why the more you will read down the review. For starters, let’s say the action is fast, but the rod will provide ample feedback to the angler’s hand during bending under the casting stroke and the weight of the line. It’s so intuitive it won’t require your full concentration like a hyperultrafast telegraph pole, instead it will let you focus more on the fish in front of you and the fishing.
How much fast is fast? Having fished and cast with some of the fastest rods of their time, how does the EDGE Gamma Beta 8 wt. feel in terms of „rod action”? I’ve run some static deflection tests with the rod and it bends quite in the upper third of the blank, showing its true, fast nature.
Bend is just one way to assess rod action since the recovery rate is what makes the rod return to initial, straight shape, and imparts most of the speed to the line, along with rod movement, double haul speed and other factors. Here are some pictures to help you make an initial idea of how the EDGE fly rod flexes.
Tip dampening or „getting rid of the parasite vibrations”
The EDGE 890-4F dampens so quickly after each cast and the residual vibrations/oscillations of the tip section are kept to a very low minimum, which means more energy is put into the cast to help you reach longer distances with less effort. Quicker dampening also translates into less wiggles on the bottom leg of casting loop. Lighter and advanced graphite blanks will perform like that because there’s less mass to recover after each energy storage (bending or loading) and release (returning to the straight shape after the stop of the casting stroke). This is PARAMOUNT FEATURE for a top performance fly rod and a true measure of the technology and cutting-edge design put into this fine piece of engineering. This also means that you won’t have to dampen the rod after each stop of the casting motions, back and forth – or at least, you won’t need to pay attention to that matter anymore.
Here’s a short video to see how the tip acts during the casting strokes – the Rod Tip Dampening footage:
I had so much confidence in the EDGE rods that I only brought them with me in Sudan, leaving the 9 wt. at home. Considering the conditions during the 6 days of fishing were the worst of the season, with strong winds around 20 to 25 knots every day, some would find that not very wise. Long story short: when others were already reaching for their 10 weights right in the afternoon of Day 1, I was fishing with the EDGE 890-4F, a true 8 wt., with an Airflo Tropical Punch WF9 floating – a line with a 40′ head that actually weighs close to a 10 weight (real weight is 9 and 3/4). How did I do?
Except for guide’s requests in the first day to make some almost impossible long casts into the wind and without any previous practice with the EDGE rods, I didn’t feel bad for leaving the 9 wt. at home. Sure, a 9 or a 10 wt. rod would have been nice, but all in all, the EDGE 8 wt. handled the 10 wt. line with much more authority that I would have expected.
A 12-year break from fly fishing leaves a mark upon anyone’s casting technique, especially if all he did before was trout fishing. Let’s put it this way: in saltwater fly fishing, if you can’t cast, you can’t fish. And the wind is ever present on the flats or at least that was the case during that week on the Nubian Flats. Tourette Fishing guys said that they had like 5 weeks of flat calm before we dropped in on Monday, 22nd of May.
Well, since I’m no Rajeff nor Siem, finding myself in the waist-deep water with a 20 to 25 knots wind relentlessly blowing against your casts could be an overwhelming experience, at least in the beginning. The guide kept on spotting trigger fish feeding on the beautiful flats of Shambaya Island and he was insisting on making super long casts. If you never fished for trigger fish before, you should know they’re very spooky and in a way, I understand the guide’s urge to present the fly from as far as possible.
A parenthesis on the weather
The conditions were absolutely horrible with some very narrow windows during the first and the last morning of the trip. So, there I was with some rods I didn’t get to use them before, a right forearm muscle strain that’s still in effect to this day and a beginner in the „saltwater scene”.
The weather changed for the worse in the very afternoon of the first day of fishing, Tuesday (only the morning was „fishable”). Wednesday we found ourselves stranded aboard the My Scuba Libre 60-foot catamaran, which was already dancing on the rough waves. The head guide decided to cancel fishing that day because of the very strong winds and high waves, for safety reasons.
Everybody, meet Windy Wednesday – she’s a nasty:
These were the conditions we had to fish into since the Tuesday to Saturday, and then on Sunday morning gave us a bit of slack until noon, when it came back in full force.
The weather parenthesis above is important in a fly rod’s review or assessment, since the wind could be the no. 1 public enemy of the fly anglers especially on the open flats, where the winds are a constant presence. Still, what we’ve experienced during our trip was worse than the average you will encounter anywhere in the Tropics.
Considering all the above, the first morning session I caught my first trigger fish with the help of the guide. Then, I was left on my own since the guide went to assist the next angler in catching his first trigger. In the next couple of hours, I had the time to get better acquainted with the EDGE 890-4F, I’ve caught my biggest trigger fish of the trip and have landed that titan alone, then I’ve also hooked on another 3 or 4 good fish that got away while fighting them.
Here’s also the video of my first trigger caught all alone <**()))))))<
I think I can say the rod literally gave me the edge on that day and the following ones: it was perfectly loading with the 40′ head outside the tip and another 5 to 10′ feet of overhang. As mentioned above, it was a „point & shoot” game. I was spotting the triggers dancing in the water, and laying a 60′ cast was a breeze when fishing with the wind on one of the shoulders or with it behind. Against it was a struggle in the afternoon with anything less than 10 weight setups, but I did manage some decent casts. Still, the best strategy was to let the wind help your casts and presentations.
The EDGE Gamma Beta 8 wt. is a FAST action rod with a positive bend and ample feedback provided to the angler. With the WF9 it was a „point & shoot” game: I was picking the line, making maximum 3 false casts, then shooting the rest of the line to reach my targets even against +20 knots wind. The EDGE 890-4F accuracy is as best as one could hope for and I think it will vary with one’s casting skills. Yet, the very quick dampening qualities, the fast action and the recovery speed are all responsible of the the EDGE’s accuracy.
The rod casts effortlessly from close to medium fishing range, that would be between 10′ to 70′. It’s true I had a heavier line than the rod’s rating, but the EDGE didn’t seem to run out of steam at 50 to 70′, even with that „almost a WF10 line”.
As a beginner in saltwater fly fishing, I had an unbelievable first morning session, and the EDGE rod helped me in reaching those fish and fighting them. That’s a superbly balanced rod that will provide extended feedback, it’s what I call „Fast with a Soul”. EDGE rods made use of Temple Fork Outfitters advisory staff, including the legend Lefty Kreh, and the results are showing not in bright marketing and advertising terms, but in raw performance where it matters most: on the water.
The guide’s reaction when he cast the rod for the first time was something like „Wow, that’s a nice rod you’ve got. You can leave it with me.” That was an overlined rod with a line weighing almost 2 AFTM classes in addition. This summer I will also test it with some 8 and 9 WF lines I bought as a backup for the trip.
I think this might make an incredibly fine bonefish rod seeing how Bahamas guys are so keen on 8 weight rods in their quest for the gray ghosts of the flats.
The EDGE Gamma Beta 890-4F is an amazing rod to cast and an extremely fun rod to fish: it has a powerful butt and mid-section to put the brakes and turn around just about any trigger fish. The guys were saying that pound for pound, triggers pull a lot harder than the bonefish, taking the 9 wt. rod to their limits.
The EDGE 890-4F fought the triggers with lots of authority and felt like a perfect mix of power and feel. It was also fun when I caught some coral groupers on Friday – even with such a small fish the rod was nicely bending.
Small but full of needle-sharp teeth:
I believe that’s a real 8 wt. by AFTM (Association of Fishing Tackle Manufacturers) standards, with lots of power for saltwater use. The AFTM table is a scale of line weights. The heavier the line, the higher the AFTM number. The manufacturers weigh the first 10 yards excluding the level tip and rate the line according to the table.
Here is the table with the weights from 8 to 12 according to AFTM:
|AFTM class||In grains (range)||In grams||In ounces|
|8||210 +/- 8||13.61||0.48|
|9||240 +/- 10||15.55||0.55|
|10||280 +/- 10||18.14||0.64|
|11||330 +/- 12||21.38||0.75|
|12||380 +/- 12||24.62||0.86|
I was fishing a much heavier line yet the rod managed that with grace and energy despite the tough conditions on the Nubian Flats. The power is there when you needed but the rod doesn’t feel stiff, heavy or under rated.
Another yellow-margin bites the ugly fly – watch the video below>>
Ergonomics (equally important when you’re hurt)
I would like to insist on dynamic ergonomics of the EDGE 890-4F rather that its full wells grip, very comfortable to hold during a 6-full day trip.
First, when you pick it up and when you cast it, the EDGE 890-4F feels like a 6 weight at most. That also makes for a minimal swing weight, which translates into longer casting sessions on the water with less fatigue for the angler. I arrived already „damaged” in Sudan with my right forearm busted, still the EDGE rod didn’t cause any aggravations.
Thursday I had a really bad day and the forearm hurt a lot, but after putting the elastic bandage and some anti-inflammatory Diclofenac, the afternoon session I was casting the 11 wt. on the reef, against the waves and the wind. And the 11 wt. didn’t bring more pain on my arm at all – contrary to other people’s beliefs. On Friday I was almost like new, except for the cuts and bruises on my legs as a result of fishing from the coral reef. „Fishing” might be an exaggerated term when I remember the tumbles I took in the waves, but at least I tried.
One of the best things of this first saltwater trip for me was not the fishing nor the breathtaking scenery, but the surprise the 2 EDGE rods came to be every day. I didn’t hook into any GT, and out of the very few ones that have shown up, one encounter could hardly have been qualify as a shot. The boat was going too fast and the fish spooked right away. Now I’m constantly training with the 11 wt. EDGE rod so next year I’ll be better prepared for such encounters. Until then, I’m planning to catch some large pike with the 11 wt. in the New Hotel Egreta private waters that should hold the best population of 1-meter pike in Romania.
Even so, the trigger fish I caught on the Nubian Flats were a blast from hooking to fighting, not to mention the ones that got away. The EDGE Gamma Beta 890-4F was there for me when I needed it and provided me with tons of fun, performance and a super reliable experience. In the past, rods built by Gary Loomis were nothing but the best. Nowadays, the EDGE fly rods by Gary Loomis are climbing directly on top because they carry some serious high performance with them, which in my eyes makes them some of the best fly rods in existence. I’m planning getting back to the Nubian Flats next year, and the EDGE rods will be right there with me, ready for more adventures on the edge of uncertainty.