A few weeks ago, I took an in-depth look at the Winston Boron III LS 2wt. Now, as promised, here’s the second part of our 2-Weight Shootout, featuring Orvis’s Superfine Carbon in an 8’ 4pc configuration.
The Superfine Carbon series is one of my favorite graphite series currently in production. The rods are incredibly simple, and it’s obvious Orvis put all the money for these rods into the blanks themselves instead of trying to strike a balance between performance and appearance, as so many rods at the $425 price point try to do.
That’s not to say, though, that the Superfine Carbon doesn’t look nice, because it does. Unsanded blanks with no winding check – just a smooth cork-to-graphite transition – and all cork grip and reel seat give this rod a simple but attractive look. The cork is rated as “supergrade” by Orvis, and while it wasn’t on par with the Boron III LS (an $795 rod) it’s still some of the best cork I’ve seen on a rod that sells for less than $500.
You get one stripping guide and chromed snake guides, along with thread wraps that match the color of the blank. There’s a hook keep, the model number and Orvis logo stamped on the blank, and the company’s usual butt cap hardware that rounds out all the bells-and-whistles on this rod.
Where it shines is in its performance.
This rod flexes much deeper than the LS. Orvis rates it as a full-flex, and while I’m not sure I felt it flex into the cork on every cast, it certainly bends far lower in the blank than any other modern production graphite rod I’ve cast. Its action is very reminiscent of the Fisher-rolled Winstons, or the awesome Fenwick Feralite glass rods from the 70s.
However, such a deep flex gives the rod a heavier swing weight, which you wouldn’t think matters too much with a 2wt rod. After three days of fishing it, though, I had to concede the LS was easier on the arm.
Additionally, Orvis doesn’t make a 2wt Superfine Carbon at 7 feet in length. I felt 6 to be a bit short, and the 8-footer felt a bit too wobbly for my liking. The rod didn’t track as well as the LS, though both were similarly accurate at short distances.
The Superfine Carbon does pack a bit more punch with due to its casting profile, but the LS was easier to control in the wind. All in all, if you’re looking for a 2wt but don’t have the money for an LS, the Superfine Carbon is likely your best bet.
Now let’s look at some specifics.
What I liked
I paired this rod with the same reel I used on the LS – a Battenkill I with Orvis Hydros WF2F line. Initially, when I lawn-cast the Superfine Carbon, I wasn’t impressed. It didn’t feel like a rod I’d love to cast.
That changed the moment I set foot on the water with a fly on the end of the tippet. You never really can judge a rod by its lawn-casting performance, which is why on-the-water tests are so important.
It’s a pleasant rod to cast, especially when you get past 25 feet. It’s dead accurate at short distances, casting off the tip is a cinch, and the leader turnover was especially impressive.
Just for kicks, I rigged this rod up with a hopper-copper-dropper rig to see how that’d cast on a 2wt.
It went better than expected. The Superfine Carbon can roll cast well, but timing is everything since the action on this rod is so slow. It’s not your typical roll cast, and for fast-action gurus it can take some getting used to. The LS was a much faster rod.
The unsanded blanks is my favorite feature of this rod. I love the look and feel of them, and not sanding the tape lines down actually protects the rod from scratches. The Superfine Carbon also features alignment dots on the ferrules.
The cork was soft and smooth in hand, and the uplocking reel seat didn’t add any unnecessary weight. Even at a foot longer, this rod was much more balanced than the LS I tested, which featured a skeletonized aluminum reel seat.
What I didn’t like
While this rod was similarly accurate to the LS within short distances, the Superfine Carbon falls a bit short after 30 feet. While casting it that far is fun, punching tiny flies into a small pocket isn’t as easy as it was with the LS. I’m not saying the Superfine Carbon isn’t an accurate rod, but in comparison to the LS, there’s a noticeable difference. Again inside 20-25 feet, both rods were equally accurate, though you had to adjust your casting style to match each rod to achieve that accuracy.
I used this rod a bit longer than the LS because it took me longer to really know how I felt about the Superfine Carbon. Because of that, I noticed a definitely heavier swing weight than the LS features, though that’s likely attributed to the extra length and obviously the slower action. It’s a bit tiresome to throw around all day, but not unpleasant. Really, at this point I’m being a bit nitpicky, because the Superfine Carbon is an excellent rod.
I’ll be honest, there’s really no winner here. Both rods get the job done so well that picking one over the other really comes down to preference. Do you want a rod with more length? Then perhaps the Superfine Carbon is yours. Do you want something with a lighter swing weight and a bit better performance in the wind? Then look at the LS.
As far as an overall fly rod goes – the Superfine Carbon is fun. It’s fun to cast, catch fish on, and fun to show your friends. It’s exceptionally well-built, comes with Orvis’s 25-year warranty, and for $425 is a great less-expensive option. I could comfortably recommend either rod to small-stream aficionados and feel confident they’d enjoy them immensely.