I like to combine travel with fly fishing. During these adventures, I’ve found that I possess one particular skill, probably not unique to myself. I break rods. Lots of them. I’ve broken rods in all the normal ways. I’ve slammed them in car doors. I’ve damaged them with a sloppy cast propelling a weighted streamer in to the graphite at 100 miles per hour. I’ve erroneously gripped the rod above the cork while connected to a heavy chum salmon, and watched as the rod exploded in to a thousand little pieces. I’ve certainly stepped on several. I’ve also broken rods in uncommon ways. I’ve stripped too hard against a frozen guide and broken the tip off a rod. I once threw a fit of childish frustration after catching a tree, and broke the rod while trying to pull the fly out of the tree. Now that I think about it, I’ve actually done that twice. Once, my cat actually ate the tip off of a rod.
Rods tend to have a special propensity to break while on fly fishing trips. At this point, I essentially count on at least one rod breaking per trip. Therefore, I think it is important to possess rods that allow for some versatility. Specialized rods good for only one purpose are fun (I certainly own a couple), but for fly fishing travel, you need a stick that can perform a multitude of tasks. When one rod breaks, I need another rod that can fill the broken rod’s role, even if that role was not its original intended purpose. With an Alaskan trip in sight, this is what I had in mind when I set out to purchase a new, versatile “big trout” rod.
Enter Scott’s newest offering, the Centric. A 9-foot 7-weight Centric is ultimately the rod I chose as my all-around big trout rod. This rod excels in so many areas it almost feels like a specialty rod when applied to different tasks. Throwing big streamers with a heavy sinking line? No problem. Tossing a weighted nymph rig long distances? There are not many better options. Delicately placing a size 16 caddis in front of a big grayling? The Centric hangs in there. I even used it as a hopper/dropper rod late this summer, and it may be the best rod in my quiver for this purpose.
Like any Scott rod, the craftsmanship on the Centric is impeccable. The 7-weight has a stout fighting butt, which comes in handy when hooked up with a mega trout. It excels in mid range and long range casting. At 30 feet of distance and longer, the line literally sings through the guides with minimal effort. Short casts are doable, but feel a bit clunky. But hey, this is a 7-weight, and I didn’t buy this rod to catch 8-inch brook trout in high mountain pocket water on 10 foot casts. If you’re searching for a rod to blast long casts with streamers all day, the Centric is an awesome rod, but its cousin, the Sector, may be the best rod ever created for that purpose. I don’t feel like the Sector is as versatile as the Centric, however.
The only real drawback I can think of with this rod is a common problem with all Scott rods in my experience. If you fish the rod straight out of the tube after purchase, the rod is highly prone to coming apart at the most proximal ferrule after a few hours of casting. This can result in cracked ferrules, and a disappointing trip back to the factory in Montrose for repair/replacement. This problem is easily mitigated with the application of a small amount of ferrule wax before use.
I paired my new Centric with a Sage Spectrum Max reel. When it comes to reels and trout fishing, I really only care about one thing. I hate start-up inertia. Start-up inertia is a term that characterizes the difference between static friction and kinetic friction of a reel. I’m not a physicist, so I will explain this by saying that it takes more force to get a reel’s drag in motion from a stop than it does to keep it in motion. Reels with higher amounts of start-up inertia will put the angler at risk of breaking off a fish as soon as it starts to run, as the fish places a higher degree of force on the tippet as the static friction in the reel is overcome. The start-up inertia on the Spectrum Max is imperceptible. The first big brown trout that took line from me on this reel demonstrated that the start-up inertia on the Spectrum Max is negligible.
The Spectrum Max has another nice feature, in that it labels the amount of drag on the drag dial 1-20. Therefore, the angler does not have to guess about the amount of drag being applied at a given time. I turned the dial to 14 and stopped a sea-fresh silver salmon in its tracks. I have to imagine there is bandwidth on this reel to handle smaller saltwater fish like bonefish with ease.
These days, we are spoiled with so many great companies making incredible rods and reels. I probably could have chosen a number of other rod/reel combinations which would have equally satisfied my desire to own a versatile big trout rig. But after a few months with my new set-up, I have reason to believe that a 7-weight Scott Centric paired with a Sage Spectrum Max is about as good as it gets for a do-it-all trophy trout hunter.