MY DEMANDS for an eight-weight fly rod? They are, in no particular order: versatility in terms of what species I can bring in, enough backbone to rapidly and adequately get out a 4-to-6-inch needlefish pattern (or weighted crab/clouser), a reasonable level of sensitivity, and full-day comfort in casting (something I wouldn’t necessarily expect from a #10). And the last feature is what I expect in all rods: a well-balanced and calibrated blank.
Mystic fly rods have been in development for several years, but they’ve only been available since 2007. In the short time since then, Mystic Outdoors LLC has earned its rightful place among the big boys. The company owners are obsessive about their small stable of products (ten fresh water models and three for salt). A quick glance tells you Mystic’s Tremor saltwater rods are premium fishing instruments. Standard rod specs include a hi-gloss sapphire blue finish, multi-density cork end piece, salt-resistant reel-seat that sports rubber 0-rings on the up-locks, stainless steel stripper guides with matching blue ceramic inserts, color-matched wrappings and a nicely integrated hook keeper.
I’ve mentioned in past articles that some manufacturers have been spending much effort in developing a perfectly balanced rod by focusing on the middle of a blank. Let’s face it, every component of a rod has a direct bearing on its performance, but what really completes a rod’s character is the midsection. It will dictate how effectively the rod carries the line weight, while also being responsible for much of the tip movement dynamics. The Tremor blank, which is an extra 3″ over the average 9-footer, is calibrated to have wide appeal. The common pattern in saltwater models is a stiff butt accompanied by a stiff-to-moderately-stiff mid-section and tip. The Tremor stands out primarily because the tip sections are a touch more supple than you’d expect in the standard salt water blank formula, and the midsection is a touch heavier than you’d expect, which may sound a little odd, but these variables line up well. An angler I lent the rod to (for about 20 minutes) found the tip just a little too supple but conceded that it was an obvious plus for delicate deliveries and strike detection. Rather than losing needlefish patterns to small, roving barracudas (I did a little experimenting and decided not to use stainless bite guards), I managed to detect the faintest of strikes and took in a couple before they could manage any serious chomping.
Saltwater aficionados will appreciate the slightly oversized line guides (both the gauge and diameter), but bear in mind that this is a light-weight rod built to handle more challenging small-to-mid-size permit, bonefish, jack, barracuda and snapper. My #8 even took a little unexpected abuse when I was caught off guard and unintentionally high-sticked a smallish jack. The rod survived, and I got a quick refresher on how not to handle a fly rod when fishing from a dock.
The #8 Tremor tested lists at a reasonable $479. Hardware/cosmetics are comparable to anything you’ll see on rods twice the price.
Two noteworthy bits of design and finishing: the handsome anodization of reel seat components, and the integrated hook keeper designed with two forward-facing slots in the seat itself. The advantage for this style of hook keeper is that it protects the hook point from damage and the angler from any unexpected encounters with the sharp end of the fly.
Rod designers and builders have been after the holy grail of rod dynamics for a long time: making that 4-piece feel and act like a one-piece. These days, several manufacturers have attained this goal, Mystic being one of them. The Tremor SW (salt water) rods will easily win over even the most demanding salt water anglers.
Pros: Light, responsive, balanced blank. Top-notch manufacturing, materials and hardware. Rates high on the quality/price scale. Excellent for small-to-medium-sized salt water species.
Con: Rod tube sock doesn’t tie down properly and needs a re-design. Swanky, super-hi-gloss, carbon fiber rod tube looks more at home in a modern art museum rather than protecting a fishing rod (yes, it matches the rod’s color and finish and sports one of the fanciest screw-caps around).
Price: $479 for the 4-piece 8-weight. Includes rod tube and sock.
Rating: 9.25 out of 10
Full specs, including pricing, for the Mystic Tremor series rods can be found on the Mystic Web site.