A Review of the Syndicate REAVER Series Fly Rods
In early talks regarding the build of the new REAVER series fly rod, I was skeptical. And to be honest, I was a bit hesitant to believe that such a change in traditional rod building would be successful. However, I was excited to see a change to something we have all just accepted as the way it is. When we buy a new fly rod, we all understand that it will come with an aluminum reel seat, a cork grip, and a standardized series of guides along with a graphite or fiberglass blank, but at what point do we branch out? At what point do we explore different material options for building fly rods?
The REAVER was designed and built specifically to accommodate the needs of the tight line nymphing angler, which is why Syndicate explored new material options. Having fished the REAVER rod for the last couple of weeks, I can now say with complete sincerity that Syndicate nailed it. Here is why -
1) Titanium Reel Seat
When it comes to fly rod components, the goal is to keep them lightweight and strong, which is why aluminum is the standard practice for a reel seat on a multipurpose rod. The REAVER rod is built with a pure grade titanium reel seat that is slightly heavier than aluminum but is stronger and more durable than aluminum as well. Not only does titanium allow for a final product void of extra coatings to fade away with time, but it gives an extra bit of weight to the butt of the rod. This helps to balance the outfit with a smaller, lighter reel. Gone are the days of oversizing reels just to balance the rod!
2) Polyetherimide Hammer Style Grip
The grip on the REAVER series fly rod is where the biggest change to traditional rod building happened. Where did the cork go? Syndicate is not the first company to utilize a non-cork material for a rod grip, but they are the first to use a material that actually enhances the fly rod's feel - not just to give it a new look. Cork is great, but it dampens feel the same way rubbery golf grips and foam-filled carbon fiber handles do, which is the opposite of the need for a tight line nymphing angler. The REAVER handle is 3D printed using a Polyetherimide thermoplastic and specifically designed to fit each size blank. Being hollow and connected via two fins, the grip actually transfers the feel of the blank directly to the hand, making it more sensitive than any other tight line nymphing rod I have fished.
I will admit that the hammer handle style grip was a bit strange at first, but after a few moments of fishing, it all made sense. With the flat sides, the rod will always be properly positioned in the anglers' hand with just about any grip style.
Being a bit shorter than standard grips allows the angler's hand to be positioned further back on the rod, adding to the easy balance with a lighter reel without the need for a down locking reel seat. This also adds the benefit of the reel and hand being lower down on the butt of the fly rod to achieve a better balance in hand, making it more comfortable throughout the day.
3) An Extra Stripping Guide
I never knew I would even want an extra stripping guide closer to my hand while European nymphing until it was there. Now I understand. Instead of relying on a thin diameter fly line or a long mono leader to limit the hanging loops between my hand and the first stripping guide, I can now rely on the extra guide. While I will continue to use the Euro-specific fly line, I can see an instance where a standard weight forward floating line could also be used to tight line nymph effectively without losing contact with the flies. This would make an easier transition to fishing dry flies when needed.
Another benefit of the extra stripping guide is that the line always hangs close to the angler's hand for quick pickup of a dropped line. Also worth mention, Recoil guides span the length of the rod that can be flattened to the blank without breakage, and fewer broken guides equal more time on the water.
4) A thinner, powerful, yet responsive blank
While the blank of the Reaver is a bit smaller in diameter than the Pipeline series rods of the same size, the rod itself has a stronger backbone and a bit more power than the Pipeline. My first thought was that the Reaver seemed more flexible than the Pipeline, but they have a very similar action when compared side to side. The Reaver does cast a bit smoother and recovers faster after a cast, though.
5) Outfit weight and balance is easier than ever
In my time, I have set up countless customers with tight line nymphing outfits, and one of the top criteria when doing so is to properly balance the rod with the correct reel. Typically, this ends up with the purchase of an oversized reel to balance out the longer rod, but I have even wrapped lead weight around the arbor of smaller reels. Those days are over.
While the actual weight of the Reaver rod is heavier than the Pipeline rod of equal size, it balances with a smaller reel, which results in a lighter outfit weight overall. That is great news when you gotta hold your arm up all day long!