One-handed fly-fishing rods from Aliexpress have long been successfully conquering the market and the minds of russian fly fishing enthusiasts. Especially those who are just beginning practice fly-fishing. On the same blanks, in one place and approximately the same assembled, they come to us under the names Maximumcatch, V Explorer, … The idea of getting a compleet combo for about $45 US dollars total seems to be very attractive. Espetially when the combo consist of the rod, a reel, a fly-line, and a box with a dozen flies. You can read about what I think about this in my article on testing budget one-handed fly-fishing rods.
But two-handed budget сhinese fly-fishing rods under chinese brands have not yet come across to my eyes. I think the main reason is that «two-handed» fly fishermen (they are also salmon-fishermen) are on average more prosperous than their «one-armed» counterparts and are less inclined to experiment with budget tackle. In addition, the requirements for salmon tackle are traditionally and justifiably higher than for rods and reels for fishing pike, zander etc.
But unexpectedly lucky — one of my student purchased Maximumcatch V-Spey 14 ′ # 9/10 4 sec on Aliexpress. A description of the motives of the purchase are behind the scope of this article. $110 for the rod + $25 for delivery, 2 weeks of waiting — and we are on the Moskva-River, eternally flowing below the center of the capital, under the Brateevsky bridge. We are — the owner of the fishing rod Dmitriy, a full bag of various two-handed lines, I and the hero of today:
For $135 Dima got the rod, a tube and a cloth case. The case is made of bright blue quite decent fabric; it looks especially cheerful and contrasting in the snow. I would prefer the ties on the case from a more natural and softer braid, synthetic ones tend to untie at the knot. The tube is like a tube, neatly sewn. But it was cracked during shipping. It is unlikely that the reason is poor-quality fittings (a piece of plumbing pipe, like everyone else), most likely it was just a little unlucky — somewhere it was crushed heavily along the way. «Little unlucky» because the rod itself was not damaged! The exterior of the rod is not particularly sophisticated, but not terrible either — a pleasant matte varnish on the blank, contrasting bright blue windings of the guides. The guides on the verge of «passable»: 2 cheap stripping guides with ceramic rings, running guides and top giude — hard chrome wire. The running guides are english snakes, which is good. But their size raises questions: they are somewhat smaller than they usually put on two-handed rods, and too sharp change in height from stripping guides to runnings. You can also find fault with the alignment of the rings — not critical, but «wobble».
Combine the fishing rod together: no complaints about the joints, everything is neatly adjusted. The connections are not spigot and it is not surprise — it is expensive, much more status brands have long abandoned spigot. It is striking (more precisely, it is clearly felt by the hands) that the handle for the 14′ fishing rod is clearly short, 5-6 centimeters of length is definitely not enough. If desired, the length of the handle is easy to increase — there are no guides on the lower section of the rod. But the reel seat is quite decent — aluminum and neat, with two nuts, gives the impression of being reliable (further tests confirmed the assumption). It is a pity that the manufacturer has put the reel seat in the «uplock» position, it is easier and more convenient to attach the reel into «downlock» on two-handed rods.
The assembled fishing rod (whithout line) feels like powerful and heavy. But conversations about «whithout line» are very meaningless, we put a flyline and go into the water. Being already well acquainted with the one-handed Maximumcatch flyrods, I expected viscous graphite and a noticeably weakened tip compared to the middle part and the bat of the rod. So I decided to start the test with #7/8 scandinavian head. And I was mistaken — the rod is clearly more powerful. We put a similar line # 9/10 — the rod starts working, the loops fly out energetic and slender, the presentation at working fishing distances (30m +) is very even. But there is no happiness … Like sex under anesthesia — there is a result, but no sensations. The loading does not reach the handle, there is no feeling of a «live» fishing rod in the hands. Then we put a longer flyline — 17m, 51 grams weight. Line and flies, presentation is OK — a working version. But the casts occur with the upper half of the blank, below the rod almost does not work. The bottom third of the blank is an almost rigid stick. In this photo, you can clearly see how the fishing rod behaves under load (here and below in the photo Dima, the owner of the stick):
But we are not used to retreating and will load the butt! We take a risk and put a casting line for the Spey-15: length 21.5 m, weight 64 (!) grams. (By the way, the photo above was taken with the same line). The bottom of the blank came on:
But the upper third of the rod «died» under such a load. As a result, the butt end of the heavy line is thrown out by the middle and lower parts of the blank to a decent distance, but the front of the line cannot be opened. It is noteworthy that the rod under such a line did not break, although it had an excellent chance: on one of the casts, Dima droped a very excessive anchor and jerked forward sharply. Imagination immediately completed the further tragedy, but it did not happen. Maybe the matter is in the technology «Maxcommand» declared by the manufacturer, which increases (according to the same manufacturer) the strength of the blank by 35%. I am writing this with some irony, but I observed the fact with my own eyes.
So, it turned out that the rod is very powerful and strong, but its action is very skewed: there is a very large difference in springiness between the upper part of the rod and the lower one. For fishing with a fly-rod of such action, heavy short and medium-bodied heads can be recommended: scandinavian and short spey from 10 to 17 meters long, #9 and above. There is practically no upper limit on the weight of the fly-line)).
It was already clear how the rod would operate with skagit line, but for the purity of the experiment, also also put skagit: 475 grains head 6 meters + 10-foot sinking tip + medium massive streamer on a 2-meter leader. For the «classic» skagit casting, a deep action rod is more preferable. Such rod allows itself to be continuously loaded with continuous adhesion of the line to the water and then gives its energy to the line in the same way, smoothly and powerfully sending forward a heavy and/or bulky fly. All this, of course, is not about our today’s stuff. But there is a «semi-skagit» cast technique is widespread there. When the fly-fisherman builds an active D-loop with his skagit head (like with a scandinavian head in Snap-C cast) and then makes a smooth forward throw. This technique requires a heavier head, but is more intuitive and easier to learn. And a fly-fishing rod with a J-action is quite suitable for such technique. As confirmation — Dima (while he mastered the «half-skagit») threw far and stably, and was satisfied with the skagit set on the tested rod. The recommended skagit weight for this rod is from 500 grains.
It’s time for resume. There will be two resumes — «from Dima» and «from me.»
Dima’s Resume. Dima was seriously worried that his emotional impulse to buy was money to burn and after testing the rod he would no longer want to take «this» in his hands. Such a low expectation and the fact that Dima has just begun to form his fly-fishing arsenal are the main reasons that he was satisfied with the rod. And he plans to catch pike, zander etc. with this particular rod on the Oka River in the Moscow Region and on the Dnieper River near Smolensk City. Dima has not yet reached the salmon rivers, we plan to fix this next summer.
My Resume. The rod under discussion — is the cheapest ticket to the world of two-handed fly-fishing. At the initial stage of development, the question of how to «somehow cast» is much more relevant than «to enjoy the cast.» So — from the rod pleasure can not be extracted, but it casts really not bad. If your journey into the world of fly-fishing turns out to be long and you want to not only cast, but also get tactile pleasure from it, then you will inevitably want another tool. The fate of Maximumcatch in this case is to become a reserve rod or be presented to a friend — a beginner fly fisherman. I guess that there is very little chance of selling the used Maximumcatch, even for little money. The reasons are described at the beginning of this article. Although over time, the situation may change. The main rison for this is that the circle of «two-handed» fly-fishermen is expanding due to the growing popularity of fishing in the middle latitudes of Russia with two-handed for pike, zander and other fish. And the purchasing power of this circle is lower than that of the salmon fly-fishermen. A budget alternative is to purchase used gear from traditional brands. For the same about $135, you can buy proven fishing rods from the “second line” manufacturers. Personally, this option seems more reasonable to me, especially if there is an opportunity to test such a rod before buying and make sure that it feets you. But this option also has «dark side» — a used fishing rod may have a hidden defect (a crack from a blow by a fly or other mechanical effect), which will manifest itself according to the “law of meanness” at the most inopportune moment. So I will not recommend this or that option, I will leave it to the choice of the one choosing.
Tight lines and no any cracks!