Based on what I see and hear, the Fenwick Aetos seems to be a popular choice thanks to the friendly price tag and solid reviews. Unfortunately, I never got around to actually fishing one of the last versions, but when I heard that a newly-redesigned Aetos series was on the way, I had to pursue getting one out here for some testing. Let's take a look at what should be an extremely fun model to fish...the diminutive 7'0" 3-weight! Pond hopping, anyone?
Length: 7 feet
Line Weight: 3
Measured Weight: Approx 2.87 ounces
Stripping Guides: Stainless Frame / SiC
Snake Guides: Stainless Single Foot
Reel Seat: Aluminum and Graphite
Rod Tube/Sock: Yes/Yes
Beginning at the handle portion, the grip is a reversed half-wells shape. The cork quality is decent and about what I'd expect at this price point. I like that Fenwick included a thin strip of composite cork at the top and bottom of the handle which adds a little visual flair but more importantly helps prevent chipping at these vulnerable points.
The reel seat is comprised of matte-gunmetal aluminum with an attractive carbon barrel. There's dual up-locking rings to secure the reel along with a single slide band adorned with the familiar Fenwick logo. I found the seat cinched down with a nice ramp-up in tension and held my reel solidly. Finally, the familiar Fenwick logo is also displayed on the butt-end of the reel seat.
Moving up the rod, I liked the clean and tasteful cosmetics displayed by the Aetos. The blank is a glossy dark grey color with a touch of silver and red trim around the logo area. Alignment dots and even the rod's model number can be found at the ferules which could be a very handy feature just in case rod pieces get all mixed up. Looks aside, Fenwick did redesign the blanks and says their proprietary nano technology makes them increasingly lighter and stronger.
As for guides, there's a single stainless-framed stripping guide with SiC insert while the remainder are dark single-foot stainless guides. Single-foot guides are typically viewed as being a lighter alternative which may or may not always be true, but one must also realize these guides require less wrapping and finish to secure to a rod which should shave a tiny bit of weight as well.
I was pleased with the build quality of my 3-weight Aetos. I scanned the rod with a careful eye and found no crooked guides, epoxy overruns, or other unwelcome surprises.
I fished this rod with a WF3F line which was rated spot-on to AFFTA specs with a 30-foot grain weight of 100 grains. This rod seemed like a perfect "fun stick" for some of the local ponds that hold smaller fish, so I set out in search of local bass and panfish on these urban waters.
It's highly doubtful anyone will be complaining about the swing weight of this Aetos. Thanks in part to the ultra-slim blank and shorter-than-average length, the rod is very lightweight in hand. This is definitely a rod you'll want to put an equally lightweight reel on. My only option out of my personal collection was an Orvis Hydros II which weighs 5 ounces, but it did seem a little large and made the rod feel a bit too handle-heavy. A smaller and lighter reel or an ultralight click-pawl reel would be the ultimate choice here.
Rods don't get too much easier to cast than this little stick. While obviously not designed for much distance, the rod excels at short range. The Aetos' medium-fast blank flexes smoothly and offers a nice amount of feel even with very little line out. Combine these attributes with the light weight and short length and this rod becomes the perfect weapon for those times when accuracy and a quality presentation is necessary but distance is not. For the record, I did try some longer casting but feel the most realistic usable range of this rod is within about 40 feet or so.
I really enjoyed casting tiny streamers along weed lines and other types of cover in search of feisty hand-sized predators. This Aetos would also be an excellent value pick for fly anglers chasing trout on small river and creeks, especially those that are brush-lined where a longer rod can be downright cumbersome in those tight quarters.
Priced at just a nickel shy of $200, the Aetos AF703-4 is a solid little rod that felt good and did its job well. Whether you're looking for a rod to use on small waters, in tight quarters, or you simply want to increase the fun of smaller quarry, this is a compelling choice for anglers of all skill levels.
Other models range from a 6'0" 3-weight up to an 11'1" 8/9 weight with pricing $179.95–$299.95. All Aetos rods include a rod tube and sock.
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