Saltwater fly rods differ from their freshwater or more "all around" counterparts in a few different ways. Typically built with more power, faster actions, and larger guide sets, these rods are ideal for tackling wind, big flies, and ultimately big fish. Although built with salt in mind, there's nothing stopping you from using them in freshwater for fish like bass, pike, or salmon...to name a few species.
From legendary labels that date back years like the Sage Xi2 and G. Loomis Crosscurrent GLX, to the latest offerings like the Scott Sector and the Winston AIR Salt, you won't have trouble finding a salty stick whether you desire used or brand new. Aside from the most visible players, though, there are some saltwater rods you might not even know about. In this review I'm going to take a look at one such rod that some folks have possibly not heard of — Fenwick's Fenlite Salt. Let's have a look at the 9 weight model...
Line Weight: 9
Measured Weight: Approx 4.53 ounces
Stripping Guide: Gunsmoke frame with ceramic insert
Snake Guides: Gunsmoke snake guides
Reel Seat: Aluminum / graphite
Rod Tube/Sock: Yes/No
The blank of the Fenlite 9 weight uses 3M Powerlux™ 1000 nano resin and high modulus carbon fiber. The new Powerlux technology is said to make the rods 30 percent stronger, on average, than rods without Powerlux. The blank of the rod is a dark matte grey that's simple and clean.
If large guides are what you want, you won't be disappointed here. There's two stripping guides followed by standard snake guides, all finished in a gunsmoke color scheme, and all what I'd call BIG. Larger diameter guides are great for saltwater fishing to help pass tangles or bulky leader knots, but the larger you go the more weight you add to the blank. All guides are secured with dark complimenting wraps and alignment dots are at the ferrules.
There's a pretty standard full-wells grip with a ring of composite cork closest to the reel seat. The seat itself is comprised of dark aluminum and a dark carbon spacer with dual up-locking rings that offer plenty of grip and cinch down with a nice ramp-up in resistance. Beneath the seat is a composite cork fighting butt.
Quality-wise, the cork handle exhibits a fair amount of filler and one of the guide wraps is a little heavy on the epoxy, but overall it's assembled well and meets expectations at this price point. The guides and alignment dots all line up straight and the ferrules all fit together nicely with no ticking or clicking when the rod is flexed.
I was really hoping to get this rod out for some heavy-duty saltwater fishing, but because of Covid-19 and a few other things that have happened this year, I simply didn't get the chance. I did have plans for the rod later this summer, however, after seeing that Fenlite rods are currently on sale at several places online, I wanted to get this review out asap because it sure feels like a closeout might be underway.
I threw a RIO Saltwater General Purpose WF9F line (270 grains @ 30 feet) which is an ideal weighting for a #9 line per AFFTA standards.
The rod performed well enough with this line, but it's one of those rods I'd say a heavier line would be more ideal overall. The rod felt quite fast with not a lot of feel at shorter ranges, and while the rod is crisp and dampens well, some added line weight should help improve the performance here. At modest to long distances the feel improved, but again, nothing truly impressive for me. However, the power of this big, burly saltwater rod really shows here. It can throw a long ways and was happiest with a lot of line out.
By far the biggest issue I experienced with this rod was its swing weight. At about 4.53 ounces on my scale, the static weight isn't too far out when compared to other rods in its class like the 990-4 Redington PREDATOR (4.5 ounces) or the BST-990S ECHO Boost Salt (4.4 ounces). While I have no experience with those two particular rods, the 9-weight Fenlite Salt feels quite heavy while casting. It made casting at any distance a bit of a chore and put a dent in my enjoyment of it.
The 9 weight Fenwick Fenlite Salt is a stout fly rod that feels strong and should have no difficulty whipping some good-sized fish. Despite likely being a great fish-fighting weapon, this is not a rod I would ever want to blind-cast with all day. Overall, it is an attractive stick and the current sales make pricing quite affordable, but if it's a versatile 9 weight you're after this one probably isn't the best choice. However, for more specific duties it might be a worthy pick as either a primary or backup rod. Stuff that doesn't require a ton of false casting such as sight-fishing with big flies, throwing shooting lines for stripers, or casting to fish like false albacore that have been chummed up by the boat seem like scenarios where this rod would work well.
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