Dry fly fishing. It is often a very technical game where finesse and precision can be of utmost importance. When it comes time to choose a rod for this style of fishing, it makes sense that most are made with softer actions that emphasize shorter, more delicate presentations over distance and ultra-fast line speed. Undoubtedly, there are some great choices available out there today which are tailored specifically for the dry fly angler.
What sounds more ideal for dry fly fishing than a series dubbed "The Ultimate Presentation Rod"? Enter the Paradigm. Although the name has been around a while and also has gained many fans over the years, the latest version sets out to be the most refined yet. Comprised of just five models from 3–6 weight, the T&T crew sent down a 9'0" 5-weight (model 905-4) for me to try out. With the nearest dry fly trout fishing about a 12 hour drive from here, Florida warmwater species would have to fill that void!
Line Weight: 5
Measured Weight: approx 2.76 ounces
Stripping Guide: (1) REC Titanium finish
Snake Guides: Single-foot REC Titanium finish
Reel Seat: Aluminum / Bird's Eye Maple spacer
Rod Tube/Sock: Yes/Yes
The Paradigm definitely possesses a simple, classic style that is very fitting of a fine dry fly rod.
Starting at the handle, the cigar grip is built with extremely high-quality cork that is tight and shows none of those unsightly streaks of filler or other imperfections. The sizing is also spot-on and is super comfortable to hold.
Below the grip, the reel seat features a maple spacer with aluminum hardware. I like how this hardware isn't super flashy but is more of a satiny, almost whitish-silver look. Very cool and unique. The single up-locking ring has some texturing on the surface which makes tightening it easy and comfortable, while the slide band/hood has engraved Thomas and Thomas lettering.
As for the blank, it's finished in a semi-gloss deep blue with matching wraps. The model and serial numbers are hand-written, while some silver trim is added around the logo and at the ferrules. Since this is a dry fly rod, T&T made certain not to forget a hook keeper.
If you're paying big bucks for a rod, you likely expect it to be nearly perfect. Luckily, T&T is known for their typically super craftsmanship and my tester lives up to those high expectations. One thing I love about the T&T rods I've handled are the wraps...they are always so straight and tidy in appearance. Same story here, as the wraps securing the REC titanium-finished guide train are excellent.
I should also mention something that makes me scratch my head, and that has to do with the alignment dots...well, in this case, dot! In my last T&T review, I noted how my rod only had an alignment dot at the first ferrule but none after that, which I considered an error in the build. However, after seeing this issue mentioned elsewhere and this rod only having one dot as well, I can only conclude that it's done on purpose. Alignment dots certainly aren't necessary, but if you're going to put just one on the blank, why not finish out the rod?
I tested the Paradigm with RIO's new WF5F Elite Gold fly line which has a 30-foot head weight of 146 grains. I found this line to be an ideal match.
Casting performance of the Paradigm was outstanding after I slowed my timing down a bit. This is an incredibly smooth rod to cast and there's no sloppy or overly-spongy feel that some softer rods can exhibit. It manages to serve up plenty of feedback at any distance while still offering a precise feel with just enough punch for those longer presentations. Aside from lawn-casting a bare line, I used it to throw small streamers to largemouth and peacock bass on a local lake. Granted, it's not the most ideal streamer rod, but it handled those little baitfish imitations fine.
It should be no mystery that this rod excels at short to medium casts. Here, the Paradigm is super enjoyable to cast which it does effortlessly and accurately. What surprised me, though, is how well it did at greater distances. It wasn't super difficult to shoot the entire line out of the guides — something most probably won't be doing with this rod while actually fishing — but it's still nice to know this rod is capable.
The Paradigm 905-4 definitely feels on the light side while casting. Whether it's one of the very lightest 5-weights out there I don't know, but there shouldn't be any complaints about swing weight here. This stick is light and lively.
The new Paradigm 5-weight is a pretty stellar rod in all regards. My tester was beautifully finished, a blast to cast, and equally awesome to fish with. There's some fierce competition in this premium segment, however this rod certainly delivers the total package to back up the lofty price tag. Speaking of price, the $875.00 cost of ownership is up there, but if you'd like to treat yourself to a real sweetheart of a rod, the 5-weight Thomas and Thomas Paradigm is surely in with the best!
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