Do you really need a 10 foot fly rod? That's a question we previously tackled awhile back right here. While the 9 footer is undoubtedly king, these longer sticks can be a real asset in some situations. Although I've fly fished for around 25 years now, I've owned exactly one 10 foot fly rod, an old-school G. Loomis IMX 7 weight with the wooden-insert reel seat. Remember those? Yep, I'm going way back.....
Getting back on track, Cortland unveiled their new Competition MKII rods at the 2017 IFTD show in Orlando, and I was there to cover them firsthand. Consisting of both a "Lake" and "Nymph" series, these specialized longer-than-average rods offer the angler an attractive appearance and added reach. Everything looks and sounds good, but I wanted to fish one! Luckily, Cortland was able to ship me out a brand spankin' new Competition MKII 10-foot 6-weight from the Lake Series. I'm guessing most folks will be using this rod for species like trout and summer steelhead, but since those species don't exist here in South Florida, I had to "settle" for chasing my usual winter largemouth.
Length: 10 feet
Line Weight: 6
Measured Rod Weight: Approx 4.25 ounces
Stripping Guides: Stainless frame/unknown insert
Guides: Smoked Snake Guides
Reel Seat: Aluminum/Graphite Inserts
Rod Tube/Sock: Yes/Yes
The MKII Lake Rods use stealthy, understated cosmetics that simply work well. Finished with a matte-grey blank, my test rod came equipped with two large stripping guides along with single-foot snake guides, all secured with matching grey wraps. The ferrules don't feature any alignment dots, but there is a hint of gold trim at each one for extra detail. Just above the handle, there's a hook keeper that's big enough to hold any streamer you'd want to throw on a 6-weight.
The handle is comprised of nice quality cork that feels uncommonly smooth and is simply a pleasure to hold. I'm a huge fan of the reel seat as well. It's crafted from aluminum and has two large cutouts that reveal woven graphite inserts. There's twin up-locking rings and a slide band that tighten-down fluidly and hold a reel firmly. Of note, the rings are also a nice shape that don't hurt the fingers and makes them easy to tighten. At the bottom end, Cortland included a small flared fighting butt with a composite end adorned with the company logo.
Other than a tiny bit of dried epoxy on the hook keeper, build quality was excellent and the ferrules fit together firmly with no looseness or play.
I used my 6-weight MKII tester with two WF6F lines: one with a weight of 210 grains @ 35.5 feet, and a less aggressive WF6F line with a 35 foot head but unfortunately no grain specs offered. If you fish from a float tube, around brush, or simply want the extra reach, a 10 foot rod like this one might be just the ticket for elevating your casts over obstacles or the water's surface itself.
This is a solid fast action rod that casts smoothly and definitely adds some distance thanks to the extra foot of length. Power was good, as the MKII was up to the task of flinging both small streamers or larger ones with size large dumbbell eyes. One calm evening, I even used it to chuck a big deer hair mouse pattern which it worked decently for. I could see this being a useful tool for any sinking line setups you'd want to throw, too.
The sour note for me when casting at any distance was that the rod felt quite heavy. Weighing approximately 4.25 ounces, the physical weight didn't really jump out at me when I first held the rod, but the swing weight was immediately apparent to me while casting. After fishing the rod for awhile I got used to it somewhat, but I felt it detracted away from my overall casting feel and the general "fun factor.”
Weight aside, actual casting performance of the blank was good. The MKII definitely performed better for me with the heavier, more aggressive line, as the lighter more standard one felt a little numb unless casting a fair distance. With the right line I wasn't disappointed by the rod's casting ability, especially at those all-important modest distances. I was really pleased how much line I could pick up off the water and shoot right back out there again. This is a real plus especially when a cast didn't quite hit the mark and I wanted to quickly start a new presentation. A 10-foot fast action rod should cast far, and this one does. With some effort, casting the whole line wasn't out of the question.
Touching on the length again, I really enjoyed that when fishing from a high bank or reaching past weedlines and other obstacles. When a fish is hooked up, the 10-foot stature felt a little more unwieldy, but it was also an asset for steering fish away from danger. I also have to mention that it's damn fun fighting fish on a lengthier stick—it just feels a little bit different when the rod goes bendo. It's surprising what just an extra foot can do!
I forgot how effective a 10-footer can be until I tested this stick. On my local bass waters, I sometimes struggle to clear high ground and obstacles on my backcast while still being able to reach my selected targets. The length of this rod made that task easier. While I'm satisfied with my current rack of personal rods, this stick definitely makes me think I may need another 10 footer sometime in the future. Each MKII Lake Rod includes a triangular cloth-covered tube with separate sock.
Link: Cortland Competition MKII Lake Rods