I'll be the first to admit that I've always had a soft spot for the G. Loomis brand. Starting in my early teenage years, I began fishing both their conventional and fly rods and quickly became a complete "Loomis nut" nearly to the exclusion of all other rods. From a trusty old-school GL3 MEGA 8/9 up to today's cutting-edge offerings, I grew up a fan of G. Loomis technology and performance. I've also been critical of a few rods as well, but let's face it—no manufacturer is absolutely perfect 100% of the time. While I presently fish a much more diverse range of fly rods, I always have at least one Loomis on my rack at all times.
As one of the leaders in fly rod design, the Loomis crew is constantly innovating and delivering new products to the market. While the high-dollar Asquith fly rods launched at last year's 2016 IFTD show, this year I attended the show launch of a new lineup that carries a much-less-scary price tag—the IMX PRO series. This past fall, we acquired a model 690-4 for testing!
Length: 9 feet
Line Weight: 6
Rod Weight: Approx 3.5 ounces
Stripping Guides: Fuji Stainless frame
Guides: Chrome single-foot
Reel Seat: Silver aluminum
Like all IMX PRO fly rods, our 6-weight is honest and simple in design. No overdone glitz or glamour here—just a clean appearance that looks both pleasing and classy. Beginning with the blank, it's finished in a glossy dark-olive coloration (that pops nicely in sunlight) with a touch of mint-green trim bordering the logo area. Incorporated into these rods is the new Conduit Core Technology which the folks at G. Loomis explain here:
"While traditionally with fly rod design, as the blank diameter increases so does the total amount of material used. “But with Conduit Core Technology, we can still ensure strength and durability in the bottom half of the rod by replacing excess wraps of graphite with our proprietary material,” said G. Loomis’ Red Kulper. “We’re able to offer fly anglers a rod with similar strength but lighter in weight, better balance, and boosts energy through the blank. It’s all about improving efficiency, and most importantly reducing fatigue so you can enjoy your time on the water even more.”
Our 6-weight features a single stripping guide and nine single-foot guides, all secured with wraps that match the blank color. There are no alignment dots.
The full-wells grip is comprised of smooth, quality cork with a composite ring at the bottom end. A matching composite ring at the top would've been a nice addition just for some added durability against chips, but no biggie.
The anodized-aluminum reel seat sports dual up-locking rings and a ported slide band for visual appeal and a tiny hint of weight savings. The rings spin very smoothly and tighten down with a nice progressively tight feel. Below the seat, you'll find a small low-profile fighting butt with a composite end.
The G. Loomis crew did a fine job assembling my 6-weight IMX PRO. In looking over the entire rod, I found no bad wraps, unsightly epoxy drips, crooked guides, or other sloppy areas. When all four pieces were joined together, the rod flexed back and forth smoothly, thus indicating all the ferrules fit together perfectly.
I received my fly rod in November which marks the month I start hitting Florida's east coast canals for peacock bass. A 6-weight is ideal for that fishery, so I was pretty stoked to give the IMX PRO a workout on those aggressive little peas in addition to my local winter largemouth fishing!
The 6-weight IMX PRO is what I'd call "just right" in terms of power for much of the fishing I do. Two lines were used: a WF6F RIO Bonefish Quickshooter (210 grains @ 35.5 feet) and a less aggressive WF6F Seeker Fly Line from Shadow Fly Fishing (35 foot head but no grain specs indicated). Regardless of the line, performance was excellent.
There's no doubt this blank is fast action as specified, but I never find myself at a loss for feel with either line, even on very short presentations. Coupled with the hefty RIO line, this rod makes a great tool for walking the bank and quickly firing a dumbbell-eyed streamer at various targets. While the close game of the IMX PRO is pleasing with the more “typical” Shadow line, the mid-range performance is especially sweet with the added line outside the guides. Casting at these "average fishing distances" is what's most important for many anglers, and this rod handles the task easily while simply being a lot of fun to throw. No complaints when going long either—the IMX PRO isn’t a broomstick but had enough power to shoot both lines entirely out of the guides when lawn casting. No matter what distance I was throwing, I also enjoyed the fact that it was crisp and satisfyingly lightweight in-hand. While everyone casts a little differently, I doubt the performance will disappoint anyone who picks one up.
I can't speak for the remainder of the lineup, but my 6-weight is an excellent mid-priced rod. I know, it sounds kind of silly calling a $495 rod "mid-priced," but with some sticks nearing and even eclipsing $1,000 these days, I'd consider it a fitting label. At any rate, I'm really pleased with the tasteful looks and even more excited regarding the performance of the 690-4 IMX PRO. Fresh or saltwater, it's a very versatile rod that I intend to also use for chasing other species like large trout, snook, redfish, and smaller stripers. If you desire a Loomis but can't quite swing the cost of an NRX or Asquith, the IMX PRO offers a dynamite alternative. Try one!
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