The 9-foot fly rod—a staple in basically every fly angler's arsenal. What's not to love? That length is so popular because it provides the perfect blend of casting performance and ease along with solid line control capabilities. There's no doubt a 9-footer makes for a stellar all-around choice, but what about fly rods that are much shorter? Anglers fishing small brush-lined creeks know the tight-quarters advantages a shortened fly rod can provide, but there's also other times when a "standard" fly rod may not be the very best choice.
Just like how a conventional bass angler uses a shorter rod for skipping under docks or close-quarters target casting, a smaller fly rod makes an equally excellent tool for similar pinpoint presentations at close range. Additionally, and in the case of this review, a short fly rod also makes one hell of a fish-fighting tool for bluewater species.
Action: Extra Fast
Line Weight: 11/12
Measured Rod Weight: Approx 5.04 ounces
Stripping Guides: Fuji K-Frame
Guides: Single foot
Reel Seat: Aluminum
Rod Tube/Sock: Yes/Yes
The 7-foot 6-inch G. Loomis PRO4X SHORTSTIX 11/12 was tailor-made for fighting big fish. Just look at that handle design—all business! The integrated upper fighting grip makes for a long, one-piece handle and is ideal for long battles. For a mid-priced rod, the cork seems to be of really nice quality and the large composite cork fighting butt is an excellent shape to avoid hurting your gut during the fight. As far as the reel seat goes, there's two up-locking rings that do a fine job of keeping massive reels secured.
Like all PRO 4X rods, the blank is a glossy olive green color with contrasting tan-ish wraps—a color scheme that folks seem to either love or hate. I personally think it looks cool. The blank is a 3-piece design which is kind of awkward when breaking down, but thankfully the shortened overall length allows the rod to fit in my truck fully assembled. Adorning the rod are two Fuji K-framed guides that are swept forward to keep line from hanging up, while the rest of the guide set is comprised of large single-foot chrome guides and a large tip top.
This rod was free of cosmetic defects and the ferrules fit together snugly without any play. Loomis designed a clean package here. One little "thing" is that I wish the reel seat rings were both the same size/design. It would just make tightening down the reel a little easier as I find the small rear ring somewhat awkward.
The short length certainly comes into play here, but the first time I picked up the rod I was shocked at how light it felt. The measured weight of approximately 5.04 ounces is not very impressive, but with most of the weight concentrated around the handle it feels much lighter in hand. The reel I currently have on it—a Redington BEHEMOTH 11/12—weighs a substantial 11.4 ounces. While I love that reel to death, for me it makes the combo feel somewhat handle-heavy—a lighter reel should improve that.
This rod is rated as extra-fast and yep, is that ever right! As noted with the 475–525 grain rating on the blank, this thing loves a heavy line. The Loomis site recommends short-head, quick-loading fly lines like the Airflo Sniper, Wulff Ambush, and Scientific Anglers Titan Taper to get the job done right.
Not having any of those particular lines, I fished my SHORTSTIX 11/12 for late-season mako sharks and early summer false albacore using similar RIO lines like the 12-weight Outbound Short and Leviathan, both of which are rated at 510-grains and 500-grains, respectively. In my hands, the rod coupled with both of these lines makes a formidable setup for quick delivery of bulky flies at short to modest ranges. With a heavy setup like this, think of a pick up and shoot out style of casting where only a single backcast is used each time. The SS 11/12 works very well for this and punches that whole mess out there with authority!
On the other end of the spectrum, out of curiosity I did lawn cast the rod with a more standard WF12F Mastery Tarpon line from Scientific Anglers. My line is several years old, but the newest version comes with a rating of 400-grains, so I'm guessing mine is about the same. The lightest line this rod is rated for is 425-grains, so the tarpon comes in a hair under that mark along with a little longer head.
Traditional casting/false casting with the Tarpon line felt alright at a fair distance, but up close the blank stiffness really showed and feel was pretty numb. Even with a good amount of line out, I wouldn't really call it enjoyable. For actual fishing conditions, I'm sticking with the recommended heavy short-head fly lines as those do perform and feel much better.
My absolute favorite part of this rod is the fish-fighting ability. It's simply a rock star when it comes to putting heat on strong fish! While the makos were absent when I took this rod out to California, there were no shortage of big false albacore to tangle with here in Florida. The long fighting grip, power, and leverage provided by the shortened blank really inspires confidence, control, and provides good comfort. For many bluewater excursions, this will be the rod I start with EVERY trip....it's simply that awesome!
Photo by Dave McKenzie
While the 11/12 SHORTSTIX isn't a great all-around 12-weight in my opinion, it wasn't really meant to be. It's a great "niche" rod to have in your arsenal when big lines, big flies, and big fish are on the agenda. I won't be giving up my 9-foot 12-weight anytime soon, but I also won't be dumping this rod anytime soon either—it's unique.
Unfortunately, I recently learned that the SHORTSTIX series is being phased out in the near future. If you want a new one, grab it while you still can! You can't have mine......