I recently had the pleasure of building (and fishing) a custom 2wt 11′ 4-piece CTS Affinity X fly blank. As you probably guessed based on the configuration, my primary intent for this blank was to use it as a euro nymphing stick. Since I’ve gotten some questions about how the Affinity X performs for euro nymphing, I thought it might help to write a quick post on the topic. What follows are my impressions of the CTS Affinity X fly rod mainly with respect to euro nymphing.
A number of fly anglers in the USA aren’t familiar with CTS fly rod blanks, but they’ve been around for awhile and are based out of New Zealand. While CTS sells a handful of finished fly rods, there are also a number of rod builders in the USA and abroad that will build you a custom fly rod with a CTS blank.
CTS offers both carbon fiber as well as their CrystalGlass fiberglass fly rod blanks; with the Affinity X being their flagship fast-action carbon blank. The Affinity X is available in 0wt – 12wt and in lengths from 7′ 6″ – 12′. What’s more, CTS has a custom fly blank program allowing you to customize your blank’s butt and tip sections by +1/+2 and -1/-2 (up and down 2 full weights). Finally, with CTS’s broad selection of colors, you can truly build a unique one of a kind fly rod.
CTS is renowned for making top of the line fishing rod blanks using the latest rod building technologies; and the Affinity X does not disappoint. Having ordered and worked with a number of different blanks in the past, I was immediately impressed the Affinity X blank right out of the box.
- The blank is shipped in a protective box; ensuring no damage of the blank during transport and the tip-top has a rubber guard on it.
- Excellent tight, yet smooth fitting of ferrules on every section of the blank. No sticking like what you might find on lower end blanks. Also note that as per CTS, you do not need to wrap the ferrules, but can if you desire for looks.
- The blank comes with spline already identified using bar-style blank alignment marks rather than just small dots. This style is cosmetic, but I think it looks sharp.
- Custom placement and content of CTS sticker on the blank allow you to place the rods label as you desire.
- CTS is willing to work with you on custom fly blanks; allowing you to even customize the blank’s taper.
- I ordered the blank in the “P2000” (unpainted) finish; a very pleasing, yet lower gloss option for tactical fly rods.
The Finished Rod
I wrapped this build up with titanium REC single foot guides, Fuji titanium stripper, a down-locking reel seat and a medium sized fighting butt (for more details on why, see the characteristics of euro nymphing rods). The finished product certainly gains top of the line status in my opinion.
The finished rod’s weight came in around 3.69 ounces; about average or a little heavy for a rod of this configuration. Perhaps a few grams could’ve been shaved off the build by choosing a lighter weight reel seat insert, not using a fighting butt, etc.. However, based on my experience it’s not so much as the total rod weight, but how it balances and feels “in hand”.
To balance this rod at the top of the grip, a reel weight of about 7.5 ounces is needed. Given this is an 11′ fly rod, that’s a relatively light weight reel required to achieve balance.
Euro Nymphing Performance
Of course the best part about building a fly rod is getting a chance to bend it on some fish.
I spent a number of hours euro nymphing with the CTS Affinity X 2wt on a local tailwater. For euro nymphing I use a mono rig and frequently offer micro nymphs (sizes 20 – 30) to fish anywhere from 10 – 25 feet away from my casting position. I caught a handful of fish, up to around 18″ so I was able to get a decent feel for the rod “in action”.
In terms of casting (well flicking for euro nymphing), I should first note that the Affinity X is a fast to very-fast action rod (it has an Action Angle of 72 degrees based on the Common Cents Protocol). That said, it still delivers light rigs (micro nymphs) quite well for a fast action rod, and rod recovery is very quick (dampening). Accuracy of light rigs is however hampered at longer distances due to the stiffer tip not being able to load with a euro nymphing cast and light rig.
While this rod does have fast action, it has a nice flex profile bending well into the blank when you stick an 17″ trout on the end of it. During my time euro nymphing with this rod I used 6x tippet, and did not loose a single fish to tippet snapping, head shakes, etc.. And while I have no proof, I feel this rod could handle large fish (24+ inches) due its high quality construction and flex profile.
As mentioned earlier, a euro nymphing rod’s “feel in hand” is important since you are effectively high sticking with it for long periods of time (fatigue). This rod certainly is 11′, but with the fighting butt extended onto your forearm to absorb some weight it doesn’t feel a whole lot heavier than a 10′ 6″ rod in a similar configuration.
Where I think this rod shines is in its versatility. Swap out your euro nymphing reel/spool with some floating line and this rod handles more traditional techniques with ease (floating lines, bobbers, etc.). Yes this is a 2wt rod, but with the very fast action it feels more like a 3 – 4wt rod in my personal opinion. In fact, I pair my other Affinity X for traditional techniques with a +2 wt floating line (e.g. 2 line weights heavier than the rod weight).
If you like fast action fly rods and are looking for a hybrid rod that can both euro nymph as well as fish traditional methods (dries, bobbers, streamers), then the CTS Affinity X should be on your radar. Blanks ranging in the 0wt – 3wt class with 10′ – 11′ lengths lend themselves well to euro techniques, but can still be used for traditional casting as well. CTS blanks are high end and with the number of configurations and colors they offer you can get a truly one of a kind fly rod.
If you are selecting a fly rod specifically for euro nymphing and primarily fish smaller lightweight offerings (e.g. micro nymphs), you may consider looking for a rod that has a softer tip section. Having a fly rod softer tip will more easily and accurately fling small offerings by allowing the tip to load with the light rig. And while the 2wt Affinity X didn’t provide the tip-flex ideal for these lightweight rigs, I feel confident there is a customized CTS that’s perfect for micro rigs given their Affinity models and customization program.