I’ve been euro nymphing with the Thomas & Thomas (T&T) Contact 1083-4 (10′ 8″ 3wt 4-piece) fly rod for awhile now. I’ve intentionally been holding off on a review of this rod to give myself ample time to build/fish a number of other euro nymphing rods for comparison. Now, 18 months and about a dozen euro nymphing rods later, its time for a review of the Thomas & Thomas Contact fly rod.
NOTE: All the content herein is my own personal opinion.
Thomas & Thomas Contact Series Line-Up
I really think Thomas & Thomas did a nice job of providing the right configurations (fly rod weight / length) in their Contact fly rod line-up to fit every euro nymphing situation. They offer the Contact fly rod in 2wt, 3wt, 4wt and 6wt configurations that range from 10′ 2″ (the 2wt) up to 11′ 3″ (3wt). They even offer the industry’s first (as far as I know) big game euro stick in a 6wt 10′ 8″ configuration. What follows in this section are my impressions of when you might choose each of the T&T Contact rods.
If you are fishing in tighter quarters and you want a slightly shorter euro stick, then the 1022-4 (10′ 2″ 2wt 4-piece) is a great choice. Generally, 10′ is about the minimum length to look for in a euro nymphing rod and at 10′ 2″ this rod should work good on smaller to medium sized rivers. While this rod is a 2wt, don’t think it can’t handle large fish; these fly rod blanks are built with a great flex profile and very solid backbone (more later).
The Thomas & Thomas Contact 3wt configurations are good all around tight-line nymphing sticks that are suitable for medium to large rivers. While the 1083-4 (10′ 8″ 3wt 4-piece) is a perfect euro stick for many waters, the 1133-4 (11′ 3″ 3wt 4-piece) will give you a little extra reach and might be a choice for larger rivers and targeting fish a bit further out. I went with the 1083 (described more in later sections) and have found it perfect for any rivers I’ve fished here in Colorado.
The Contact also comes in a 4wt 10′ 8″ (1084-4) configuration. This configuration is likely a good choice when you commonly throw large heavy offerings and/or want something a bit more stiff.
Finally, T&T also has a 10′ 8″ 6wt (1086-4) Contact fly rod that is really the industry’s first big game euro stick (as far as I know). Likely this rod will be your choice when you are targeting very large fish (steelhead, XL lake-run browns/bows, etc.).
If you have any questions about the Thomas & Thomas fly rods, you can reach out to T&T. They have always been very responsive to my questions/orders in the past and I’m sure they can help you with detailed fly rod questions.
Thomas & Thomas Contact Nymphing Rod Custom Build
Let’s face it; there aren’t many reasons you’d want to build your own fly rod from a Thomas & Thomas blank. The finished Contact fly rods from T&T are built with top of the line components; REC single foot guides, a REC reel seat that’s available in down-locking (my preference), a high grade cork handle, etc.. However, for those of us that want to do something custom with the rod, or just like to roll our own, you can purchase fly rod blanks from T&T (at the time of writing the blank is half the cost of the finished rod).
I went with the 1083-4 (10′ 8″ 3wt) Contact blank, REC single foot guides, reel seat, etc.. and also opt’d to order the Thomas & Thomas rod tube (tube or sock does not come with the blank) which is very sharp. Below are a few impressions of the T&T Contact blank and ordering process itself:
- T&T did a great job of promptly shipping my order and it came very well packaged in a strong cardboard tube with bubble wrap. Not to mention they promptly responded to my questions prior to the purchase; great customer service.
- As I understand, T&T rods are completely constructed in the USA. This includes the rolling of their fly rod blanks.
- The blank itself came with the spline pre-marked using tape/pen making the construction process a little easier. I built my rod with the spline downwards.
- There was a T&T rod sticker included, but I opted to paint my own “CONACT” label. In hindsight I wish I would’ve used the T&T sticker.
- The blank came with the T&T Contact factory guide placement layout. This allowed me to use the factory layout if desired.
- The T&T Contact blank is unpainted; thus reducing light flare and making the rod more tactical; yet still has a very nice look.
- The ferrules fit very nice on this blank; they snug up very firmly but don’t stick when taking them out. Note that T&T does recommend you wrap the ferrules if you build one of their blanks.
- The Contact blank is ultra lightweight, yet extremely durable (see following sections on the review of the this rod).
My finished rod came in at 3.1 ounces which is lightweight for a rod of this configuration (10′ 8″ 3wt). What’s more, this rod balances at the top of the cork grip using a reel that only weighs 5.2 ounces; very impressive given the length of the rod. This means my rod/reel setup only weights a total of about 8.3 ounces fully balanced!
Euro Nymphing Performance
So how does the Thomas & Thomas Contact perform using tight-line techniques?
In the past few years I’ve fished about a dozen euro nymphing rods; either custom rods I’ve built or some I’ve purchased as finished rods. Now I have a collection of euro sticks that just collect dust (literally) because I only use the Contact. The Thomas & Thomas Contact is simply amazing when it comes to tight-line techniques and to date I have not used a better rod.
One of the major things that sets the Contact apart is the unique action (taper) T&T has developed for this fly rod. The tip section is sensitive for protecting thin tippet, detecting strikes and loading with euro nymphing rigs, yet the rod has a serious backbone and flex profile to handle very large/suborn fish. The accuracy and efficiency of the Contact is simply amazing for euro style “casts”, even with thinner mono and lightweight rigs (micro nymphs and such) and the rod dampens almost immediately.
Some people get the impression that a 2wt or 3wt rod is too small for larger fish (20+ inches), but the fact is these rods are not built like a general purpose fly rod. Not only do they have a unique flex profile bending nicely into the blank when fighting fish, but they have a strong backbone. In fact, the butt end section of the Thomas & Thomas Contact 3wt looks more like a 5wt or 6wt general purpose rod. For sake of example, the larger fish in the photos above was taken on size 22 barbless hook with 6x tippet and using the Contact I was able to pin the fish in the same lie and bring her to the net. This rod flexes in all the right places at all the right times!
One important factor of a euro nymphing rod is how it feels “in hand” (see characteristics of euro nymphing rods), and the Contact feels very light considering it’s 10′ 8″ long. Not sure how T&T achieved this amazing balance, but I suspect the ultra lightweight construction and unique taper play a part. With the down-locking seat and fighting butt, my 10′ 8″ rod feels more like a 10′ rod and is noticeably lighter than my other euro sticks.
Since I’ve been using the Contact for about 18 months, I can also attest to the rod’s durability. I treat my fly rods pretty rough; they get pulled through the brush, dropped on the rocks, swim down the river, stepped on by dogs, etc. and the Contact isn’t showing many signs of wear yet.
In terms of versatility, the Contact has a 66 degree action angle so it certainly can throw a floating line using traditional techniques, but keep in mind these rods are designed for euro nymphing. The rod can also cast streamers and other heavy offerings, or toss floating indicator rigs a good distance by simply using a water-load cast, or a single false cast. Many times I find myself euro nymphing up river, then tying on a streamer and fishing back down river; all with the Contact fly rod and a mono rig.
Room for Improvement?
While it would be difficult to ask anything better of the Thomas & Thomas Contact blank for euro nymphing, I do think that T&T could consider an alternate placement of guides so that the lower stripping guide is closer to the handle. Lower placement of the stripping guide would better cater to limp-line rigs like thinner mono rigs as discussed in characteristics of euro nymphing rods. For those of us that want the lower guide placement, we can always build our own for now.
Thomas & Thomas has really outdone themselves with the Contact series fly rods. These rods have the absolute perfect action for tight-line techniques (euro nymphing) and deliver anything from lightweight micro nymphs to larger offerings with pinpoint accuracy. The unique flex profile of these rods provides the sensitivity necessary to detect takes and protect fine tippet, yet a strong enough backbone to wrangle large fish. The fly rod blanks are high grade, lower gloss (tactical), very durable and ultra lightweight, not to mention made in the USA. From my perspective, the T&T Contact is the best nymphing rod on the market for tight-line techniques, hands down.