Vision’s rods trigger many numbers of articles those days. After making an impression with the very successful series of the Nymphmaniac already presented on Trout and Co, the Scandinavian brand evolves its high end in 2020 with rods made of very promising material: the graphene. Here are the specifics of 3 models of this new series XO Graphene.
The main innovation of this series lies in the addition of graphene to the resin of the blank. The graphene is a composite material providing lightness and resistance. Aesthetically speaking and in terms of manufacturing, the XO Graphene takes several elements of its little sister XO, in particular the spiral pattern of the dull grey blank, the wraps in the same tone, the light touches of brown at the first piece, and the high-end components, like the Recoil nickel titanium with shape memory single leg guides and the premium cork handle. The cigar-shaped cork handle features a ring marking the first 20 centimetres from the butt (the graduation continues at 40 and 50 cm for models #3 and at 40, 50 and 60 cm for the others). The reel seat remains in aluminium but becomes much more refined. The sign of graphene is present on the butt and the pieces alignment marks.
Specificities of the two long #3 rods designed for Euro nymphing:
- Reel seat is down locking
- High number of guides for the length (14 for the 10’3 and 16 for the 11’4)
- No more classic stripping guide, replaced by a single leg Recoil to minimise weight
- Guide before the last one is a snake guide to limit knots around the tip when spanish nymphing (with monofilament only).
Those 4-piece rods are delivered in a metallic tube with a cover.
The Common Cents System protocol was used to characterize the action, the power and the recovery of these 3 rods.
Regarding the power, 43, 27 and 29 cents have been needed to bend respectively the 9’7, the 10’3 and the 11’4 on more than a third of their length. It gives, after conversion, ERN equal to 5.35 for the 9’7, 2.97 for the 10’3 and 3.27 for the 11’4. Only the power of the 10’3 has been overrated a little bit (it’s more a #2/3). The power of the other rods are accurate: the 9’7 is a real #5 and the 11’4 a real #3 (with a power quite close to the #2/3, exactly like the Nymphmaniac 11’ #3).
In terms of actions, the two long rods have rather moderate actions, very Euro nymphing type (like the famous Thomas & Thomas Contact or the Maxia SX): AA at 65 ° for the 10'3. Therefore, they are considered as moderate fast action (AA between 63 and 66 °). The 11’4 is 67 ° and then classified as fast, according to the CCS (AA higher than 66 °) but given its considerable length, the rod has no hard point in fishing action. The 9'7 has an AA at 68 °, so it is a fast rod while remaining in the fairly low values of this category.
About the reactivity, the frequency of the 9'7 is at 80cpm, the 10'3, tested with a weight corresponding to a line #3 is 73 cpm (79 cpm with a weight corresponding to a line #2). These figures are fairly standard. On the other hand, the reactivity of the 11'4 is remarkable with a value at 70 cpm! It is then much more reactive than most of the 11 'of equivalent power that we tested, including the famous Nymphmaniac 11' #3 !
Last but not least, about the comfort while fishing the efforts realised in the manufacturing of those 2 nymphing rods (down-locking reel seat, 100 % single foot guides) proven value. The 10’3 is perfectly balanced with an empty reel weighting about 3.9 oz (4.8 oz spooled) and the 11’4 will need a reel weighting about 5.3 oz (about 6.7 oz spooled). Along the same line, a model weighting 4.2 oz (5.3 oz spooled with a #5 line and backing) will perfectly balance the 9’7.
Christian Bazan, Flyscène France / Belgium review of the XO Graphene series :
“The graphene, as its name suggests, is a way to work graphite (carbon) that is obtained from a carbon sheet in two dimensions where atoms are chemically linked between themselves to form hexagonal motives printed on it. This discover, revealed to the public in 2010 by 2 Russian researchers André Geim and Konstantin Novoseloven, allowed them to earn Physic Nobel Prize this year. Since then, studies in labs showed that graphene is an unmatched energy conductor, with a tensile strength 200 times higher than steel.
But let’s get back to what we are here for the fly fishing rods. While launching its first series of rod the XO in 2016, we already had a close interest in graphene. The studies showed that this material would bring innovation on the market. Unfortunately, by then, we didn’t have the expected results. We chose the nano-resin instead to build the XO because we mastered it. As soon as we launched the premium series, the enthusiasm was immediate, which provided us enough motivation to dig deeper with graphene. At this time, with the start of the XO series on the market, we would have enough time to develop graphene. By the end of 2019, we were ready and had launched the production to show you as soon as 2020, the fruit of all these years of hard work. I invite you to have a look at your local shop or to come and visit us on the shows to have a go at these rods. You’ll see by yourself what I mean when I talk about hard work.”
David Garcia Ferreras opinion about the 11’4 (Fly fishing World Champion 2018) :
“The main quality of this rod is the material it has been built from the graphene. It is one of the most resistant materials ever tested. The other great value is its length: 11’4. It allows to keep control on drifts and use a longer tippet in competition (editor’s note: the international rules in competitions allow only 2 rod length for the tippet). The huge development work from Vision, betting on innovative materials like graphene, titanium from guides and high-quality components, gave birth to an extraordinary rod, innovative for euro nymphing with fine tippet and keeping all the sensations from a shorter rod thanks to its light weight. Its soft action and has more power than the Nymphmaniac 11’ #3, making it a rod adapted to big fish. Its high length makes it perfect for medium to large size rivers with 15-inch fish. Another quality that needs to be highlighted is the titanium guides with an apportionment thought for Euro nymphing. The serpentine shape is a must to not get his line tangled with the tip. The roughness of the blank allows the line to not stick when it’s wet. The reel seat has been designed originally, with a down-locking system, brings more balance and gives an extra length. It is definitely a very nice rod, with a lot of advantages.”
The opinion of the editor
Is it really useful to mention that from 900 €, the degree of requirement is as high as the price ? Considering it, we were ready to not make any gift and be uncompromising when interpreting our measures regarding this rod. Well, the results have been absolutely impressive: those products are light, reactive with action and manufacturing perfectly adapted to what they’ve been built for. Previous highest scores in terms of comfort in this category of length/power have been easily beaten by this series. Here are our observations for every model tested:
- The 9’7 #5: with its real power #5, this model deserves definitely to be paired with a #5 line to fish with a dry fly, sight nymphing or with a wet fly, targeting medium to big trout. Its length relatively important makes it an original product. The offer of a #5 for a 9’7 being really rare, they are most likely #6. This rod will totally satisfy all the amateurs of big streams and lakes. The extra length compared to a classic 9’ #5 is really handy when false casting vertically from an overhanging bank, for example. Travelers fishermen wanting to buy a versatile rod allowing to switch from dry to nymph will really find utility in this model, able to cast accurately a dry fly and also to control perfectly a drift with 2 nymphs if needed.
- The 10’3 #3: with its real power is #2/3, this rod is destined to light euro nymphing with beads from 2 mm. Its soft action (type moderate fast) gives a harmonious curve, without any hard point during fights, even with modest size trout of 8-inch. It THE reference of fine fishing with nymphs in medium streams with fish up to 15-inch. The comfort of this model is for now unequalled on the market. Its PTE is 0.7 oz less heavy than the Marryat Tactical Pro 10’3 #2 (a reference in this category) released this year as well. Handled correctly, it will be a rod able to fish with a dry fly as well with a #2 line if needed.
- The 11’4 #3: this is a pure nymphing rod, probably the most impressive rod of the series. Before all, it is important to remind how hard it is to build a rod that long (11’4) in this range of power (#3), furthermore, provided of a not very fast action. On facts, and before having it tested, some members of the Trout and Co Edition announced it to be very soft. Well, they were wrong! The reactivity of this blank is incredible: with its 70 cpm in frequency, it is more reactive than most of the 11’ on the market. The fishing comfort of this 11’4 #3 is as good as with the Thomas & Thomas Contact 10’8 #3 while the Vision is 20 cm longer. The action is really close to its little sister the 10’3: soft without any hard point but its longer length provides an extra power on the bottom part of the blank. It is a rod most adapted to euro nymphing in large streams, where its length will allow a perfect control of the drift and then a higher number of bites. The extra 10 cm compared to a 11’ can seem harmless, but in fact, it makes a huge difference while fishing, especially with the extra amplitude provided.