It’s the rare angler who doesn’t recognize the name Waterworks-Lamson when looking for a great fly reel. Not so much with fly rods.
I predict that’s about to change. Lamson has introduced 15 new rods in three series, and they definitely deserve your attention.
Now, you might be surprised to learn that Lamson has considerable experience in designing fly rods. Those rods, however, never got much traction. I won’t try to explain it here. Let’s just wipe the slate clean and start from scratch, which is exactly what Lamson did. It’s a decision that has paid off.
Let’s break down the three series:
THE VELOCITY. Five rods for freshwater applications.
- Five fast action rods ranging from 4- through 8-weight.
- Nine-foot four-piece designs with alignment dots.
- Lamson describes the high modulus graphite shafts having a shadow pearl finish (I would say dark graphite gray) with smoke and orange accents.
- SiC stripping guides and smoke finished hard-chrome snake guides.
- The 4-, 5- and 6-weights (retail $399.99) feature modified Ritz cork grips with zebra wood inserts and single uplocking reel seats.
- The 7- and 8-weights (retail $449.99) come with full Wells cork grips, composite cork fighting butts, black aluminum inserts and double uplocking reel seats.
How does the Velocity cast?
The 5- and 7-weights that I received are fast, though not excessively so. These rods feel good and balanced in the hand, and they throw nice, clean loops with excellent accuracy and minimal bounce in the tip. They have plenty of power for when you want to reach out with a long cast.
The 5-weight is going to be a very versatile trout rod for throwing hoppers, nymphs, small streamers and dropper rigs. It will certainly handle a range of dry flies, though it has more power than I would prefer for delicate presentations on small trout streams. I’m thinking it will match up best on larger rivers such as Montana’s Yellowstone and Arkansas’ White. It will also do nicely for panfish and light bass. I tested it with a Cortland 444 Peach fly line, and it loaded well at a variety of distances. Even at longer distances, the rod generated good accuracy and retained plenty of power.
The 7-weight is a nice streamer rod, and it is also as well suited to throwing medium-size bass bugs. If you’re into smallmouth, this is definitely a rod worth owning. I would even consider it for light saltwater purposes. Again, accuracy was good, and there was plenty of power when I leaned into the cast.
THE COBALT. Seven rods for saltwater applications.
- Nine-foot rods ranging from 6- through 12-weight.
- Lamson describes the actions as ultra-fast.
- Retail is $399.99 for the 6- and 7-weights; $449.99 for the 8- through 12-weights.
- Four-piece design with alignment dots.
- The high modulus graphite shafts are a neutral flat gray with UV stabilizers. Wraps are a slightly darker gray with blue accents.
- The stripping guides have black anodized titanium frames with SiC inserts, followed by smoke finished hard-chrome snake guides.
- The full Wells grips are a cork hybrid, using cork rings in the grip’s lower two-thirds and composite cork for the upper third. Composite cork fighting butt, gun metal gray aluminum reels seats with matching aluminum inserts and double uplocking rings.
- The reel seats are etched with the rod’s line weight, for quick identification.
How does the Cobalt cast?
My 8-weight is definitely a gun, or to use Lamson’s terminology, a hand cannon.
I admit to being concerned when I first saw the description of the Cobalt as ultra-fast, wondering if the action really was ultra-fast and questioning who would even want an ultra-fast action. Well, I’m both convinced and impressed.
I’m always wary of fast rods, because too often I’ve found they have too much power, i.e. they’re too damn stiff. That’s not to say I can’t cast such rods. But fishing is supposed to be fun, and I don’t want to work that hard. That’s one reason I tend to prefer medium-fast rods; the power tends to be more balanced.
Having said that, I found casting the Cobalt to be extremely comfortable. I tested my 8-weight with a Cortland Tarpon taper (a true 8-weight at 210 grains) and a Cortland Redfish taper (225 grains), and though the rod is definitely fast, it strikes a nice balance of power. I was able to load the Cobalt without excessive force at normal distances while still finding plenty of reserve power on longer casts.
As Arte Johnson used to say (with apologies to those too young to remember Laugh-In), “Very interesting.”
I am curious to see how consumers react to the hybrid cork grips. Myself, I love composite cork, and I wouldn’t mind using it for the entire grip. Composite feels good in the hand, and it’s much more durable than standard cork rings. And it eliminates the imperfections you can get with cork rings. I also think it looks good. The only drawback is that composite is slightly heavier than rings, though not enough that it should be a concern.
THE PURIST. Three rods for technical freshwater applications.
- These two-piece models include an 8-foot-9 3-weight, a 9-foot 4-weight and a 9-foot 5-weight.
- Retail $399.99.
- A light progressive action that I would describe as medium-fast, leaning a bit toward medium.
- The shaft is graphite gray, and the wraps are a slightly lighter shade of gray with scarlet accents.
- The shaft is lightly sanded, so it has a textured feel, with a light epoxy coating described by Lamson as a Vapor Tech finish.
- There is one SiC stripping guide, followed by three snake guides and finished with five single-foot wire guides.
- The cork is a reversed half-Wells grip with single uplocking reel seats and “reposado” inserts.
Let’s start with the obvious question: Why a two-piece rod in a sport where four-piece rods are the standard?
The answer is that eliminating ferrules helps eliminate “dead spots” as the rod bends. Eliminating ferrules also eliminates weight, so a two-piece rod is inherently lighter than a four-piece rod. A lighter rod means better performance.
The drawback, of course, is portability, in that a two-piece rod takes up more luggage space than a four-piecer. For example, I can fit most four-piece rods in my duffel. That might not be an issue if all your fishing is within driving distance of home. But let’s face it, four-piece rods are easier to carry through an airport concourse.
Is the performance edge great enough to overcome the convenience factor? Dealers and consumers will have to tell us.
How does the Purist cast?
My 4-weight Purist is a delightful rod that is easy to load and delivers a fly with great accuracy. But if you want a power rod, look elsewhere. This is a finesse tool intended for technical presentations.
To achieve that finesse factor, Lamson has put a lot of effort into making the rod tip extremely light, which is why designers chose to use single-foot wire guides in the top third of the rod.
As already noted, power is not the Purist’s strong suit. You can push it some; just don’t get carried away. But when presentation matters, the Purist is a contender.
ONE MORE THING
If you’re tired of reel seats that too often come loose, Lamson has a design that you will absolutely love. It’s called the Lockdown reel seat.
The typical reel seat consists of a curved surface against which you secure a curved reel foot. No matter how much you tighten the locking rings, it’s tough to keep the reel from shifting even just a bit from side to side. And when the reel rocks, even a little, the locking rings tend to loosen. It’s a problem even with double locking rings.
Lamson’s solution is to machine two side rails into the reel seat that match up against the straight edges of the reel foot. These rails lock the reel into place with a firmness I’ve never seen before. You don’t even need to use a lot of pressure in tightening the locking rings. The reel really is locked down.
I like these rods a lot. The aesthetics are sharp, the reel seats are amazing and more important, these new Lamsons really perform. So tell your dealer you want cast one, and see what all the fuss is about. I think you’re going to be impressed.