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AJ Morris

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Reply with quote  #1 
I like the idea of forum members posting some in-depth reviews of various rods they like (or don't like as the case may be) based on actual fishing experience.

So anyway, I wanted to talk about the Xact series 9140 from Loop. I've fished this rod about 50 days now, and I've been really, really impressed with it. My initial impression was that Loop chose to put it's money into the blank rather than components in order to offer a nice performing rod at less than top-end prices. In this regard it's much like the old Expert series from CND.

The first thing you notice is the cork-composite grip. I know as a hobby builder, the price of cork has been steadily going up for some time, and I suspect that Loop is simply looking ahead and taking steps. While it may look slightly unconventional it still manages to come off as reasonably subdued and tasteful, and I quit noticing it after the first five minutes on the water. As it happens, there are also a couple of practical side effects to this style of grip that I'll get into later. The blank is a dark green color with blue-green thread wraps and a bit of gold trim around the label and at the ferrules. It also features white alignment dots. The snake guides are chrome, and the strippers have chrome frames with silicone-carbide rings. The reel seat is plain black-anodized aluminum.

While the rod isn't particularly elegant, it's not ugly or gaudy either, and basically comes across as a plain 'ol fishing rod. In terms of aesthetics, I'd give it a four out of five.

The build quality and fit-and-finish are very good, though it's obvious that Loop chose to save some money by utilizing less expensive hardware. The blank is straight and the sections fit together snugly without any clicking. Thread wraps are tight with no gaps, and the epoxy is nice and thin without any sags or drips.

The up-locking reel seat features a round barrel, and it feels a bit lighter than the traditional triangular seats I'm used to from loop. However, every reel I've tried fits snugly with no wobble, and the twin locking nuts spin freely and tighten down securely. As a side note; Loop advertises this rod with the triangular seat, so I have no idea why this and other rods I've seen have the round seat. Probably cost related, and I'm not sure how much it matters, as this particular seat works perfectly.

For quality and finish, I give it a four out of five.

Comfort and ergonomics are one of those fuzzy areas that gets pretty subjective. The profile Loop uses on their grips is deceptively simple, but for my money, it's as good as it gets. It is amazingly comfortable to fish all day, with no fatigue. I particularly like the low profile butt-cap, as I prefer to make a ring of my thumb and index finger, with my middle finger resting on the butt itself to pinch off the line. Few things drive me more nuts than a rod with a gigantic butt cap you can't get your fingers around!

The grip length is 22 5/8 inches overall, with an upper grip length of 13 3/16 inches, and a lower grip length of 5 3/4 inches. I like my grips to be absolutely no more than 24 inches overall, so this fits me personally very well indeed. Those who have longer arms, or use a lot of top-hand extension, may not like it as well.

The grip material itself is quite a bit more "grippy" than traditional cork, and I have really come to love this, particularly in the winter when your hands are too often wet, cold and stiff. (It's also far more durable than cork, and you can put it through quite a lot of abuse without chipping or otherwise damaging it. Do not ask how I know...)

The rod is surprisingly light for it's length and line rating. Even with the up-locking seat, it balances very nicely with a variety of reels, though for my taste I prefer the JW Young 1540.

The smooth, relaxed casting action is easy to deal with all day, and you don't have to fight with it, even when tired and fatigued. I also have some issues with my hands/elbows/shoulders, and some rods I've owned had me popping Advil within a couple hours. Not so here. I tend to just let my mind hang in neutral and simply fish.

For comfort and ergonomics, I rate it a five out of five.

Loop rates the Xact as "medium fast" but again everything is subjective. Compared to laser cannon like the old Multi series, or a Meiser Highlander, yes, its a bit slower. Compared to the "fast" Winston boron rods, it's pretty crisp, quick and authoritative. It's significantly faster than the BII-x.

That's not to say it's a stiff rod. It is not. I has a very smooth, supple, progressive action with a pretty deep load, and transmits a huge amount of feedback to the caster. The taper is wonderfully well balanced, and you can line it up or down as you like without fear of overloading the tip, or not loading it deep enough.

I've fished it with a Ballistic Vector 8/9, 9/10, 10/11, and a Delta 9/10. The 10/11 was definitely pushing the upper limits, but as long as you stayed off the gas the rod worked admirably. With the 8/9, it took a bit more bump with the bottom hand, but it tossed nice pointy loops off the tip. Lots of fun. I actually prefer to fish the rod with the 9/10 vector as it worked the best for me, and the rod seemed to prefer it.

One thing I like about the 9/10 Vector, is when you are dealing with cramped quarters and/or windy conditions, you can hold the color change in your top hand, and the rod will still cast comfortably without feeling overloaded. It will also easily shoot the rest of the head and fifteen or twenty feet of running line.

The 9/10 Delta was also very nice and I wouldn't hesitate to fish it, but the Vector felt like it brought out the best in both the rod and the caster.

When it comes to fighting fish, the Xact has a superb blend of power and flexibility that allows you to really put the screws to big fish. So far, I've only landed 27 steelhead with this rod, but I don't believe any of them took more than two minutes to horse in. (I have a tendency to start chanting "one potato, two potato, three potato..." when I hook a fish, just to have some idea of how long I'm monkeying around with 'em.)

For casting and overall fishing this rod gets five out of five.

In summary, if you are looking for top-shelf hardware and refined aesthetics, this probably isn't your rod. However, if you are in the market for a superb fishing rod with performance to rival many more expensive rods, you may with to take the Xact for a test drive. Overall I'd rate this rod four and a half out of five.
P1010622.JPG


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Don ff. O'Carroll

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Reply with quote  #2 
Good review AJ and thank you for taking the trouble to make the report.
I had assumed the Xact rod to be a beginner rod probably with slightly dated carbon but your review would suggest otherwise!
Maybe you would comment on the sorts of distances you could cast (if you needed to) with this rod in comparison to other rods on which you favour the same lines?
Don
AJ Morris

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Reply with quote  #3 
Hi Don,
   I'm a fisherman first and foremost, so distance has never been my focus, and I rarely cast more than 100 feet while fishing. Having said that, when I'm holding my mouth right I can hit 125 or 130 feet with this rod/line without too much effort. Don't really know what she'd be capable of with a good caster in the drivers seat...  It's not nearly as powerful as the older Loop multi-series, but it's also not as "twitchy" in terms of timing... Definitely has more juice than the Winston boron rods, but also requires more attention to detail. Trade-offs...  I know that casting it side by side with a T&T 1409-5, it can hold it's own, thanks very much!

The layup may in fact be a bit dated, I don't know. To be perfectly honest, I really pay no attention to such things. My sole focus is on how a rod feels while fishing.

I'm not sure that Loop has ever built "beginners rods," so much as rods with different flex profiles and tempo's to meet different tastes. It may well be that the materials schedule has been reflected in the higher retail costs of their flagship rods over the years. Too, Loop chose to use some less expensive components and hardware on this particular rod which brought the price down from obscene to merely expensive...

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Don ff. O'Carroll

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Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks AJ, that's a great answer.
100' is as much as I need too, and 125' is impressive in my book.
Don[smile]
William McQuade

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Reply with quote  #5 
Did the J W Young 1540 fit that rod without modification? Im finding that my classic fly reels generally don't fit modern rods.
AJ Morris

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Reply with quote  #6 
Been out of town for the past five weeks...

The Young fit the Loop seat just fine. However, (apart from Meisers) I found that the Young generally worked with most reel seats, so I'm not sure how helpful that is.  FWIW the seat measures 3 3/4" from ring-to-ring. (That's roughly 90 millimeters in Roman Catholic...)

As a side note, I really liked the adjustable seat Loop used on the longer Evotec and Opti-Powerspey rods. That was really slick and allowed you to use pretty much any reel you liked.  I believe it's been phased out along with those particular models. Too bad, as it was a superb idea.

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William McQuade

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Reply with quote  #7 
I actually bought an Evotech 14' 9 weight on Ebay for 189 bucks for the same reason you pointed out. ie; reel seat. I like modern rods but I hate modern reels.
Jim Ansite

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Reply with quote  #8 
Great review, AJ. Thanks for taking the time.
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