As a seasoned guide in the mountains of Virginia, Blane Chocklett has chased an array of species throughout his fly-fishing career — brook trout in the Blue Ridge, big browns in the spring creeks and musky in the rivers. Big fish, small fish, doesn’t matter, there’s always something tugging on the line for the Roanoke, Va. resident.
Chocklett, a TFO advisory staffer and owner of the New Angle Fishing Company, was one of the first to demo TFO’s new Axiom II, having fished the new rod since March. The Axiom II will make its official debut in October. Last week, we chatted with Blane about the Axiom II. Here’s what he had to say:
TFO: What stands out about the Axiom II?
BC: “What I like about it the most is I put in a lot of clients’ hands. Everyone has a different casting stroke, but everybody that’s used it, they’ve all been able to pick it up and cast it without having to fix their casting stroke, which says a lot about the rod. So for me, it’s a no-brainer when I hand it to a client. There’s not a period where they have to figure out how to balance the rod and cast well enough to shoot the line. The rod has plenty of reserve power. That’s what I really like about it. It’s very smooth.
“The other cool attribute — and I don’t want to get ahead of myself — is it’s extremely durable. I’ve had clients put rods in awkward positions and they will fail. This rod held up to that. We’ve caught very large fish on it, so we’ve put it to a pretty good test. I’ve been really pleased with it.”
TFO: When you’re talking about durability, you’re talking about fish fighting?
BC: “Not only fish fighting, but delivering the fly to the fish. Not to get too detailed, I know lines have a lot to do with that, too. … The rod is smooth and it fits a lot of different casting strokes. That’s the coolest thing about it and the thing that stands out to me.”
TFO: I know you’re not an engineer, but any idea, in layman’s terms, why the Axiom II can do what it does with different casting strokes?
BC: “You have the Ferrari and you have the wagon with the horse, going from one extreme to the other. This rod, once you get in a medium action, you start losing those guys on the top end and gaining more people on the bottom end. Most people can’t figure out those medium action rods. This is one step up from that. It’s not quite as super-fast. What that does is it lends itself to all styles. It’s not too fast for most people. It’s not too slow for the guy that likes a super-fast rod. It kind of hits that sweet spot where it has plenty of reserve power. It doesn’t break down, which medium to soft rods have a tendency to do, when you have a lot of line out. Some people can’t wait long enough for the line to uncoil the line on the back cast. It responds to the guy that doesn’t haul at all and using the cast without any extra line speed. The rod can handle that easily without uncoiling too quickly where they lose the timing.”
TFO: I assume you tried the original Axiom? Any difference?
BC: “I think the original was on the high end for people who had a super aggressive casting stroke. … Not taking anything away from that rod, but I think it was a bit much for some people. When you get too fast of a rod or too stiff of a rod, the negatives are one, it takes a lot of people out of the equation if you’re selling rods. Second, your body feels the torque and the recoil during a long day of fishing, especially if you’re doing a lot of fishing. For me, guiding for musky, fish where you have to cast over and over and over, that’s not a good thing. You can feel it over time and fatigue quicker. What I like about this newer rod is it will absorb some of that shock. You have the power to still get big flies turned over and not wear yourself out. That’s a nice attribute of this rod over the other one. It’s also a lot lighter. It’s also a good-looking rod.”
TFO: What type of fish have you caught on that rod?
BC: “Smallmouth bass, big grass carp, big stripers, redfish and some albacore.”
TFO: Have you had much feedback from clients on the Axiom II?
BC: “I’ve had a lot of them say it’s one of the best fly rods they’ve ever cast. I’ve got a really good client that’s got every rod known to man. Like a lot of us, he’s a gear junkie. He has all the new rods that come out every year. He always does. He does well for himself, so he can afford to do it. That’s his thing. He fished it with me earlier in August and thought that it was one of the best rods he had fished and he’s got a lot of the new rods, the new Sage and the Scotts that he likes and he’s got Loomis rods, too. He buys from everybody and he was impressed with that rod and said it’s as good as any of the top-end rods on the market.”
The Axiom II is now shipping to dealers! Call your local fly shop and request yours today!