Guideline EXP5 fly rod review

The Guideline EXP5 fly rod range is an entry-level mid-priced rod with a forgiving action and great build quality for the money. Easy to cast, these rods are well suited to novice and intermediate fly fishers and come in all shapes and sizes.

Guideline EXP5 fly rod review
© Fly and Lure
Guideline EXP5 fly rod review
Picture copyright © Fly and Lure
Guideline EXP5 fly rod review
Estimated reading time 5 - 8 minutes

What is the Guideline EXP5 fly rod?

The Guideline EXP5 is a range of low-to-mid-priced single-handed fly rods from the Swedish fly fishing manufacturer. Made from lightweight 24/30T graphite, these rods apparently have reduced resin content to help reduce weight and are finished in a style gloss maroon colour.

The EXP5 rods all have a medium-fast action so are quite forgiving to use and are suitable for novice and intermediate fly casters.

There are a very wide range of sizes in the range.

What sizes are available?

There's a really wide range of EXP5 sizes available. These start from a 7'6" #3 rod which is perfectly suited to small stream trout fishing and go through the usual 9' #5 and 9' #6 and #7 rods, and include a 10' #7 ideal for loch style fly fishing. There are also several larger rods including two #8 weights and a #9 weight which are well suited to pike, carp or other larger species.

Rather helpfully, Guideline has provided some guidance on the fly line head weight you'll need to perfectly match the action of the EXP5 rods. All you need to do is find a line with a matching head weight and it should feel just right.

Length Line weight Rod weight Recommended head weight
7'6" #3 71g 7-9g
8'6" #4 81g 9-11g
9' #5 90g 11-13g
9' #6 97g 13-15g
9' #7 111g 17-19g
9' #8 118g 19-21g
9' #9 129g 21-23g
9'6" #7 125g 17-19g
9'6" #8 127g 19-21g
10' #7 125g 17-19g
All of the rods are four-piece and finished in a maroon colour.

What are the fittings like?

Like most other Guideline rods, these have chrome hardware comprising small single-leg guides, instead of the usual snake guides, and non-tangle stripping guides. Whippings and varnishing are all meticulously applied and look very neat - just what you'd expect for a rod at this price point. There's a small hook keeper just above the handle.

Fittings are good quality and workmanship is excellent.

Do they come with a rod tube?

Yes, these fly rods are provided with the usual cloth rod bag with separate compartments for each section and a tough Cordura rod tube to help protect the rod in transit. While not as stylish as an aluminium rod tube, this is the norm for rods at this price and is still perfectly serviceable.

The EXP5 comes with a sturdy Cordura rod tube.

What sort of handles do they have?

The EXP5 fly rods use a range of different handle styles aimed at matching the rod weight, length and style of fishing. These range from reverse half wells in the smaller sizes to handles bearing a small reinforced fighting butt on the larger rods. The cork quality is pretty good. There's a little bit of filler, but it's not that noticeable and is pretty common on all rods these days, what with cork supplies becoming harder to find.

The larger rods have a full wells handle with fighting butt.

The reel seat uses a stylish lightweight gloss graphite spacer bearing the Guideline logo and has beautifully machined aluminium components. It's not too blingy and looks very well made.

The spacer and reel seat is nice and understated.

What are they like to use?

I have the 9' #8 model for my pike fly fishing trips. I'm using this with the excellent Barrio Predator pike fly lines which load the rod really well. Guideline recommends a head weight of 19-21g for this rod and my Barrio Predator line weighs in 1g heavier, so it's loading it just a tad more than they recommend. For a crisper action, I'd recommend a lighter line.

The rod feels light in the hand. Lighter than the average 8# normally would. It bends fairly deeply (partly because the line I'm using is on the heavy side) so you do need to slow down your stroke a little to make the most of it. However, it casts well, especially given its price.

Throwing nice loops is easy and it is comfortable to fish with and copes well with the lunges of the fish. I did manage to bump a few fish off, but I can do that with much more expensive rods too! Turning over bigger flies was pretty good. It's also good for chucking larger trout flies, such as chain bead snakes, which are notoriously horrible things to cast.

How much do they cost?

The Guideline EXP5 single-handed fly rods are entry-level and mid-priced so are among the cheapest of those offered by Guideline. They retail for around £159.99 but can sometimes be picked up for less than this. It looks like these might be due for discontinuation shortly, as I paid just £60 for mine, which represents really good value for money.

About the author

matt

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