What are Guideline LPS Euro Nymphing fly rods?
The new LPS (Light Presentation Series) fly rods from Guideline are aimed at Euro nymphing on rivers for trout or grayling, whether it's with the French nymphing, Czech nymphing or Polish nymphing style. They're aimed at beginners or intermediates so are mid-priced, as fly rods go.
While conventional fly fishing methods use a fly line as the weight to propel the flies into the river, with Euro nymphing it's the mass of the heavily weighted flies that provides the ballast.
In fact, a fly line isn't really required at all and, in many cases when Euro nymphing, a long tapered monofilament leader (such as the popular Hends Camou French Leader) is all that's used.
Why do you need a special rod for Euro nymphing?
While you can use a regular fly rod when Euro nymphing, conventional fly rods are constructed to let you cast a fly line and lack the length and feel of a proper nymphing rod.
By contrast, Euro nymphing rods let you cast (or lob) the weighted flies upstream using only the weight of the flies themselves. The method requires you to fish for long periods with your arm extended, so a light rod makes a massive difference, and one that's a bit longer means you can cover a bit of extra distance.
What's special about these nymphing rods?
Guideline says the LPS range are made from high modulus 36/30 graphite and have a reduced resin content over conventional fly rod blanks, which is designed to make them lighter and more sensitive and help reduce arm fatigue that often plagues the Euro nymphing fly fisher.
The rods have been designed in conjunction with two very accomplished British fly fishers - Alex Jardine and Lewis Hendrie - who are both well known for their Euro nymphing abilities. The rods' actions are designed to suit beginner or intermediates to this area of fly fishing, so are aimed at being easy to use.Guideline / YouTube.
What models are in the LPS Euro Nymphing rod range?
There are currently three models in the LPS Euro Nymphing rod range which are designed for fishing rivers of different sizes, all of which are four piece rods. The smallest model, the LPS 962, is 9'6" and has a 2wt action, making it best suited to small streams and rivers and very light tippets.
The LPS 993 is a 9'9" 3wt rod suited to small to larger rivers. Guideline says it can handle light tippets well but also has the backbone for larger fish and is light enough to control flies for long periods without too much arm ache.
I went for the LPS 1004, which is a 10' 4wt rod, better suited to larger rivers and fish where larger flies are used. This seemed like the best choice for me, as the extra length over my usual 9' 4wt Loop rod is advantageous on my local Welsh Dee. That said, if they'd offered it, I'd have rather gone for a 10' #2...
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What's the build quality like?
We've got a couple of Guideline's entry-level fly rods. Mrs Fly&Lure has a Guideline Kispiox and we also have a Guideline Kaitum Trout kit. These are both nice rods, but the build quality on the LPS range feels a step up, which justifies the slightly higher price.
The blank is slim and finished in a slightly metallic looking dark olive colour with a shiny varnish finish. There's a hook keeper but no dots to help you line up the sections.
The whippings are a similar colour to the blank, giving a drab and understated appearance which is lacking in bling. All of the whippings and varnishing are very neat and the overall finish looks clean, smart and professional. It feels like it's worth the asking price.
What rings do they use?
Each rod has nine single-leg guides and one stripper guide - a configuration specifically designed to work when using a long leader instead of the regular fly line. Single leg guides, as the name suggests, have only one leg, obviously, rather than the two legs you get on standard snake rings. They're smaller, have a lower profile and probably also affect the way the rod bends less.
There's only one stripper guide, which is positioned on the second section from the bottom. This sits out at 90°. The configuration seems to work well when casting and playing fish, and probably also helps keep the rod's weight down too.
What reel seat do they use?
Unusually, for a fly rod, these feature a down-locking reel seat. That means the reel sits right at the bottom of the rod, instead of a couple of inches up the blank, as it does on the average rod.
That puts the weight further back and helps reduce the swing weight, giving the rod a lighter feel and helping to reduce the arm ache you can get from fishing with your arm raised all day. It really works.
There's a small EVA foam "fighting butt" on the bottom end and a lightweight wooden spacer under the reel. This looks OK and isn't too blingy, matching the understated feel of the rod's overall design.
How is the handle?
The handle on these nymphing rods is a reverse half wells. It's specially designed to be narrow at the top end so you can place your index finger along the blank for extra sensitivity, allowing you to feel any subtle takes and even feel when the flies are bumping the bottom. It's comfortable to hold, even in my fairly big hands, and is very well-designed for nymphing. It felt just right to me.
What rod tube is provided?
Like most similarly priced rods, the nymph rods come with a partitioned cloth rod sock and a tough Cordura rod tube, rather than a more expensive metal one. The tube provided looks good. Admittedly, it's not as fancy as those you get with posher rods, but it's functional and fairly good looking.
What are they like to use?
As with any rod, if you use a reel that's too light and the tip will pull down and your arm will quickly tire. A slightly heavier reel, and this rod's reel seat that positions the reel further down the rod, really helps it feel lighter in the hand and reduces fatigue in your arm. I've paired my 10' #4 Guideline LPS fly rod with a Guideline Haze v2 fly reel in 2# to 4# size. This small, but large arbour fly reel looks great and is just the right size and weight to balance the rod perfectly in the hand.
Despite the extra length over my usual 9' #4, the LPS feels quite light in the hand. That's partly because of the reel balance position and also because it is a light rod. Even at a foot longer, the 10' LPS weighs in at only 90g versus the 101g of my older 9' Loop #4. I'm not sure the 11g weight difference makes a massive difference, even to my relatively weedy biceps, but it certainly feels much more comfortable to use and the extra reach means you can cover more water.
The main portion of the rod feels relatively stiff in the hand but there's a bit of softness to the tip which really helps when lobbing your nymphs back upstream. It's also soft and slightly springy so cushions the lunges of the fish well and lets you use fine tippet without too much fear of being snapped off. It's easy to cast, great for positioning flies where you want them and a pleasure to fish with.
The best bit is the sensitivity. The tip is seriously sensitive and you can feel the slightest touch all the way through the blank. I could feel the nymphs tapping the stones on the bottom and felt every little pluck or knock from the fish. My catch rate with the rod seems to be good, but while that might be a fluke, it certainly inspires confidence.
How much do they cost?
Guideline LPS Euro Nymphing rods are available in three sizes: 9'6" 2wt, a 9'9" 3wt and a 10' 4wt. They cost £199 but I picked mine up for a little less online. If you're after a relatively budget-priced nymphing rod these are definitely worth considering.