What is the Loop Evotec fly rod?
The Loop Evotec range of single-handed fly rods are based on Loop's proprietary Cross Weave technology. They're beautifully made rods with a sublime action which gives you plenty of power, as well as lots of feeling.
Are they any good?
Several GAIA instructors I know use Loop Evotec rods for their casting tuition, which is a great endorsement for the rods' abilities. If you're going to put yourself through a year or more of intense GAIA training to perfect your casting, you'll want a rod capable of handling it all.
What line weights does the range cover?
The Loop Evotec range of single handed fly rods cover all trout, grayling and carp fly fishing requirements and are available in #3, #4, #5, #6, #7 and #8 line weight sizes.
What action does the Loop Evotec have?
Loop Evotec rods come in three actions: medium, medium fast or fast. Not every size is available in every action, which tends to be common among Loop's rod ratings. I've got a number of medium fast and fast action models and all of them are superb to cast.
What is the handle made from?
The handle on the Evotec is made from an epoxy-cork mix and is available in either a conventional round format or a revolution X-Grip design. This feels slightly firmer than regular cork, but is comfortable to hold and provides extra grip when wet.
What's with the funny X Grip handle?
The characteristic X-Grip handle of the Evotec attracts a lot of interest when I'm out fishing. Most people think it's a gimmick, but it's actually quite a clever piece of design that works well.
The GAIA people tell me that the benefits of the X-Grip are that it reduces the likelihood of the caster to tightly grip the rod, which makes for more comfortable casting, and it means you're less likely to twist your wrist.
It does take a little getting used to, but it can be used with a variety of hand grips, and once you've tried it, you'll never want to use a conventional round cork grip again.
Sadly, fly fishers are fickle and it never caught on, so Loop dropped it, but take my word for it - it's actually ruddy good.
Are the handles hard wearing?
Yes, not only is the epoxy cork handle tough and hard wearing, it's also a bit more resilient to dirt and is easier to keep clean than regular cork. There are also some nice design touches with different coloured cork sections and laser etched branding of the X-Grip logo, which looks really smart.
How much do they weigh?
The rod weights vary with the model. They're very light, but none of them is exceptionally light, and the swing rate feels slightly higher than other rods I've used. However, it's how the feel that matters and few rods are as enjoyable or precise to cast.
What are they like to use?
A couple of years ago I had a quick go on an instructor friend's Evotec. I had a few casts and thought it was nice, but I didn't initially really see what the fuss was all about. Then, a few months later, another instructor gave me his to use for half an hour at a casting event.
By the time I got home, my favourite rod, which cost more than twice as much as the Evotec, was for sale and I was on the lookout for an Evotec to replace it with. A year later and I've sold most of my other rods and replaced them with more Loop rods. They are, quite simply, brilliant.
How many sections do they have?
Most of the Loop Evotec rods in this series are three piece models, but a couple are four piece rods. Three piece rods have slightly fallen out of fashion in recent years. There's nothing wrong with a three piece though. The action is arguably better with fewer sections and the only downside is a very slightly longer rod tube.
What models do you have?
I've now got five: I have a Loop Evotec 690-3F (9' #6 fast), two Loop Evotec 590-3F rods (9' #5 fast), a Loop 8100-3MF (10' #8 medium fast), and a Loop Evotec 490-3MF (9' #4 medium fast). One of the five weights belongs to George.
|390-3 MF||9'||#3||Medium fast||Full curve||3 piece||99g|
|490-3 MF||9'||#4||Medium fast||Full curve||3 piece||101g|
|590-4 M||9'||#5||Medium||Med curve||4 piece||107g|
|590-3 MF||9'||#5||Medium fast||Mid curve||3 piece||107g|
|590-3 F||9'||#5||Fast||Tip curve||3 piece||113g|
|690-3 MF||9'||#6||Medium fast||Mid curve||3 piece||111g|
|690-3 F||9'||#6||Fast||Tip curve||3 piece||115g|
|696-4 MF||9'6"||#6||Medium fast||Tip curve||4 piece||126g|
|796-3 MF||9'6"||#7||Medium fast||Mid curve||3 piece||127g|
|7100-3 MF||10'||#7||Medium fast||Mid curve||3 piece||127g|
|8100-3 MF||10'||#8||Medium fast||Mid curve||3 piece||138g|
How do their actions differ?
I've got rods with both the medium fast and the fast action. You can tell from their feeling and action that they're based on similar blanks, but they do differ.
I prefer a fast rod, so for me, the allure of the fast models is strongest. They suit my casting style better and they're incredible to cast. They comfortably throw lines a long way and they're also very precise at close range.
The medium fast models load further down the blank and you need to slightly slow down your stroke to suit them. Both cast wonderfully and have great feeling around the tip area, so throw superb loops with the right line and in the right hands.
They all have plenty of backbone, even the medium fast #4. I recently landed a 15lb salmon on mine using just 4lb line while nymphing for grayling on the River Dee. The rod was bent double (literally), but had tons of power in the butt to allow me to bring it comfortably to the net with an aching arm.
Does the Loop Evotec come with a rod tube?
Yes, these fly rods all come with a style grey cordura tube which has a hexagonal design to match the funky grip.
What fly lines suit them best?
They aren't particularly fussy when it comes to lines and will handle most lines without an issue. I'm a big fan of Barrio Fly Lines, so on my #6 Evotec I tend to use the excellent Barrio Mallard floating line. This is a perfect match for the rod, in my opinion, so I've also bought Mallards in #4 and #5 for the other models I own.
George, who loves to wang out a long line, uses a Barrio GT125 on his #5. This requires more line outside the tip to load the rod than the Mallard does, but it's more stable at distance and lets the caster carry a lot more line thanks to the longer head and belly.
They can also cope with much more aggressive tapers. My preferred intermediate, the Barrio SLXi, has a bit of a kick to it, but the Loop Evotec #6 is capable of handling that well, without feeling over-powered.
Where can I get one?
Here lies the problem. This range of Loop Evotec rods is now a few years old and is no longer on general sale. One or two retailers have some old stock leftover which they're slowly clearing, but really, you'll probably need to track one down second hand.
What's the closest equivalent model?
The Loop Evotec Cast is probably the closest equivalent in Loop's current rod range. These are mid-range rods, like the original Evotec and sell for around £300 ish. I've not used one yet, but the Loop Q Series would also be worth a try.
Would you buy another?
I've got five and even I'd buy another! Given that they're not really that expensive, as premium brand fly rods go, it's surprising that they never really got the exposure of the likes of the Orvis Helios or Sage models of their time.
Cast one for 10 minutes and, like me, you'll probably have your old rod on Ebay by the end of the week.
How much should I pay?
These originally sold for around £300 when new. The very few that are left on sale are currently selling for around £200 each, which is a complete bargain. Expect to pay around £100-150 for a good second hand one.