What is the Loop Opti K2 Euro Nymph rod?
The Loop Opti K2 Euro Nymph is part of a new range of fly rods from Swedish fly fishing manufacturer Loop. As the name suggests, this one is aimed at French and Czech style Euro nymphing techniques, so is long, very light and aimed at handling the very low line weight and thin lines used. With this style of fishing, you're really "lobbing" the weighted nymphs upstream using a tension cast and then guiding them back downstream at the same speed as the current.
What size is this rod?
The Opti K2 Euro Nymph is a four piece 10' 3 weight rod. While 9' rods and four or five weight lines are the norm on rivers, longer, lighter rods are popular for fishing Euro nymphing techniques as they give extra reach, let you cast further and cover more water and are lighter and more comfortable to use. If you've always used a 9' 4 weight for French or Czech nymphing you'll be surprised at the difference the extra foot and lower weight makes.
While this one's specifically aimed at Euro nymphing, the Opti K2 fly rod range also includes rods with more conventional designs aimed for casting flies in the usual way. At just 88g it's very light for a 10' rod.
What's the build quality like?
Loop rods are designed in Sweden and built in Korea, which is now widely regarded as one of the top rod production centres in the world. Hardy and others also produce their blanks over there. Build quality is really nice on this rod. It's very light, made from high-quality materials and is finished in a pale silver-blue colour. The overall finish is very good. If I was being hyper-critical I might say that some of the whippings seemed to have a bit too much epoxy resin on them, but that would be splitting hairs as the quality is still excellent for the money.
The ends of each section have neatly whipped finishings and are marked with the rod's code. There's a helpful dot marker on the top of the blank to help you align the sections when assembling. The overall feel isn't a world apart from that of the top of the line Loop Cross SX. The rod is mid-priced so the build quality is decent for the price point.
What are the guides like?
The Opti K2 Euro Nymph uses hard silver chrome snake rings which are finished with neat blue whippings. These look good quality and are based on a tried and tested design. They're not especially fancy looking but they're quiet, strong, match the style of the rod and should prove hard wearing.
There is one stripping guide at the bottom of the second section which is lined. This also looks decent quality and is again very neatly whipped. As is now becoming common, there's no hook keeper on the Opti K2, not that I ever use one.
What is the handle like?
The Opti K2 Euro Nymph has a slim reverse half wells handle, which suits the way in which the rod is going to be used. I found the size ideal for my hand. It feels like a lightweight if a rather lengthy wand and proved comfortable to hold. Cork quality is not bad at all by today's standards. There are also strengthening bands at either end to add a bit of extra resilience.
What reel seat is used?
The rod uses a lightweight silver anodised aluminium reel seat similar to the one Loop has used on its Evotec range for many years. This is a down-locking seat so the reel always sits as far down the rod as possible, which helps it balance the rod better and reduce arm fatigue when nymphing. The reel seat has a single locking ring and is triangular, so the slot for the top of the reel seat is always in the right place. It's a simple and effective design with an understated appearance.
What size reel balances the rod?
I tried a couple of different reels, including a Loop Multi Light and a Sage 2200 in 3-4 size. To me, the Multi Light felt just a fraction too heavy so I used the Sage 2200 instead. This balanced the rod nicely and has a small size making it comfortable to hold at arm's length for long periods.
What is the rod like to use?
The first thing you notice when you pick up the Opti K2 Euro Nymph is its weight. At 88g for a 10' rod, it's lighter than my usual 9' so feels lighter than it should. It feels great in the hand and looks good too.
It really is designed well and casts a team of weighted nymphs very well. The tip has a bit of extra flex to allow you to flick your flies to the desired spot and it coped well with both lighter nymphs and a very heavy leaded bug and a couple a tungsten jigs. Compared to my regular rod, this proved much more accurate, was easier to cast and felt lighter. I found I was able to use a longer line than before so could cover more water in my usual spots.
The rod bends down to about the halfway point so there's plenty of cushioning for light tippets and larger grayling and trout. The butt section though has quite a bit of power in reserve and I reckon you could comfortably handle a bigger fish on this rod without feeling under-gunned, even though it is only a three weight.
Can it cast a fly line too?
This rod is really aimed at the specific purpose of presenting weighted nymphs, however, I thought I'd have a chuck with a regular fly line to see how it might handle presenting a dry, were I in the position of having rising fish around me and no spare rod. I was impressed. It actually worked pretty well, throwing a Barrio Mallard line neatly and delicately with a kind of medium-ish action. Although it's not the intended purpose, if you did want to fish dries with this, you'd certainly be OK.
How much does this rod cost?
I borrowed this one to review from Loop. It's priced at £529, which is either a high price for a mid-level rod or a low price for a high-end rod. Given the overall looks, feel and performance, I'd say it's the latter. It's a lovely rod for the money and one that's now on my wish list. It's a solid performer that makes a big difference to nymphing.
More information: Fly Fishing Centre