What are Wychwood Truefly SLA fly rods designed for?
These four piece fly rods were developed by Wychwood in collaboration with fly fishing legend Charles Jardine.
They're slimmer, lighter and better looking than the previous generation and are really nice to use, given the fairly reasonable price tag.
The Truefly SLA range are quite understated rods with a metallic brown finish, black rings and a grey and carbon fibre reel seat so have quite a stylish, modern feel to them.
The action is described by Wychwood as "full, progressive, easy casting" which isn't far off the mark.
What's in the Wychwood Truefly SLA fly rod range?
The Wychwood Truefly SLA range are all four piece carbon fibre fly rods and they're designed for most of the trout fishing situations you'll encounter in the UK, from river trout fly fishing to fishing on large stillwaters and reservoirs.
They range from smaller models like the 7' #3/4, through to the 8'6" #4, a 9' #5 and bigger models for #6, #7 and #8 weight lines. Internet chatter on the forums suggests the best models are towards the bottom end of the line weight range.
What are they like to use?
My eight year old son, George, has used the 8'6" four weight model of the Wychwood Truefly SLA every week for the past year. It was purchased as a replacement for his previous rod of choice, an 8'6" four weight Greys GS2, to which he was very attached (until he snapped the tip off).
Although the dimensions and line weights are the same, the Wychwood is a completely different animal. It is a much stiffer rod than the soft through action Greys GS2 and, although moderately light in the hand, the swing weight is considerably greater so the rod feels rather heavier to cast.
To me it feels more five weight than four and seems to suit a five weight line much better than a four. It doesn't seem to load particularly well at lower line weights, and your timing needs to be spot on.
What lines suit them best?
The Truefly SLA range are fairly stiff rods and lack a bit of feeling when loading and unloading, in my opinion. To help George with his casting we've over-lined it with a heavier line.
At first he used the four weight line from his GS2, but this failed to load the rod properly and wasn't great to cast. He eventually settled on an Orvis #6 weight line - two whole line weights above the recommended line weight, though eventually he dropped this down a #5 Wychwood Charles Jardine Presentation line and that suits it perfectly.
When over-lined with a #5 line it feels more forgiving and it's significantly easier for a novice like George to handle. He's able to double haul it 70 feet - not bad for an eight year old. I can comfortably cast it over 90 feet.
Here it is in action in pretty much the most severe fishing conditions imaginable. This, if anything, is a great advert for how capable the Truefly SLA is for a #4!
Although on the stiff side, it's a really nice to use and it's a capable little rod with the backbone to handle bigger fish without too many problems. - George loves it now.
Presentation and accuracy are pretty decent too and it's quite an enjoyable rod to use and cast - I'd happily use one myself. Indeed we often swap mid-session and he has a go on my Helios or Zephrus while I have a play on the Wychwood.
How do they cast?
George absolutely loves his Truefly SLA. He can cast a good 60 or 70 feet of line. The action is quite a forgiving middle-to-tip and is moderately fast. I rather like using this rod and it casts very well for the money.
To me, it feels like a bigger, heavier rod than the four weight label suggests. The blank feels very similar to the Orvis Encounter series of fly rods, which cost double the price.
How's the finish?
George's is very neatly made. Everything is neatly put together and there are some useful dots and lines for lining up the sections when you're putting it together. They're far easier to use than the usual dots, so this is a really nice but simple innovation.
What are the fittings like?
The reel seat has a nice carbon fibre insert and a pair of up-locking rings. It's light, looks good, holds the reel in place firmly and is hard wearing.
The smaller models in the range half a comfortable half wells handle, while the biggest feature a full wells with fighting butt.
However, the rings are really low quality and that's the massive downside to these rods. Although they look smart, after less than a year of admittedly regular use, virtually all of the snake rings and the tip rings are very heavily worn.
There are noticeable silver grooves worn in all of them caused by the fly line and I don't think it's going to be long until they either cut the line or wear through and snap in half.
We have other (more expensive) fly rods that have been used just as frequently over the same period and their rings show no signs of wear.
It's not far off being ready to be permanently retired, which seems an untimely end for what has been such a splendid little rod to use.
We contacted Wychwood to see whether this issue was covered under warranty but sadly didn't get a reply. While that's probably because we've had the rod a year, and they probably class it as wear and tear, it doesn't seem unreasonable to me to expect it to last more than a year, even if it is a relatively inexpensive model.
What about the cork?
The cork is OK. It's described as AAA grade but there's a fair bit of filler and it's not as resilient as that on more expensive rods, but it's OK for the price tag.
Does it come with a rod tube?
Yes, the Wychwood Truefly SLA comes with a hard black rod case made from cordura. This has a handle half way up to make carrying it a little easier and the inside is compartmentalised with storage sections that match the size of the section they're designed to hold. The compartments inside mean it's quicker and easier to use than a tube with a sleeve.
The tube is good. It's the usual black cordura tube found on many lower end or mid market fly rods, but it's helpfully sectioned to avoid the need to put the rod inside a sleeve within the tube, which saves time on the bank.
How much are they?
These retail for £89.99 but we paid around £50 for George's model. That's very good value for money. It's just been replaced with a newer model, so you can currently pick up the old SLA for a heavily discounted price.
Would you buy another?
It's undoubtedly a nice rod to cast and fish with, for the money. It's George's favourite, and I can understand why. I really like using the rod, too, however, the rings on his rod really are very poor quality and they've severely shortened the rod's lifespan.
This lack of durability would definitely put me off buying another Wychwood, but what with the new model just out in the shops now, you'd hope that they'll have given the fittings an upgrade.
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