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Orvis Trident TL 1268

orvis trident

design and components        test cast

 

I have a confession to make before I go any further with this review really like Orvis rods. Always have. Back in the late 80s when I was living in eastern BC and just getting into fly fishing in a serious way I wandered into Country Pleasures Flyshop in Calgary , Alberta and met Jim McLennan who sold me my first fly rod, an 8´3´ 7 weight Orvis Green Mountain ´Allrounder´ with a Madison IV reel, line, backing, etc etc. I still have that rod (sadly, the reel´a real warhorse-- is sitting at the bottom of a BC interior lake) and it´s been bent into brown trout, rainbow trout, Chum salmon, and pike and is still going strong. I think I´m even going to take it into the Dean with me this year and see if I can catch a dry line steelhead with it. A year or so after I bought that rod I purchased an Orvis Henry´s Fork (8-1/2 5 weight) blank and built it up into what was my main trout rod for years. A great rod the Henryÿy´s Forkÿy´even accidentally caught a steelhead with it once while I was trout fishing.
   
Orvis has much of the eastern US locked up in terms of rod sales, and their Trident line has done very well internationally for them, routinely voted as among the best rods in the UK´s Trout and Salmon magazine˙ŭs annual reader˙ŭs poll. Their approach to rod building makes sense to me, and they have developed their new flex rating system that makes understanding rod actions easier and takes a lot of the guess work out of selecting an Orvis product.
    But what about their Spey rods? I cast one of them a number of years ago when I broke a Sage and a pal at a fly shop had a spare Orvis Spey delivered to me on the banks of the Thompson. This was the old 13-1/2ft 10 weight Salmon model that they made at the time, and I didn´t know enough about Spey rods then to really form an opinion about the rod, but it was fun to try something different. My fuzzy recollection of that rod was that it was pretty heavy and slow, but this was off-set by its shorter length. Since then I haven't seen any Orvis Speys, although I had heard that Orvis had made some major changes to their line of double-handers. So when Jim and I were chatting a few months back and he said he had an Orvis Trident Spey and would I like to try it, I jumped at the chance. I was fortunate to have it for several months (not many steelhead for Jim to catch back in Alberta between December and March I guess!) and was able to spend a considerable amount of time with it, testing it in a variety of situations with a number of lines. Even fished it on the Skagit before the closure
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Design and Components

The TL 1268-3 Mid 7.0 is a 3-piece 12-1/2ft 8 weight, a rod rated as a Mid-Flex 7.0 and retails for $640 US. The 7.0 rating is about the middle of the Mid-Flex scale (Mid-Flex runs 6.0 through 9.0) Under normal load you can expect the  rod to flex easily through to the mid section, making it a "true" medium action rod. The sanded blank is finished in a mid green with matching thread wraps; ferrule wraps are accented with gold thread. Snakes and tip top are all non-glare, as are the two strippers. Anodized aluminum reel seat with wood spacer. The handles are standard length and a comfortably designed full wells with enough length on the bottom handle to give you a solid grip. orvis reel seat with Loop reel
    I wasnÿy´t really excited about the reel seat and the butt cap. Aesthetically the seat is pleasing: Orvis describes it as ÿy´salmon walnut wood and gold anodized aluminumÿy´ and it certainly is one of the more attractive seats Iÿy´ve seen on production Speys. It is downlocking and has a sliding hood backed up by a single locknut. While the seat is pretty, the single locknut on the rod I tested tended to come loose after a dozen casts or so. I hope that Orvis will remedy this problem in the future by either installing a second nut to back up the first or placing an O-ring at the contact point between the slider and the nut. In the meantime if you encounter this problem it can be remedied with a turn or two of electrical tape.   
    The butt cap is about the size, shape and thickness of a quarter. While it looks elegant I worry that it won˙ŭt stand up to the rigors of West Coast steelheading. As I've mentioned before orvis butt cap my rods are subject too all manner of abuse when I'm out--on the Thompson sometimes a rod will double as a wading staff or a leaning stick when I'm removing my stream cleats, and when we charge around with our Speys strapped to the hood of my truck the bottom handle gets mud and dirt and rocks thrown at it. I tell you this so that you will weigh my concern about the butt cap against my guerrilla approach to the sport.  If the butt cap bothers you too have a local rod maker install a heavy duty rubber or composite cap and all worries will cease.
    

  Test Cast

  Lines: RIO MidSpey 8/9, Accelerator 9/10 
 Reels: Hardy Marquis Salmon#1; Loop Evotec LW 8eleven

      The Trident is definitely an Orvis rod: light and responsive, with a crisp medium action that encourages a  relaxed, easy casting stroke, much as you˙ŭll find with other Orvis rods. It's a real pleasure to cast and  executes all of the principle Spey casts with ease . The Trident likes the Grant Switch and the Spiral Roll, the rod action really encouraging the caster to slow things down and let the rod work. The medium action is great for newer casters because you can really feel the rod loading during the casting cycle. The TL 1268 is not a distance casting cannon, though, and shouldn't be treated as such--it wasn't designed for that. If they made spring creek Spey rods the TL 1268 would be one. Comfortable in the short to medium range--out to about 80ft or so--it would be an excellent rod for dry line work on the Bulkley, Deschutes or Grande Ronde rivers, and I wouldn˙ŭt hesitate to put a sinktip on it for fishing soft water on a smaller winter river like the North Fork Stilly. If smaller fish are your primary target, consider stepping down one line size and getting the TL 1267 (12-1/2ft for a 7 weight).
   
There is a growing trend toward lighter Speys in shorter lengths, but 12ft is about as short as I'd want to go because part of the advantage of a Spey rod is command of the water and with conventional line control methods you begin to lose range when you reduce the length of your rod. The 12-1/2ft length of the Trident is a nice length-to weight ratio and will work well for medium sized waters where it is not necessary to control long casts. 
    Properly balanced a shorter rod will feel lighter in the hand than a longer rod, but this gets negated when we use a heavy reel. If you like the shorter rod lengths give some serious consideration to balancing your rod with a light large arbor reel like the Loop Evotec LW 8/eleven.
    I have to mention the vibration damping feature of the rod. It really works. I was astounded with how smooth casting it was and how much the damping reduced tip wobble and other vibrations that seem to be inherent in a lot of rods. I was initially skeptical about this feature but I˙ŭm definitely sold now.
    I tested a number of lines with this rod, and found that many of the lines rated for the rod (8 weight) were too light. These included the Mastery Spey 8/9 and the Airflo Speycaster 8. When I stepped up in weight the rod started to perform as it should, and I found the MidSpey 8/9 and Accelerator 9/10
 worked best. Both lines loaded the rod well and allowed comfortable casting distances of 80ft-to-90ft without too much effort. A Windcutter 8/9/10 or 9/10/11 would also balance it nicely, although I did not test these lines with this rod. New casters might want to consider lining it with the MidSpey, and if you like a little more load on the rod consider up-lining to the MidSpey 9/10. 
    Overall I was very impressed with this rod, and it's one I'd like to add to the quiver. Certainly Orvis has come a long way with their Spey rods since the days of the old 13-1/2 footer. I wonder--if I hang onto it for a few more months I could take it to the Dean with me. Do you think Jim would notice it missing?

special thanks to Jim McLennan for making this rod available for review

 

greg pearson illustration