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Well I finally got a chance to get out with the XLT demo that Juro sent out. This report is based on two hours of casting this morning and I will spend another couple sessions before I sent it on. If my opinions change, I will make sure to update this review. Following Juro’s template, here are my thoughts.

Line: SA XLT 9/10 marked "Experimental", bright orange coating
Leader: 15 foot 60/20/20 recipe (30#/15#/8#)
Rod: Scott 1510-4 ARC, 10wt 15foot 4-pc
Flies: #6 Partrige Bartleet Spey and 1/0 Tiemco 7999 G.P.

Casts attempted:
Double Spey, both sides
Reverse Double both sides
Snap-T both sides
Snake Roll
Reverse Snake Roll

I will start off by saying that rather than yarn; I used flies to simulate fishing conditions. Most of the morning was spent with the small spey but I also tried the bigger pattern to see how the line turned over bigger bushier dressings. Next I need to come clean on my preferences or prejudices regarding rod action and line type. I prefer a faster action rod, which will respond to a compact crisp casting stroke. Since I also prefer a long bellied or at least mid-bellied lines, I tend to line my traditional action rods in what Rio would call the A designation. For example, on the Scott rod used today, I normally fish either an 8/9 Midspey or an 8/9 Accelerator. Now you know where I’m coming from, on to the review.

First observation is this line takes a LARGE capacity reel. I stripped a 9/10/11 Wincutter with Accelerator upgrade off of one of my Teton 12LA reels to hold the XLT. It filled it to the frame!

To better allow comparisons to fishing circumstances, I will list distances from the reel including leader. To determine the amount of XLT out the rod tip, simply subtract 30’. Distance was calculated the old fashioned way of laying the rod on the bank and using it for a measure. While maybe not exact, measurements should be accurate to within +/- 2’.

Overall impression was positive. I started with short casts. While the line failed to load the rod close in, this is to be expected. It was very easy to tip cast tight little bullets once the distance reached 50-55’. As additional belly was added to the cast, the performance increased. The line was a pleasure to cast out to 105’. After this, I had to work. While casts were possible out to 120’ they required more effort than I prefer and the rod quickly began to overload. More on this in a moment.

I find the 105’ distance to be worth noting as this equates closely to the fishing distance of an Accelerator with the entire body outside the guides. This offered me the chance to compare the two lines. I would give the edge in castability to the XLT. Of course it does not have the infamous power hinge but that aside, it seemed just to roll out better and with less effort. Mending ability at distance with the XLT was very impressive. Where I think I slightly prefer the Accelerator is in the 105’ to 120’ slot. Could I pickup and deliver the XLT at this distance? Most definitely but as stated above, with increased effort. While I tend not to like to strip and shoot, the rare occurrences when I need to cast these distances coupled with the overload issue of the XLT, make me lean to the Accelerator. Shooting belly on the XLT was less than desirable at distances over 100’.

Now to address the overload issue. First off, I would love to cast an 8/9 XLT on this rod as I felt the 9/10 was just too much once you crossed the magical 105’ mark. Because of the radical taper, the rear bally carries significant grains and just a few additional feet of line could be felt dramatically in the rod. I have heard some question if the XLT is line designated properly and based on the one I cast, I might question this as well. However, it was such a pleasure to cast mid-distance, I fear stepping down a weight might alter this mid-range performance.

There have also been questions raised about turnover and wind performance of the XLT. There was no wind during my trial so I cannot speak to this. I did notice that in distances in excess of 95’, the tip seemed a little light to turn over the long leader and fly. This was more pronounced with the larger fly. This problem was remedied by accentuating the crisp stop in the casting stroke. Given that I am used to an Accelerator where such a crisp action doesn’t always match well with its power hinge, this problem may be more a hitch in my delivery than a shortcoming of the XLT.

While the line performed with all casts tried, it definitely shined with the Snake Roll. The double spey was also efficient but it took a strong setup to get that entire belly placed properly for the downstream sweep. As Juro mentioned in his review, casting over the anchor is a must when throwing greater distances.

To wind this up, I liked the line and can understand why it has such a following. It is not the holy grail but nothing is. No matter how good the line or the rod, nothing is a substitute for practice and good form. I’m not sure I would recommend it to a beginning spey caster but for those with moderate ability such as myself, it certainly can perform well. I am curious to play around with the other weights and see how they perform across various rod weights. I’m personally not convinced that a person needs all that belly for fishing purposes but for casters, it might be reassuring to know you have it. As I was walking out, I couldn’t help but think how sweet a line the XLT would be if the rear belly was cutback leaving around 85’ attached to running line. A little more than an Accelerator and the ability to shoot more if needed. :cool:

Thanks to SA, Juro and the Flytalk for a chance to play with it.

sinktip
 

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Coast2coast Flyfishaholic
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Very thorough and well written review, thanks Sinktip.

I am dying to try the 8/9 on my 10150-4 brown to see what the rod can do with the whole head out there.

Since sending that line along I've cast a variety of lines on my rods and must admit I sure enjoyed not having to strip running line to reach the same distances with the XLT.

It may not be the 'easiest' line out there but it sure has some distinct advantages.

Before sending it to the next person, maybe you can do something I could not during my east coast trials - catch a steelhead on it!

:)
 

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9/10 XLT

Not sure if the 9/10 demo line is the same vintage as the ones available at the Sandy Spey Clave. If so, then Way indicated that he still needed to fiddle with it as it was a bit over-grained. I cast it on my Scott 1509 (not sure how the 1509 action compares to the 1510?) and it felt overloaded where the 8/9 was really sweet. The currents at the clave were a bit squirrly and for long casts caused some problems. Both Way and Steve thought the 9/10 once perfected would be the line of choice for the 1509 essecially if you wanted to go to tips with it.

As others have said, if you are throwing big or weighted bugs most of the time you might consider cutting back the tip some to help with turnover
 

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Rick, I think you're on the mark here.

At the end of March, Way and Steve noted they were still fiddling with the line for the same reasons you noted. But SA wanted to get these things out so it looks like they put out the 'first generation' to get them to market. The 6/7, 7/8, and 8/9 were considered 'on the money,' but I suspect there will be a version 2 of the 9/10.

And you're on the mark about snipping back the tip on the 7/8 and 8/9 for sure with heavy/large flys to help with turn over. Using the 6/7 on my 'green' 7136 and it's a wonderful combination with a very long leader/single fly. Up to a #4 if unweighted, or a weighted #6.

With the larger flys the tendency for the fly (again very long leader) is still to "roll out" horizontal to the water if you don't cast right over the anchor. Fly ends up 'up-stream' from the line, but a stacking mend takes care of the issue and actually gives you a heck of a extreamly long "dead drift."

Short trips on Friday eveing, Sat am and pm, ditto for Sunday.
Score card was 2/2 2/3 0/0 1/1 and 0/1

With the river so close you can fish in the morning, do yard work all afternoon and still get in a couple of hours in the evening. This schedule will go to heck in a hand basket as Joan's due back from Europe Friday.

Good news though is there are now over 7,000 summer runs in the upper river and the number of fall kings in increasing daily. The fall kings will take a fly (actually they prefer very small flys like the steelhead) so you don't know what you may tie into.

Fun and games to hook a 20 something pound fish on a 7136 sage.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Rick,

You might be right on the demo being a tad heavier than the finished product. I can't even fathom the line I have on a Scott 1509. The 1510 is a much beefier rod in my opinion and even it was overloaded. I spent some time this Spring with Way's own 1509 and both the 8/9 midspey and 8/9 accelerator. For my casting, each of those were a bit much for the Scott. Those are the same lines I use and love on the 1510.

st
 
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