The Stickman T-7: Return of the 7 Weight

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The 7 Weight is the middle child of fly fishing.

A 7 weight fly rod is the most versatile tool in the fly anglers box. The number of species and techniques that are perfect for the 7 weight is staggering, and yet this versatile rod is often overlooked by anglers and rod designers alike. I love fishing a 7 but it’s been a long time since I had one I thought was just right.

Most rod companies approach rod design in the same way. They produce rod “families” in a range of weights. The Orvis Helios 3, the Scott Meridian, The Winston B3X to name a few. Their goal being that the family of rods feel more or less the same in every weight. If you like the 5 weight, you’ll like the 8 and so on. So where does a rod design start?

It starts with an idea and is prototyped until that idea is achieved. To streamline the process, rod designers start with the two most popular rod weights, the 5 and 8. Once these two rods are where they want them, the rest of the lineup is fleshed out using those two tapers as a reference. Some weights get more attention than others but none as much as the 5 and 8 weights.

This is why rod reviews usually focus on the 5 and 8 weight rods. They are almost always the sweet spots in the lineup but what about those other rod weights perfectly suited for so many fishing situations? Often they are hit and miss. Some companies do a good job of producing special purpose rods, like the G Loomis IMX Pro rods or Echo BAG but those great all around fishing machines like the 9 foot 7 weight are too often underwhelming.

Then there’s Stickman. A boutique rod company from Hungary with a completely different approach.

They don’t make rod families. They don’t even make fly rods in every weight. They also don’t make any filler. They make fine tuned fishing machines and they make them their way. If you want a 5 weight, they have one, the P5, and you can get it in four colors but thats the 5 weight and it’s as good as they can make it.

They also have a damned fine 7 weight. The T7, and it’s a monster.

The T7 is fast, really fast, but with a sweet, easy load and a ton of feel. The tip is soft enough to give the rod finesse  when casting and fighting fish and it transitions smoothly into a very fast midsection with an impressive recovery rate. Making graceful, tight loops is almost automatic. It casts easily at short, medium and long range and is sniper accurate. It’s such a pleasure to cast, I find myself making excuses to fish it.

The T7 is available in 9 feet and 9 feet, 6 inches. The 9’6” version is intended for extra line control when swinging for anadromous species. Mine is the 9’ model so I can only speak specifically to it.

Having fished and reviewed the P5 last year, I had big expectations for the T7. I have been on the hunt for the perfect 7 weight for some time and I wasted no time putting this rod to the test. I put eight different species in the net with this rod in the first three months and no matter what I threw at it, or maybe I should say with it, the T7 performed like a champ.

Here’s a breakdown of the paces I put the Stickman T7 through in the first three months.

Bonefish

_DSC4891No point in playing around. If this rod is going to be my ultimate 7 weight, it has to be a bonefish rod. I took it to South Andros for the January bonefish school.  Rod designer Akos Szmutni told me the rod would do a great job with smaller bonefish flies. I threw that advice straight out the window. I spend 3 weeks a year on South Andros, a rod that doesn’t cast a #2 fly is no good to me. I found no shortcomings in the T7 with even my largest patterns.

A 7 weight is a great bonefish rod for days when the wind lays down and you need a softer presentation. Anyone who fished saltwater, pretty much anywhere this winter, can tell you that wasn’t a real problem. We had plenty of nice days and great fishing but flat calm it wasn’t. The T7 performed great, putting my fly on target in winds ranging through the mid teens.

My first fish on the T7 was a bonefish around six or seven pounds. I hooked it right next to the mangroves in tight quarters. It was in a narrow cut between two keys. Maybe forty feet across and with enough water depth for the fish to fight hard. It was a rodeo but the T7 had enough backbone for me to keep that strong fish away from trouble and enough shock absorption that I didn’t break him off. The first test was a success. It’s enough rod for bonefish.

Trout

DSC01833Next stop Patagonia. The first four days of our February Argentina Double Header were spent floating the Limay River. We had high water, which meant great streamer fishing and another big test for the T7. I threw meat using three very different and equally challenging techniques. This was where the rubber would meet the road.

The big migratory brown trout in the Limay don’t behave like brown trout at home. Catching them usually means fishing double streamer rigs super-deep in mid-river channels. To do this we use a heavy, full-sinking shooting head with mono running line. Some folks call this “Smart Bombing.” It’s load-and launch casting at it’s best and very demanding on both rod and caster. The T7 was perfect, making repetitive long bombs easy on the casting arm. With fish averaging 4-6 pounds, I was happy to have some authority over them.

The T7 performed equally well when paired with an SA Titan Int.-Sink 3-Sink 5 fly line. The action remained crisp and accurate, even with the heavy line. It was dazzling when paired with an Airflo Galloup Floating Streamer line, pushing laser tight loops way back under overhanging vegetation and getting “oooooohs” from my guide. The T7 got an A+ on the second test. If you like tossing streamers, this rod is dynamite.

Pacu

DSC02133The second leg of our Argentina trip found us on the Upper Parana River, in the jungles of the north, where we would chase golden dorado, pacu and a host of other exotic species. I chose the T7 for my bead rod. I don’t know of anything more challenging to cast than a pacu bead. Picture casting a marble with a fly rod. It’s a pretty specific technique that takes some getting used to but the T7 handles it like a champ. I put some nice pacu and a handful of other species on it this way. Another success.

Bass

IMG_1105By March I’m feeling pretty sporty with my T7 but I realize that not every fly angler is going to be jetting off to Argentina or the Bahamas, so it was time to put this fancy Hungarian fly rod to the test on the ultimate working-man’s fish. Large mouth bass.

With the rivers blown out, my buddy Scott and I headed to a local lake. The old folks here say, “catch ‘em while the dogwoods bloom,” so I tied up some massive Double Cougars in white and paired the T7 with the SA Titan again. The setup proved perfect for precisely targeting submerged structure and produced a couple of really nice fish. Even casting these huge streamers was a pleasure with the T7.

I don’t know when I have tested a fly rod so thoroughly.

The Stickman T7 proved to be a precision fishing machine, no matter what i threw at it. I simply could not make it fail. I was especially impressed with how it handled a really wide variety of fly lines. Rather than finding the one line that brought the rod to life, it seemed like it was the T7 that brought the line to life. I think that is a true sign of a well designed fly rod.

In addition, a cool thing about Stickman rods is, they are hand made to order, which means they are highly customizable. That opens the door for something really special. If you are worried about ordering a custom fly rod from Europe, without first seeing it, check out the Stickman guarantee.

“If you are dissatisfied with any of our products for any reason please return them within 14 days upon receipt in unused condition for a full refund of your purchase. Go out, cast or fish them with care. If you don’t like them (what we seriously doubt) we give your money back.”

If you are like me, and you love a good 7 weight for a variety of species and fishing conditions, you should give the T7 a try. I’m extremely happy with mine.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
www.ginkandgasoline.com
hookups@ginkandgasoline.com
 http://www.ginkandgasoline.com/hosted-trips/
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3 thoughts on “The Stickman T-7: Return of the 7 Weight

  1. Cool rod.

    …as a dedicated pike’n’bass guy, the first question I had was, “Do they have an 8 wt.?”

    They do. Four of them, for different circumstances. Cool, again.

    They also have a 10 weight, that claims to have, “…swing weight is similar to most modern high-end 8 weight (!) rods.”

    Cool³.

  2. Next to my 4 wt. the 7 wt is a rod that I use the most-smallmouth bass, steelhead, lake-run browns, bonefish etc I love how they cast, how much power they have, and are lighter in the hand than an 8. I would like to get my hands on a T7 and take it for a spin on my local smallmouth water.

  3. Great review Louis, I am getting ready to build a Loop Cross S1 9’ 6wt and use it specifically for streamer and deep lake fishing. I like you am a big 7wt fan and was also kinda thinking in the back of my mind with the bohemoth fish that we have here in Alaska I may want a 7wt instead of a 6wt to accomplish this, just incase Walter or Bertha decide to come hang out, lol. I will check these rods out, thanks, you always have well written articles, keep them coming

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