Earlier this week I posted a review of the G. Loomis NRX fly rod, which I tested on the Upper Delaware River. A few of you noted that while the NRX is a fine rod, not everyone can afford its $700 price tag. Of course not. Nor does everyone fly fish for trout all the time, myself included. So during the same outing, I was happy to get the chance to try a new spinning rod developed just for the trout hunter that will put nary a dent in your wallet.
New this year, Fenwick’s EliteTECH River Runner series features six graphite models ranging in length from 5′ 8″ to 7′ 6″ designed to take on trout streams and rivers of any size. The River Runners taper very quickly, which makes the tip super sensitive, but provides enough backbone to lean into a good fish. I used the 6′ 8″ model in some very windy conditions and found that the softer tip section really whipped a size 2 Panther Martin. Rigged on 6-pound test, I could accurately put the lure in bank pockets 50 feet away and get the blade turning fast. The slower tip also helped absorb strikes in heavy current when swinging the spinner.
Though the brownies weren’t interested in eating it, I tied on a marabou jig to see how the River Runner worked the bottom when finesse fishing. I must say it did a fine job of telegraphing subtle ticks, and the longer length helped me reach out and high-stick seams like I was nymphing with a fly rod. And speaking of fly rods, the new “hidden handle” cork reel seat (top photo) plays off a fly rod design and was really light and comfortable in my hand. Fenwick, I’d say, doesn’t get as much attention as they used to, but this is a well-balanced rod that will deliver soft-strike sensitivity and cast accuracy on tiny creeks or big-water rivers. As far as I’m concerned, these are as close to custom as you’ll get without having a rod spun. As for the price, all models sell for $130, which is less expensive than other companies’ dedicated trout rods – JC