Rod Review: Cabela's LSi/WLx Combo (Summer Edition)

Cabela's is launching an impressive new collection of fly rods and reels in 2011. The Honest Angler's Joe Cermele and I decided to test a couple of these combos in completely different scenarios, literally at different ends of the earth. For my part, I tested a LSi 8-1/2-foot 4-weight rod with a WLx reel (combo price $350) in a variety of midsummer conditions in Patagonia, Argentina. (Joe fished his in the slushy, cold Northeast... I think I got the better end of the deal). Neither of us have reported to the other what we will say in our reviews. So here's my report:

I thought the rod was rock star. For the price, ($200 for the rod alone), I thought it was an exceptional all-around performer. It's a nicely balanced rod, with an action I'd describe as "crisp," without sacrificing feeling. How does that translate to casting? Foremost, I thought it was very delicate with dry flies, and it loaded nicely at ranges as little as 15 feet. But it also had some spine, and when challenged to toss big hoppers into a wind at, say, 50-60 feet, I was able to do so. I thought the roll cast action was better than average. What impressed me most was the "steering." It's a very true rod, meaning, when your mechanics are right, and you're looking through your casting thumbnail, you find yourself thinking about aiming your casts less, and instead "willing" your shots into the strike zone. I don't like rods that make you think a lot.

I had no problems with the reel, and found the drag to be smooth when hooked up to big trout (24-inches plus). I'd describe the reel as a solid option, but to be honest, I think reel value is best gauged over time.

Both rod and reel were smartly styled. I thought the rod components (reel seat, guides, etc.) were attractive and functional. I also closely inspected the work on the wraps, the cork grip, and all around, I'll say I have yet to see a better value at $200 or less.

My opinions were backed by guide Javier Herrera (pictured above, casting on a clear creek near Alumine, Argentina). Click here to see if Cermele felt the same about the 7-weight combo he tested between bouts of warming his hands and shaking icicles off his hood.