I think there’s a lot to be said for testing a fly rod in cold, nasty, slushy, conditions. There are things that can be noted that you’d never see on a fair-weather day. For example, will the guides snap off when they’re all iced up and a big rainbow is bending the rod to the brink? Will it handle the straining angles it takes to keep fish from running under the shelf ice? Will temps in the teens affect casting ability? Cabela’s new LSi rod passed all these trials with flying colors.
I tested an LSi in 7-weight, which I’ve always found to be an odd weight. Some companies treat their 7s like light saltwater rods. Others craft them with the feel of a heavier trout rod. I’d say the 7-weight LSi falls into the latter category. It’s pretty light but plenty beefy, making it a great choice for large trout or steelhead. With premium guides it shot heavy streamers far and accurately in the bitter cold. At the same time, when I switched to unweighted San Juan worms, it didn’t feel like I was casting with a telephone pole. I put some serious pressure on this rod during fights, and it took everything I dished out.
As for the new WLx reel, I thought it performed very well. The drag was smooth (and I genuinely had fish pull lots of drag) and its open design collected less ice. However, I’ve had past problems with the reel seat separating from the frame on certain Cabela’s reels when the screws stripped. This reel was developed by Waterworks-Lamson and according to Cabela’s Chuck Smock, this reel seat ain’t going nowhere. All past seat issues have been remedied. According to Chuck, Cabela’s is planning to scale back on their number of house-brand reel models and make the WLx their bread and butter. A 7-weight LSi/WLx combo costs $370, which I think is a nice price for a quality outfit.
Now if you want to find out how a lighter 4-weight LSi/WLx combo performed in sunny summer conditions, click here to read Kirk Deeter’s FlyTalk review from the spring creeks of Argentina.