The Arcay Otter 11ft, 2/3 wt
A review by Mike Learmonth, competitive angler, member of Fly Fishing Team Canada 2023.
As a professional in the Wealth Management industry for close to 30 years, I have watched firsthand how competition drives innovation and awakens new opportunities for industry participants. Old technology, while remaining quite serviceable, may no longer remain optimal. For example; I’d much rather own an iPhone today than my old Blackberry although both phones worked to call home when I stayed late on the river.
It’s for this reason – a desire to continue to optimize my equipment and improve my skillset - that I remain open to considering new things. I acknowledge and agree that a skilled angler with average equipment is likely to outperform an average angler with optimized equipment. But hey, why not strive to be a skilled angler using optimized equipment?
In the fall of 2022, I made the decision to take an ARCAY Otter 11ft 2/3 Nymphing Rod for a test drive. My decision was based on two considerations. First, the rod was designed by multiple World Champions who eat their own cooking which I respect. Secondly, I received nothing but favourable commentary from all competitors whom I polled that were using the rod.
Out of the box, the rod is aesthetically pleasing featuring a graphite blank with a matte finish and subtle blue accents. The down locking reel seat helps to place the reel further away from the grip offering excellent balance to offset the longer rod length. The cork grip, is both comfortable and functional as it naturally guides my hand to the correct fulcrum point. Above the cork is a small hook keeper that with ensure your cork maintains its integrity long term.
The stripping guide is a Fuji K-Series single foot guide. It’s located about 22cm above the cork and helps to control line sag during drifts. It is angled up slightly which reduces friction and tangling when shooting line. Single foot guides are used right up the blank to the rod tip. Other brands that I’ve investigated will place a few snake guides closer to the rod tip claiming it helps to control leader wrapping problems. I’m not so sure to be honest. I think leader wrapping is more correlated to tip recovery than choice of guides. Which brings me to the rods action and overall performance on the river- perhaps the most exciting part for me!
In my world, a good Nymphing rod ticks the following boxes;
Rod tip recovery for me is key and I’ve found this to be a place where the Arcay 11f 2/3 rod excels.
I want a tip that quickly dampens its vibrations and comes back to a complete equilibrium after casting. A rod tip that recovers quickly offers me significantly more casting accuracy. And, accurate casts allow me to effectively and efficiently cover the water.
It’s this aspect of the Otter 11ft 2/3 that I appreciate the most.
The recovery on this rod is superb!
The Arcay Otter 11ft 2/3 has been designed to throw light and medium weight flies. I reside in British Columbia, Canada where we’re commonly restricted to fishing only one fly. Fishing a light, single fly rig with a thin leader can be a real challenge but I’ve found the Arcay 11ft 2/3 loads well in these circumstances and yet it doesn’t come at the cost of good recovery.
The Arcay 11ft 2/3 has a very smooth transition of power from rod tip to the cork handle. I feel very confident the rod design will protect thin tippet and still provide a good hookset thereby improving landing ratios. With that said, this rod excels when used true to its design. Large fish can definitely bulldog this rod. However, this brings me to my final point!
Fly rods are like golf clubs. You don’t tee off on a par 5 with sand wedge and you don’t putt with a driver if you’re trying to optimize your score! By choosing the right club for the situation – you’ll greatly improve your chances for success.
I view fly rods in the same way.
With that in mind, it makes sense to look for a company that offers the angler consistency in both quality and feel across all of their product lines. For me, this has been the case with Arcay from day one. So much so, that I’ve since acquired two more rods in my Arcay collection with which I’m exceptionally happy.