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Freshwater Rods

Thomas & Thomas Avantt II 9-foot 5-weight Fly Rod

It’s a beauty, but with a distinctly accurate casting personality.
Kirk Deeter author.
Kirk Deeter
May 7, 2024
Thomas & Thomas | Avantt II 9-foot 5-weight Fly Rod
product description
“With highly balanced tapers designed to optimize these advanced materials, the Avantt II loads with unmatched smoothness and efficiency, generating high line speeds and making accurate casts at all distances seem virtually effortless.” – T&T
company ethos
Thomas & Thomas believes in the “relentless pursuit of innovation, superior quality and uncompromising performance in creation of the world’s finest handcrafted fly rods.” – T&T

My first impression was that Avantt II is a beautiful (looking) rod. T&T rods have always had classy aesthetic appeal, but this model is a cut above. With deep-sea-blue blanks, and chestnut-colored wraps with fine green accents, classy matte gunmetal gray reel seat hardware–it looks just enough off the commercial beaten path to seem more like a custom rodmaker’s build than it does a production rod.

Of course, a lot of anglers could care less about any of that. All they care about is the casting performance, and many an ugly fly rod has been sold to self-professed casting connoisseurs for that reason alone.

The good news is Avantt II checks that casting performance box also, but I’d suggest it definitely shines at certain distance ranges with specific fly lines.

Performance

To be perfectly honest, I’m not particularly fond of this rod when paired with a significantly over-weighted fly line. A true-to-standard line, or a half-size heavy (like the RIO Gold, or Scientific Anglers Amplitude Textured MPX) is what you need to make Avantt II shine, especially when fishing dry flies at a range of about 30-50 feet. A line with a more compact, mass-forward head will bring out the best of Avantt II at even shorter ranges, and I was surprisingly pleased with how I could handle a double-taper with it.

The “hook,” as it is with many fly rods these days, is accuracy. The rod companies have figured out how to mix materials and resins in a way that allows them to consistently line up the stiffer sides of hollow rod blanks, and that leads to better tracking, dampening and recovery (see our glossary if you need those things explained). Every rod company seems to be riding that horse now.

Avantt II is definitely a target-hitter for an intuitive caster, but I’d say that’s mostly within 50 feet. Beyond that distance, there are so many other variables that affect accuracy, it’s hard to credit–or blame–a rod for where those flies land. And who needs to cast 70 feet for trout anyway? Bottom line: Avantt II passes the accuracy claim BS test with flying colors, but don’t expect to throw long bombs with it.

Versatility

It’s billed as a fast-action rod, but in my opinion, it’s definitely not a “tip-flex” fast rod. I feel the rod flex right down in the grip, and can even see it flex in the mid section as I cast. I like that. This rod offers good “feel” as it generates line speed. 

Avantt II works best with about any even, gentle casting tempo–too much oomph and you’ll make a tailing loop (as with all rods), but you can form some good compact loops consistently, without having to false cast 50 times to figure out the right stroke. 

If you’re already a fan of T&T rods, you’d be happy to add Avantt II to your collection. If you’re curious about T&T and want a sharp-looking fly rod that casts fine, this would be a good model to break in with. It isn’t for absolute beginners, but intermediates who want to grow with it, and experts who know how to match both line and rod to meet their casting stroke and favorite fishing scenarios will have a ball with Avantt II.

Pros

Avantt II offers good feel for a fast-action rod, and it’s accurate for the intuitive caster.

Rod aesthetics and accents are distinctly beautiful.

It’s a good roll-casting rod.

Cons

Not particularly accurate at long distances. 

Not super-easy to cast at really short distances, unless you use a magnum head fly line

If you don’t start and stop the rod with purpose, sloppy, slushy casting strokes are punished, and leaders don’t turn over.

Pricing

Retail is $965, which is tucked below the $1000 threshold many of the other premium rod models have crashed through lately. I’d stack Avantt II up against any rod in the premium range, and for a couple hundred bucks less, that equates to a bit of a bargain. But you definitely have to like the casting feel for yourself, and be willing to invest time into researching and testing lines. 

Craftsmanship

The craftsmanship is impressive. It looks and feels like a custom-built rod. 

Durability

As for durability, I had to send the rod I tested back to T&T, so Avantt II gets an “incomplete” in that regard. But I have fished other T&T rods and haven’t had any noticeable breakage issues, nor have I been floored by any non-breakage miracles. T&T rods last like a typical fly rod will last: fish them hard, but also, handle with care.

  • Price: $965 
  • Dimensions: 9-foot 5-weight, 4-piece fly rod
  • Weight: 2.8 ounces
  • Construction/Materials: Five different fibers and a proprietary resin system.
  • Guides: Black chrome Snake Brand universal snake guides, with black titanium-frame stripping guide (Zirconia ceramic insert)
  • Rod action: fast
  • Rod tracking: straight
  • Rod recovery: medium-fast
  • Warranty information: T&T warranty

T&T warranty.

Lifetime Warranty

“Upon receipt of a completed warranty card or online registration, Thomas & Thomas warrants its graphite and fiberglass fly rods against breakage due to defects in materials, manufacturing or workmanship for the life of the original purchaser as long as he/she retains ownership of the rod, ordinary wear and tear excepted. This warranty shall be effective if the rod is purchased from an authorized Thomas & Thomas dealer and the original warranty card or a facsimile thereof is delivered to Thomas & Thomas within 30 days of purchase.”

Likely buyers

T&T devotees will like Avantt II, probably enough to replace the 9-foot 5-weight they already have with this model. If you have a Paradigm (more of a presentation rod) it would make sense to go one size heavier with Avantt II. Those curious about T&T rods, but haven’t made the leap yet, would do well to enter the T&T world with Avantt II. 

Conclusion

The bottom line is that Avantt II is a pretty rod. Fun to cast. It’s not a powerhouse distance rod, but it’s an accurate dry-fly rod for fishing at reasonable dry-fly ranges. Sure, you can fish nymphs or streamers with it, but you’re paying for dry-fly performance. It’s an acquired taste. It may be love at first sight, but not love at first cast. Don’t let that be an obstacle. If you get it dialed (matching line with rod and reel and yourself) and make friends with this rod, it’ll be one to take anywhere and last a lifetime. 

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Thomas & Thomas AVANTT II lifestyle shot man casting in trout river
Thomas & Thomas AVANTT II lifestyle shot man holding a fish in a trout river
Thomas & Thomas AVANTT II lifestyle shot man holding a fish in a trout river
Avant II Fly Rod and fish
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