When the tube arrived from Scott, I expected it to be something special. So, I wanted the first analysis to be more than a cursory shakedown. I headed to the grass field behind my house for some quality one-on-one time, poured myself a small mason jar of red wine, put on some Bose noise-canceling headphones, strung up the rod and got ready to “dance.” I put my playlist on shuffle, and the first song that came on was AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells.”
There could not have been a more appropriate coincidence. With those first ominous tolls and grinding guitar lead, I started making some short-to-medium casts, and I could feel it–and see the Centric’s character–right away. Fast action, yet razor sharp, crisp like a freshly printed 100-dollar bill. Silly accurate. I was willing shots rather than pressing them.
I cued up the entire “Back in Black” album and burned the majority of the next hour casting to driving rhythms, from “Shoot to Thrill” to “Shake a Leg” and “You Shook Me All Night Long.”
I was indeed shaken. I mean (in a good way), I’d always gotten more of a “bluegrass” vibe from Scott Fly Rods. But even at first glance–a black tube, dark, un-sanded blanks with subtle yet provocative red thread wraps at the ferrules (pretty close in color to Angus Young’s candy-apple red Gibson SG)–Centric exudes a spicy, almost sinister character, and I think that reflects the action of the rod itself. To be clear, this is not a “bad boy,” flamethrower, power for the sake of power-type rod; rather it’s a finely tuned instrument that also packs a little growl. It doesn’t say “in your face,” so much as it says, “I’m done messing around.”
That all starts with blank recovery and stability. In other words, you make a cast, and the rod snaps back in line without volatile tip wobble. Think of it like a ski that carves on ice or in powder without too much chatter or drift. Says Scott: “Centric rods combine new tapers and multi-modulus lay ups with a new resin system to increase fiber density and reduce weight, and they feature our new generation ARC reinforcement for greater stability along multiple axes. New custom rolling equipment allows us to control fiber placement and density with new levels of precision.”
How does that translate to feel? Well the rod is noticeably light, and I think well-balanced. If you were to hang it on a nail (or your finger) without a reel, the center balance point is just a smidge past the 20-inch indicator mark (a handy standard for truth-seekers on Scott Rods), which is right where it should be to most efficiently transfer the flex and load going on in the top 7-plus feet of the rod into the grip where the angler feels it and reacts accordingly.
The grip itself is tapered in a way that encourages the caster to apply more pressure where appropriate, and less where it’s not. Titanium stripping guides with super-slick zirconia inserts also help make Centric the best line-shooting 5-weight I’ve cast, especially if you match it with a premium line, like the new RIO Gold Elite with the Slick Cast coating (which is what I did), or a Scientific Anglers Amplitude Infinity Smooth line.
I’ve since taken the Centric from the grass to walk-wades on small and medium streams, float tubing in reservoirs and several days fishing from the dory on the Colorado.
I’ll say that Centric does everything that its predecessor, the highly-awarded “Radian” does in terms of combining feel with fast action. It’s just that Centric has a little more refinement and moxie. Like it’s tuned up just a bit better. Not tighter–better, like more lasting in tune.
I was the guy who questioned in Field & Stream magazine a few years ago whether the Radian was the best fly rod ever. Believe me, I would have been sorely disappointed if Scott had strayed off course with a “New Coke” version of Radian, and I would have said so.
Scott didn’t do that.
Scott has designed and built a better rod. Not just a better rod–a rod for the ages.
More on performance
If “accuracy” is the thing–it seems that lately the rod manufacturers have realized that distance takes a back seat to accuracy–I can tell you that even a comparative analysis by a competitor (Orvis, more on that soon), out of 30 different rods that were tested for tracking performance, Centric rated among the top four. Of course, the tester’s rod came in first, but it’s interesting to note which rods other rod companies respect and pay attention to. (The other top finishers other than the Orvis mystery rod were the G. Loomis Asquith and the Sage R8 Core.)
The bottom line is that people often ask me what rod I fish, myself. I don’t always fish a Centric, of course, because I like to mix things up. But I have four rod holders on my boat, and while I reserve a couple of empty slots in those holders for visitors, there’s always one space reserved for a 9-foot, 5-weight Centric.
The 9-foot 4-weight Centric is one of my favorite walk-wade rods for fishing anywhere and will excel in any tailwater–the Delaware, White, Muskegon, etc.
When the streams get smaller and the banks tighter, I gravitate toward rods with a more medium action.