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SFF Review - 15' Mackenzie DTX 'shooting head' 40-42g
The Mackenzie DTX brand is a fairly new addition to the salmon fishing tackle market having been launched two years ago by three times world distance spey casting champion Scott Mackenzie. When the brand first came to market it had a single range of rods, recently a shooting head model range has been added in lengths between 12 and 15.
The rod is supplied in a black cloth bag with red piping and a smart triangular cordura covered rod case. The rod fits very snugly into this tube, this will stop it from rattling about during transit and the triangular tube will not roll around in your boot. Included in the tube is a warranty card/certificate of authenticity, this is signed by Scott to say he has test cast this individual rod and found it to perform as it should.
The handle is 24.5 long overall with a 5.25 bottom grip and the top grip being 15.25. The diameter of the top grip was 1 tapering down to 1.25 at the reel seat. The bottom grip started at 1.25 and tapered down to 1 before swelling out into a ball of 1.525. There is composite tipping to each end of the cork and the quality of the cork itself was reasonable, a fair amount of filler was present but no more than other rods Ive seen of comparable price.
The down locking reel seat is grey anodized aluminium and will accommodate today's standard size reel feet, it also took an old Leeda Magnum but it wouldn't take the bigger feet found on the old Hardy Perfect's etc but then few modern rods will. It has twin locking nuts.
The four piece blank has over-fit joints and a dark red/brown high gloss finish, white alignment dots help with lining things up.. Whippings are dark copper metallic with lighter copper trims and cover Fuji stripper rings in sizes 20 & 16, chrome snake guides and a hay fork tip.
The blank has a suggested head weight rating of 40g-42g, there was no other information regarding head length for these weights enclosed and at present nothing I could find the Mackenzie website.
The rod weighed 325g/11.46oz with a 9oz reel attached and balanced about 0.75 in front of the top grip. This was in a fishing situation with the head and some running line out of the rod tip and swinging in a medium speed current.
I tried this rod on two different days with seven different lines;
DTX 10/11 44g shooting head
Rio AFS 9/10 38g shooting head
Rio AFS 10/11 42g shooting head
Vision Ace 10/11 40g shooting head
Century Stealth 10/11 - 60 spey line
Monteith 10/11 - 68 spey line
Airflo Compact 660 skagit + 16' T17
I started the test with the matching DTX shooting head at 44g. The first thing that struck me was that this rod was fast. It is stiff in the butt and soft in the tip with a mid section that marries the two together well. Without any doubt this is a fast action rod in the truest sense with most of the work being done in the top third of the blank. To cast the head alone took next to no effort, the tip would bend smoothly during the forward cast and the loops were pointed and very easy to create, the butt did not bend much at all but you could still feel what was going on. I varied the speed and smoothness during the forward cast to recreate different casting styles and abilities, the rod still managed to push out tight loops consistently. On changing to the 10/11 AFS 42g I felt the rod liven up a bit more, casting was easier and the rod felt more loaded which reflects the AFS easy loading taper profile, moving the line around into the various casting positions felt easier. The 9/10 AFS worked well albeit below the recommended head weight as did the Vision Ace at 40g. Casting to distances of 30yds was very easy with any of the shooting heads, once out at 35yds+ I could feel myself working that bit harder than I would want, this is the nature of tip action rods. To get 40yds you needed significant speed through the forward cast, more than I would like to have to give during a whole day or weeks fishing. This is an observation and opinion of fast action rods in general as opposed to this rod in particular. For those who are used/prefer faster rods this wont be a concern.
The other lines I tried on this rod were the Century Stealth 10/11 - 60, Monteith floater 68 and an Airflo Compact skagit with a 16' T17 tip. I had read elsewhere that this rod should not be classed solely for shooting heads so I thought it was worth trying these other lines. I think it only fair to say that nowhere have I seen it advertised that these rods are for anything other than shooting heads, hence their name!
With the spey lines I was casting with around 55 62 of line outside the tip and think the average caster would find this a challenge, the rods action is just too fast for these longer lines. Yes if you get the timing and anchor placement right the rod will reward you with those laser loops, however, unless you are a seriously good caster I think achieving this with any regularity would be a struggle.
The rod coped with the Skagit line and heavy tip but again I feel the rods action is not best suited to such a set-up, although Skagit's are short they are very heavy and akin more to a long bellied line in terms of how they flex a rod. Scott has labelled this rod shooting head and in my opinion that is exactly what it is and where its strength lies.
This is a nicely constructed rod with good quality fittings. The high gloss finish and metallic whippings will have its admirers and its critics, overall a good quality product.
Casting performance was good and with the intended shooting heads, it will encourage average casters to work on their timing while rewarding good casters with long smooth casts. If you are looking for a jack of all trades rod that will cast all kinds of lines then I would suggest the original model. If you want a high performance 15 shooting head rod then the DTX does exactly what it says on the tin!
The rod was supplied for review and can be purchased from Angling Active
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