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SFF Review - Loop Cross S1 - 8130-4 MC-MF
Loop are a tackle company based in Sweden, their rods are distributed in the UK by Sonik Sports Ltd.
Loop have been around some 30yrs or so now and have been responsible for some of the major developments within salmon fishing during that time. Large arbor reels, shooting heads, orange wading jackets and the Scandinavian style of salmon fishing are all synonymous with the name Loop.
In this review I will be looking at a model in their flagship range, in this case the Loop Cross-S1 13’ 8wt. It is important to remember that my finding here are for this specific rod and should not be taken as indicative of the entire rod range, try before you buy if possible.
In recent years there has been some new developments in carbon fiber resin systems, in layman’s terms this is the glue that bonds the layers of carbon fiber together. 3M are a worldwide company who have been responsible for this new resin system and have, under license, allowed it to be used by the fishing tackle industry.
Loop are one of a few companies who are now using this Powerlux TM technology in their Cross-S1 range, for those interested in the technical side of this click here for some additional information.
This rod s nicely presented in a grey cloth bag and a high quality aluminium rod tube that makes for very secure storage and transportation.
The 4 pieces of this rod fit together by way of over-fit joints, this is now very much the standard for rod production along with the customary alignment markers.
The blank is a painted a gunmetal grey colour described by Loop as a matte smoke finish. The whippings are black with the occasional electric blue trim band around the female ferrule reinforcements and the main logo on the butt section. There are nine titanium colour REC recoil snake rings, two REC recoil stripper guides and a standard hayfork tip ring.
It is worth mentioning at this stage that the ring set is superb, these rings will bend way back on themselves and straighten again immediately by their own memory, I did note that the tip ring was of the conventional, non memory type.
The 20.5” (520mm) cork handle is of better than average quality, the top handle is approx 12” (310mm), the bottom handle 4” (105mm) and the reel seat makes up the remaining 4” (105mm). The handle has a nice shape to it, slimming down to where the top hand would lie (for most people) with a diameter of 7/8” (22mm) The bottom handle, although quite short is comfortable and with the customary ball shape which is common with many Scandinavian designed rods.
The real seat is described by Loop as a triangular 3 pin aluminium in gunmetal, it is attractive in its appearance with the bare carbon blank running through it. I found the reel seat locking nuts to be a little less than smooth and certainly in need of some lubrication to make them move freely and less noisily, overall the quality of the reel seat was lower than I would have hoped for on a rod of this price range. I am also at a loss as to understand why Loop continue to persevere with an up locking reel seat on a salmon rod of any length when it clearly does nothing to aid the balance of the rod? A down locker would improve things significantly in this department – one for the future maybe Mr Loop?
Overall I found this to be an attractive rod, it looks like a quality product, not at all flashy in appearance, more quietly assured and purposeful, much to my own taste. So, how did it perform?
I have fished a lot all over the Atlantic salmon world in rivers large and small. More than any other rod length I personally use a 13’ one so I was very much looking forward to seeing what this rod had to offer.
Upon setting this rod up and giving it the usual wiggle my first impression was that this was more of a lighter summer rod than I had expected, I could feel the bend coming a bit deeper down the blank so wondered what lines would bring out its best?
I first chose a Rio AFS floater in 7/8 rating which is 30g, I added a 5’ slow sinking poly leader and 12’ of 19lb Seaguar, this would be a set-up for summer spate fishing on small/medium rivers and the rod during the wiggle test initially felt that this could be its niche. My first initial roll cast followed by a few single spey’s immediately showed some promise, the rod certainly didn’t feel as soft in use as I was expecting it to from the test wiggle. The 7/8 line bent the rod in the top third and would only go deeper if I increased my casting speed beyond what I considered acceptable, that said I was casting well over 30m with some razor sharp loops that would be more than fine for any 13’ 8wt summer fishing rod!
I did however feel that this 30g line was not heavy enough for this rod so out came the same profile AFS 8/9 line at 34g, a bit of a deeper bend, the same sharp loops and a bit more line speed was my reward but I still felt there was more to be had from this little wolf in sheep’s clothing! On went the same profile AFS 9/10 at 38g – 'now were talking' was my first thought as the casts went sailing out as sharp and true as ever, only now I’m working less and the rod was doing more, I felt the more you asked of this little rod the more eager it was to please!
In a matter of an hour I had been fishing lines that would cast flies as big or as small as I need for any salmon river in the world, or almost.
There are times when I need to fish deep and at those times I am more and more using Skagit, but not you polite well mannered 10’ type 6 kind of Skagit, I want a rod that can do the the 15’ of T17 nasty stuff. After a bit of experimentation I had what I wanted, this little rod matched with an Airflo Compact 540 Skagit, 15’ of T17 and my fly was landing a nice easy 35m away with little more than what it took to drop a size 12 double 20yds on a floater. Now I was starting to get impressed with this little rod and that isn’t usually an easy thing to achieve!
Ive used this rod for over 3 months now and in that time I have tried a number of different lines on it from shooting heads in both floating to sinking densities to skagit and also the 52' & 56' Century Stealth spey lines, both of which were a delight and perfect for the most traditional way of fishing.
As I said earlier I prefer the rod to do the work and my default casting style would be best described as ‘relaxed, modern and economical’ rather than the specific ‘Andersson underhand’ so I generally like a rod that can handle some extra line weight with ease. I also think this is a vital element for novices or the older caster as not everyone can cast like a rod designer!
I found shooting head lines from Guideline, DTX and Rio all to work well on this rod in both floating and sinking densities, weights from 30-38g. Considering a 540 skagit with 15’ T17 tip weighs 45g I also decided to try the AFS 42g 10/11 head. Restricted to water-bourne anchor casts such as the Double and C-Spey there were no mishaps with the rod, it worked fine and this of course could be beneficial to those who struggle to load their rods due to either physical limitations or poor technique.
I have been asked a number of times my opinion on these 3M resin systems. For sure they have pushed the boundaries on rod price, but is this reflected in performance?
I remember the first time I did some prototype development work with a manufacturer using the 3M systems I was impressed with the potential, it wasn't however a direct swap and required further development time to understand the qualities of this new material. Strength is one of the major claims and I would have to support this based on the bend to failure tests I have been part of in the past. Nothing is going to save your rod if you jam it in the boot, stand on it or introduce it to a very fast moving tungsten cone head. However, these rods in real terms are definitely a stronger option to the more conventional fiber/resin systems we have been using, this will give an advantage against breakages during casting or when playing fish, they may even be more tolerant of the odd accidental fly to rod blank contact if your lucky.
Overall I was very impressed with this rod, Loop have certainly managed to harness this new technology and deliver it to the market in a high performance and very user friendly product or certainly in the form of this 13'er.
The blank is very easy to cast, it is very forgiving so will suit both novices and experts alike. The most significant point for me is its ability to handle a wide range of line weights and lengths - a shooting head, skagit or spey line this rod isn't fussy and its performance is superb with any of them. If you are in the market for a rod in this class you must certainly give this rod some consideration, it has left me eager to try another model!
This rod was supplied for review by Sonik Sports Ltd and can be purchased from Angling Active.
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