Rugged Creek Traditional 4-wt Review
- Least expensive rod in the test
- Good general purpose design
- Comes standard with reel-mount rod tube
- Heavy swing-weight
- Lack of accuracy
- Poor casting power
The Rugged Creek Traditional rod offers a medium-fast action with a soft-flex tip that proved to be relatively easy to cast. Unfortunately, the Traditional lacks the power of a true fast-action (like the Scott Radian or Orvis Recon) and the accuracy of a medium-action like the Sage Accel. But the easy-casting nature of the Rugged Creek is ideally suited for novices who are still perfecting their casting stroke.
The Rugged Creek Traditional rod series addresses a growing need in fly fishing—affordable rods with decent performance for novices and occasional anglers. The Traditional series offers much better performance than most of the other rods in its price range.
Fit and feel
The Rugged Creek Traditional sports a cigar-grip that felt a bit narrow for me (though testers with smaller hands really liked the grip). We all felt the rod was a bit butt-heavy when mounted with a medium- or large-arbor reel like the Sage 2230 or Orvis Access. A full day of casting from a Deschutes River drift boat produced a bit of hand strain, suggesting we had to over-grip the slightly unbalanced rod.
Distance and Accuracy
The soft-flex tip of the Rugged Creek rod helped lay down soft presentations of dry flies, but negatively affected casting accuracy. The tip lacked the radial stiffness to keep the fly aligned with a target. The core of the rod, on the other hand, offered good stiffness for power and line speed, but again, that soft tip affected overall distance performance. That soft tip sapped a bit of line speed at the end of a cast.
The soft tip did offer good sensitivity on strikes, and the rod’s butt section had the strength to control good-sized trout. I struggled at times with multi-fly rigs, both in casting and in hook-setting, largely because of the soft tip, but with a bit of effort we caught fish on dries, nymphs and streamers, so the Rugged Creek proved itself somewhat versatile.
The Traditional is also available in 4-wt through 8-wt versions in 9-ft lengths.
Dan Nelson- Fly Fishing Editor
Dan Nelson is GearInstitute.com's fly fishing editor. He is based in the Pacific Northwest.