Thomas & Thomas Exocett 908-4 ReviewApril 10, 2018
- Low swing-weight
- Good accuracy
- Strong butt & mid-section for fighting fish
- Good line control & decent accuracy
- Comfortable & secure grip
- Made in the USA
- Loses accuracy as casting distance increases
- Fast action performance can be difficult to master by novices
The Thomas & Thomas Exocett line of rods mirrors the innovations T&T designers introduced in their award-winning freshwater rod series, the Avantt. The Exocett incorporates the same materials in the blank as the Avantt, with durable salt-resistant hardware, and a little extra ‘kick’ in the build to give it the strength needed for heavy saltwater species. The Exocett 908-4 provides yeoman-like performance on every task asked of it. It tossed shrimp-patterns to shy bonefish off the shores of Kauai and muddlers to lightning-fast sea-run cutthroat in Puget Sound. The rod proved to a good jack-of-all-trades when pursuing saltwater fish.
Weight, balance & general feel
The Exocett fits well in hand, with a low swing-weight, making it feel comfortable even when casting for hours at a time. The fighting butt gives plenty of extra leverage when used to overcome powerful fish like salmon or carp, but was small enough to stay out of the way when it wasn’t being used. The Exocett sports a clean, matt-finish that holds up well in salt environments, with rust-resistance titanium guides.
The fast-action Exocett can huck line out to far-ranging fish, but it takes more effort — and better skills — than needed to heave line with some of the other rods in the test (notably, the Orvis H3D and the Sage Salt HD both offered greater range). But the fast action does give anglers the power needed to cast good distances if they have the skills to match the rod’s potential. That means having the skills to double-haul while keeping loops tight and fast.
When casting under 60 feet, and working even closer-in fish, the Exocett was remarkably accurate. But when trying to reach out to finning bones a 70 or feet out, the rod’s accuracy tapered off. When just chucking prospecting casts, the drop-off is acceptable, but when trying to target specific fish — especially skittish bonefish, or worse, feeding — the lack of precision can be a detriment. That said, expert casters found they could count on good accuracy out to 80+ feet, but that requires near-perfection in casting.
With fish on, the Exocett showed it has the backbone needed to battle even the most aggressive fighters. The comfortable fighting butt and a rigid spine gives the rod the power needed to lift salmon from the depths of Puget Sound, or wrestle bonefish as they slash across the salt flats. The tip is not as forgiving as some, letting undo strain be placed on the leader and tippet if care is not taken. But for sheer brute strength in battling fish, the Exocett is a champion.
When targeting fish in short in medium ranges, the Exocett 908-4 fulfills as the requirements needed in a saltwater rod, regardless of target species. The rod is comfortable and casts smoothly. It can reach out great distances when it’s absolutely essential to do so, though not with great accuracy. The Exocett handles fish like bonefish and salmon exceptionally well, but the lack of finesse in fighting performance made it a challenge to land savvy fighters like sea-run cutthroats. The Exocett caught a variety of fish off the rocky shores of Maui as well as those hard-hitting sea-run cutthroat in Puget Sound. The rod threw surface poppers to silver salmon and jigged crabs in bonefish on sandy shoals. All in all, the Thomas & Thomas Exocett 908-4 tackled a variety of fishing conditions with better than average performance, though it failed to master any one situation completely.
Dan Nelson- Managing Editor & Fly Fishing Editor
Dan Nelson is GearInstitute.com's Managing Editor & fly fishing editor. He is based in the Pacific Northwest.