Sometimes it’s fun to live dangerously. You know…like when casting a fly over a fish, you’re probably better off going alone, for the sake of your gear, if not for the wrath you might incur if something goes wrong.
Like when the magazine editor who gave you a fly rod review watches you intentionally swap your bonefish rod for your barracuda rod, and he realizes you’ve brewed the only fly rod of its kind. in North America for difficult times. tumble popper fishing a toothy cuda harassing a bone shoal.
“You use this like your ‘cuda rod?’ he asked me, a boat away. He and our mutual fishing buddy were 40 feet away from me and my fishing buddy for the day, Jock. safely the rod I used to cast the bonefish and pull the Snowbee Prestige G-XS SW out of the storage tube, visions of a giant barracuda dancing clearly in my eyes.” I told you that was the only rod of its kind in this hemisphere, right?”
“Can you think of a better way to test it?” I asked him, sensing his anxiety as I pulled the line from the spool and scanned the school of bones for the sneaky 20-pound barracuda that appeared and disappeared, seemingly at will.
“Don’t break that rod, man,” he said, shaking his head.
“Relax, Margaret,” I heard Jock say from the bench seat behind me. He was supporting me. I was grateful. And of course, he, like me, understood that it was not my cane. The manufacturer sent it to me to test over a week of flat fishing. And test I would.
I spotted the ‘cuda, sneaking around the edges of the bonefish ‘mud’, just waiting for one of us to snag one of the super-fast bones and freak the fish out. That’s when we all knew the apex predator would fire up its own jets and probably slice our favorite flatfish in half. And no one really wanted that to happen.
Barracuda in sight, I made a fake cast, loaded the rod fast and sturdy, cast a nice cast in the mud and watched the big popper drop in the salt about five feet behind the target fish. I gave it a quick strip and the surface fly gurgled oh, so softly.
I watched the ‘cuda turn to the fly. It didn’t give a chase, however, and in a split second I figured out why.
To my left, perfectly hidden in the shadow of the boat Chad and Earl were sitting on, an 8-foot lemon shark, also clearly hiding in the hope that one of us would catch a bonefish, moved to the stolen.
“Take off your clothes !” Jock yelled at me. “Bring him inside! Bring him inside!”
But I was too late. The shark was on the fly, and I watched in horror and awe as its big olive-green head with a mouthful of razors come out of the water and smash the popper.
“There’s the Snowbee,” I heard mumbled from the other boat.
But I had bigger things to worry about. Much bigger. I looked at the guide standing on the voting platform, shaking my head.
Alright I understand. I shouldn’t have done the casting. But, like I said, sometimes it’s fun to live dangerously, even at the potential peril of the sweet saltwater rod Snowbee who was about to get the workout of his life.
The Snowbee Prestige G-XS SW rod is a pleasure to fish. And, yes, believe it or not, he technically landed this big lemon, but with the help of the guide, who got off the platform and continued with the motor, allowing me to recover my support and, eventually , to get my leader knot through the tip-top of the rod. The shark thoughtfully spat out the hook a second later, and that was it.
It’s a beautiful rod too – its pearly blue white is pleasing to the eye, and Snowbee put time and effort into building the rod with quality hardware, from titanium stripper rings to chrome snake guides hard. Its reel seat is made of lightweight “satin” aluminum that resists corrosion – the rod is built from tip to fighting stock to withstand the elements in a saltwater fishing environment.
What the battle with the shark told me about the rod is what Snowbee claims to be its “hidden energy.” I’ll be honest – when I first cast the rod and used it to fish for bones, permits and triggerfish before getting it ready for barracuda service – I was afraid it would be a little light for the conditions. It just didn’t look “8 weight heavy”. It turned out to be a good thing. The GX-S may seem surprisingly light, but make no mistake, this is a big fish fly rod, although your shoulder won’t know it after a day of casting.
Fast, responsive and precise
The Prestige GX-S SW is fast, but it’s also responsive, with an industry-leading flex that not only loads the rod gracefully, but helps deliver precise casts in the elements. On this particular trip on the flats we had to contend with strong winds of 20 knots at times, with gusts probably pushing 30. The G-XS SW helped me put a straight crab on a trio of permits cruising behind a stingray in a brutal headwind, and it turned out to be quite the thrower, as I was able to catch and land a picky triggerfish after easily making my best throw of the week.
Image credit: Snowbee USA
The upper’s secret may lie in its graphene construction. Graphene is a relatively new material in fly rod construction, believed to be considerably stronger than carbon fiber, and continues to appear in newly developed rods, many of which have become coveted instruments. Graphene is actually an allotrope of carbon that contains many overlapping double bonds. The simple explanation is simple – it offers more strength in a lighter package. If you’re into chemistry and engineering, Google can help you find a more detailed explanation of why graphene might become a standard fly rod material in the very near future.
Makes a good casting even better
UK based Snowbee’s saltwater Prestige GX-S felt like I was taking the best I could do on the flats – although I’m no slouch either, I’m not a scholar of flat fishing – and made it a little better. Most of the time, the mark of a good rod is the one that fades, the one that “disappears in the hand”, as my friend Todd Tanner would say. When does a rod really feel like it’s giving you a performance edge? Well, that’s a big compliment for any cane.
While the Prestige GX-S SW has proven itself several times over the week with bonefish, triggerfish etc., I couldn’t help but imagine how light and fast this rod would work well on the fish I hunt a lot. more often than tropical apartment dwellers.
“That would be a great carp rod,” I told Jock as the shark moved away to find another school of bonefish to harass. I imagined the Snowbee in hand as I pushed long casts in the strong easterly breeze that is common in the spring along the Snake River Plain. A fast rod that has a nice little sweet spot for accuracy in the wind – that’s what I look for when casting carp, and that’s what Snowbee delivered with the GX-S.
Not for beginners
The G-XS SW is a rod designed for intermediate and experienced anglers who have experienced casting in the harsh conditions common to saltwater fly fishing. For those with fewer salt fishing days, picking up the pace of the rod and finding your sweet spot for long casts can be difficult. For more experienced casters, however, the G-XS SW is highly recommended.
The Prestige G-XS SW is new for 2022 – it’s Snowbee’s signature saltwater offering, and it’s the one that should be on your watch list. It retails for $759, making it more affordable than most other flagship, fast-speed, predator-class saltwater rods on the market, including the limited number of other graphene-built options.
He’s a surprisingly light and precise performer who excels at generating line speed once you get used to his tempo and find the rod’s sweet spot. And it’s a rod I can’t wait to fish again, whether it’s a sandy stretch of bonefish-spotted turtle grass or a muddy Snake River carp flat.