Like horsehead and some others, I had the (very enjoyable) opportunity to cast the yellow prototype shown above. I really loved it and my understanding from Chris is that the final design is even better.
My Testing Procedure: I took the rod out a few times, fishing mainly 6 wt floaters and sink tips. I also fished it with a SA Titan taper (210 gr, so really more like an 8 wt) and I driveway cast it with a couple of 5 wts. I mainly threw streamers, mostly coneheads and tungheads that were 3" or so but also some larger articulated ones with the Titan line, and I also spent time casting what was essentially a hopper-dropper set up (I was using a large PMX as a hopper substitute) and a moderate nymph rig (size 14 and 18 tungsten beadheads). I didn't fish a dry on the water, but did tie one on for my driveway session. Most of my casts were in the 25-40' range, though I also made some shorter ones and when the conditions allowed some that were a bit longer.
My bottom line conclusion, another really special offering from Chris! Many here probably know that I consider Chris a good friend, but just to eliminate any notion that my review is driven by "friendship bias" let me mention that I am getting one of these rods, so I'm putting my money where my mouth is so to speak.
While I think the "Little Stiffie" nickname is catchy and somewhat appropriate, I also think it's potentially misleading, at least if it would lead someone to think that the rod is a broomstick with no feel. Far from it. The rod is a joy to cast. It is light in the hand and delivers the fly with authority. The smallest fish I caught was about 8" and I definitely felt it. The largest fish I caught was about 17" and it handled it great, bringing it to the net quickly.
Based on the range of lines that I tried, I think this is a very versatile rod. I would generally fish it with a 6, but depending on what I intended to throw and the size of what I was targeting I could see going up or down at least one line weight without hesitation.
If you're going to be throwing size 16 dries to 4-5" brookies, then grab your 2 or 3 wt. But if you're going to be fishing smaller/tight waters and you need a heavier weight line because of the size and weight what you intend to throw (streamers and bass bugs come to mind), the size of what you hope to catch or lots of wind, then this rod is definitely one to consider.
If you decide to order one and are debating about the seat choices, FWIW the prototype I fished had the sliding ring. I tried it with 6 different reels I believe and none of them slipped at all.
Thank you for the detailed review of the 7-6. It's the next rod I'm thinking of having Chris build for me. I think it would be a perfect match for the summer Smallmouth in the smaller streams around here. An 8ft rod can be somewhat cumbersome. What line exactly did you like best with it? A wf line such as an MPX? I wonder if it would handle a 5wt titan line?
I have on order the 72 for the winter rainbows and spring wiper run; which I think will be perfect.