Now that I've had a chance to experiment more, I'm over the moon with this rod's performance envelope. Trying to find its limits, I've cast lines from a 6wt DT through to a 12wt Rio Outbound Short (OBS) and it hasn't missed a beat with any line so far.
I could comfortably and accurately cast the 6wt DT line just 10' or carry the whole line and punch out a 100' cast. The "self-loading" of the 'glass blank helped a lot with those short casts. The only thing stopping me using it as a 6wt rod is the mass of the rod itself: otherwise, it has similar characteristics to a production 6wt graphite rod (a little too stiff for the line weight and probably (?) not much fun fighting the type of fish one would normally seek with a 6wt).
Running an 8wt line over it was a revelation. Until today, I thought the only gap in my rod line-up was in the 7-8wt range (I have plenty of 4-6wt and rods upwards of 10wt). This rod works as well as an 8wt as it does as a 10wt, so I'll now stop looking for the rod to fill that niche. This is the one.
As a 10wt (its designed line weight) it is simply perfect for my style of fishing. A long-time user of graphite rods would find it too slow and might struggle to adjust their cast stroke, but any 'glass enthusiast would feel at home casting it. There is a lot of power in reserve, and I am able to carry at least half a Rio Saltwater Tropical 10wt line and shoot the rest, punching out enough line to make the backing knot draw tight. Of course, short casts to 10' are no problem with a 10wt line either ….
Casting a 12wt Rio OBS is easily possible too, although I only use this line on short casts with very heavy flies. The Rio OBS is known to be quite a heavy line, being about 2 line designations heavier than a true 12wt line due to its short head length. I haven't pushed this rod/line combo to any extreme distance, but laying out casts to 60' with a 6" weighted squid fly from the kayak was effortless. (I don't doubt that a WF 12wt line with a more conventional profile - longer head, longer front and rear tapers - would be quite easy to cast with this rod.)
So I'm sort of left in a quandary now. If this single rod can be used for all my fishing from 6wt to 12wt, does it render all
my other rods redundant? Logically, I should buy two more of these blanks and have them rigged simultaneously to cover floating, intermediate and sinking options whilst on the water, or have one rigged for each 6wt, 8wt and 10wt fishing. If I ever went to Kiribati, I'd have one rigged with a 7wt line for bonefish and one rigged with a 10wt line for GTs. Or just take the one rod and swap lines as required by the targeted species.
If I had to be trapped on a tropical island with only one rod, this is the one I'd choose. (Choosing the line for it might be more difficult though!
If you are contemplating buying a heavy duty 'glass blank to build up, I heartily recommend picking up an Epic Bandit.