"The finished rod is well made, packed in a stylish bag and tube and certainly looks different."
Fascinating rods. Arctic Silver is a young Norwegian company starting into fishing tackle with single-handed rods. Look at the grips and clearly Arctic Silver plan to innovate. Work from the tip down and these are modern fly rods, well built and well specified. The upper three sections have some attractive details and the build is conventional: smooth, slim blank, matt olive paint, lined butt-rings, snake intermediate guides, alignment marks.
Then the butt section and that unique grip. The grip is high-quality moulded composite with an integral reel seat. The handle is hard with a rubbery skin, smooth and secure in my hand. Obviously the grip is unconventional in several ways; more oval than round, none of the swellings and tapers I know from cork. Thing is, this grip is comfortable and natural, I normally hold a rod more of less thumb on top so this works for me, the grip size and shape means my hand is relatively open, so my elbow, or at least the tendons in my elbow seem more relaxed than usual.
The reel seat is cast aluminium, screwed to the handle. Fit the front of a reel foot into the fitting and push the reel towards the blank, the sprung fitting at the butt slides and the reel clicks into place. To remove, push the reel along the rod towards the butt, the spring slide backs up and releases the front of my reel foot. I have (once) used a sprung reel-seat on a stylish Italian-built rod, this is not like that fitting. I have to say I like the reel-seat a lot, much simpler than a conventional screw-fitting, my reels were completely secure, fitting and removing reels with cold or gloved hands is dead easy.
The spring loaded Quick Lock reel seat – as near plug-and-play as a reel seat gets.
Then look at the front of the grip. Conventional grips, usually cork, are fitted snug around the base of the butt section, glued in place the full length of the grip, similarly a conventional reel-seat is glued to the blank. The Arctic Silver blank is attached deep down in the fitting near the seat, the idea is that the blank can bend deeper and freely inside the grip, the makers call this Free-Flex.
Being a little curious, I tried casting with my forefinger on the blank of the 5-weight, during normal casting the butt bends! Actually it bends significantly. Clearly these blanks were designed to load deep, the #5 seems to me to load deeper than the #7.
Three first casting impressions: that hard grip gives me immediate, intimate contact with the blank, I can feel any vibrations in the rod; with the 5-weight line-choice seems important; on the scales these are heavy rods, in the hand that seems a lot less important, compared with a conventional rod all the extra weight is in the grip/seat.
9ft #5 4pce
This comes with two tip sections, one standard, the other marked fast. When casting I found the difference very slight, when I measured the tips the fast tip is a fraction stiffer. Casting with familiar #5 lines, long belly lines seemed too heavy, I found myself gravitating towards a short-belly line which seemed to suit me and the rod rather well. Arctic Silver designed their blank to bend deeply and the grip to allow the blank to flex freely as possible, to give as much feel and sensitivity as possible. This rod casts a short line very well, it loads easily, then get to that middle distance where a 5-weight earns its living and the stroke length is comfortable and control is good. The simple weight of the butt section means this makes a comparatively heavy outfit, so mends and curves are fine, but a lighter outfit makes that a just a little easier and more accurate.
The 5-weight tips are slightly different, the Fast tip section is a fraction stiffer.
When I measure this Arctic Silver model, the action figures say this is a mid-flex rod and the stiffness figure says it is a low stiffness 5-weight (both tips). From the objective to the subjective, mid-flex gives good feel, good touch. Where a fast-action rod has a hard, almost rigid, butt-section which tends to insulate me from the line, a deeper action like this offers more sense of the rod loading and unloading as I cast. Relatively low stiffness means easy loading, again gearing this rod towards those of us who appreciate feeling a rod work as we cast (pick up a stiff, fast rod after this and it feels like a broom handle.)
I have to say I would prefer a little more stiffness, I like the action and the sense of the rod working. I'd happily fish this as a river rod, for #4 and #5 lines. The difference between the standard and fast tips is not enough to give me a real choice. The grip size and shape seems to protect my elbow, always a good thing.
10ft #7 4pce
This feels like a more conventional rod, it handled all the #7 lines threaded up it with style and threw an #8 line with ease. Arctic Silver describe this as a salmon rod, it can certainly function as a single-handed salmon rod. In this country I think we would more likely use this as a heavy trout rod. In my opinion, and in my hand, this can do all I want of a rod this length and line-class. Overhead casting with floating and sinking lines I had no quibbles at all. Then switch to Spey casts and, until I have a stupid length of line on the water, the rod is in command of the line – and casts well.
Build quality is high.
The measurements for this Arctic Silver model say the action is a just a little deeper than a typical, modern, fast-action rod and the stiffness puts it at the mid to low end of the stiffness range for rods this length and line-class; in very good company, similar to several top-class 10ft 7-weights I have handled. Again, I tried casting with my forefinger on the blank, I could feel it moving, bending at the grip but the flexing was slight.
The grip on this rod is the same unit fitted to the 5-weight. Again it feels exceptionally comfortable in my hand, and my elbow is relaxed. Again, thanks to that grip and seat fitting this is a heavy rod, but as line-class and rod length increase so that weight becomes less significant. I'd happily fish this as a boat rod or as a salmon/sea trout rod.
Arctic Silver have developed a genuinely innovative grip and reel-seat unit and fitted blanks specially designed to work with their grips. The Free-Flex idea is intriguing, with a deeper loading blank it seems to offer unusual touch or 'feel', which I like, it seems slightly less convincing with a more powerful blank for a higher line weight. The finished rod is well made, packed in a stylish bag and tube and certainly looks different.
Arctic Silver rods
Fighting butt: n/a
Cork quality: n/a
Reel seat: Integral, sprung
Blank: Matt olive
Build quality: High
Rod bag: Canvas
Rod tube: Nylon covered
Arctic Silver 9ft #5
Action angle: 65 degrees
Stiffness: 98.1g (Fast tip 99g)
Rings: Two lined butt rings, single-leg snakes
Arctic Silver 10ft #7
Action angle: 68 degrees
Rings: Two lined butt rings, single leg snakes
From: At the moment Arctic Silver rods are available online.