This arrived as an outfit, Snowbee thoughtfully included a spool of backing so I could simply fit all the pieces together. Look at the rod length and line weight and to my mind this is fairly general purpose DH rod, I'm thinking medium and small flies, lighter flies, poly leaders for depth control.
As an outfit, I have to say these work together exceptionally well. The feel and action of the 14ft Geo Nano sets the pace, light, easy casting, the line matches that rod well and the colour change lets me tune the line to my casting every cast, while the reel balances the rod well and has all I need to play and land a fish....add water and fish for the complete salmon outfit.
Snowbee Geo Nano 14ft #9/10
The name is a mouthful, the Nano in there means the resin in the carbon fibre pre-preg is reinforced with nano-sized silicon carbide particles. Nano-reinforced pre-preg can produce a tougher more durable rod, used well it produces a lighter, tougher rod.
Four sections for relative convenience, from the bag this feels light (stated weight 9.6oz 273g), looks stylish, the blank is slim, I like the discrete alignment dots. The reel-seat is branded ALPS, a light, high 'spec' down-locker, two locking nuts for real security. The handles are slim, shapely, turned from good cork.
In the hand, fitted with reel and line, this feels ‘light and bright' to coin a phrase. The action seems to be to be tip to middle. With just a few yards of line out I am working the rod, throwing a loop. As I worked the head out to a comfortable casting length the rod obviously bent deeper, but still not to the butt.
The grip is slim, I found it very comfortable. As I fiddled about finding my hand-spacing the curves and shaping helped. Then get into the rhythm and I have to say the slimness of the grip gives this rod a sense of delicacy; it encouraged me to use a lighter grip and, I think, helped me cast more with timing than brute force.
I'd say this is a little less stiff than the rods I've been casting; less stern, more forgiving. Then look at the loop, flat on top and nicely pointed, and the turnover, consistently complete. Ok, so maybe I can heave a line farther with a more powerful and longer rod – but this feels so easy, so bright and lively! An impressive and extremely likeable DH rod.
Geo LA 9/10 reel
A decent fit for 100m of salmon backing and the 9/10 XS line, I have room for a little more backing but the spool looks nicely filled. This reel may have the biggest handle I've seen on a freshwater fly reel – that’s a good handful compared! Turn the spool in either direction and the reel clicks, a compact sealed disc-drag unit adjusts the drag for line on the way out. The drag is relatively small but perfectly adequate for salmon and can be used in saltwater.
Fit and finish are excellent. Spool and body are machined from aluminium barstock. All the surfaces are smooth, edges are rounded, little or no play between the body and spool. This has a half-frame body, the lip of the spool fits over at top and bottom so the spool-rim is fully exposed, easy to add some drag by palming. The metal handle is substantial, I was about to say fine for cold gloved hands, actually that's fine for warm bare hands too. Drag tension is adjusted in clicks, very good 'throw' so I can set this as light as I like, as exactly as I like. Tightest drag is far higher than I'd set for salmon, nowhere near as heavy as I've used for tarpon. This comes set for left-hand wind, to switch direction of wind I remove a spring clip from the spool hub and turn over a one-way bearing – easy and obvious. Supplied in a neat padded nylon case. A well made, well priced reel.
XS 2D #9/10 floating line
The latest XS coating and core, a smooth supple line, handles very well, as I expect from an XS line. 2D line, mean the head is 62ft long. (Snowbee also make 1D lines with shorter heads and 3D line with longer heads.) The head portion is ‘ivory’ coloured, the running line is ‘peach’, going by drawings the colour change comes slightly before the end of the rear taper, the same drawing shows a compound 20ft front taper, slightly more than 30ft of level belly, around 10ft rear taper. The stated head weight is 40g which is the suggested head weight marked on the butt of the Geo Nano 9/10 rod.
I worked the head out of the rod, extending line until the colour change was at the rod tip. Then, with line at my feet, I started looking for shoot and distance. After each cast I drew the line back, using the colour change as my reference. That visual cue is so simple and so handy. However, the point of describing this process is I fairly quickly found I was more comfortable casting with the colour near or at my hand, my distances were fine, more to the point I was getting consistent loops and felt in real control with all the Spey casts I tried. Very likely that is personal preference, I'm sure rod length and stiffness play their parts.
Turnover is excellent, I had no problem at all casting a good long line and the leader extended completely. This is a full floating line, the tip of the line is well balanced for casting a full line to turnover a nylon leader, good length and diameter. Personally, if I was fishing this more often with poly-tips than as a full line I'd probably cut a foot or two off the tip to get a punchier turnover. Comes with line cleaner and two braided loops.
Rings: Two lined butt rings, large snakes.
Handle: Double handed half-wells.
Cork quality: Good, trimmed with composite cork.
Reel Seat: ALPS anodised aluminium, carbon spacer.
Blank: Grey gloss.
Build quality: High.
Rod bag: Canvas.
Rod tube: Nylon