Mackenzie NX1 10ft #4 4-piece light-line, leader-to-hand rod
Brand new, at the time of writing NX1 rods are just arriving in tackle shops. Again, this Mackenzie rod employs very modern materials for the blank, carbon nano-tubes no less. Onto that blank, the fittings are excellent if more familiar: hard chrome snakes; one relatively small, light stripping guide; an exceptionally light aluminium-framed reel seat; quality cork grip. Oh, and a couple of nice extras: a keeper-ring and alignment dots at the joints.
This is listed as a #4 rod, so I matched it with a simple #4 fly line, a WF line which weighs 7.8 grams at 30ft. This is a very light rod, as I removed the pieces from the bag that was immediately obvious. Assembled (yes, I used the dots) the NX1 feels fine in my hand, longer rods feel heavier, but the simple lightness of this rod still plays in its, and my, favour. Making a couple of fake false-casts without a line, I can feel the rod bending against its own mass, its own inertia. It’s maybe more pliant than the shorter, sharper rods I cast more usually.
Then thread the line through the eyes and get casting. I started too harshly, too quickly, too long and succeeded in making the rod quiver. The line went out but waves in the lower leg of the loop were obvious. Fishing rods magnify motions of our arms: if I move my hand a few inches, the rod tip will move a few feet over the same period of time. Longer rods magnify more and still in the same time. So, to cast a few yards of fly line I need just a gentle push, a slight hesitation and the line passes the tip. All very poetic, meaning I took a wee while to get used to the NX1.
In calm air this is a lovely rod. The blank has tons of feel, loads easily against a few yards of line. Feels like a very slight movement of my hand sends the line out sweetly – and, of course, it does. Come a blustery spell the same rod has enough 'oomph' to let me force the rod down almost horizontal, to punch the line into the wind. Then the wind drops and a gentle sweep up of the rod lifts the line back into a D-loop and then forwards into a roll. This is a first-class roll-casting rod.
Thing is, you'll note I'm casting this rod using fly line. Of course, I can fish this leader-to-hand, where its simple lightness and minimal reel seat, etc means it balances well in my hand and doesn't tire my arms too quickly as I flick out the nymphs and hold the tip up as they drift. But I can also fish this with a proper fly line, and proper flies – dries and wets, which it presents so very easily.
In my hand, this matches a #4 line nicely, one line heavier and the rod dulls down, one line lighter compromises the feel a little and sharpens up the loops. A point to note is that the weights of #3, #4 and #5 weight fly lines overlap a lot and this casts all three lines well. That said, I doubt I had 30ft of fly line outside the rod tip very often with any of these lines, and rarely longer. Especially with a fishing rod of this type I want it casting and working with far less than the standard AFFTA reference of ten yards of line, it would be a mistake to assume a #4 rod casts perfectly with 30ft of fly line which weighs 7.8g – to be a good light river fishing rod it should cast well enough with a French leader, or a yard or two of fly line outside the tip – and this does.
A nicely made, well judged modern rod, intended for contemporary river trout and grayling fishing.
Mackenzie 10ft #4 4pce
Action angle: 72 degrees
Rings: One lined butt-ring, single-leg snakes
Fighting butt: no
Cork quality: High, slight filling and figure
Reel seat: Aluminium frame, graphite spacer
Blank: Gloss, olive
Build quality: High
Rod bag: Canvas
Rod tube: Nylon covered
From: Mackenzie stockists