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Mackenzie NX1 14ft #9 salmon rod

By Magnus Angus

Mackenzie NX1 14ft #9.
Mackenzie NX1 14ft #9.

Matched with a medium head Spey line this NX1 is light and smooth. This rod offers an exceptional degree of feedback as the rod bends against load then unloads as I slow it to a stop. That sense of the rod working helps me control the line more accurately, judge the effort and speed needed to throw the line.
As I cast, the tip seems to track true with little effort, combined with simple lightness getting the D-loop and the forward cast in line (the ‘180 degree principle’ and all that) is satisfyingly accurate and consistent – which flatters my casting. Part of that lightness is the materials, design and build, however this is a 14ft #9, where my normal (ie, only) double-handed rod is a 15ft #10. My old rod has fished a few seasons, it’s more powerful, heavier and the extra leverage makes it heavier again by comparison. I appreciate the lightness and the ease of casting the shorter, lighter NX1 rod. I don't think I am casting shorter, even when fresh.
The NX1 has a slim, shapely grip, or pair of grips, the lower grip is 125mm, and the upper grip 350mm. On my 15ft rod the upper grip is 30mm longer and it seems like more. Coming from my old rod this grip seems short, the outfit maybe 'geared' a little higher. I needed a few casts to adjust but this still feels less spacious or natural or familiar. That said, I fitted a middling modern reel in the down-locking seat and the outfit balanced on my upper hand, on the cork – pure chance, but it makes holding the rod as the line and fly fish round very comfortable indeed.
Then, let’s try some of modern Spey casts: Circle C and snake roll mostly. The shorter, more nimble rod simply makes those casts easier, similarly the shorter grip encourages me to push and pull with both hands, which again makes those casts easier. (I doubt our modern Spey diet of snaps and circles would have been devised on old greenheart or cane rods.)
According to tackle sale figures 14ft #9 is the new 15ft #10. Apparently we are opting for lighter, shorter, easier casting rods – this rod fits that bill very well indeed. An excellent modern double-hander!

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