Rod Review: Thomas & Thomas Contact II 1093
I'll get right to it. The new Thomas & Thomas Contact II 10'9" 3w is the best nymph rod I've ever touched, by far.
I got to test this rod out west for a week straight with tons of different fishing scenarios and conditions: big water, small water, big fish, small fish, fast current, dry-drop, single dries, light bugs, heavy bugs, far casts, short casts, and wind. Lots of wind.
In each of those scenarios, this rod excelled miles ahead of any other rod I've fished. I've bucketed some features that stood out, but these are pretty generalized as to what I look for in an excellent rod: recovery, accuracy, sensitivity, power, feel.
Recovery is what we want when finishing our cast. Too slow and wiggly, and your casts become inaccurate and leaders don't turn properly, allowing the start of your drifts to become negatively effected.
The Contact II responds and recovers pretty fast, which makes casting light bugs on a light leader or pretty much any other combo a dream in any situation, all while being soft enough to protect ultra light tippets. I don't think I broke any fish off on this rod yet... and that's sometimes strange for me because I get really excited when a fish eats.
Some nymph rods, and maybe the Contact I, recover as fast or faster than the Contact II, but the recovery speed was seemingly matched with a more well-balanced flex and rod-swing weight so that the entire rod was used in the cast, which created a more well-rounded feel.
Recovery has a direct correlation to accuracy for me, so i'll transition to that point now.
Man, is this rod accurate. Accuracy is super important if you don't want to waste time/casts on poorly placed flies. Yeah, if you're dry fly fishing, you can afford to be a few inches off... but for nymphing tight currents, you need to be extremely precise, even from a longer distance.
I struggled to find a rod that could accurately place flies at a longer distance in a pinch, or even a more upstream approach for a super-long drift. The Contact II fits that bill and really surprised me with how far I could place a cast away from me and lead to successful drifts.
With that, I find this rod to be the most accurate rod I've fished to date.
You should be able to feel most fish eats using a nymph rod, sometimes not so much depending on the drift. I noticed with this rod I was feeling pretty much every eat, even in windy situations, which helped me not miss many takers.
Overall, this rod's sensitivity has improved tremendously, and I believe it's ahead of all competitors.
Not feeling your fish eat? Check out my series on Light Euro-Nymphing.
This updated attribute was a super nice surprise for me. Before, I would select a different rod for larger fish in heavy currents than my Contact I, but now I most certainly will not. The backbone of this rod is perfectly executed to handle big fish in heavy currents. My arm still got tired after pulling 10 large whitefish in a row out of fast current, but not any 3w I've fished has the power the Contact II displays.
That said, as they say, "with great power comes great opportunity to "bounce" small fish" - not really sure who says that. If your rod is too strong or too stiff, it's a lot easier to lose small fish. Not the case for this rod. The balance of softness and power held on to small fish just as good as large fish.
Feel is a pretty broad attribute. Covers everything from lightness to casting feel.
Let's get into lightness. It's the lightest rod I've fished from Thomas & Thomas yet, which is a great sign. I will say that my arm never got tired after a long day of fishing, which is a spectacular thing. The weight seems to be nicely balanced so its not tip heavy, which could result in a sore arm.
I think the grip is top-notch too. Nothing crazy about that.
Casting feel is excellent with the Contact II. Sometimes overpowering a rod was a bad habit of mine for wind or long casts, but this rod does all the work for you if you have decent casting form. You can really feel the difference when fishing lighter bugs, or a dry-drop rig, because it doesn't feel like you're casting a wind-sail.
I know the price tag is steeper than most nymph rods, you get what you pay for. I'd highly recommend buying one. I am considering buying a few more to fill up the arsenal (sorry bank account).
Hands down the best nymph rod I've fished.
Go try one at the fly shop, or book a trip with me to fish mine!
Thanks for reading, please reach out to me with any questions, or if you'd like any more feedback informing your rod purchases.