Choosing Your Scott Fly Rod: a Series-by-Series Comparison

Scott designs rods that are purposeful and distinct.  In this article, we will compare the action, feel and versatility of Scott single-handed fly rods.    We hope the following evaluations help you choose the right Scott rod for your fishing.  We begin by defining our categories of evaluation, followed by comparisons of all single-handed Scott rods.

Scott Logo

Comparative Fly Rod Characteristics

Stiffness:  We grade the rods on a scale of 1-10 for relative action (higher number = stiffer fly rod).  The stiffest, “fastest action” rod is the Radian.  Such a rod is designed for raw power.  The “slowest action” Scott rod is the F Series, designed to specifically for small stream fishing.

Distance:  The range in which each rod excels.  When choosing a rod, the angler should consider his or her most typical casting situations to select a rod that casts best in those high percentage scenarios.

Touch:  On a scale of 1-10, how well does the rod respond to subtle input from the angler?  Line mending, high sticking, slack line casts and tea cup accuracy are abetted by a responsive rod that may easily be manipulated by its caster.

Versatility:  On a scale of 1-10, is this rod everything to everyone (10) or highly specialized (1)?  This is not a quality grade, but rather a relative scale of specialization.  Many premium rods receive low versatility marks because they were designed for a specialized purpose (like tarpon fishing or long leader dry fly angling).

Feel:  As distinguished from “Touch,” “Feel” is our mark for how much feedback the angler receives in the palm of the hand while casting.  When paired with an appropriate line, some rods merely get the job done while others feel exceptional.  In general, rods with high stiffness marks offer more power but less feel to the caster.

Scott LogoStiffnessDistanceTouchVersatilityFeel
G Series6mid10910
Radian9long577
F Series2short10210
Flex7mid676
Meridian9long569
Tidal8long457
Radian Saltwater models8long677
Flex Saltwater models7long465

Scott Freshwater Rods

G Series

Scott G Series Many anglers own both G Series and Radian rods in similar models.  There is a considerable gulf between their actions, yet the popularity of both rods is testament to the wide range of casting styles and action preferences in our sport.  In our view, the G Series is an all-around, most versatile fly rod, whereas the Radian is a specialty rod designed for power.  While considered “medium action,” or “mid flex,” the G Series possesses uncanny ability to cast both short and long in addition to its prowess in the mid range.  The G Series is the living definition of “progressive action,” or a rod that flexes evenly based upon the amount of line being cast.  If you specifically prefer fast action rods and just can’t make a moderate action rod work for you, then choose a Radian as your all-arounder.  Otherwise, fish the G Series and add Radians to your quiver for long casting and windy conditions.  In other words, fish the G unless you just can’t fish the G.  In addition to being the most finely tuned graphite fly rods on the planet, G Series rods are superior to Radians in the following techniques:  casting short distances, roll casting, slack line casting, line mending and tippet protection.

Lines:  Lines that are true-to-line-weight bring the best out of the G.  The SA Trout Taper, in all its iterations, must be considered the best line for these rods.

Outstanding model:  Pick one.  You can’t miss.

Radian (freshwater)

Scott Radian 753-4One of the differences between Radians and other super-fast rods is that Radians are fundamentally easy to cast.  You’ll pick up a Radian for the first time, make a great cast and easily replicate the result.  Most extra-fast rods are unforgiving, with a narrow window for timing and power application.  The angler makes a hero cast, but dumps the line in a defeated pile on the next attempt.  The Radian’s taper forms a fine casting loop in the first couple strokes, getting each cast off to a great start.  For this reason, many anglers fish a Radian as their all-around fly rod.  If you tend to overpower your casts or categorically prefer a fast action fly rod, go with a Radian.  Otherwise, fish a G Series and add a Radian to your lineup as a problem solver.  Trout model Radians are superior to G Series rods for the following techniques:  casting in the wind, long casting, streamer fishing, heavy nymphs, nymphing with a long distance between strike indicator and flies.

The Radian 905-4 is one of the finest individual fly rods ever designed.  Many anglers own this rod because they have given up on Bigfoot and can’t afford a Ferrari, but this thing actually exists and is attainable.  Still, most anglers should own a moderate action 5-weight (or at least a 4-weight) to compliment a rod with these power tendencies.

Line pairings:  The perennial favorite line for a Radian is the Rio InTouch Gold.  For anglers who prefer a heavier line, choose the SA Amplitude Smooth Infinity Taper, which we prefer to either the SA MPX (our next choice) or the Rio Grand.

Outstanding model:  Radian 905-4

F Series

Scott F UplockingThe Scott F Series is easily pegged as the most specialized creek rod in the modern industry.  No fly rod from any maker competes with the F at short distance.  They cast with only the leader out of the rod tip.  The longest rod in the series is only 7′ 2″.  They swing under willows and trees like nothing else.  Short graphite rods generally do not bend enough to mend line or roll cast very well.  The F Series competes with any 9-foot rod in these techniques because they bend toward the cork with little power application.  Also, in our opinion, the F Series is more fun to fish on creeks than any other rod.  These are highly refined fly rods, but no rod screams “TOY” like a Scott F.  The F Series is anti-versatile, however.  If you want versatility, choose a Scott G 772-4 or G 773-4.

Lines:  We like Double Tapers on our F rods, but if you prefer a WF, go with a Rio Gold or SA Trout Taper.  Avoid the Rio Creek, which is overweighted for use with short graphite rods.

Outstanding model:  all are equal in quality, but the F 663-4 is the most fishable in a wide variety of creek environments.

Flex (freshwater)

Scott Flex 905-4The heart of the Flex lineup is hard to beat for price and fishing characteristics.  The Flex 854-4, 904-4, 855-4, 905-4 and 906-4 are medium-fast action rods that sacrifice nothing in on-the-water performance.  As you would expect, these rods are less “refined” than their $800 competitors in both cosmetic appointments and the micro relationship between the four parts of each rod.  As compared with a comparable G Series rod, a Flex may catch all the same fish, but will do so without the precision and refinement of the G.  Scott Rod Designer Jim Bartschi prioritized function over form with the Flex.  As a result, even accomplished anglers will smile when the cast or fish one.

The Flex Series offers a broad lineup of models.  The further away from center one strays, the more one should consider a higher priced specialty rod.  The core models are a slam dunk value, however, rods that will be passed down to family and friends but never outright retired.

Lines:  Rio Gold, SA Trout Taper, SA MPX

Outstanding model:  Flex 905-4 and Flex 906-4

Scott Saltwater Fly Rods

Meridian Series

Scott Meridian 908-4The magnificent Meridian Series is arguably the most user friendly saltwater rod on the market.  In the hands of most casters, it generates more line speed than any other rod.  Overbuilt for power and durability in the salt, the Meridian is everything we could need in a specialty saltwater rod.  Some anglers fish the 6 and 7-weights for bass and trout in freshwater, but the Radian series offers comparable models that weigh less and fish freshwater lines more compatibly than the Meridian.  Line mending and roll casting do not come easily to the Meridian, but in the casting and fish fighting departments, Meridian is virtually unequaled by any rod in the world.  Choose a Radian for freshwater/saltwater crossover, but for any pure saltwater purpose, the Meridian is your rod.  Note:  we give the Meridian a 9 for “feel.”  This high mark is relative other saltwater fly rods, but not intended as a direct comparison with the G and F series, both of which receive a 10 for “feel.”

Fly lines:  The Meridian will handle any saltwater fly line with grace, but there is no need to overline these rods.  We prefer lines of standard weight, such as the SA Bonefish taper or Rio Tarpon taper over lines with extra-heavy, short heads, such as the Rio Outbound Short.  The casting stroke for a Meridian is not so different from that for a Radian or G Series.  As a result, we don’t need lines with specialized tapers to load these rods.

Outstanding model:  Meridian 908-4

Tidal Series

Scott Tidal 909-4If a Meridian is out of reach, the Tidal Series fills the need admirably.  These are serious saltwater fly rods.  The 7, 8, 9 and 10-weights compete with anything in their class for line speed and castability.  The butt section power of a Meridian (or Asquith, or Salt HD) surpasses the Tidal Series.  Also, the Meridian Series has more reserve power and loop control for driving a wedge into the wind.  On any given day, however, a Tidal rod might catch all the same fish.  Tidal rods go way beyond merely “functional.”  Scott did a great job of incorporating their signature “feel” in these mid-priced rods, which comes at a premium from any other rod maker.  We recommend the Tidal Series for anglers whose budget does not allow for both a high end rod and saltwater reel, and for those who are dappling in the ocean but have no plans for building a saltwater equipment collection.

Lines:  Rio & SA Bonefish, SA Sonar Saltwater Intermediate, all saltwater lines of standard head weight

Outstanding model:  Tidal 9010-4

Radian (saltwater models)

Scott Radian 1008-4The Radian 908-4 and Radian 909-4 are pure saltwater rods that will appeal to a Radian fan’s craving for the characteristic lightness and sensitivity of this series.  Comparable Meridian models are heavier in both the blank and componentry, offering probable durability advantages over years in the salt, but one day at a time, the high line weight Radians will perform fantastic in saltwater.  Choose a Radian over a Meridian if you want a crossover rod, or if you want the lightest saltwater-class fly rod.  On a calm day, Radians and Meridian have a similar casting action.  The Radian is not a bit “slower,” per se.  You’ll notice the weight difference, some of which is distributed in parts of the Meridian that help it push harder in the wind.  The Meridian also offers superior control over heavy, deep-running fish.

Lines:  Overweighted lines, like the Rio Outbound, feel a little wobbly on the Radian 908-4 and 909-4.  Use standard saltwater lines, like the Rio and SA Bonefish tapers.  Lightweight components help these Radians cast freshwater lines a little cleaner than do Meridians.  A Rio InTouch Gold shoots beautifully, for example.

Flex (saltwater models)

Scott Flex 907-4The Flex 907-4 and 908-4 are built with saltwater components, but the action is tuned to trout, salmon, pike and bass.  These are fine casting rods with medium-fast actions for throwing sink tip lines, streamers and bass bugs.  If you own a Flex 907-4 or 908-4, don’t hesitate to fish it in saltwater.  If you are buying a mid-priced rod for the salt, however, make it a Scott Tidal.

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