G.Loomis NRX+ Fly Rods | Model-by-Model Review

In this article, we introduce G.Loomis NRX+ fly rods with a detailed overview and model-by-model reviews.

GLoomis Logo, SmallThe discipline of G.Loomis rewards the angler with a new series of fly rods that is superior to the original in every characteristic.  The NRX+ replaces and improves the original NRX, a rod that was considered revolutionary upon its introduction in 2010.  The NRX+ has three sub-categories of rods: the NRX+ LP, which offers a slower action for dry fly anglers and slow-tempo casters; the NRX+ freshwater series, offering fast action fly rods for trout, salmon, steelhead, bass, pike and other species (line weights 4-8); and saltwater rods in line weights 7-12.

There are three sweeping improvements in the NRX+ series.

    1. Physical weight   — a new resin Loomis is calling “G8” reduces blank weight by 15% while improving durability by preventing the spread of “bruises” caused by impacts to the fly rod.
    2. Stability and accuracy  — you’ll feel this on every cast with every rod in the series.  These rods are not just a little more accurate.  They are a lot more accurate and stable throughout the swing with any fly line.
    3. Taper refinement  — especially notable in the fast action freshwater rods, the tapers are super progressive.  They flex in perfect concert with the amount of fly line in the air and power applied to the cast.  They cast short as well as they cast long, and all points in between.  This reflects incredible refinement in the tapers and probably a ton of prototyping along the way.  These are fundamentally very well designed fly rods.

Model-by-Model Review

by John Duncan, Telluride Angler

NRX+ LP Series – Medium Action

NRX+ 383-4 LP

This rod has that addictive, springy feel that makes the LP series so compelling.  It’s a tweener length, however, too short to handle leaders much over 12’ and a bit long for a dedicated creek rod.  It’s length and action make it ideal for late season fishing on medium sized wade fishing rivers and spring creeks.  This is a lightweight and steady little 3-weight that casts with great accuracy and touch.  The NRX+ 383-4 LP is one of those rods with a distinct sweet zone, terrific between 25 and 45 feet, but less than automatic outside of that zone.  I recommend it with an SA Trout Taper (Amplitude Smooth is my favorite version), or a Rio Technical Trout, especially with larger flies in the size #10-14 range.

NRX+ 486-4 LP

Does not generate high line speed, but the NRX+ 486-4 LP is very stable and offers excellent loop control.  It tightens down nicely around 20’ and can turn over a long leader out to about 55’ or 60’.  The rods in this series are chips off the same block.  Like its cousins, the 486-4 possesses that lovely elastic feel in the upper mid-section that entices the caster to make lots of false casts with 30 feet of line in the air.  It’s a great feeling, but the rod prioritizes this “sweetness” over “versatility,” which it lacks.  With a dry fly, it needs about 20-30’ of line in the air to push through its stiff tip and get into that nice, soft middle section.  The butt section is stiff enough to generate a little line speed and turn over a long leader, but not stiff enough to muscle a nymph rig.  So, the NRX+ 486-4 LP is a nice dry fly rod for calm conditions and average size flies.  Everyone should own a designated dry fly 4-weight, even if it’s not a good choice for aggressive angling situations.

NRX+ 590-4 LP

This rod is simply unbelievable with a Scientific Anglers Trout Taper.  It flexes a little deeper than the 383-4 or 486-4, using the whole rod to generate significant line speed.  Like some of my favorite Winstons, it has a stiff tip, so it actually doesn’t cast all that well at short distances.  Over about 25’, however, the loop control, line speed and touch are marvelous.  Very few rod and line combinations are sweeter than this model with a Trout Taper.  At distance, the casting loop is incredibly flat and tight, just spectacular.  I could cast this rod all day…until the wind starts blowing.  My favorite line for calm day dry fly fishing is definitely the SA Trout Taper.  To fish hoppers, stoneflies or nymph rigs, load it with a Rio Gold.  The Gold helps cut the wind, too, because it generates more momentum at short and mid distance.

Many anglers will compare this rod with the original NRX LP, a global favorite 5-weight.  The rods have a similar cadence, but every angler will notice the improvements in swing weight and stability.  The new NRX+ 590-4 LP has much less tip bounce and wobble in the stroke.  It’s lighter in hand and “fishes lighter” on the water.  Wind is still the enemy of the LP, but for a light-touch 5-weight, this rod has few peers.

NRX+ 690-4 LP

This is a lovely caster and fine representative of the NRX+ LP series.  If you own and NRX LP 590-4 and wonder if the 6-weight is a chip off the same block, the answer is yes.  In my hands, the NRX+ 690-4 LP is primarily a dry fly 6-weight.  It throws long, elegant loops with tremendous feel and control.  Accuracy and loop control rival any trout rod, but line speed is limited and butt section power doesn’t compare with the regular NRX+ 690-4 model.  So, if you want a 6-weight dry fly rod, this rod is wonderful.  I generally request more versatility from my 6-weights, but this is a well designed and executed fly rod.  Fish it with an SA Trout Taper for best casting control.

NRX+ Freshwater Series – Fast Action

NRX+ 490-4

There is almost nothing Steve Rajeff does better than design 9’ 4-weights.  This rod would be hard to improve.  If you’re looking for a fast action 4-weight that doesn’t pigeon hole the angler into power techniques, you’ve found the rod.  The NRX+ 490-4 is fast, but progressive, flexing evenly with each additional increment of line in the air or power applied in the casting stroke.  The casting cadence for this rod is definitely quick, but it defies “fast action stereotypes” in that the timing is intuitive with distinct feel in the line loading moments.  It casts both short and long better than any other 4-weight in its class.  The taper is so finely tuned that the angler may literally cast with eyes closed without losing rhythm.  Fish it with either an SA Trout Taper or Rio Gold for spectacular results.  The original NRX 9’ 4-weight was one of our favorites in that series, but the new model surpasses it in every category:  range, accuracy, line speed, touch and loop control.  On a scale of 1-100, I would rate this rod a 100.

NRX+ 4100-4

The light tipped design of the 10’ 4-weight makes it castable all day for the high stick nympher or float tube angler.  In fact, the NRX+ 4100-4 is a terrific caster by any standard.  The SA MPX is probably the best overall line for this rod as the ½ size heavy head loads the blank more deeply and the long rear taper offers substantial control at distance.  I also cast it with Rio Gold 4 and 5-weight lines.  I loved them all.  Predictably, the 4-weight gold feels lightest and generates highest line speed for dry fly casting.  The 5-wt Gold still casts terrific and offers a bit more command for line mends and roll casts.  I settled on the SA MPX WF4F as the best all-arounder for this rod.

NRX+ 590-4

This rod represents the whole NRX+ series as a group of freshwater fly rods that are very powerful but also easy to cast.  It is light in hand and throws over the horizon, but what’s truly remarkable is how the finely tuned taper casts equally well at short and medium distances.  Starting with fly in hand, it casts laser loops from 10’ to over 90’.  Our friends at Loomis attribute this to numerous micro taper changes within the blank, a masterpiece of rod design.  I first cast the 590-4 with a Rio InTouch Gold and had no interest in trying different lines.  If your fishing calls for a specialized line, have no concern about the rod’s ability to cast it well.  With a dry fly or light nymph rig, however, go with a Rio Gold.

NRX+ 595-4

Loomis designed this model as a big water stick that would be light enough to fish as your everyday fly rod.  Indeed, it swings light for its length.  The extra reach helps with distance casting, line mending, roll casting and lifting a long line off the water for your next cast.  Like the other rods in this series, the NRX+ 595-4 has a refined, progressive taper that almost anyone will enjoy casting.  Its fishing utility may be optimized with an SA Infinity Taper or other long-bellied fly line.  The rod feels lightest and casts for the greatest distance with a Rio InTouch Gold or SA MPX taper, but the Infinity Taper is a more responsive fly line when the angler is at great distance from the fly.

NRX+ 5100-4

Amazingly similar to the 4100-4, the NRX+ 5100-4 is an astounding pure caster for a trout rod of this length.  The 10’ rods in this series are truly impressive.  I really expected them to feel heavy, but they do not.  As with the 4100, my favorite line on this rod is the SA MPX WF5F.

NRX+ 690-4

When I first picked up this rod, it felt more substantial than others in the series.  I thought, “streamer 6-weight.”  Indeed, this is a magnificent streamer 6-weight, perhaps the best that Loomis offers.  Like the 490-4 and 590-4, the 690-4 cast both short and long with equal loop control and line speed.  You’ll cast it well on the first try, because the flex profile is nice and even with terrific feel delivered to the palm of your hand.  It’s fast, but not tricky; powerful, but not clubby.  This rod is so much more stable than its predecessor that it gives the illusion of being a stiffer, faster action rod.  In my opinion, the rod is not substantially different in fundamental action, just much more efficient.  Also, I’m really glad Loomis put a Wells grip on this rod, more natural for aggressive casting.  It is fantastic with a Rio InTouch Gold, but should also handle the wide variety of specialized streamer tapers that are popular with today’s anglers.

NRX+ 6100-4

Simply stunning.  The 10-footers in this series may collectively be considered a marvel of fly rod design.  Light enough to cast all day, this rod possesses range and feel found in very few fly rods of any length or line weight.  10-foot rods are always lethal angling tools, but few possess any of the traits of this model:  lightness, refined progressive action, range, touch, loop control, stability.  I love it with an SA MPX or Rio Gold, but an SA Infinity taper would also cast and fish terrific on this rod.  After making a long overhead cast on the pond, I attempted to roll cast the same length of line without stripping any in.  The loop ripped across the water and turned over the leader with an audible pop.  This at over 50 feet.  Sensational.

NRX+ 7100-4

A superb fishing tool, this rod has endless capability at distance.  It casts overhead and with every permutation of single hand Spey stroke with command and touch.  To me, the other 10-footers in this series were a little smoother in the 30-50 foot range, but that’s splitting hairs.  Compared to any other 10-foot 7-weight, this rod wins in every category of performance.  Fish it with any common salmon/steelhead fly line for terrific results.  As with other 10-foot rods, I prefer a line with a long taper to give this long single handed fly rod a chance to manipulate the fly line best at distance.  On that level, I recommend a Rio InTouch Salmo/Steelhead line, SA Andro taper, SA Distance Taper or at least an SA MPX over weight forward lines with shorter heads, such as the Rio Gold.

NRX+ 8100-4

This is the first 10′ 8-weight I’ve cast in the last ten years that I unconditionally love.  If anything, this model casts farther with greater line speed than any of its contemporaries, but without the hideous swing weight and “wooden” feeling found in most other 10′ 8-weight fly rods.  It is terrific both short and long with overhead and Spey-style casting techniques.  It roll casts forever and mends line with agility and precision.  Fish it with a long tapered line, such as the SA Mastery Anadro taper or Rio InTouch Salmo/Steelhead line.  This is an incredible fishing tool that you’ll cast all day without fatigue.  Remarkable.

NRX+ Saltwater Series – Fast Action

NRX+ 790-4

This rod swings and casts like a tight loop dry fly rod.  The 7, 8 and 9 is this series possess similar qualities.  They feel great in hand and are extremely light for their line classes.  This is a stiff fly rod, however, clearly designed for aggressive casting and heavy headed lines.  I first cast it with an SA Saltwater Taper, which wasn’t heavy enough to load the rod completely.  It threw nice little dry fly loops, but this is a saltwater rod that needs to flex into the mid section to generate the kind of horsepower required for blasting casts into heavy wind.  I came back with a Rio Direct Core Bonefish 7-weight, which was much better.  A Rio Flats Pro line would probably be the best overall match in terms of rod loading and general purpose fishing performance.

NRX+ 890-4

The NRX+ 890-4 is almost identical to the 790-4 in feel and casting characteristics.  This is a fine saltwater fly rod:  light, quick and powerful.  It requires a heavy line for optimal loading, like a Rio Flats Pro or SA Grand Slam.  The saltwater rods in this series will particularly appeal to old school saltwater casters, those who value power over any other trait and aren’t afraid to put some muscle into the casting stroke.

NRX+ 990-4

To me, the 7, 8 and 9-weight saltwater models feel like family.  The 10, 11 and 12 feel like family, too…but a different family.  The NRX+ 990-4 is a terrific caster with the lightness of the 7 and 8-weights and the characteristic stability of all rods in this series.  Casting accuracy is tremendous because there is so little lateral sway through the stroke.  The rod is efficient and hugely powerful.  It requires a heavy headed line, however.  My favorite saltwater lines are the Rio Direct Core bonefish and SA Amplitude Smooth Bonefish, neither of which are heavy enough to load this rod with a relaxed stroke.  The Rio Flats Pro is a good match, as are the SA Grand Slam and SA Amplitude Infinity Saltwater line.

NRX+ 1090-4

I would describe this rod as powerful and stable with terrific ability to shoot line, but not lightweight and not particularly easy to cast.  I threw it with both an SA Grand Slam taper and a Rio Tarpon line and didn’t really care for either.  I came back with a Rio Direct Core Tarpon WF10F, which smoothed out the ride considerably, but I still didn’t love the rod.  Both the tip and butt are quite stiff.  It flexes into the upper mid section, then tightens up abruptly, commanding the caster to “Shoot the line now.  Right now.”  Then, it really launches, but without the characteristic stability and loop control offered by the trout rods in this series.  The strong butt section will be useful for tarpon, large permit, adult dorado, trophy roosterfish and large stripers, all which push the boundaries for a 10-weight fly rod.

NRX+ 1190-4

This is my favorite heavy saltwater rod in the series, the one that feels lightest and smoothest relative to its line weight.  It’s a long range 11-weight, casting best in the 50-90 foot range.  It feels fantastic at that distance, but many tarpon shots are shorter.  When conditions allow for long casts, it will excel.  The 10, 11 and 12-weights in this series feel like they were designed for fishing with the SA Grand Slam Taper and other load-and-shoot style saltwater lines.  The Bruce Chard taper and Rio Outbound lines are good pairings.  Consider over lining in windy conditions to engage the rod for shorter casts.

NRX+ 1290-4

This is a physically light rod with explosive casting capability, but like the 11-weight, it’s happiest at distance.  Short casts will be tough because the rod doesn’t load and create line speed until the whole head is in the air and the caster applies a double haul.  It’s like a car that goes 0-60 mph in 8 seconds, but 60-120 mph in 4 seconds.  All of these heavier saltwater models possess the wonderful springy feel that makes Loomis rods so addictive.  They don’t “cast themselves,” however.  The caster needs a tuned sense of timing and a bit of physical strength to get the most out of this saltwater fly rod.  It casts a Rio Direct Core Tarpon line very well beyond 50 feet, but needs a Rio Outbound or other short, heavy-headed line to work in close.  On windy days, most tarpon shots come at less than 50 feet, so choose your fly line carefully.

[G.Loomis NRX+ LP rod pages]
[G.Loomis NRX+ fast action freshwater rod pages]
[G.Loomis NRX+ saltwater rod pages]