Scott Centric Fly Rods | Model-by-Model Review

In this article, we introduce Scott Centric fly rods with a detailed design overview, R&D notes and model-by-model reviews.  Also, make sure to review our reel pairing chart for each Centric model.

Scott LogoCasting a new fly rod is one of the true pleasures in our sport.  State-of-the-art fly rod design is so highly evolved that we focus less on what a rod “can do” and more on perfection of the design, the extent to which the rod manufacturer fulfilled its own objectives, the wizardry and discipline required to produce a whole series of rods that shines under the scrutiny of the world’s most demanding anglers while feeling and fishing better than its predecessor in the hands of all who cast it.

Centric is not Radian 2.0, rather a return to a fundamental Scott ethos that every fly rod should be an all-around fishing tool, rather than just a casting machine.  In the action spectrum, there was a gulf between the G Series and Radian, leaving some anglers wishing for a fast action Scott fly rod that was less extreme in character.  With Centric, Scott now offers two series of fly rods that are closer to center, covering the range of action preferences and fishing demands more thoroughly than ever before.  Scott has moved on from the ultra-fast action category so valiantly represented by Radian.  The Centric is an archetypal Scott, a rod that will fish across the river and around the world, possessing a combination of power, control and playfulness never before offered from this manufacturer, fine-tuned for fishing finesse to separate it from all others in the fast action rod class.

Johnandrich
John and Rich casting Centric prototypes in Telluride Town Park, May, 2020.

What were Jim Bartschi’s goals in designing the Centric?  In his own words, “I wanted a rod with greater stability, range and control of the line for improving the overall fishability, effectiveness on the water.  I wanted a fast action rod that offers more out of the tip.”  Also, Bartschi wanted more purpose and distinction in the models.  By offering fewer rods in the Centric series, he had more space to work within each model and line weight.  In reading our model reviews, we hope the angler gets a sense for the extent to which Bartschi accomplished this goal.  This is the most optimized, purposeful and polished series of fast action fly rods we’ve ever cast.  Every model is tuned to perfection.

As everyday anglers of the G Series and Radian here in southern Colorado, we now find ourselves reaching for the Radian only when fishing the Gunnison, Colorado or Animas.  When Radian was introduced in 2013, we were blown away by a combination of lightness, power and stability found in no other fly rod.  Over time, however, the Radian has settled into the niche of power rod, rather than all-arounder.  The purposes of power are more than covered with this spectacular caster, but the most useful fast action rod would possess the power of the Radian with the line mending and roll casting capability of moderate action rods.

In other words, we wish for a fly rod that uses more of the fly rod.

Is Centric the rod?

What Centric actually does better

  • Casts with much less effort than Radian and other ultra-fast fly rods.
  • Offers superior loop control. We talk a lot about this because it’s a huge factor on the water.  Does your fly rod do just one thing well, or may it be manipulated in your hands as an angler?  Can you open the loop for casting nymphs and close it for drilling a long leader into the wind?  Can you back off the power and put some “English” into your presentation?
  • Roll casting and line mending. Centric beats Radian by a mile.  These fast action rods have magnificently responsive tips.  They roll cast with a natural stroke.  They toss line elegantly and precisely on the mend.  The overall fishing capability of Centric is simply greater than Radian.
  • Control at distance. Yes, the Radian was a gun, offering power for every caster.  The secret to dumping the whole fly line, however, has less to do with rod stiffness and more to do with loop control and blank recovery in the lower end.  When you’re holding up 50 feet, your shot will only carry the last 30-40 feet if aerodynamics are perfect and the application of power is intuitive.  Otherwise, your loop may tighten prematurely or a tailing loop may tangle your presentation.  Centric loops are so easy to control.  The caster easily makes the subtle adjustments required to consistently cast across the river.
  • Presenting long leaders. Ultra fast rods are great for blasting large flies into the wind, but lack the touch to drape a long leader over a spooky riser or tighten a dry fly loop at 40 feet, so often necessary on technical fisheries such as the Henry’s Fork, Green, San Juan and Malleo.

Centric R&D/field testing

Prototype Centric models have been fished since January by anglers including Rene Harrop, Masa Katsumata and a pro staff of 12 professional anglers whom Bartschi considers the company’s harshest critics, including our own Troy Youngfleish and Frank Smethurst.  Protos were put in the hands of dealers, reps, media and private anglers.  In all, Bartschi solicited input from over 40 independent professional anglers.

Who does this?  To our knowledge, no product designer in the entire outdoor industry embraces R&D like Bartschi.  His combination of sorcery and humility is simply unmatched.  Over the last 10 years, he has created one spectacular series after another:  Radian, G Series, F Series, Sector and now Centric.

Scott’s rod introduction cycle bows to no calendar or sales curve.  Bartchi’s new rods are always fresh and authentic, imitating nothing in the market, unrushed, polished and begging to be fished.

Dunc1
John Duncan launches the Centric 906-4, “one of the finest fly rods I’ve ever cast.”

Telluride Angler has fished multiple generations of the prototype Centric 904-4, 905-4 and 906-4 for the last 8 months.  The 904 and 906 were remarkable from the first proto, but the 905-4, flagship of the series, required numerous revisions and fine tuning.  It was not enough for this rod to be a better all-around fishing tool than the Radian 905; it needed to feel and perform better in every scenario.  Beyond casting a Rio Gold 70-90 feet, it needed to fish impressively with a wide range of lines appropriate to fast action 5-weights, lines that fish at distance such as the SA Infinity Taper, lines that drive heavy flies like the Rio Big Nasty and SA SBT, the most versatile lines in our sport including the SA Trout Taper and, of course, the new Rio Elite Gold.  Finally, when we fished version #4 of the Centric 905-4 on the Gunnison in early August (see video), we knew we had something very special in our hands, a fly rod refined to perfection by a very patient and determined rod designer.

The more specialized rods in the series are equally impressive, including the 10-footers, which unquestionably surpass any comparable Scott model and will be regarded by many as the finest 10-foot freshwater rods ever designed.  These models reflect Bartschi’s evolution as a rod designer.  10-foot Radians are extraordinary casting tools but designing long trout rods that possess the full range of fishing capabilities while feeling sweet and swinging light is one of the ultimate design challenges.  We’ll elaborate in the individual model reviews below, but these are best-of-class fly rods.


Gunnison field test:  Centric and salmonflies – John Duncan

 

Brooke Casting To The Wall
“Wall or nothing.” Brooke Duncan wading deep and casting long with a Scott Centric.

It had been 15 years since I last really T-boned the salmonfly hatch in the Black Canyon.  Unforecast dam releases, bad weather and bugs that move too fast have fouled my last several attempts.  I don’t fish as much as I did in my twenties.  Like most anglers, personal variables must align in order to take a few days off from the rest of life.  Even in a good year, I get only one chance.

Mid-June, 2020, a remote stretch of the Black Canyon guarded by grueling access, my wife and 13-year old daughter, both super fishy and strong enough to carry me out if necessary, freeze dried food, 2X leaders, four containers of Shimi Shake and two Centric protos, the 905-4 and 906-4.  These I paired with SA Infinity Taper lines, bringing the best fishing qualities out of the rods and ideal for casting across the river at shadowy walls.  There is always a cast I can’t make, so why mess around?

What the Gunnison offered over those three days is the stuff of religion, unemployment, river vagrancy, but this is about fly rods.  Fishing the hatch beckons the longest casts in our sport, but we catch fish at every distance, from 10’ to full fly line.  Fish hug structure as the 2” stoneflies crawl out of the river into adulthood.  We fish the near shoreline with 20-30’ of line.  Mid-river boulders might take 40-50’.  The far wall wants the whole line from a caster standing at least belt-deep.  The short cast must be effortless and accurate.  Almost every long cast requires aggressive stack mending and line feeding.  Every angling capability is summoned from your fly rod on the salmonfly stage.

Brown Release
We landed countless fish over 16″ on the Scott Centric during the Gunnison Salmonfly hatch.

What I noticed on every cast is the exquisite way in which the Scott Centric forms a casting loop.  The tip flexes deeper than on a Radian or Igniter, using more of the rod to roll the fly line into the aerodynamic shape of a cast that will carry itself without horsing the rod.  Most fast action rods require a sharper stab.  The Centric is very powerful in the butt section but uses a little more of the tip and mid to engage the fly line, doing more work for the angler with greater feedback in the palm of your casting hand.  My favorite rods are the ones that feel like they are humming while casting.

I fished the Centric side-by-side with a Radian 905-4, one of my favorite all-time rods, for three days.  All of these rods can cast a mile but the Centric does it easier and with greater consistency.  The Radian gives you power.  The Centric offers both power and loop control.

 

 

Brooke Playing Fish
Brooke plays a heavy fish on a Centric 905-4.

In most trout fishing, “fighting a fish” doesn’t really mean “fighting a fish,” but here it does.  The Gunnison’s heavy rainbows and browns will bury you in the rocks or jump the outbound train, tumbling downstream through rapids, breaking 2X like 6X.  If you’re doing this right, you’ll be absolutely exhausted at the end of the day.  Your best friend is a rod that casts large flies easily and plays fish with command.  The better your rod, the fewer false casts you’ll make and the quicker fish will be released.  This actually effects the number of fish caught over the course of a day or weekend, but more importantly, it enhances the whole angling experience.

In the Black Canyon, I outfished neither my wife nor my daughter, but I did find a new favorite 5 and 6-weight.


Scott Centric model-by-model reviews

by John Duncan, Telluride Angler

Centric 854-4

Generally, I prefer moderate action rods for dry fly fishing, but this is a fast action 4-weight I would fish all day.  Like its big brothers, the Centric 854-4 possesses the ability to cast a country mile with a spectacular flat loop.  All rods in this series go long, but this model also casts effortlessly at short and mid distances by merely rocking the rod back and forth through a short stroke.  It’s a dream with an SA Trout Taper, engaging the line ideally at every distance.  I made several casts with just my thumb and fingertips.  To me, this showed how much work the rod does on its own, with virtually no input from the caster.  I felt like I was spying on someone else’s casting, glancing just to my right as some of the prettiest loops I’ve ever cast were zipping past my body.

The Rio Elite Gold and Rio Elite Technical Trout are also fine pairings for the Centric 854-4.  The Gold loads the rod a tad deeper than the Trout Taper, while the Technical Trout feels lighter at short distances but a little heavier with 40 feet of line in the air.  Choose your line based upon its fishing characteristics, rather than the rod/line pairing.

I love the reduced Wells grip that Bartschi chose for this model.  It’s the same grip we used on our custom Telluride Angler “3-Riffles” G2 843-4 a few years ago, highly contoured but appropriate in girth for the 854-4.

Centric 904-4

Some will call this the best rod in the series.  For me, it’s tied with the other 9-footers, easily the best fast action 9’ 4-weight Scott has ever designed.  It has all the range of the Radian 904-4, but so much sweeter in the top part of the rod.  I first cast it with an SA Trout Taper WF4F and had no desire to change lines.  Eventually, I tried both the Rio Elite Gold and Rio Elite Technical Trout.  It casts all of these with superb feel, tremendous loop control and intuitive timing.  Beyond its sensational feel, I would call out loop control as its single greatest capability.  When it comes to dry fly presentations, this rod begs for a 16’ leader.  It generates sizzling line speed but may still be manipulated for precise reach casts, bump and snake casts.  When casting on the grass at Scott, Jim and I were dropping the fly on dandelions with 5’ wide slack mends incorporated into the presentation.  I’ve never felt anything like it.

Centric 1004-4

Beautiful Rainbow
Centric-caught Gunnison rainbow.

The basic actions of the Centric 1004-4 and 1005-4 are ideal for modern purposes.  They feel light and cast with a progressive fast action that stiffens in the mid section to hold up a really long fly line.  Euro nymphers and technical lake anglers will love the sensitivity in the tips, but these rods have plenty of command for casting from a float tube, canoe, or while standing waist deep in a big river high stick nymphing scenario.  They will also be excellent with sink tip lines, possessing plenty of backbone to haul a sunken line to the surface and begin the next cast.  By an order of magnitude, these are the best 10’ trout rods Scott has ever designed.  I cast them with several fly lines and couldn’t find a bad pairing.  In pure casting terms, I prefer the SA Infinity Taper, the long belly of which carries flat and straight, ultimately shooting well into the backing.

Centric 905-4

This rod delivers the flattest loops of any fly rod I’ve ever cast.  It is remarkable with a Rio Elite Gold and even better with a Scientific Anglers Infinity Taper.  The Gold will be the choice of many anglers who prefer that line for its strong shooting characteristics and manageable taper head, but you’ll run out of fly line when casting for true distance and wish you had a little more taper to work with.  This is where, in my opinion, the Infinity Taper truly excels.  The Centric 905-4 has a remarkable ability to control loop shape at distance.  It’s like driving a stick shift at 100 mph with several more gears available.  If your fishing consistently requires distance casting and long mends, go with the Infinity Taper.  You’ll lay down 60-90 feet of line without a wrinkle in your presentation.  Drilling the bank from a driftboat, the Gold may prove more manageable.  Casting the Rio Elite Gold, I can false cast nothing more than the line head and shoot the remaining 50’, the line jerking on the reel as it tightens upon extension.

The fishing qualities of the Centric 905-4 surpass any fast action fly rod that I have personally fished.  On the Gunnison, I can stack mend all the way to the indicator at 50 feet.  It roll casts easily, whereas the Radian, Igniter and other ultra-fast rods do so hesitantly.  I have fished this rod with large and small dry flies, long and short leaders, nymphs, streamers and various hopper-dropper rigs.  This is one of the fishiest fly rods in the world.

Centric 955-4

This is an inherently tricky rod model.  Jim’s goal was to make it flex a little deeper than the Radian 955-4 to improve line mending, roll casting and single Spey ability, but to do so without adding tip weight required the type of taper refinement that involves changing all four parts of the fly rod.  Bartschi’s patience shines.  The first prototype was too stiff.  The second felt tip heavy and spongy in the mid-section.  All the other rods were finalized and, without exception, were extraordinary.  The 955-4 came last.  I cast the finalized 955-4 several days after we received and began selling the other models.  It should come as no surprise, but I was just blown away.  It feels incredible.  It casts dead flat loops from 25’ to 90’.  I could fish this rod all week without fatigue.  The line speed is so much higher than other long 5-weights that you’ll forget you’re fishing a 9 ½ footer.  It forms delicate casting loops off the tip like an 8 ½’ rod.  The feel, loop control and range are simply superb.  The rod will handle just about any fly line, but the long head of the SA Infinity Taper produces those gorgeous loops that make me want to keep casting.

Centric 1005-4

This rod is hyper-optimized for its purposes.  All 10’ 5-weights offer advantages in reach and line control, but the Centric 1005-4 is magnificently fine-tuned in balance, action, power and touch.  It’s a delight to cast.  I feel my lifelong disdain for 10’ trout rods eroding quickly.  A rod that should feel awful feels terrific, is actually fun to cast, mend, roll cast, pick up, lay down, cast again.  Most 10’ trout rods feel best when you aren’t casting them.  This one is different.

Centric 906-4

This is the 6-weight I’ve wanted from Scott for more than 20 years, the combination of every desirable design element with casting range that is simply bottomless.  In casting all of the original prototypes, this was my favorite rod.  Casting back through the finished rods, it is still my favorite and the first Centric to go in my quiver.  My first real fishing experience with this rod came during the salmonfly hatch in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, June, 2020.  I could retire all other Gunnison rods for this one.  With an SA Amplitude Infinity Taper, I could cast the entire line with a size #4 dry fly while standing thigh deep.  The rod is so smooth and progressive it seems crafted in the crucible of nature rather than in a factory.  It casts short just as well as long.  How many 6-weights are terrific at both 20’ and 80’?  I have fished several lines on the rod, including the Infinity Taper, Rio Elite Gold, SA Trout Taper, SA Titan Taper and Rio Big Nasty.  It handles them all equally.  I’ve fished #24 tricos and #4 conehead buggers in the same day without even considering changing rods.  This rod could lure a committed 3-weight angler to fish nothing but a 6-weight all season.  It’s all-world.

Centric 906-4 FB

Brown Trout
What the river gives, Centric takes.

There is little perceptible difference in feel between the 906-4 and 906-4 FB.  In most cases, a trout rod with a fighting butt will feel stiffer and a little heavier than its non-fighting butt counterpart, but in this case, I can’t feel a difference.  Scott kept the micarta reel seat insert rather than going with an all-aluminum seat, which would be noticeably heavier.  So, the only additional weight is the fighting butt itself, which is insignificant.  If you prefer a fighting butt on your 9′ 6-weight, there is no reason not to choose this model.  Like the regular Centric 906-4, this is a world class fly rod, for my tastes the finest 9′ 6 weight ever designed.

Centric 956-4

Bartschi calls this his favorite big stick in the series, a casting monster that handles any fly line with grace and command.  Somehow, it is just as sweet with an SBT or Big Nasty as with an Infinity Taper.  With the latter, you can false cast 60-70 feet with dead flat loops before shooting 10-20 feet into the backing.  With this type of progressive action, I would expect it to struggle with streamers and streamer fly lines such as the SBT.  Somehow, it excels, casting the heavy head just as naturally as a Trout Taper or Rio Gold.  Line mending and roll casting capabilities are in the 100th percentile.  Also, I noticed that the Centric 956-4 generates similar line speed to the 854-4 and 905-4, the loops sizzling past my body as I swing the rod.  It feels super powered, unearthly.  In addition to sensational overhead casting ability, it’s great with a single Spey, which the Radian and other ultra fast rods just won’t do.  What a fishing tool.

Centric 1006-4

This is too much fly rod for my trout fishing, but stillwater anglers will find a rod of incredible capability.  Fishing broad water with sinking lines comes naturally to the Centric 1006-4.  Choose this model over the 956-4 for light line steelheading, high stick nymphing on big rivers and fishing lakes at distance.  I have no local purpose for the rod, but if you do, you’ll be blown away at how finely tuned the Centric 1006-4 is for its purposes.  This is the most specialized rod in the series.

Centric 907-4

The consummate Alaska and Kamchatka rod.  The Centric 907-4 is a heavy streamer rod that crosses over nicely for bonefish and reds, but most anglers will buy this rod for hardcore freshwater fishing, where large flies are used to catch impressive fish.  It’s spectacular with an SBT, Big Nasty or Titan Taper, possessing a combination of lightness and casting stability I’ve never before experienced in a 7-weight.  Loading the heavy head of an SBT line, it feels like cocking a crossbow, rock solid with the anticipation of an explosive forward cast.  While such distance is seldom necessary with a heavy streamer, the Centric 907-4 will cast almost any line into the backing.  More importantly, it has the command to pick up a heavy headed line with a large fly, make one false cast and drill it back to the bank, keeping your fly in the zone.  I would describe this rod as “alive.”  Functionally, it’s unbeatable, but also possesses those rare qualities of feel and response that make a fly rod truly special.


Reel PairingsAbelHatchLamsonNautilusRossSage
Centric 854-4SDF 4/5 (black or brown trout)Finatic 3+ Lightspeed 3+ (blackout)XM (Black or Titanium)San Miguel 3/4
Evo LTX 3/4 (black)
Spectrum LT 3/4 (stealth or ember)
Centric 904-4SDF 4/5 (black or brown trout)
Super Series 4/5
Finatic 3+ Lightspeed 3+ (blackout)XM (Black or Titanium)San Miguel 3/4
Evo R 4/5 (black)
Evo LTX 3/4 (black)
Spectrum LT 4/5 (stealth or ember)
Centric 1004-4SDF 5/6 (black or brown trout)
Super Series 5/6
Finatic 5+ Lightspeed 5+ (blackout)XL (Black or Titanium)San Miguel 5/6
Evo R 5/6
Gunnison 4/5
Spectrum LT 5/6
(stealth or ember)
Centric 905-4SDF 4/5 (black or brown trout)
Super Series 4/5
Finatic 4+ (black/red, clear/red or clear/black)Lightspeed 5+ (blackout)XM (Black or Titanium)San Miguel 4/5
Evo R 4/5
Gunnison 4/5
Spectrum LT 4/5
(stealth or ember)
Centric 955-4SDF 5/6 (black or brown trout)
Super Series 5/6
Finatic 5+ Lightspeed 5+ (blackout)XM (Black or Titanium)San Miguel 5/6
Evo R 5/6
Gunnison 4/5
Spectrum LT 5/6
(stealth or ember)
Centric 1005-4SDF 6/7 (black or brown trout)
Super Series 5/6
Finatic 5+ Lightspeed 7+ (blackout)NVG 6/7 (Black or Silver)
XL (Black or Titanium)
San Miguel 5/6
Evo R 5/6
Gunnison 5/6
Spectrum LT 5/6
(stealth or ember)
Centric 906-4SDF 5/6 (black or brown trout)
Super Series 5/6
Finatic 5+ Lightspeed 5+ (blackout)XM (Black or Titanium)San Miguel 5/6
Evo R 5/6
Gunnison 4/5
Spectrum LT 5/6
(stealth or ember)
Centric 956-4SDF 6/7 (black or brown trout)
Super Series 5/6
Finatic 5+ Lightspeed 7+ (blackout)NVG 6/7 (Black or Silver)
XL (Black or Titanium)
Evo R 7/8
Gunnison 5/6
Spectrum LT 7/8
(stealth or ember)
Centric 1006-4SDF 6/7 (black or brown trout)
Super Series 7/8
Finatic 7+ Lightspeed 7+ (blackout)NVG 7/8 (Black or Silver)
XL Max (Black or Titanium)
CCF-X2 6-8 (Black or Silver)
Evo R 7/8
Gunnison 5/6
Spectrum LT 7/8
(stealth or ember)
Centric 907-4SDF 6/7 (black or brown trout)Finatic 5+Lightspeed 7+ (blackout)NVG 6/7 (Black or Silver)
XL (Black or Titanium)
CCF-X2 6-8 (Black or Silver)
Evo R 7/8Spectrum LT 7/8
(stealth or ember)

[On-the-water review video]
[Centric fly rod pages]

 

 

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