Scott Session | Model-by-Model Review

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article by John Duncan
reviews by John Duncan, Parker Thompson and Richard Post


Rods for your obsession

Rod Designer Jim Bartschi pegs our expectations, “Session is not a Flex replacement, it’s next level.”  These rods are designed for people who will fish them a lot.  Whether you fish primarily in your own zip code or carry your fly rods around the world, you’ll find that Scott Session rods are designed for versatility and on-the-water performance.  They are easy to cast, falling softly into the hands of any angler.  They fish a wide range of fly lines in every line weight with command and aptitude.  These will become favorite fly rods for anglers everywhere.

Rod action

Untitled 1Scott describes the Session as “fast with feel,” a marketing mantra that would sum it up perfectly if not also used on two previous series, the Radian and Centric.  In comparison with today’s popular “fast action” fly rods, we would characterize Session as “medium-fast action with terrific resilience” suggesting high-end blank technology and refined tapers, but also acknowledging that these rods cast best with a relaxed stroke, rather than the short stab required to pinch casts off the tip of truly fast action rods, such as the Sage Igniter, G.Loomis NRX+ and former Scott Radian.  In higher line weights, Scott has resisted the engineering temptation to overbuild the blanks, as we so commonly see in mid-priced fly rods.  Most 6, 7 and 8-weights in this price range are heavy and clubby as compared with their high end cousins, erring on the side of durability in lieu of refined taper design.  The Session 955-4, 906-4, 956-4, 907-4 and 908-4 offer stellar performance without sacrificing lightness and feel.


Let’s start with the most important component on any fly rod:  the grip, our physical connection to the sport.  Most rod makers inadequately prioritize grips, even on high end rods.  Scott does just the opposite.  On Session rods, Scott offers a modified Wells that we really love.  In fact, it may be the most comfortable grip Scott offers on any fly rod.  It’s a relatively small diameter Wells grip, but the bottom swell is a little larger than most.  The result is a feeling of comfort and support, like wearing a custom insole in your shoe.  This contributes to the sense of balance and power, as well.  The rod fidgets less, steadier with less unintentional drift, especially on the back cast.  Anytime we make casting more efficient and comfortable, we improve our game.

Green trim wraps match the dyed wood reel seat inserts for a handsome, original appearance.  The type II anodized reel seats have a pleasing knurl pattern on the barrel for easy tightening and loosening and with double lock rings that snug with a soft but sure feeling.  Silicon nitride stripping guides are hard and slick, and light wire low glare PVD-coated snake guides contribute to light tips on these nimble fly rods.


Model-by-Model Review

SE 803-4 (8’0″ 3-wt, 4-pc)

John Duncan:  On this 3-weight and both 4-weights, anglers will really notice the sense of lightness.  This is a pleasing rod to pick up and swing.  Due to its modest length, the Session 803-4 casts best with lines that have average length or short heads, including the Rio Elite Gold, SA Amplitude Trout and SA Trout Standard.  It forms a nice casting loop right out of hand, delivering the fly accurately with great delicacy up to about 45 feet.  When this distance is reached, a modest double haul is necessary to hold up the longer line, but the rod accepts this confidently.  This will be a very nice dry fly rod up to about 50 feet with just enough spine to throw a light dry dropper or short leader nymph rig.

Parker Thompson:  The 803/4 Session is very light in hand and a pleasure to cast.  It isn’t as stiff as some other shorter graphite 3wt rods, which is my personal preference.  The overall design of this rod is different than other rods in the lineup.  In order to make the rod not feel stiff, the butt section was designed to be slightly softer than other rods in the Session family and the result is a rod that loads easier in close and has excellent feel throughout the blank.  This is a great rod for people fishing tight quarters with light flies.  It will cross over as an excellent creek rod, as well.  I tried this rod with a Rio Elite Technical Trout and thought the line paired well with the rod.  I wouldn’t be afraid to fish it with a shorter headed line, like the Rio Elite Gold or SA Amplitude Trout Standard.

SE 854-4 (8’6″ 4-wt, 4-pc)

Richard Post:  A very solid 8 foot 6 inch 4 weight that represents its line weight and length well. A hair quicker and stiffer than the 904 and 803 comparatively, I liked this rod most with an SA Trout taper. The rod holds the line up well in the air, but dictates the loop shape a little bit. Good timing and a matched haul brought out the best in the blank and I thought the rod preferred a slightly quicker casting cadence. Range and performance were optimized at the usual trout distances inside of 60 feet and gave me the impression that the rod is designed to perform with dry droppers and nymph rigs as well as with a single dry fly. It’s a little quicker with a little more line speed than the Session 904.

Parker Thompson:  This is a great rod for a wide range of trout fishing.  It is remarkably light compared to similar rods in this price point and is a great looking stick.  My favorite application for this rod is dry fly fishing.  It prefers lighter lines and lighter flies.  When choosing this rod, it is important to select a fly line that won’t overpower the rod.  Consider the SA Amplitude Trout WF4F line.  With this line, the rod stiffens up a bit and delivers a tighter loop.  Lines like the Rio Gold or SA Infinity can create a subtle bounce in the rod at certain distances and don’t do this rod enough justice.  With the correct line, the Session 854/4 feels very crisp and tight, especially at distance.

SE 904-4 (9’0″ 4-wt, 4-pc)

Untitled 2Parker Thompson:  This is my favorite of the three 4wt rods in the Session series.  There is admittedly a great deal of competition in the 9’ 4wt fly rod world and this model stands up against even some of the higher priced options.  It isn’t as stable or powerful as a rod like the 904/4 Centric but still a wonderfully crafted rod, a truly “well-rounded” 4wt that will be happy in several different fishing situations.  The first thing I noticed was how light off the tip the rod feels.   It is easy to control your loop shape, as smooth of a caster as any rod in the Session family.  There are several fly lines that this rod can handle.  I tested the rod with the Rio Elite Gold and liked it pretty well.  If you want to stiffen the rod up consider a line like the Rio Elite Technical Trout.  Similarly to the Centric 904/4, this rod will be happy with several different fly lines.

John Duncan:  Perhaps my favorite rod in the series, the Session 904-4 competes with most high end rods in this length and line weight.  Everything about this rod contributes to a sense of lightness:  the slender blank, thin wire snake guides, low swing weight, fast tip recovery, optimal grip size and shape and even the lightweight reel seat.  I would fish this rod alongside my G Series and Centric rods anywhere in trout country.  The Session 904-4 is a fast action rod, but it flexes deep enough for the relaxed casting rhythm that I desire in a 4-weight.  I’m fishing my 4-weight today, not my 6-weight.  You can make the rod bend a lot or a little.  It snaps back with surprising resilience for excellent line speed and loop control.  It’s playful, yet reliable, a lovely fly rod that will cast and fish in a super wide range of casting distances with dry flies, dry-dropper and light nymph rigs.  I loved it with a Rio Gold, SA Trout Taper and Rio Tech Trout, the latter of which offers superb presentation qualities for challenging dry fly scenarios and selective trout.

SE 1004-4 (10’0″ 4-wt, 4-pc)


RodscroppedJohn Duncan:  I would describe this rod as “medium action” rather than “fast action.”  It was obviously designed for technical nymphing and will excel in everything that happens after the cast.  Casting will require patience as the long, limber rod loads with a ponderous rhythm compared with other models in this series.  Line mending and strike detection are the name of the game.  The Session 1004-4 will fish an SA Trout Taper or comparable true-to-line-weight WF line, but many anglers will fish a level line on this rod.  This rod will be highly effective for precision nymphing, but lacks versatility.

Richard Post:  Ten-foot fly rods have traditionally been the tipping point between high end and mid priced graphite rods. You really notice the advantages of lighter, more responsive and more technologically superior materials when you get to this length. You have a longer lever, and less refined materials tend to produce rods that flat out don’t cast well. They are so limber that on a waggle test you see the blank flexing in two places. The Scott A4 rods had some of that in the 10 footers.  The Flex was an improvement, but the extra tip weight was a real consideration in those rods. The Session 1004 is the best casting 10 foot 4 weight at this price point that I’ve picked up. You still have a whole lot of bend in this blank, but the tip stays with the lower end enough that you can work out some good loops with proper finesse.

The Session 1005 is the better casting rod of the two. The 1005 is made to fish as a 10 foot single handed trout rod, the Session 1004 is intended to be a crossover technical nymphing rod that can still be cast overhead (unlike a true Euro rod that is not designed to cast fly line). For the Euro curious, this is a rod to consider. You aren’t pigeonholed into owning a Euro specific rod.

My recommended line pairing looks something like this: a Rio Gold WF4F makes a solid all-around choice for general trout nymphing and fishing.  Add a Rio Euro Nymph Shorty or Technical Euro Nymph Shorty line. These “shorty” lines are 20 feet long and they are designed to be looped onto a regular WF line just like your leader. On the end of the shorty, you add a standard Euro leader. Reel up your WF line onto your reel and the 20’ Euro Shorty is now your Euro fly line. This is a unique and purposefully built trout rod with a lot of versatility and crossover Euro appeal built in, along with the best casting rod in its class at this price point.

SE 905-4 (9’0″ 5-wt, 4-pc)

John Duncan:  A classic western trout rod, the Session 905-4 has an even-flexing taper with terrific feel and range.  This do-it-all rod offers excellent power with a heightened sense of adaptability.  It will cast and fish any versatile trout line.  I really liked it with both a Rio Gold and SA Infinity taper, the latter of which forms long, level, stable loops with a relaxed casting stroke and would be a great pairing for fishing larger rivers with either nymphs or dry flies.  Using an SA Trout or Trout Standard will tighten your loops for classic dry fly presentations.  I would describe this rod as “medium fast” rather than “fast” simply because it loads and unloads under the power of a natural casting stroke.  By the same token, you can’t stomp on it, can’t pop tight wedge loops off the tip like you can with a Centric or NRX+.  It casts fine in the wind but is not a rod you would overline or deliberately overpower with your casting stroke.  This is a well-designed fly rod that anglers will love at first cast and often leave rigged in the garage or rod vault.

Richard Post:  I love a good 5 weight. I imagine that most of you have a 9 foot 5 weight and chances are it was your first fly rod. If you’re a trout angler and don’t own a 9 foot 5 weight, two things. What have you been doing? And you ought to own one. The Scott Session 905 is an easy choice for a lot of anglers and represents a great value in a fast action 9 foot 5 weight. The action is progressive and smooth, loading with the right amount of flex and a stable tip that stays right in sync with the lower end of the rod. You get a lot of feedback from this rod and that “fast with feeling” sweetness that is very adaptable. This is a 9 foot 5 weight that is meant to be fished across a wide range of techniques and conditions. The Session 905-4 feels more refined than others at this price and has a more unique personality. Not just the little brother to the Centric, but a smartly built fly rod with best-in-class action, performance and build quality. A Rio Gold felt just right.

Parker Thompson:  The 9’ 5wt Session is a prime example of Scott’s signature “fast with feel” concept.  It is perfectly tuned for the angler that wants a true do-it-all 5wt.  You can fish dry flies, dry droppers and nymphs with it all day.  It isn’t as stiff as some of the competition but has remarkable feel.  It is surprisingly light and a very smooth caster.  This rod offers everything you could ever need out of a 9’ 5wt.  Like many Scott fly rods, this model will handle a wide range of fly lines.  I’ve tried the Rio Gold and SA Trout Standard and liked them both a lot.  I personally prefer the presentation you get from a lighter line, so the Trout Standard is my favorite, but if you fish a lot of indicator rigs the Gold is a great bet.  This is a rod that virtually any angler could justify having in their quiver.

SE 955-4 (9’6″ 5-wt, 4-pc)

Parker Thompson:  This is arguably my favorite Session rod in the whole lineup.  It can cover a wide range of fishing situations and is a lovely caster.  It is a sensational option for the fisherman who wants a longer rod but doesn’t want the added weight of a 10’ rod.  The 955/4 casts well at all distances and forms a beautiful loop almost immediately.  It’s a rod that will handle a wide range of casting strokes well, but consistent with all longer rods, consider slowing your stroke down just a tad to really maximize this rod’s capabilities.  I wouldn’t be afraid to fish this rod anywhere.  It has the feel and touch to fish big dry flies but also the low end power to fish heavier indicator rigs on bigger water.  When choosing a fly line, consider the Rio Gold or SA Infinity taper.  It handles both lines well and will be happy fishing at all distances.

Richard Post:  We like a 9 foot 6 inch 5 weight around here. Windy stillwaters and a do-everything rod for the Black Canyon are the niches we scratch most often with this model, which casts overhead much better in my opinion than a 10 footer, but offers added length to keep the back cast up and really bomb out a searching cast. The Session 955 is a good one and great with a Rio Gold. It’s powerful enough but not overpowered, meaning it will fish a dry with touch and have enough power to push out an indicator rig to the other side of the seam. I appreciate a fighting butt on a 9 foot 6 inch rod for a better balance and just like the looks of a small fighting butt. The 9 foot 6 inch 5 weight is a specialty trout rod, designed for the angler looking for a little extra edge, and I think this is an easy call to add to the quiver. It holds up a long line confidently in the backcast and I believe this rod rests perfectly between the 905 and 906 Session on the power scale, a 5 weight with a bit more range without sacrificing touch.

SE 1005-4 (10’0″ 5-wt, 4-pc)

Untitled 3John Duncan:  This rod is more stout than the Session 1004-4, but not as stable or powerful as the Session 955-4.  The extra length will be useful for certain applications, however, including technical lake fishing and high stick nymphing.  The rod casts with adequate stability (often an issue with 10’ trout rods), preferring a long casting stroke with a long-headed fly line, such as the SA Infinity Taper.  If you do a lot of nymphing in rivers that require deep wading, roll casting and stack mending, this is a useful rod.  Due to its length, it swings heavier than the 955-4, so we recommend this model for anglers who specifically need that extra length.

Richard Post:   The Session 1005-4 is a very well made 10 foot 5 weight in this category. Like the 1004, I was impressed by the casting profile compared to previous models. The 1005 is the better caster of the two and it feels more like a trout rod and a little less like a purely technical nymphing rod. A Rio Gold was a good match and the rod/line combination rewarded patience. Don’t hurry your cast with this longer blank. This rod is a hair more sensitive to power applications than the 955 and doesn’t respond well to an overly aggressive stroke or a cast that is out of sync regarding the forward cast and the back cast. You do get the sense of having more time in the air and that inherent confidence with the line behind you allows you a bit of time to self-regulate during the cast. Think more reach with this rod as opposed to more power. The 955 has a bit more power and responds better to a more aggressive stroke. Big river nymphing under an indicator is a great home for this rod as well as stillwater chironomid-style fishing under indicators or with full sink lines. There is plenty of easy flex to perform single hand Spey casts inside your shadow as well. This is a solid choice for the angler looking to add a 10 foot 5 weight to their quiver.

SE 906-4 (9’0″ 6-wt, 4-pc)

Parker Thompson:  This is a rod that fits nicely in the 6wt mix.  It is by no means the stiffest rod out there but also isn’t super slow.  A great “do it all” rod, you could easily use it for big dry flies and it would also make a great nymphing rod.  If you plan on using it as a streamer rod consider fishing the Rio Elite Predator lines over the SA Titan lines.  The Predator lines cast better on rods like this and won’t overpower the blank.  Given the overall action of this rod, it will be terrific for nymphing.  It has great feel and is a very good roll casting rod.  At first I tried the Rio Gold on here and it felt a little bouncy at the taper change.  I tried the SA Infinity next and liked this pairing quite a bit better.  With the Infinity, the rod felt silky smooth and the bounce was eliminated.

John Duncan:  The Session 906-4 is a rangy fishing tool that can do a lot of things in the hands of a skilled angler.  It’s fundamentally a nice casting tool with a flex profile similar to the 905.  Some anglers will prefer a stiffer 6-weight for streamer fishing, but for a combination of dries, nymphs and the occasional streamer, this is a well-tuned fly rod.  In a lot of ways, medium-fast action is superior to an ultra-stiff rod for any wind-resistant fly (like a mouse or bass bug) or for nymph/indicator rigs because the rod flexes enough to form a nice loop even when your terminal tackle is mucking up the casting algorithm.   I prefer this rod with an SA Infinity Taper, the long head of which casts with excellent control and line speed at distance.  It’s a little sluggish with a Rio Gold, but does all the little things well:  roll casting, line mending, and fighting fish with a balance of tippet protection and butt section strength.  This is a really good all-purpose trout rod for those who fish larger rivers and lakes, or have some bass opportunities in the neighborhood.

SE 956-4 (9’6″ 6-wt, 4-pc)

John Duncan:  Rod Designer Jim Bartschi really nailed these 9 ½-footers.  The Session 956-4 is a potent rod for all techniques on larger rivers and lakes.  It’s just a really well-designed fly rod, rangy without feeling stiff, stable and powerful without sacrificing feel and lightness, a highly energized spring that casts beautifully both short and long.  Aggressive stack mending, roll casting and other power-oriented techniques come naturally to this rod.  What a great stick this will be on the Gunnison, Deschutes, Madison, Sacramento and other heavy western rivers where two stonefly nymphs under a strike indicator are standard.  Also ideal for fishing lakes, the Session 956-4 will lift and cast any common sinking line with command power while possessing a supple tip for strike detection.

Richard Post:  Smooth and stable big power trout rod were my first impressions of the Session 956. An SA Infinity Taper felt just right. The 956 holds up a long line in the air and the line leaves the rod tip with powerful control. This is a very good rod for Stillwater and big water/big ugly rig applications.  Of the two 6 weights in the Session series, this is the power stick. Casting this model and the 906 side-by-side gives you the feeling of a matched set. This is an easy addition to the quiver with few compromises for the angler seeking a heavier trout rod while saving a little money for a reel. The 956-4 is one of my favorites in the Session lineup and a best-in-class contender at this price point.

SE 907-4 (9’0″ 7-wt, 4-pc)

John Duncan:  This is a fast action but even-flexing 7-weight that will be fished for many applications, including heavy trout streamer, carp, bass and redfish.  I cast it with several different lines and was impressed by the line speed and accuracy generated with every one of them, including the Rio Gold, SA Infinity Taper, Rio Predator and SA Titan Long, the latter of which proves the stability and confidence of this no-nonsense fly rod because its heavy head tends to jack around lesser fly rods.  This is a long-casting rod that feels sweet from the first swing, so whether you drop your fly in close or punch it to the far bank, you’ll be happy with your presentation.

Parker Thompson:  The 7 and 8wt Session rods are both spectacular.  The 907/4 is surprisingly light and has superior feel for a high line weight trout rod.  It is a beautiful casting rod that can cover a wide range of fishing situations.  It doesn’t have the sheer power of the 907/4 Centric but that is to be expected from a rod of this build.  It’s a great big water nymphing rod and a lethal streamer rod.  It casts like a 9’ 5wt rod and fishes like a classic 7wt rod.  It’s a rod that will be equally happy chasing trout as it will be targeting bass and larger fish.  I threw the SA Infinity WF7F on the 907/4 and was very happy with how it performed.

SE 908-4 (9’0″ 8-wt, 4-pc)

Untitled 5Parker Thompson:  8wt freshwater rods can be very difficult to design and are often overbuilt.  The 908/4 Session is the exception, a silky smooth casting rod that can hold a remarkably tight loop at distance.  It’s a great rod for nymhping up very large anadromous fish but will handle a streamer style line with ease.  It shoots line effortlessly and casts several fly lines well.  For big water nymphing I like the SA Anadro line and for streamer fishing the Rio Elite Predator lines will feel right at home on the 908/4 Session.

John Duncan:  In Richard’s words, “It’s really useful to have a grab-and-go 8-weight for bass, carp, salmon, pike, bonefish, redfish….all of it.”  While not as purely stiff as a specialized saltwater 8-weight such as the Scott Sector or Sage Salt R8, the Session 908-4 casts with plenty of power for flats fishing while retaining a friendly approachability that makes it an all-purpose 8-weight.  It flexes a little deeper, but with a progressive profile that offers a sense of evenness and rhythm.  The Session 908-4 has the stability of a high end rod and more feel than similar models from other rod makers.  I really enjoyed the simple act of casting with a range of lines:  SA Infinity Taper, Rio Gold, Rio Predator, SA Titan Taper and, just to prove the point, a Rio Elite Redfish WF8F, the head of which is a full line weight heavy.  The rod was truly a pleasure with all of these, so I know that anglers will find multiple purposes for this rod in both fresh and salt water.

Richard Post:  All rod manufacturers make a saltwater class 9 foot 8 weight.   Most also make a 908 that is intended as a freshwater or all-water style rod. I have found that these rods are often pretty similar without a lot of separation between the models. We tend to recommend a 9 foot 6 inch or 10 foot 8 weight for salmon fishing and AK work. The trick with these longer rods is they are very specialized and don’t really translate to a lot of other freshwater applications.  Enter the Session 908. Nine foot rods are more versatile and there is a tremendous amount of adaptability built into the progressive action of this 908. I cast a long headed SA Anadro and a short headed SA MPX WF8F on it. The Session 908 had plenty of backbone and stability to hold up the Anadro and blast out the fly line. That line delivers a little hot at the end, but I felt like I had that extra level of control to smooth out the delivery as I watched the line run up the blank and come tight to the reel. With the MPX, there was more nuance and control to the cast and a more predictable delivery. In my mind, that is the design of each line respectively and the Session 908 did a fantastic job of matching the taper of these rather different fly lines. Big bushy bass bugs, Alaska and/or salmon work and just any freshwater application that requires a little more pull on a fish or a little more push to turn over a large fly are environments where this rod shines. With what you pay to go to AK, I think a rod like the Session 908 is an easy choice.

[Scott Session rod pages]

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