Shakespeare Agility2 EXP rods from £69.99
Robbie Winram reviews the latest gear including a Shakespeare travel rod and Orvis waders
SHAKESPEARE are renown for producing good fly rods at affordable prices and the Agility2 EXP is no exception. This compact seven-piece rod is the travel version of the Agility2 and there are five rods in the range from an 8ft 6in 5wt at £69.99 to a 10ft 7wt at £84.99. I had the 10ft 7wt and 9ft 6wt rods on test and on first appearance, overall finish and fittings looked of good quality, the uplocking rings are nice and free running, and while the cork handles aren’t of the highest quality they are certainly comfortable enough. Interestingly, the handle section of the 10ft 7wt can be customised to suit your fishing/casting styles – choose from a simple alloy screw-in butt cap, or unscrew this to attach a 1.5-inch cork/ EVA fighting butt, or a four-inch cork/EVA handle extension which turns it into a double-handed rod. This makes it very versatile, being the ideal reservoir bank and boat rod with the alloy cap or fighting butt attached, and then with the extension handle fitted it can be used for sea trout and salmon fishing on the river. Set up with a 7wt floater it was relatively easy to load the rod, aerialise line and put a clean line out on the water. It quickly became apparent that the action is middle to tip but erring more towards tip. With a relatively short casting stroke I could deliver lines at short and medium range with really nice turnover and the tip had a surprisingly fast recovery which allowed for good line control and accuracy. When delivering lines at longer range and double hauling the blank does bend a good deal deeper, but as long as I slowed the casting stroke to match the rod I still had really good control and all the line shoots were really smooth. The rod can cope with overhead, single and double haul casts and also has enough flex to generate roll, switch and single spey casts. This means it will go from stillwater to river work seamlessly, not bad for a rod of this price. When a fish is hooked its playing action is also quite deep with the whole rod arcing into the equation and giving a great sense of feel. When it comes to stillwater work in particular, a rod should be able to handle a range of sinking density lines from midge-tips through to fast intermediates and the EXP was more than capable. Its 7wt rating is spot on, although those anglers wanting a little more weight in the cast will find a dual 7/8wt will work for them, and with medium to extra fast sinking lines those anglers with good casting skills will find a 6/7wt is perfect. Onto the 9ft 6wt, which doesn’t come with the handle extensions. It has a similar casting action to its big brother, although it is even ‘tippier’, and perfect for smaller stillwaters when you want to use light line tactics while also having the strength and power to subdue those large doubles on the clear stalking waters. The 6wt rating is perfect, although it will also take a 5wt so you can go even lighter for top of the water sport.
Affordable and compact rods, ideal for sticking in a rucksack or in the boot of the car. They are user-friendly, smooth casting and did all that I asked of them, covering all casting styles from overhead to continuous motion. There are no alignment markers which is a shame when you want a quick set up on a multi-piece rod.