I was introduced to Scott’s new Meridian line of fly rods this past July during ICAST/IFTD 2015. What better place to be then at the largest retailer industry show to test out the latest and greatest from each company. This year, Scott has stepped into the high end saltwater fly rod octagon with the new Meridian, which replaces their S4S line.
One of the line weights that particularly caught my attention was the 4 piece 8wt Meridian. The first thing you will notice about the Meridian is that the rod is faster then the S4S. The incredible line feel is still present, but the rod is faster and able to push harder without falling apart. The components on this rod from the reel seat to guide-train are all top of the line. It features titanium frame stripping guides (which are slightly larger diameter then most 8wt rods..big plus in my opinion) with SiC inserts, NiTi snake guides from REC, and a type-III matte black hard coated anodized reel seat with the rod weight marked on the slide hood. I personally am not a big fan of noisy Recoil stripping guides that come on some other high end fly rods so cheers to Scott for sticking with SiC inserts. The alignment dots on the ferules are also a big plus when putting the rod back together after lack of sleep and battling a headache from sipping one too many cold rum drinks out of a Yeti Low-Ball the night before. This rod is built to be a true saltwater rod. Built stealthy and not overly flashy. As far as the physical attributes are concerned; Meridian has the sultry looks and the sexy moves to back it up.
After we’ve seen how Meridian performs on paper and on the casting pond, the only logical progression forward was to take it out and fish the 8wt Meridian. I put a Nautilus NV G-8 fly reel loaded with Cortland’s new Guide Taper fly line on the Meridian and proceeded to redfish for a few days. There is a difference between casting a fly rod in a controlled environment such as a casting pond and in real life scenarios where you are faced with wind, elevation, boat angle, shot angle, and a plethora of other challenges to meet. I found it easy to tighten up your loops and cast a 12ft leader into a 10-15kt wind while at the same time being able to transition from a tight loop to a more open loop to close out a softer presentation at a laid up redfish. The rod tracked true and did not buckle in the wind. The Meridian is a fast rod but not too fast. In comparison to other high end rods, I would say the action is in between that of a Method and Salt. The tip is still soft enough to steer a loaded up rod the direction of intent without having to push hard. Most fast rods require a little bit more swing weight to load and fire, yet the Meridian retains a low swing weight with enough speed to push through wind. It reminded of a Classic rod I own with technology way ahead of it’s time. I would say the 8wt Meridian 4pc rod is a happy medium for those who enjoy a fast rod, with a lower swing weight, and great line feel.
The first time I fished the 8wt Meridian was in the flood and low tides of North Florida and South Carolina to follow. The scenario called for casting flies tied on stout hooks to thick bodied slot and just over-slot redfish that would sometimes dive into cover. This was not a beefy 8wt rod at all but it was just enough to pull a redfish out of cover when needed. With the Fall weather and clearer water, fish are naturally a little more spooky and demand a much more stealthy presentation in most cases. Soft presentations are done with ease. Load up the rod and open your loop, then end pointing at the fish. You have to let the rod cast for you.
I am overall very impressed by the 8 weight Meridian 4pc fly rod. This is the 8 weight rod that has brought me back to fishing 8 weight fly rods once again. It was not surprising that Scott Meridian won the IFTD best Saltwater Flyrod for 2015. Pick one up next time you are at a Scott Fly Rods dealer and cast it. I would love to hear your impression.