In this gear review, we’ll be taking a less than conventional approach, and will be talking about the IMX-Pro Euro rod, from G. Loomis. Here to weigh in his two sense is John Newburry. John has spent countless hours on the water and behind the vise, investigating new ways to improve his fishing experience. From importing leader and tying materials from Europe, to calculating exact weights and fly-measurements that will provide the most optimized drift – John embodies the exact angler persona this rod was built for. Here, he’ll break down his thoughts…
Via John Newburry:
After teaching beginner anglers how to “Euro” nymph, fishing heavily weighted flies under a tight line, I noticed my angling guests caught fish sooner in the day than if they had spent the first three hours learning how to lob an indicator. Watching indicators drift along hoping a fish takes your fly only occurs a couple of times each day. If you’re not completely hypnotized by watching bobbers bounce along in the warm dappled sunlight, you might just be able to respond with a quick hook set.
Don’t get me wrong, indicator fishing has its place – in a boat or lake when you want to control the depth of the presentation. Wading anglers who use indicators are handicapped when it comes to detecting fish. All too often, they miss fish that expel the fly before causing the indicator to not move. Actively feeding fish move very little, or pause for a moment after they take the fly into their mouths. After all, it is the movement of the fish against the current and line that makes an indicator work. If you have any slack in your leader or hesitancy in response, you lose.
Before the advent of the indicator, tight-line and high sticking were common methods employed when fishing nymphs. These tactics were effective in the hands of skilled anglers; however, many others found the methods difficult to master while using traditional western dry fly rods.
Overcoming the limitations of nymph fishing with a tool that was designed to cast a dry fly needed to be resolved if we wanted to improve our nymph game. Dry fly fishing is a visual sport. A fish tells you everything you need to know when they break through the water’s surface to take the fly. Dry fly rods, typically ranging from 8 to 9’ in length and between 4 to 6 weight, are not designed to feel the take, but rather, propel a weightless fly to a distant target. Without the visual cues to a fish’s response to the sunken nymph, we rely on indicators or blind intuition to be effective.
Today’s nymph anglers owe gratitude to the European fly fishing competitions, which discarded the use of a traditional dry fly rod in favor of a well-designed nymph rod. A properly constructed nymph rod is long, lightweight, and very sensitive. Because tactical nymphs are often fished under the rod tip, an extra foot or two in rod length aids in reaching more targets.
Having a sensitive rod is important when fishing nymphs under tension. When you are “dialed in” and fishing the fly under direct tension, you can feel the fly tapping along the rocks and feel even the most subtle takes from a fish. A sensitive rod makes you immediately aware when a fish takes the fly.
A modern nymph rod must have a solid backbone. The ability to gain control of a large fish in a big river is a necessity if we want to land fish safely and quickly. You might think landing trophy-sized fish on lightweight gear is difficult and taxing on the fish, but that is simply not the case. On the contrary, I argue that one is as likely to land a larger fish with a 10’ 3wt nymph rod than a traditional 9’ 5wt rod under equal conditions. The reason is that nymph rods provide enough shock absorption through their length and taper design to buffer against sudden lunges and runs that can result in lost fish. In addition to the shock-absorbing qualities, long leaders or micro-thin fly lines, commonly used with nymph rods, do not impart extra drag in the water that traditional fly lines will. When a fish takes off on a long run, it will pull your fly line, leader, and indicator into the current adding extra drag and pressure, causing the fish to break off.
I had the pleasure to field test the new G Loomis IMX-PROe 10’ 3wt on the water I knew the fishing conditions would provide the ultimate test. Big unruly trout in a big western American river was just the right place to bring a reputable rod maker’s new euro-rod to its knees. I’ve destroyed a few European and American-built nymph rods fishing this same water over the same fish, so the bar was set mighty high. If any fishing conditions existed that would surely test a tactical nymph rod, the day I tested this rod was it.
Amongst a flurry of snowfall, I watched as my leader twitched above the water as the payload below tapped along the contents of the riverbed. With each tick, the tip of the rod relayed a minute vibration back to the palm of my hand, teasing my senses as I eagerly awaited a tick more aggressive than the prior. With the light rod in hand and my fly reaching the end of its drift, I picked up my line and reset back at the top of the run.
Slowly, I worked up the current, surveying for small pockets and structures where I might catch a fish hiding from the force of the water. With each reset, I mentally crossed off the small section of water I was working and painted out the next one I would target.
It was just as I was approaching the end of the current that I saw the leader stop. The rod tip twitched and with great fervor, I drew the tip up at an angle and set the hook into an eager trout’s lip. This fish was of appropriate size and immediately took off downriver. It was not giving itself up without a fight. Testing the strength of my 6x tippet, I battled the fish until I was in a position to make it surrender its angle. The flexibility of the 3 weight rod really allowed me to lay into this fish, minimizing the fight, and eventually, bringing a beautiful rainbow to my frigid hands. The day progressed as such. Finding a fish in each pool we came upon.
A nymph rod worthy of ownership has many design qualities such as the overall weight, balance, sensitivity, action, and backbone to live up to. The first thing I noticed about the IMX-PROe was its backbone-to-weight ratio. It’s a rod so light I could fish it all day long, yet strong enough to land the biggest trout I could dredge up. On several fish, I bent the rod nearly in half while fishing in tight quarters and trying to move a big fish out of a deep pool. This was made possible because Loomis replaced extra graphite wraps with a proprietary material they call Conduit Core Technology. Having destroyed a few high-end nymph rods in the past few seasons, I was impressed that Loomis felt it should belong in an entry-level nymph rod.
Setting this fly rod apart from a long list of nymph rods I have used, was the ability to make accurate close-in drifts, as well as cast to distant targets with ease. I found the accuracy of the rod superior, able to deliver the entirety of my 30-foot leader with a 4.0mm tungsten jig to reach distant targets. You might be asking yourself, “Overhead-casting more than 30’ of leader and a 4.0mm tungsten beaded jig with a nymph rod?” No problem.
I have already mentioned the five-star weight, sensitivity, and strength of this rod, but let me mention the accumulation of many small, important refinements that G Loomis thoughtfully considered when constructing this rod. Manufacturing fishing rods with the highest quality and innovative materials along with precise workmanship and engineering are what G Loomis is known for. The IMX-PROe has a pedigree that any expert or entry-level angler will find a pleasure to own.
One might expect a rod of this quality and innovation to come with a high price tag but Loomis priced this rod to make the transition into the tactical nymph game more accessible to anglers of all skill levels and budgets. There is no more excuse to avoid adding a dedicated tactical nymph rod into your rod collection. Choosing an IMX-PROe for your kit will improve your angling experience.