Gear Review - Scott Centric 10' 4wt Review
For this post I’ll be sharing an in-depth breakdown of my thoughts regarding the Scott Centric 10 ft 4 wt. I chose this specific rod to add to my lineup because I was looking for something that is purely versatile. Though I enjoy using rods that are strictly purpose built for Euro nymphing, I find that there are a lot of days that I simply want to cast a fly line instead of a long leader. As a result, I often carry two rods, one to maximize my nymphing efforts through most of the day, and one in case of a hatch and I need a rod to easily cast a fly line. We get in depth for this review, and it’s a long one, but hopefully it gets you thinking about not only this rod, but some different approaches to being versatile with less equipment.
I would like to add that this review is not written after a weekend of fishing with a new rod. I’ve put a lot of fishing days on this stick while employing as many different techniques as possible, using a variety of different fly lines and leader systems to give the best overall picture. This rod has caught trout for me in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Colorado. Now, after an entire year of the Centric being my go-to trout rod for all techniques, I finally feel like I can write a fair and thorough review without jumping the gun or being over reactive about any of my thoughts. I feel like I can also make a solid case as to why a 10’ 4 wt should really be considered for a lot of anglers. If you want to hear a little about my thoughts on how a 10’ 4 wt fits into trout fishing, you can read the explanation below. If you want to cut straight to the chase, scroll down to the rod review.
Why A 10' 4wt Rod
So, what is it about a 10 ft 4 wt that makes it a viable option for a lot of anglers? The answer is the 10’ 4 wt strikes a wonderful balance between casting a traditional fly line and using modern nymphing techniques. As Euro nymphing continues to gain traction in the fly fishing world, I think 10’ 4 wts could replace the 9’ 5wt as the most versatile trout rod in many regions of the country where wade fishing is prevalent over drift boat fishing. The 9’ 5wt got the distinction of “best all around rod” before European nymphing became prevalent, and because tight line nymphing tactics seem to be here to stay, a 9’ 5wt may no longer be the most versatile rod as more and more anglers are looking to get into Euro nymphing. When compared to the purpose built Euro rods, a 10 ft 4 wt will have a few inherent drawbacks. It may not give you quite as much tippet protection as a two or three weight dedicated nymphing rod or allow you to cast the thinnest leaders with lighter flies with as much accuracy and control, but if you are willing to adapt a few things, it can still be a deadly tool. In addition to being serviceable tight line nymphing rods, a lot of 10’ 4 wts cast a traditional fly line very nicely compared to their 2 and 3 weight counterparts. I’ve casted a number of 10’ 3 wt nymphing rods with a regular fly line and leader setup and though they can do it, they sacrifice a lot of loop control and have a narrower window of optimum casting performance. They just aren’t that nice to cast a fly line with compared to a classic 8’6” 4 wt and 9’ 5 wt. A 10’ 4 wt is not going to be as sweet to cast as a shorter 4 or 5 wt, but it can handle a much wider range of casts compared to a Euro specific rod while still having loop control and better overall feel and performance. It is also worth adding that some manufacturers do make 10' 4 wts that are purpose built for Euro nymphing, while others are more oriented around traditional casting.
This post spawn brown ate a streamer in late December. Even though it was winter, I caught fish on nymphs, streamers and dries during this outing and was thankful to have such a versatile rod with me that day.
Overview of the Scott Centric 10' 4wt
If there is one thing I want to be clear about, this is NOT a Euro nymphing specific rod, even when compared to some other 10’ 4 weights on the market. This is a rod meant to cast a fly line using more traditional tactics and does so very well.There were numerous days on the water that I was able to fish dries, nymphs and small streamers all in the same outing with nothing more than a leader change or adjustment. That being said, it provides just enough tippet protection and casting accuracy with Euro rigs that I’m confident in my ability to effectively fish it Euro style in the vast majority of situations. If I thought I might be nymphing all day with no chance of a hatch, this rod wouldn’t be my first choice. This is the rod you pull out when you anticipate the need to fish a variety of techniques throughout the course of a day and want to carry just one rod.
Traditional Casting Performance
As I expected coming from Scott, the 10’ 4 wt Centric is simply an enjoyable fly rod to cast. Being a 10' rod, the optimum range for feel and accuracy is going to be a little further away compared to shorter rods. The extra length can also exaggerate some of your casting mistakes because it is quite easy to veer from your straight line path of your rod tip when making a cast. If you can get used to these differences, you will be rewarded with a rod that performs great and has a little more backbone than a typical 4 weight.
- Accuracy: This rod feels most accurate in the longer trout distances (40ft +). Putting on a half size heavy line will help with your accuracy and feel, but you may not get the delicacy you want with dry flies. At the typical 40ft mark, I can hit a paper plate sized target virtually every cast with different fly lines.
- Range: As is alluded in my comments about accuracy above, this rod has a sweet spot that is a little further away than your typical 4 wt rods. That being said, you can use the length to your advantage to improve your in close presentation. This trade-off is typical with any longer fly rod. A very skilled caster with a good double haul can probably send the whole line if they try. I got close, but really wouldn’t worry about casting a 4 wt much further than 60 ft or so, as the viable fishing situations that call for a cast that long are few and far between.
- Presentation Casts: When it comes to the fishier casts that you need to perform on the water with things like aerial mends, reach casts and some different roll casting scenarios, I was extremely impressed with the Centric. The amount of line you can move to the side with a reach cast at distance is fantastic, and the length made the timing and control of such casts easy to execute. It’s also no surprise that the length helped with roll casting. Anyone who does some single hand spey casting would probably enjoy messing with this rod.
- Overall Feel and Impressions: Other than feeling a little heavier in hand than I anticipated, I was very pleased with what I was able to do with this rod on the casting pond. It became apparent that the fly line selection will change what this rod does best, so keep that in mind. This rod has plenty of power, good feel and excels in its ability to control line at distance.
Fly Line Suggestions
Depending on what your average casting distance looks like and how you may be fishing, you might want to consider different fly lines to get the most out of this rod. Below I break down my thoughts on the lines I experimented with and how they best fit.
|SA Infinity Smooth: For close distance casting under 40 ft, this is my preferred line. It is a half size heavy with an extended taper that adds some versatility in terms of mending and turning over larger flies. I normally do not like to over-line rods, and that even holds true with other rods in the Centric series. However, I believe this rod performs much better in close with a 130 grain head (half size heavy) for the first 30 ft. I also find this line works best when fishing streamers and indicator rigs as it helps to turn over the added weight. The long belly helps make it not too aggressive when casting dries at distance. This line is ultimately my top pick, considering the point of a 10’ 4 wt in my eyes is versatility.|
|RIO Technical Trout Elite: If you need to make casts beyond 40 ft on a regular basis or simply prefer the rod to perform better at distance, I’d pair it with the Rio Technical Trout. This line has a longer head, and is 122 grains in the first 30 ft. I was able to really gain some control at distance with this line and would highly suggest it if you’re honing in on casting single dries to challenging risers. This line doesn’t provide a lot of feel in close but is still very fishable with lighter rigs. I felt like I sacrificed some versatility with this line, but for the right person in the right situation, I could see this line being the one.|
|RIO Gold Elite: This line does the best at striking a balance between the lines listed above and feels right at a wider range of casting distances. If I were just casting for the sake of it, this line feels best. Depending on how you may be fishing, I think making some trade-offs and going with a line like the Infinity will simply open up some techniques by making it easier to turn over larger rigs.|
Euro Nymphing Performance
This was the area I was most concerned with before I picked up the rod. Fast action fly rods, even if they are 10 ft, are not built for Euro nymphing, they are built to cast a fly line. Other 10 ft 4 wts are designed to be heavier duty Euro rods, but I don’t think that’s what Scott was going for here. This rod was clearly built to cast a fly line. Though that’s exactly what I wanted in this rod, I was also hoping that it was versatile enough to handle some Euro nymphing. Here are my key takeaways:
- If you are brand new to Euro nymphing this rod may be a little difficult to use, especially when using lighter flies and leaders. I do find if you’re casting heavier flies, this rod will be a little more user friendly.
- I was pleasantly surprised about how much tippet protection this rod gives. It’s not going to be the ultimate shock absorber like a Sage ESN 2 wt for example, but I haven’t had any problems handling larger wild browns in the 16-20 inch range on 5x and 6x tippet. With a little understanding of how to control fish, this rod’s length gives it just enough margin for error to do what you need once the fish is on. With heavier tippets, the rod is more than strong enough to put the wood to big fish in a strong current.
- Controlling the flies’ angle of entry into the water is my biggest problem with fast rods, as the blank does not load under it's own mass. As a result, I have trouble tuck casting in some scenarios, especially with lighter flies and leaders. On bigger water with heavier flies, I am pleased with the amount of control and accuracy I can achieve. Because of the drawbacks of controlling casts with lighter rigs, I required more adjustments in tippet length and fly weight which creates a less fluid experience than my typical tight line nymphing setups. Another way to account for this is to incorporate a lot of short and sharp hauls into the cast at different times to give the accuracy and control needed. Pinching the line to the cork and lobbing your Euro rig around is not an efficient way to use this rod in many situations, compared to what you can get away with using a typical 10' 3wt or 10' 2wt.
- The stiffness of this rod does sacrifice a little bit of tippet protection and casting finesse, but it offers a huge advantage with hook sets. You don’t need to move this rod very far or very hard to get good penetration with hooks. Even a heavier wire hook that you may not want to use on softer rods become a viable option with the increased stiffness.
Alex Kolivras landed this trophy brown with the 10' 4 Wt Centric on 5x tippet in less than a minute, proving that this rod can protect lighter gear despite its fast action.
Dry Fly Fishing
The range of dry fly sizes you can effectively fish with this rod is everything you’ll need, especially by East Coast standards. Once again, choosing the correct line for the job will be key here, in addition to adjusting leader length and size. I've fished dries with this rod in all 4 seasons including picky midge eaters on glassy winter pools in Pennsylvania, hatches on the Depuys Spring creeks in Montana, and summertime terrestrial fishing from small ants to medium sized hoppers.
- When midge fishing in slow and technical pieces of water that require long casts, this rod really shines. After messing with different leaders with varying results, I find this rod really delivers a George Harvey style dry fly leader very well. This leader is 13-14 ft and is designed to deliver slack into the tippet which creates a great drift. The ability to throw big reach casts is often the difference in getting an eat or not with more traditional leaders, something this rod excels at.
- When fishing some of the smallest water that I normally nymph with a 10 ft rod, I find the Centric to be a little overpowered for dries. However, on small waters that lend themselves to longer cast, I find this rod works well.
- On medium to large water this is a great dry-dropper rod. The ability to mend and hold line off the water, while having great casting control, makes this a great all-around rod for the technique. Shortening up the leader here will be key if using wind resistant flies.
This Snake River Cutthroat ate a size 18 dry fly after a few refusals. I utilized a long leader and a slack line cast to make him eat in this slow glassy spring creek.
I utilized two basic streamer fishing techniques with this rod and had success with both. First, I used a traditional floating line with moderately weighted streamers in the small to medium sizes. I also used a mono rig with anything from micro jig streamers to size 4-6 sculpins, at times, very heavily weighted.
- With a floating line using the SA Infinity taper, this rod performs above typical 4 weight expectations while using streamers. You will certainly be limited in the size and weight of the fly it will turn over, but for sculpin patterns like Slump Busters, Near Nuffs, and Baby Gongas, this rod is right at home. Shortening the leader will help with the heavier patterns. I enjoyed fishing streamers in medium to smaller water with this set up where getting very deep wasn’t crucial. This is ideal for places like Spring Creek in State College or the Cumberland Valley spring creeks
- When you want to get deep with streamers of all sizes outside of the very largest, this rod is killer for fishing a mono rig. The added stiffness and reach make this the ideal rod for tight line streamer tactics. Whether jigging leech patterns or bouncing a beefy sculpin head streamer, this rod is far better suited than typical euro rods. With a solid hookset, you can drive in larger hooks into fish as the rod isn't too soft like typical Euro rods.
This Pennsylvania brown trout was caught using a streamer on a mono rig with the Centric. The stiffness of this rod is a huge advantage to getting good hook penetration with larger hooks.
I indicator nymph far less than tight line techniques, but it is undeniable that indicators are the best technique for certain situations. I made it a point to get a handful of days fishing the Centric with indicators where I may have just Euro-nymphed otherwise. I found the rod to be comparable to fishing indicators with a 9' 5 wt, but with the advantages of added reach. I was able to easily open up loops and found the rod threw wool and small airlock indicators with relative ease. I think this rod is great for indicator nymphing in almost any wading situation besides the very deepest and heaviest runs on large rivers that may otherwise call for a 6 weight.
This rod is a good bit heavier than any of my Euro specific 10 ft rods. I think any reel in the 5-7 weight range that isn’t ultra light will be just fine on this rod. I use my Lamson Litespeed -7+, which is definitely a larger reel and feels a touch too heavy for traditional casting, but it balanced the rod well for tight line nymphing techniques. On the high end of reels, I think a Hatch Iconic 5+ or a Ross San Miguel 5-6 would be ideal reels to pair with this rod. If you want to save on your reel, heavier 5 and 6 weight reels in your budget will all work just fine for what you will be doing. I would avoid a Euro specific reel for this rod such as the Sage ESN Reel, as you will want it to be able to hold some backing and a standard 4 weight, or half size heavy fly line. I would also certainly avoid reels made for your typical 4 weight as most will be far too light.
What did I miss?
For as much as I did with this rod, there was no way to cover every applicable situation that might pop up.
First, I did not have the chance to fish this rod in stillwater. I think this rod has all the necessary tools to be a great still water rod, especially for dries. I’ll be bringing this one to my next high altitude lake trip when I venture out west as I have every reason to think it would be a great rod for that type of fishing.
I also did not have the opportunity to use this rod in a drift boat. It’s not often that I fish for Pennsylvania trout out of a drift boat but I can still see some applications for this rod. This rod may not have the pick-up power for really big water nymph rigs out of a boat but should fit right in as a light line drift boat rod for certain rivers.
If you’ve made it this far, I appreciate your time as I know this review was long winded and geared for a more narrow audience. With this being a premium price point rod, it is going to be for the serious angler looking for something versatile. The craftsmanship and finish of Scott rods is also something that can’t go unmentioned. These are 100% handmade and designed right here in the United State out of Montrose, Colorado. Please feel free to send me an email if you have any specific questions or feedback and whether you guys would appreciate the long form review for future products.
Thanks for reading!
TCO Boiling Springs and Relentless Fly Fishing