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If you want to know what makes the Scott Meridian fly rod special, I can spell out all the science-y reasons. A good fly rod is light and strong and allows you to cast with just the right balance of power and finesse. In developing the Meridian's state-of-the-art composite materials, Scott used a new process that creates bonds between each graphite fiber that are 20 percent stronger than those found in traditional rods. They pioneered a damping system that keeps vibrations from sapping energy from your cast without adding excess materials that up weight and compromise feel. The rod's anodized aluminum surface is so hard, durable, and corrosion-resistant you might well hand the thing down to your grandkids' grandkids. At the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show, the industry's top trade event, the Meridian won both the best saltwater fly rod and best-of-show awards. Karl Andersen, buyer for the high-end Manhattan fly shop The Urban Angler, calls it "the biggest rod breakthrough in a decade."
But what good is technology if it doesn't allow you to do something amazing? To experience the awesome? To come away with a good braggy story? Last spring, I traveled to El Pescador Lodge on Ambergris Caye, in Belize, in an attempt to land my first permit. Among the most prized saltwater game species, Trachinotus falcatus are notoriously finicky eaters and bruising pound-for-pound fighters. To land one, you've got to make a cast of maybe 60 feet or more (any closer and he'll see you and take off), drop your fly within a foot of the fish's nose (any farther and he won't notice it), and then, if you're lucky enough to get a strike, wrestle your prey to the boat as he tries to beeline it for the horizon. A permit of five or six pounds might run 100 yards before you can even begin to reel him in, then, just when you've brought him to within a few feet of the boat, run 100 yards more. Half-hour tussles are not uncommon.
Armed with a 9-weight Meridian outfitted with a Hatch 7 Plus Finatic large-arbor reel (a fine piece of machinery in its own right), I found myself in the middle of a good-size school of permit within the first hour of my first day. She cast like a dream—an impossible mix of howitzer and surgical instrument. A guy can spend days trying to hook a permit without any luck, but after just 25 casts or so, I managed to put a shot on the money, and—chomp, hook set, fish on. The ensuing fight lasted 20 minutes or so, but really, the poor little fella never had a chance. If he was the irresistible force, the Meridian was the immovable object.
Oh right, one more thing: Between the time I began casting to the school in question and the time I hooked up, I thought I was fishing to an altogether different species called a bonefish. Although that is not an entirely unheard- of error, it is a mortifying one nevertheless. You know how they say it's not the hammer, it's the guy swinging it? That's usually true.
Scott Meridian Fly Rod $865
Hatch 7 Plus Finatic Reel $600