Monday 11 April 2022

Maxcatch Skytouch Spey 15'


My experiment with Maxcatch was influenced by the needs of a week on the Spey (the next post).  For two reasons there was no point purchasing another rod in the 13 - 14 foot range: first I already have several; and second, it wouldn't add capability that was relevant to the Spey.  So the logical response was to buy their Skytouch 15 foot double hander and balance it with their Classic reel.  If I liked the combination it would be a bonus; if I didn't I wouldn't have lost anything.

I ordered the Skytouch 15 footer with the matching 55' head integrated Spey line and a spool of backing, selected the express delivery option, and the package arrived within 10 days with some added extras thrown in.

The rod comes in a solid fabric-covered polythene tube with an internal bag, an external carrying strap and the usual zip top.  The bag is light and not especially well made: the trimmings started to come away after the second opening.

The overall impression is of a respectable level of finish relative to its £100 price.  Mostly it's about on a par with the Shakespeare with some exceptions that I describe below.  The bottom 12" of the blank is gloss finished, with the remainder matt.

There are strippers on the lower section and standard snakes above.  The quality of the whippings is good and the epoxy finish smooth, sound and well finished at the edges.

The basic snake rings looked out of proportion to the rod - visually too small and I was concerned by whether this would impact line flow when casting.

Similarly I considered the reel seat too small and light for a 15 foot rod.  It just didn't feel substantial.  You don't expect an ALPS at this price point, but it is reasonable to anticipate fittings that are consistent with the task and the size of reel employed.  The fittings are coated rather than anodised, which is a poor design choice: in the photograph you will observe the visible wear on the thread after just four cycles of fitting and removing a reel.  The seats did, however, keep the reel secure during the casting test.

Skytouch + Classic
Balance test

The Skytouch isn't light, tipping the scales at over 12oz/350gm, compared to a more normal 9oz/250gm at this length.  When you add 16oz/450gm of Classic reel the combination is close to 2lbs/900gm.  For reference that figure is more than double that of my Vision XO with a Danielsson reel, and you really do feel the difference.

But even with the hefty Classic attached, you will observe that the balance point is 2"/5cm above the cork.  The consequences of that would become very apparent on the casting test, but I was not prepared to add a further 1lb/440gm to an already substantial load to bring the balance point down to my hand position.

I took the opportunity of my pre-season casting coaching session on the Lord's Pool of the Ure with Brian Towers of Yorkshire Fly Casting to try the rod on water and get a second opinion.  Indeed, I asked him to try it first.  His first reaction was to the large overall weight and severe tip-heaviness.  Brian is a professional casting instructor who also does rod tests for Trout and Salmon, but he found the Skytouch a real struggle.  He just couldn't get it to respond, although he wasn't certain how much the line contributed to the challenge.  After 10 minutes he was delighted to hand it back to me.  After his departure - I din't want him to see me struggling and undoing all the good gained in the previous 90 minutes - I steeled myself for the attempt.  In the event I gave up after 20 minutes, while making the following very personal observations:

  • The combination of heavy overall weight and severe tip preponderance makes the Skytouch extremely hard work.  I could not fish this rod for more than 20-30 minutes at a stretch, whereas despite my age I can fish my own rods for hours at a stretch (or 19 hours in a day in Norway).  I was physically tired at the end of this test, in a way that I have never been with any rod in the past 20 years since parting with those I inherited from my father and grandfather.
  • I found it unresponsive in both back and forward cast.  There was something wrong at the tip, and the four sections weren't coherent and progressive.
  • There was no hand 'feel' whatsoever.  As a result I had to think through and watch every part of the cast.
  • Even when accustomed to the rod, my best casts were much shorter and less elegant than my efforts earlier in the afternoon with the 12' 8" XO.
I'm well aware that double handed rods are a deeply subjective area.  One angler's delight is another's poison: there is no universal objective scale of 'goodness'.  So this report is no more than my personal opinion.  There may be thousands of anglers around the world who love this rod and its combination with the Classic reel and 55' Spey line.  I am not one of them, and nor is Brian, whose experienced judgement speaks for itself.

I could not in all conscience sell this rod.  Accordingly, I gave it away with a health warning.  It never got to the Spey.

1 comment:

  1. A very relevant article for me - I need to update my longer rods, but nowadays only fish larger rivers infrequently.

    Looks like a Shakespeare oracle or secondhand rod in good condition on the basis of this test.