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March 19, 2012 / flogginwater

Gear Review: Cabela’s LSi 9′ 6 weight

You may have guessed, if you’ve read more than a few lines here, that I’ve got a serious addiction to fishing – especially fly fishing. I’ve also got this silly burning itch to keep obtaining nifty new gear.

Last year for my birthday, I decided to really treat myself and get a brace of new rods – nicer than anything I’d ever purchased before. Up until that point, I’ve always limited myself, mostly because of my modest incomes, to not buying any single rod costing more than $100. There are some amazing fishing rods out there for less than $100 – some even going for half, or even a third of that price, but there’s always that little lust of having something that’s sitting on the greener grass of the pricier pastures, you dig?

And so as my birthday approached, I carefully considered what I wanted to get. I’d already dropped way more than I’d ever spent on a single setup when I purchased my Echo switch rod a month prior – but I figured I was on a roll in upgrading the collection. Being a light rod nut, my collection was more of 3 and 4 weight rods, with a single 6 weight (a fiberglass WW Grigg) in the quiver. Desiring to fish the famed Deschutes, but not wanting to undergun myself with it’s native, wild fish stocks – I needed and wanted something better suited to those conditions. I temporarily filled my light rod itch by buying the SR4106 – and I still had my Cabela’s Wind River 4 weight. I didn’t really *need* another light rod – what I *needed* was another general purpose rod – one that I could fish deer hair poppers and sliders for bass, or bigger streamers and heavy nymphs for trout with, and maybe a light carp rod. I needed a 6 weight.

I’d fallen in love with the Cabela’s LSi 8’6″ 3 weight about the same time I bought my Echo SR rod – but like I said – I needed a 3 weight like I needed a hole in my head. I was considering one of their 6 weights, and waffling between it, and the Echo Carbon or Ion 6 weights. I’d also been pondering the Wright & McGill S-Curve 9′ 6 weight, and the Fish Field 9′ 6 weight that River City Fly Shop sells as their store brand. All of these were good rods in the $150-$200 price range. Then Cabela’s put the LSi rods – normally about $189, on sale, with free shipping to boot. I ordered the 9′ 6 weight 4 piece rod for $125, and spent the extra coin I saved on a reel and line to go with it.

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The LSi rod series is Cabela’s replacement for their LST series. LSi means “Line Speed – Improved” whereas LST means “Line Speed Technology” or something like that. The rods are a nice brown blank, trimmed with gold hardware, and a brown woven graphite reel seat. The cork grips are fine grade, with composite cork trim rings front and back – which I dig. I normally don’t like gold or brass hardware on a fishing rod, but it does go with the LSi rods. My personal preference would’ve been nickel silver or brushed titanium, but I won’t nit pick.

All LSi rods feature alignment dots – which is nice when you’re putting together a 4 piece rod, the butt section of which doesn’t have a guide on it.

The LSi is definitely what you’d call a fast action – faster than I normally like – but the LSi rods I’ve cast don’t suffer from problems when casting at short ranges. The 3 weight that originally sold me on the line could cast just a leader, then the next cast shoot 45′ of line. The 6 weight will also cast in short, and fire out 50-60′ cast when needed.

My first outing with the LSi to the Deschutes River, I hooked (albiet briefly) a steelhead in some slack water. The rod gave me a good feel for the head shake or two the fish was on, before my 5X tippet snapped. The LSi performed very well that trip – which mostly consisted of chucking a two-fly indicator nymping rig. 2 flies, split shot, and a thingamabobber isn’t graceful to cast with any rod – but the LSi did it as good as any other rod I’ve done it with.

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I will say this about the LSi – being as fast as it is – it doesn’t really like lines that tightly adhere to the AFTMA standard for a 6 weight line. It really, really shines with the lines that are a half size heavier – like the Airflo Ridge, SA Mastery GPX, etc. The Cabela’s Prestige Plus #6 weight forward floater I bought with it just wouldn’t properly load the rod unless I had 40′ of line out. The Ridge line will load with much less line out there. Couple that with a furled leader (standard equipment for me) and you have a rig that will fish in close or far away.

The only fish landed on the Deschutes trip was a fat Whitefish that ran about 12 or 13 inches – and it put a nice bend in the LSi. I could feel the thrum of the fish’s tail in the current. I like a sensitive rod – and the LSi fills the bill in that department.

Later in the season, after the trout streams had closed, I still had the fishing bug. Being a panfish fanatic, and always up for trying new waters (or old waters that’ve been far too long ignored) I hit up some ponds down toward Salem to see what was home. These ponds contain a healthy mix of fish – stocked rainbow trout, largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and catfish. You never know what you’ll catch, unless you’re plunking rainbow powerbait.

I had a blast bringing in late season panfish with the LSi – the sensitivity offered by this rod made it fun to fish a 6-line for bluegill.

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The LSi is certainly one of the finest rods I’ve ever had the pleasure to fish – it ranks right up there with Lamiglas, Loomis, a Sage and Echo in terms of quality and castability. It’s only downside is that it’s not made here in the USA – it is built overseas, but then again, so are Echo rods, and some St. Croix rods, and TFO’s line up. You’d be hard pressed to find a rod under $250 that’s made in the US anymore. And Made in Korea or Made in China doesn’t have to equal complete shit, and it certainly doesn’t where the LSi line up of rods comes into play. Cabela’s has themselves a group of winners with their LSi line of rods.

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