L.L. Bean continues to invest in their fly fishing product line. In 2011, the Streamlight Ultra gets an overhaul according to the company’s website losing some weight and gaining a new, improved taper. It’s available in 3 through 9 weight and lengths from 5 ft. 9 in. to 9 ft. For this test, I received the two-piece 8 ft. 6 in. 5 weight model which retails for $109.
Out of the box, the two-piece rod is impressive in both its size and build quality. Given the advancements in rod building technology, two-piece rods are becoming something of a rarity. At over four feet long, the unassembled Streamlight takes up its fair share of cargo space making it a little tough to transport. Construction and cosmetics surpass expectations for an entry-level rod.
The Streamlight Ultra uses a deep green blank, and alconite stripping guide and chromed snake guides. Guide wraps match the blank. The rod is very light weight for an 8 ft. 6 in. product, nearly a half-ounce lighter than the 7 ft. 9 in. 4 weight Double L rod reviewed earlier this summer. Build quality is quite good for a rod in this category
Action: Medium Fast
Line weight: 5
Length: 8 ft 6 in
Weight: 2.55 oz
Warranty: Backed by L.L. Bean’s 100% satisfaction guarantee
In keeping with the quality build, L.L. Bean uses a nicely turned cigar grip. It’s not graded, but is well finished and has no voids. The uplocking reel seat has a honey-colored wood insert, pretty rare for a rod in this price range where painted aluminum tends to dominate. It’s constructed using tip-over-butt ferrules.
The rod comes complete with a rod and reel tube.
With the Streamlight strung with a standard 5 weight line and reel, the rod felt balanced and able to handle a variety of casting situations. I fished it on the Upper Deschutes River near Sunriver, Oregon and found it more than capable to delivering mid-sized dry flies from one bank to the next. Casting was almost effortless and the medium fast blank was able to handle the moderate winds in the late Oregon afternoons. Catching was also a pleasure. The rod never felt too stiff and overpowering on the 8-12 rainbows and brook trout on the fast moving stream.
L.L. Bean once again impressed us with the Streamlight Ultra. It’s an inexpensive rod that punches above its weight delivering solid performance and value. I like the quality of the construction, the cosmetics, well done grip and medium-fast action. Both the two-piece and four-piece rods are built exactly the same, so my advice is spend the extra $40 or so and get the more portable four-piece version.