The legendary rod builder and president of Scott Fly Rods gives us some personal insight on the new Sector fly rod.

I’m a self-admitted Scott fanboy. Ever since I was handed an SAS #8 (a rod that I’m currently rebuilding) in 2001, I’ve had a love affair with their glass and carbon wands. I’ve been fishing a Meridian #8 and #10 for the better part of two years now and when the announcement came that it was being replaced by the Sector, I was all ears. For a brand that generally does not play to industry standards – ‘new model for the sake of a new model’ – I figured there must be something special coming for them to replace a rod that has gathered so many accolades.

I’ve not been able to get my paws on one pre IFTD but did manage to get to have a chat with Jim Bartschi. Jim has been with Scott since Harry Wilson’s days and the company was based out of a San Fran basement. And as the current president of Scott Fly Rods, Jim plays an integral role in the design of the rods produced and has kindly shed some light on the new model for us.

 

William Faulkner said, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” Does the same thinking apply in rod manufacturing?
I love Faulkner. What a great insight. That’s exactly right, although, we’ve been know to hang on to them just as long as we can.  There’s always an element of risk with innovation and evolution.

The Meridian is a lauded rod. Is it dead or merely on sabbatical? Is the Sector a direct replacement?
The Sector does replace Meridian. As noted above, we tend to hang on to rod series until we’re absolutely compelled to ‘kill our darlings’. It usually takes longer, but we were absolutely compelled to do it.

Do you see the Meridian developing a cult following or even making a comeback?
I do. There are still anglers out there who cherish their 8’8″ Scott Heliply saltwater rods from 20 years ago, and I can see many anglers staying in love with their Meridian rods for years to come. Rods are all about fit. When one fits you perfectly, it becomes the perfect rod. I think Meridian has been that rod for a lot of anglers.

What’s the story behind the name, Sector? It’s a name that might puzzle some people. Has it to do with the fact that a sector is the area between two radians and a curved line – a meridian is a curved line too – and that maybe the Sector is the cumulation of lessons learnt from past models? Or are you just keeping to a theme?
You guys are sharper than a razor! You are the first ones to suss out the reasoning behind the name Sector. It is in fact the area between two radii of a circle and a lot more.

Jim, deep in contemplation in the factory… (photo: American Angler)

Is there an expectation from the market, that you need to develop a new series every year or two?
Industry wide, absolutely. You can just about set your watch by some brands’ product cycles and accurately predict what series they will replace each year.

We’ve never marched to that drummer. We replace rod series when we have something better to offer. Sometimes that’s a short period, as in the case of Meridian, sometimes, it can be well over a decade.

What’s the biggest difference between the Meridian and the Sector?
We put a turbo in the Meridian! A good friend and Scott dealer who really knows the rods inside and out told me, “Meridians are the best saltwater rods ever made from 20 to 70 feet. Sectors are the best rods from 20 to 100 feet”. That simple statement really captures the essence of the difference. Sector still has that sweet feel at short ranges off the tip but when you need to really reach out, or pick up a bunch of line off the water for a quick recast, Sector just has more stability and power.

Sector rods also introduce Carbon Web. It’s a new materials addition to our multi-modulus and multi-directional fiber design approach. What’s really cool about Carbon Web is the multi-directional carbon fiber orientation. Up until now, all rods have been built using a zero degree (tip to butt) unidirectional base with some off axis fibers, say at 90 degrees or at 45 degrees. Carbon web has fiber in most all directions so we’re able to better tune out negative tendencies in rods like twisting off plane during a hard forward cast, and enhance positive traits like quicker recovery and dampening.

How fast – the website calls its action ‘fastest’ – is the action of the Sector and how does it compare to
a) the Meridian and
Recovery Speed actually. Just a bit faster. The speed and bend profile will feel familiar to anyone who has fished Meridian.

b) other brands’ current top models (Asquith, Exocett, H3 etc)?
I haven’t spent enough time with any of those rods to make a meaningful comparison. In general, we tend to design rods that are not the fastest by industry standards, say like a Sage Igniter, and Sector is no exception. It is a fast rod but still loads and has feel.

How does that ‘fastest’ action benefit a caster?
Again, recovery speed. The faster the rod unbends, the more efficiently it transfers energy into the line creating greater line speed.

Have you upgraded already high quality components or is the improvement purely in the blank?
Yes we have. Sector rods are outfit with the best components ever put on a fly rod. They feature nickel titanium ‘shape memory’ snake guides and strippers that are PVD coated. The new patent pending stripping guides are called CeRecoil. They are Recoil guides with Zirconia ceramic inserts so they will never corrode or bend out of shape, and have the lowest coefficient of friction to help shoot line.

The reel seats are milled from aluminum bar stock and have almost as many milling steps as a fine fly reel. They are self indexing and treated with mil-spec type 3 hard coat. Really every detail on the components have been scrutinized and optimized.

Why the unsanded blank?
The natural finish blank is the most pure expression of both design and workmanship.  Even with 9 micron finishing belts on a centerless wet sander, it’s impossible to precisely sand an even or known amount off the blank. In terms of workmanship, a natural finish blank hides nothing under a coat of paint. Every detail is visible to the rod builder and rod owner.

A criticism from some is that Scott aren’t as hardy as other top rods. Can the Sector be described as ‘tougher’ (more durable) rod than past models?
The numbers don’t bear that out, but I get it, nobody likes to break a rod especially in a remote location.

Sector rods have certainly proven tough. During extensive field testing over the past year, they’ve been fished for a great variety of species around the globe.

The 9’ #12 and the 8’4” #13 have been built specifically with GTs in mind. What does that mean? Can you run us through the thinking? Has there been field testing done or is it all theory?
The 8413 is the rod specifically built with GTs in mind.  This rod was optimized for very rapid fly delivery and toughness. It’s a 3 piece design to keep ferrules out of the finest diameter part of the rod and the highest load points of the rod, it’s 8′ 4″ to develop super high line speed and to act as a very efficient lifting lever, and it has some special features like a double length grip to be able to switch hands or rest a hand during the fight.

Our Pro Staffers have been fishing this rod all over the Pacific targeting GTs both on foot and from the boat over the past year. One is keen to set the GT fly record so he’s been pulling on some of the big boys in deeper water. The others have been catching the flats marauders. While this rod can be used for any large species, we really wanted to make sure it served GT anglers needs.

That fish… The new Sector #13 8’4 model has been designed with GT fishing in mind and we cannot wait to test it! (photo: F Davis)

The Sector comes in 2 piece, 3 piece and 4 piece configurations. What’s the reason for that? Is there an increasing demand for options?
Yes. The number of pieces is purely tied to application and user group.

 Do you find that 2 piece models of rods sell better in your domestic (US) market than the 4 piece.
The 4 piece rods outsell all other configurations in every market. Most two piece rods are sold to charter captains, anglers with their own boats and anglers who only use the rods locally.

Finish this sentence. The Scott Sector is…
Come on guys! I’m so excited about this rod series of course I’m going to sugar coat it. That’s a better question for everyone else.