When Frontier Fly Fishing brought out a bunch of new rods from their in-house brand Horizon, we stuck our hands up to conduct some long-term reviews. There was definitely an element of nostalgia behind such a magnanimous display of selfless volunteerism. Many of us still have or have had Horizons. It’s been around a while and built a rep as a no-nonsense brand, designed in South Africa and made in Asia (along with most of the world’s rods and iPhones too). But beyond nostalgia, we wanted to find out if the three-part range – freshwater, saltwater and competition – lived up to Horizon’s reputation for affordability, durability and performance.
To properly test the rods, we asked our testers to choose from across the TFS (Tactical Freshwater Series), TSS (Tactical Saltwater Series) and the new addition, the Tactical Competition Nymph Series ranges. The rods tested range from 1-weight and 7-weight TFS rods, the 9-weight TSS and the 10-foot 6-weight competition rod. They were fished for six months and in that time our testers caught everything from redfin minnows and brown trout, to Clanwilliam, smallmouth and largemouth yellowfish, smallmouth bass, grunter, leervis, tigerfish and kob on them.
All we asked is that they fished them hard. Here’s what Leonard Flemming found with the TCS 6-weight.
Rod: Horizon TCS 10-foot 6-weight
Tester: Leonard Flemming
Test areas: Orange River, Berg River, Western Cape dams
Species caught: Smallmouth yellowfish, common carp
Why the 10-foot, 6-weight?
While fishing for carp in dam shallows with Garth Nieuwenhuis I noticed how much more effective his 10-foot rod was at ‘reaching’ tailing fish; I therefore specifically picked the new 10-foot Horizon Tactical Competition rod for this purpose. I also imagined that the extra reach would come in handy when fishing for smallmouth yellowfish on an upcoming trip to the Orange River.
Look & Feel
This 6-weight feels long and heavy when you first handle it, but it is an incredibly strong rod so the strength makes up for its weight. Although plain black, the matt finish looks stylish and should not flash in the sun, so you stand less chance of scaring fish off when sight fishing to fish that are feeding close to you.
This is an absolute machine of a rod. I was completely blown away with its strength when targeting carp and smallmouth yellowfish at close range. I was lucky enough to hook a 21 lb carp on one of the outings and the TCS 6-weight held the fish within an 8 metre radius around me, the doubled rod effectively preventing it from swimming into surrounding weeds. It is by far one of the strongest 6-weight rods that I’ve fished and hence very well suited for targeting our larger cyprinids and also pulling fish away from structure. The extra reach that this 10 foot rod gave me also made a notable difference while making short casts to fish feeding in shallow rapids or on dam flats. As also expected after the first glance, this matt finish rod did not flash in sunlight, an added bonus when hunting fish at close range. The only disadvantage that I experienced was that this longer rod did not fish well in windy conditions.
Final thoughts on Streeetch
I really do enjoy fishing the TCS 6-weight and it’s a keeper in my view (yes, I’m buying it). When heading off to a spot with suitable fishing for that length and weight, I typically reach out and rig it first, as I did with the old Horizon TRS range. Even though I believe in and enjoy supporting local brands, I feel that you are getting a high performance rod that is as capable as any of the top end rods when buying Horizon rods.
For the rest of the reviews (1-weight TFS, 7-weight TFS and 9-weight TSS), read the rest of the article in issue 20 of The Mission below: