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In this review, we’ll be looking at Thomas and Thomas’ dedicated Euro nymphing rod, the Contact II. I can’t tell you how long I’ve wanted to test this rod and give you my thoughts on it, so here we go.
This specific rod is the 10ft 3wt version and was one of the prototype Contact IIs, and that’s why you’ll still see the rod’s details just saying Contact. I want to give a big shoutout to the guys at Upstream Fly Fishing in Cape Town for lending me this incredible rod.
If you ever find yourself in Cape Town and you’re looking for some top-quality gear, guided trips, or just want to pull into a decent fly shop, this is the place to go.
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Seeing that no one sent me this rod, I don’t think a disclaimer is necessary. However, if this is your first time ever reading one of our review articles, I think it’s only fair to mention that we review, film, and fish various brands’ rods. Even if the rods were sent to us, we are in no way forced or influenced to have specific opinions at all.
Where and How Was the Rod Tested?
Now, let’s look at how and where the rod was fished during my tests. Seeing that it’s a rod on the lighter side, I took it to our local trout streams close to Cape Town. These rivers are relatively small, especially during this time of year, and I target rainbow trout in the 5 to 17-inch range.
The trout feed in various levels of the water column during the day, so it’s important to have a setup that’s versatile enough to let you change tactics accordingly. In the early mornings, you’ll fish a dry dropper, during the hottest part of the day nymphs, and you’ll finish off with a dry-dropper combo at the end of the day.
I had two fly reels with me, my Shilton CR3 spooled with a Hotflies Riverspeed nymphing line and a Vision XLV Nymph reel spooled with the Vision Ultralight nymph line. During the day I swapped between these two to see what difference it makes and how the rod handles each.
To the end of both fly lines, I attached standard euro nymphing leaders and fished two fly combinations. Sometimes a dry and dropper and other times two nymphs.
Where Does the Thomas and Thomas Contact II Shine?
It goes without saying that a Thomas and Thomas at this price point is an absolutely beautiful and well-made rod. There are a ton of good things I can say about it, but according to me, the best thing about it is how well it seems to cover all fishing techniques and scenarios.
It throws single dry flies well, it nymphs well, and it’s sensitive yet powerful. Although it’s designed to be a dedicated Euro nymphing rod, I just think it does everything a small stream angler needs – if you have space to swing a 10ft rod around.
Where Does the Contact II Fall Short?
Now, let’s look at where I think the Contact II falls short. To me, the only reason why you’re not seeing this rod in more anglers’ hands is the price. At a price of $855 for the down-locking version, and $880 for the up-locking version, it’s not exactly what I’d call cheap.
However, if you’re in the market for a premium nymphing rod, the Contact II will cost you about $140 less than something like the Sage ESN HD. So in that sense, it’s actually very good value for money.
Now let’s dive into the rod build and accessories, to see what makes it tick.
The Contact II is shipped in a blue powder-coated aluminum tube with all of the rod’s details noted on the cap. This sturdy tube does a great job at keeping your investment safe while you’re traveling or storing the rod.
Inside the tube you’ll find a four-compartment sock made from a heavy yet soft cotton fabric.
Going over to the rod itself, let’s start here at the base of the butt section.
The fighting butt is made from a combination of Flor grade cork and rubberized cork. The rubberized cork is added to reinforce this high contact point in the front, making it more durable and adding an aesthetic accent.
On the down-locking version, I wouldn’t say the fighting butt is really there to keep the reel away from your body while fighting a fish, as it’s quite short. What it does well, though, is to give you a solid anchor point to prop the rod against your arm while high sticking.
As mentioned earlier, the Contact II is available in both down- and up-locking configurations, with the latter being slightly more expensive. The down-locking version is meant to help balance the rod slightly better while nymphing as it locates the weight as far back as possible.
The skeleton on both versions is made with black aluminum, although the prototype I was fishing has a gunsmoke-colored skeleton. The reel foot ring has the Thomas and Thomas logo laser engraved on it and is secured by a single locking ring that doesn’t have a bushing.
The Contact II has a fine reverse wells grip which is made from Flor grade cork. The rings used are thin, so the grip feels very solid and will definitely last a good number of years. The grip’s shape really hits the sweet spot and will be comfortable for people with small or large hands.
I think grips are very often overlooked, especially by cheaper brands, and the truth is that even with the most sensitive blank, if the grip is too chunky the rod will feel heavy and sloppy, especially when Euro nymphing.
The heart of the Contact II rod is the blank, built using five different types of carbon and fiberglass fibers. It’s pretty strange to see fiberglass being used in such a high-end Euro nymphing rod, but Thomas and Thomas have managed to keep the rod light and responsive.
I think that the inclusion of fiberglass has brought in a higher level of durability and backbone in the rod.
Line Guides and Other Fittings
Another place where you can see that the Contact II is a rod on a higher level is the line guides. All the guides, except the tip-top and first stripper guides, are single-foot recoil guides. These make for a lighter rod with better recovery while being very durable.
One of the other improvements on the Contact II over the original rod is the placement of the first stripper guide. On my prototype, this stripper guide is placed as the original, but the new factory rods have the stripper guide on the butt section of the rod.
This reduces line sag between your hand and this guide, making line and slack management much easier.
There’s also a black hook kept positioned right above the grip.
Now to the finish of this rod. Thomas and Thomas rods have a reputation for being well made and free from any flaws. The Contact II is no different. What I like about it is that it’s very understated. It doesn’t shout at you, trying to get your attention.
The blank is unsanded, so you can feel the texture of the outer layer of carbon coils. The line guides and hook keep are secured with brown thread wraps.
There are no dedicated alignment dots on each section, but the rod’s serial number is written on each section. These numbers are located in line with the line guides, and eventually, line up with the reel seat too, so these basically act as alignment dots.
The clear coat is applied incredibly neatly and there are absolutely no signs of any bubbles or discoloration. You can see that whoever did this knows what they’re doing.
My Personal Thoughts
So, let’s look at what my personal thoughts are on the Thomas and Thomas Contact II 10ft 3wt:
- The rod is very versatile in the sense that I felt it excelled at all the styles of small stream fishing I threw at it, whether single dries, dry-dropper, single nymph, small streamers, or Euro nymphing.
- It actually has a lot of power, so if you’re not comfortable tight line nymphing yet, it’ll do a great job chucking larger strike indicators like Thingamabobbers.
- If you prefer rods built in the States, the rod is built in the US.
- The rod comes with a lifetime warranty for the original owner against any defects in materials or craftsmanship. Please just make sure that you register the rod with Thomas and Thomas within 30 days of your purchase.
As mentioned earlier in the review, if you just look at the rod itself there’s absolutely nothing I could find flaw with the rod. Yes, it’s not cheap, and if you don’t have this kind of money there are other options out there, so technically it’s not a massive con. Also, if you’re watching this video and are seriously considering buying the Contact II, chances are you know what the financial implications are.
I think the biggest con for me is that I don’t have one in my personal arsenal.
Who Should Buy the Thomas and Thomas Contact II 10ft 3wt?
Who should consider buying the Thomas and Thomas Contact II 10ft 3wt? Well, firstly, let’s look at who should consider buying a 10ft 3wt rod. Although rod companies try to stick to rod weight conventions, one company’s 10ft 3wt might not really be comparable to another.
In my opinion, a 10ft 3wt is the new 9ft 5wt. A 9ft 5 wt is your bread-and-butter rod. You can chuck streamers or dries and fish rivers or stillwaters with it. Think of a 10ft 3wt in the same way.
A 10ft 3wt should be delicate and sensitive enough to fish small rivers yet have enough backbone to pull hard on bigger fish in bigger rivers. It really is a super versatile rod weight, especially when you’re mostly finding yourself fishing with tippets in the 4x to 6x range.
Now to the question about the Contact II. If you’re looking for something really special that you’re planning on fishing for many years to come, and obviously if you have the cash, go for it. It really will live up to your expectations.
If you feel that it’s just too much of a stretch for you, I’d say hold off and go for something slightly more affordable. There are excellent rods in the $300-500 range.
I hope that you found this review helpful and that I’ve given you a clear idea of what the Thomas and Thomas Contact II is all about. If you have any questions about the rod or suggestions on our reviews, please drop them in the comment section down below. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Until next time.
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