In this in-depth review, we’ll look at the Thomas & Thomas Zone 10wt. I’ve spent the last week with it and during my many years as a professional saltwater fly fishing guide, I have guided countless guests onto bonefish, triggerfish, and trevally using this rod.
Table of Contents
- Fly Rod Reviews
- Why Trust My Thomas & Thomas Zone 10wt Review?
- Watch The Video
- What Makes a Good 10wt?
- Where the 10wt Thomas & Thomas Zone Shines
- Where the 10wt Thomas & Thomas Zone Falls Short
- What’s in The Box?
- Thomas & Thomas Zone Features and Specs
- Casting the 10wt Thomas & Thomas Zone
- My Thoughts
We’ll look at what makes it an excellent 10wt rod, the strong and weak points of the Zone, as well as the physical specifications.
Lastly, we discuss who the rod is intended for and what applications suit it best. If you’re interested in ordering this rod, you can Click Here to order it on Amazon and have it at your door in a day or two, or you can click any of the buttons or links in this post.
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Why Trust My Thomas & Thomas Zone 10wt Review?
It’s worth noting first that while there are affiliate links in this blog post, as a writer for Into Fly Fishing I don’t stand to earn anything from them, and at the time of doing this review, neither myself nor this Into Fly Fishing are sponsored by or associated with Thomas & Thomas in any way.
I also haven’t been asked to write positively about this rod, so I have no reason to write anything other than a totally unbiased review.
I was fortunate enough to guide in one of the best saltwater fly-fishing destinations in the world, Alphonse Island in Seychelles. Here we fished both Alphonse and the infamous St. Francois atolls.
A variety of fish species swim around in these waters, most of which can be caught on a fly. These fish include bonefish, permit, triggerfish, various trevally species, milkfish, etc.
The lodge has a full-on fly shop that offers guests the option to rent complete fly-fishing setups. The Thomas & Thomas Zone was the primary rental rod in the 8 – 10wt range. I guided many guests onto amazing triggerfish, bonefish, and trevally species using this rod. I’ve also spent many hours fishing the rod myself.
Watch The Video
What Makes a Good 10wt?
Just like any saltwater fly rod, a good 10wt must satisfy particular needs. It does not only need to cast well, but also needs to have good fighting capabilities, protect relatively light tippet, and be corrosion resistant. Let’s delve a little deeper into what makes an excellent 10wt fly rod.
Thomas & Thomas Zone Available Weights:
– 9′ 10wt T&T Zone (Review Model)
– 9′ 9wt T&T Zone
– 9′ 8wt T&T Zone
– 9′ 7wt T&T Zone
– 9′ 6wt T&T Zone
– 9′ 5wt T&T Zone
– 10′ 4wt T&T Zone
– 8′ 3wt T&T Zone
Except for a couple of particular freshwater applications, a 10wt is intended to be used in the salty stuff. The wind is always present in saltwater scenarios, and very often, the angler sight fishes to quarry, which makes quick and accurate casts a necessity.
A fast-action fly rod performs best in saltwater. It enables the angler to reduce loop size and generate high line speed. This cast will allow you to deal with wind. It will also let you get the fly to the intended target quicker, resulting in more fish caught.
A good 10wt will allow you to present size 4 Alphlexo Crabs delicately to weary permit. On the other side of the scale, it can send a size 4/0 baitfish imitation with one false cast to incoming bluefin trevally.
It is an incredibly versatile rod that will enable the angler to target many different fish species.
I think the best fish to use as an example of a 10wt’s fighting ability is a milkfish. These fish fight incredibly hard. The fish’s endurance is unfathomable and only matched by giant tarpon. Milkfish attain weight well over 60-pounds and mainly feed on plankton and algae.
A 9wt rod can deliver the size two algae imitating fly perfectly to these fish. However, the angler runs into a problem when a large specimen is hooked. Yes, the rod can protect to 25lb fluorocarbon tippet used, but it does not have the backbone to pull a big fish up when it sits deep during the fight.
An 11wt has the pulling power but will not protect the light tippet used. A good 10wt fly rod has the perfect blend between fighting power and tippet protection.
As mentioned earlier, a 10wt fly rod, in my opinion, is meant to be used in saltwater. The rod builders must select components that are corrosion resistant. These components do not negate the fact that you need to clean your equipment every day after use.
However, they will ensure that your rod lasts for many years to come.
After Sales Service
I always recommend fellow anglers to buy a rod from a manufacturer with a reputable after-sales service. No matter how well the rod is built or how often you clean your equipment, things happen. It is essential to know that the rod you’ve bought can be repaired quickly and without much hassle.
Where the 10wt Thomas & Thomas Zone Shines
So, where does the 10wt Zone shine? Let’s have a look at what it does well.
The rod is a joy to fish with under 60 feet, aka reel saltwater fishing distance. It is very versatile in terms of the species you can target with it, which include milkfish, trevally, permit, and triggerfish.
The Zone is suitable for both moderate and experienced anglers. It does make a difference to a moderate caster’s distance and accuracy. Experienced anglers will get even more out of the rod.
The Zone performs well when fighting fish. I’ve always been amazed at the amount of pressure you can apply on big milkfish while protecting 25lb tippet close to the boat.
Where the 10wt Thomas & Thomas Zone Falls Short
In my opinion, the Zone only has two shortcomings, namely:
The first is that its swing weight is more than premium rods. But this is to be expected at nearly half the price.
If you have to consistently deliver very accurate casts at 80ft and over, the Zone might not be the best option.
What’s in The Box?
Thomas & Thomas ship the Zone with the following:
The sock is made from a tan/sand-colored fabric with black trim and laces. A T&T tag is positioned where you slide in the sections.
The rod sock is subdivided into four appropriately sized sections to accommodate each rod piece. The sock does not have a rod identification tag.
The natural aluminum rod tube has a square Thomas & Thomas Zone decal on the side. The aluminum cap screws into this tube and has an O-ring to make it waterproof. The cap has the rod information on it, which says “910-4 Zone”.
Warranty Registration Card
A warranty registration card is included with the rod. The rod model (Zone 910-4) and the serial number has been prefilled. You can mail the completed card to Thomas and Thomas or send a photo of the card to their email address. Alternatively, register the rod on their website.
Thomas & Thomas Zone Features and Specs
Let’s have a look at the rod itself:
The 10wt Zone has a substantial fighting butt that is long enough to keep a spinning reel away from any snags. It is made from a combination of natural and reinforced cork. The latter makes the end of the butt durable and will last many years to come.
The uplocking reel seat skeleton is made from anodized aluminum. It features two locking screws and a reel securing ring laser engraved with the Thomas & Thomas logo. The blue composite insert matches the rod’s blank color well. What material it is, I cannot tell you as T&T describes it as “blue fiber reel seat hand-rolled at T&T.”
A saltwater fly rod’s reel seat is one of the most vulnerable to corrosion. During the time I spent guiding in Seychelles, we experienced no problems with the reel seats of the Zones we rented out.
The Zone comes with a full-wells shaped grip made from a combination of natural and reinforced cork. The reinforced material is positioned on the front portion of the grip, where the angler’s thumb rests. This area on the grip usually takes the most beating. The reinforced cork gives a solid grip and lasts a lifetime.
When purchased new, the grip comes wrapped in plastic and has a decorative Thomas & Thomas decal wrapped around it.
The two stripper guides (the first and largest guides on the rod) have a titanium frame with Zirconium inserts. The rest of the snake guides are Snake Brand E-coating Universal guides.
These stainless-steel guides have a concave radius below its feet, allowing it to self-align and conform well to the blank.
Both the line and stripper guides are well selected for saltwater use, and if looked after properly, will serve you well for years to come.
A thin clear coat has been applied over the natural carbon fiber. The rod blank’s finish is similar to that of the premium Scott rods. Blue thread wraps are used on the line guides, rubber winding check, and ferrules.
Silver decorative accent wraps are used on the butt section. The serial number is handwritten on each rod section and is used to align the rod sections.
If I have to look for one thing that I don’t necessarily love on the rod, it would be the Zone icon above the grip. I know this is nitpicking, and I must mention this is a personal preference and will not influence my choice if I was looking to buy the Zone.
The Zone has incredible build quality for the price. It does justice to Thomas and Thomas, and not for once did I feel that some items could have been put together better. The reel seat and cork grip perform well. The guides and hardware are corrosion resistant and selected correctly.
The clear coat is perfect with no signs of bubbles or uneven application. Yes, if you put it right next to the top of the range Exocett, you’ll pick up some differences, but that is to be expected.
The 10wt Zone is a fast action rod. This action is perfectly suited to the intended application, which is fishing flats from a skiff or while wading. The rod action allows you to form tight loops and punch in power when needed. This makes it easy to deal with wind at actual fishing distances.
As part of my review, I had a friend cast the Zone to see what his reactions were. He is a moderate caster but is used to a much slower action rod. I was curious to see how he would respond to the rod action.
After his first two casts, he said: “Wow, it’s super-fast!” Now, I wouldn’t rate the Zone as Ultra-fast; it’s nowhere near a Salt HD or Asquith. But coming from a slow rod, this was his experience. After about 10 minutes with the rod, he delivered much tighter loops and gained at least 15 feet on his cast.
The Zone uses the same StratoTherm resin technology as the top of the line Avantt and Exocett models. Comparing the 10wt Zone to the Exocett, it is slightly heavier, but in my experience, it is more durable, and I prefer the action.
- Physical Rod Weight (10wt): T&T does not disclose the rod weight; however, it measured 4.9oz on my kitchen scale.
- Other rod weights available in the model range: 11 models, from a medium action 3wt to the 10wt.
A suitable 10wt reel and line balanced the rod well. It is a rod that you can spend the entire day casting at typical fishing distances without breaking your arm off.
Thomas & Thomas warrants all their rods against breaking due to defects in material or poor workmanship. This warranty is only available to the original owner of the rod and must be registered within 30 days after purchase.
If you have a secondhand rod, or you broke the rod by stepping on it in the skiff (like myself), T&T will repair the broken section for a fee.
I always recommend anglers to buy from a reputable brand that has a long history of good after-sales service. Let me assure you; you can buy a Thomas & Thomas with confidence.
Casting the 10wt Thomas & Thomas Zone
I tested the 10wt using a cold-water weight forward floating line and a 9ft straight 30lb monofilament leader. The fly is a size 1/0 popper with the bend of the hook cut off with pliers.
For the first test, I took it to the beach to test it on the water and the beach. I asked one of my friends to join me to see how it will suit his casting stroke and what distance and accuracy he could get from it.
Finally, I took it to a field to spend more time with it, specifically focusing on accuracy in a more controlled environment.
It must be noted that before this review, I had extensive experience with the Zone range. The 8, 9, and 10wts were used as rentals on Alphonse Island. I used the rod myself and guided anglers, with a wide range of casting ability, on the flats.
At 30ft, about 21ft of the fly line is out of the rod tip. In most flats fishing scenarios, this is considered as close range. Although the rod doesn’t load properly at this distance, it is very accurate. Even a beginner or moderate caster can present the fly exactly where it needs to be with consistency.
With around 31 feet of fly line out of the rod tip, the rod feels very lively. It is easy to carry this amount of line in the air. This distance was my favorite for the rig combination I used. Once again, it was accurate and, if the loops were nice and tight, it achieved this distance with great ease.
Accurate 60ft casts are what catches you the most saltwater fish. I was able to pick the line up from 20ft and deliver the fly to 60ft with one false cast. The rod responds very well to a double haul, and I recommend any saltwater angler to learn this technique.
At this distance, you can feel that the rod is not the lightest quiver out there. However, I like how solid it feels in hand.
An accurate 80ft cast is hard with even the most expensive rods. Yes, they’ll get you the distance, but can you repeatedly hit a 5-inch by 5-inch target. Well, I can’t.
At this distance, I felt that the Zone lacked slightly. It does have the power, but I couldn’t make the cast accurately. It must be noted that accuracy and castability at this distance much depend on the line you’re using. So perhaps a fly line with a longer head would have performed better.
So, what are my thoughts on the Thomas & Thomas Zone? Let’s have a look at the pros and cons first.
- Great value for money as you’re getting a hand-built rod made in the USA for just over $550
- Saltwater specific components are corrosion resistant
- Great casting rod at close to medium fishing distances
- Not the best rod for distance casting
The 10wt Thomas & Thomas Zone is a proper stick. It easily holds up with the best in most fishing scenarios. I recommend the 10wt to the intermediate angler looking for a good permit and triggerfish rod. It will suite experienced anglers well, both as a primary rod or a dependable backup.
I hope that you found this article helpful and that it showed you that the Zone should be on your wish list. Please share this article with your fellow anglers.
Until next time.