CTS Affinity X Review - CTS Blanks for Custom Fly Rods

March 27, 2024
CTS Affinity X Review - CTS Blanks for Custom Fly Rods
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CTS Affinity X Review - Beautiful Blanks for Custom Fly Rods

Ok guys, today I have something different from my usual gear reviews. Custom fly rods made by a friend of our shop, Dave at Redband Fly Rods in Oregon. Highly recommend his work, he's top notch. He doesn't pay me to say that, either. In fact I actually pay him because I ordered a bunch of custom rods from him. Go check out what he's got in stock and also remember he can build you almost anything you want at what I would consider a very reasonable price. Keep in mind these CTS rod blanks cost several hundred dollars already, plus he has to buy cork grips, guides, reel seat, thread, etc. and still make a couple bucks somewhere in there. 


CTS blanks are not cheap, but I'd say they are the best I have tested so far. Specifically I chose their "best" or at least their fastest taper, the "Affinity X" which is on par with any of the top end fly rods I usually test. I will comment more on performance later but the main reason to buy a custom rod is how gorgeous they are. Don't get upset, performance people, but looks are what I care about more once a rod gets to a certain level. I'm not saying these rods aren't high-performance, I am just not worried as much about that single aspect here. I have the best rods already, don't need more performance I just want more fun. And even the best fly rods, I hate to say it, are pretty much all uglier than any of these CTS custom builds from Redband. I'm sorry guys but the dull, lifeless colors of top-end rods are a real drag. So as you can see, I spared no expense to fix that: 

*Notice those stripping guides? Do they look familiar? They will if you own a Sage SALT R8... The new top-of-the-line Fuji K titanium and ceramic guides. Very nice.


Obviously I have more exotic taste than the average customer so I had to go with Mamba Green metallic, Marlin blue metallic, and my "subtle" build which is Tanzanite blue metallic. I love these colors. I also have a few more cool ones in other colors on the way which I will show off eventually. The bottom line is CTS has a huge color selection and if you want something subtle they have some very nice Olive and Brown colors to choose from, as well as a classic black. Here's another of Redband's custom builds (this one isn't mine):

I'm going to tell you now: CTS knows what they are doing in making blanks. You may have heard of Epic rods or Maven rods, both are from CTS blanks. They make a few different options but again I am mainly focused on the Affinity X series, and I now own a few different rods in 7wt, 8wt, and 9wt (all 9'0" 4-piece). So this is very much a fair comparison to all my other rods and anything in the larger freshwater to lighter saltwater categories from Sage, Scott, Winston, T&T, etc. 

7wt: Lighter than I expected. If you own or have tried a few different 7wt rods, they really do vary quite a bit in performance and feel. This one is great but I wouldn't make it a bass rod. For bonefish, this will be absolutely incredible. 

8wt: All-around weight, and the one I am most familiar with from all rod companies. As I like to joke, I am pretty sure I own every great 8wt currently on the market, so of course I had to get this one too. 

9wt: Very nice, one of the lighter 9wt rods I have used, but plenty of performance as long as you do not over-line it. Not going to have as much power as some saltwater rods, but way more finesse. If you are a 9wt Bonefish guy, you are going to absolutely love this for windy bonefish conditions where you still want to be able to feel the fish on there (unlike some super stiff 9wt rods which feel more like a 10wt). 


Summary: Just do it. These rods are so nice, you can have any color you want, and unless you really need a "bruiser" of a stiff saltwater rod, the performance of these rods with proper lines is right there with the best. Talk to Dave at Redband Fly Rods for more info, he's great and does very high quality work.


*As always, I don't read the comments on here since it's mostly spam so if you want to get in touch just email or call.

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