Thomas & Thomas Sextant Review - The Most Enjoyable Saltwater Fly Rod

January 31, 2024
Thomas & Thomas Sextant Review - The Most Enjoyable Saltwater Fly Rod
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Thomas & Thomas Sextant Review - The Most Enjoyable Saltwater Fly Rod

The T&T Sextant is such a fun, user-friendly, manageable rod series with plenty of power as well. Looks are superb, easily the best-looking of any saltwater fly rod with the gorgeous matte navy blue blank and aqua highlights. Winston is very close though in that regard but it's really those two brands making the most beautiful saltwater rods (I deduct one point from Winston on looks for always ignoring me when I ask them every year to please make their saltwater rods in blue instead of Winston green). Don't get me wrong, I love my other fly rods. The Scott Sector is still going to beat this rod in outright performance, in the hands of an advanced caster. But what does that really mean? 

This T&T and the Sage Salt R8 rods are probably the most "user-friendly" for the widest range of potential buyers.

As I always explain to my customers wanting "The Best" saltwater fly rod... I want to find the rod that is best for you, not just "The Best" - which doesn't exist anyway. If a rod doesn't suit you or you don't cast it well, it doesn't really matter what anyone thinks of it. Almost everyone can pick up a Sextant and start to do well with very little practice, and that is a big deal to me. I know at least 80% of my customers are beginners, at least in saltwater, at most intermediate in terms of casting. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. 

I need to find people a rod that will work well for them when they have had little saltwater experience, the wind is blowing, they are sweating to death while bouncing around on a little boat and getting yelled at by the guide in Spanish, trying to understand and still make a half-decent cast to a rapidly departing group of fish. That's a funny but very common scenario and if you haven't been there yet, you will be soon enough.

This and the Sage Salt R8 rods are probably the most "user-friendly" for the widest range of potential buyers. I think some people have it in their heads (probably from reading reviews far inferior to this one, haha) that there can be only one perfect fly rod for saltwater, or that the one they have already found in their "research" - which rarely includes casting all these rods - is the one and only answer. As I try to drill into everyone's heads: "What is your main target fish species? This dictates the flies and therefore the fly lines you will need to use, and from that combined with your individual skill level we can determine which fly rod is actually best for your needs." My job is understanding what people want versus what would actually serve them best. If I only cared about sales I would simply agree with everyone and let them buy whatever it is, but that's not how I operate. I have made plenty of people angry when I didn't agree with their "research" or opinions but as I like to joke, I won't let anyone buy the wrong thing. 

This is a tremendously enjoyable rod, both to cast and to stare at.

This is a tremendously enjoyable rod, both to cast and to stare at. Everything but the metal bits is made by hand, step by step, by master craftsmen in New England. And yet, somehow, this rod is LESS money than the competition. That doesn't even make sense. It should be more, but the very good people at Thomas & Thomas have elected to keep the pricing the same for 2024, which was really a great move in my opinion. With several new saltwater rods from top brands coming out in the last few months (and one more very big one just about to drop as of the time I am writing this post... shhh) the field of competition has never been tougher. But on the other hand, it's never been better for anyone in the market for a saltwater rod, because WOW there are some great options.

It may surprise the reader to learn that even though I sell slightly more Sage Salt R8 rods, and Scott Sectors, the T&T remains in my inventory always, and in good supply. Why? Because people love them. If I were to do a "people's choice" or customer satisfaction survey I am willing to bet everyone with a T&T would give it a 10/10 for enjoyment. Most beginner or intermediate customers who buy a Scott or a Sage or anything else probably would have an easier time with this rod, in reality. I am not a beginner and I also have an easier time, so I figure that's a good indication as well. And again, not to brag but for those who aren't familiar with my reviews already, I do happen to own every single one of the best saltwater fly rods known to man. All of them. This rod performs very well against some serious competition, and it looks darn good while doing it. 



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Model-by-Model Notes and Line Recommendations: (*note this section is not finished yet and partially copied from another review for my reference as a starting point and to put the same fly lines I always test saltwater rods with)

6wt - Why are you using this rod size in saltwater? Are you trying to catch some bait? This is nice if you want a crossover freshwater/streamer and ultralight saltwater option. Honestly not many people buy this rod for saltwater purposes.

7wt - Go with SA Bonefish / Bonefish PLUS, RIO Elite Bonefish or Premier Redfish line, all are bestsellers and work great, just depending which fish you are after. 

8wt - I always test a TON of fly lines with any 8 weight and the T&T handled them all very well:

SA Bonefish Lightest line tested, true-to-weight at 210gr and performed very nicely. 

*New: SA Bonefish PLUS! - Basically a perfect line for this rod. You can check out my full review of the new fly line here.

RIO Elite Bonefish The most popular Bonefish fly line we sell - No surprise this was a top performer. Typically this is what we include in Bonefish rod & reel combo outfits.

SA Infinity Salt - Another excellent line on most saltwater rods. This line is a half size heavy but has a fairly long head length and can carry line at distance very well. Pretty close to Flats Pro in terms of the idea behind it, a heavier but much longer head than Redfish, Grand Slam, or QuickShooter types of saltwater lines, which allows much more control at distance and really continues to load the rod well even with a lot of line out. 

RIO Elite Flats Pro Similar performance to SA Infinity (see above) - Heaviest flats line option with more weight and longer head than other "normal" saltwater lines. I prefer something a little lighter than this but it depends on the flies you want to throw.

RIO Premier Redfish The newest version, it's a Redfish line so not a long head; works great on pretty much every rod I've tried it with. Redfish fans rejoice, this is an easy choice. SA Redfish is also a good one, I just didn't cast it with this specific rod.

Airflo Flats Tactical Taper This is a great line, performs well on almost every rod I have tested it on. You can go up to the Universal Taper (next one on this list) for heavier flies or more windy conditions.

Airflo Flats Universal Taper A very nice all-around saltwater line that not a lot of people know about. Great with the T&T and everything else I have used it with.

RIO Warmwater Predator - A new jungle line for 2023, the heaviest line tested by far, nearly two line sizes heavy. Probably not what most people will be using, but certainly an option. Consider sizing this down (put a 7wt line on your 8wt) if you can. This is mainly just a line for peacock bass and golden dorado but you can certainly also use it in saltwater.

9wt - The Permit Rod:

RIO Elite Bonefish The most popular Bonefish fly line we sell - worked great but I liked Rio Permit line just a little better personally. It's only a 10 grain difference between the two though.

RIO Elite Permit - Pretty much the most likely fly line to be matched with the 9wt and performs flawlessly but we will also test other lines on it soon.

RIO Premier Redfish The new version, it's a Redfish line so not a long head. This is a great line though for sure.

SA Grand Slam - Naturally this is going to be one of the most popular choices. Short head, loads the rod easily, quick casts without a lot of false casting.

RIO Warmwater Predator - Brand new line for 2023, the heaviest line tested by far, approximately two line sizes heavy. Not bad and if you need this line, you need it but otherwise stick with Permit or Flats Pro lines.

*I also cast an 11wt Tarpon line on this 9wt and it handled it with zero issues. So your typical Outbound Short lines will work fine (they are two sizes heavy).


10wt: Great all-around saltwater size for many different fish species, most likely the main targets will be Permit and medium-sized Tarpon.

RIO Elite Permit 10wt - Great choice for Permit, of course. This one or RIO Tarpon, or Flats Pro are the most likely fly lines to be matched with the 10wt.

RIO Elite Flats Pro Heaviest typical flats line option with a bit more weight and longer head than most other saltwater lines - The SALT R8 loved it!

RIO Premier Tarpon Clear Tip (Newest version for 2023) - New but a familiar taper for me since it is based on Rio Elite Tarpon. Works perfectly and has a clear floating tip which can be nice to have for Permit or Tarpon.

RIO Predator series Just tested this real quick but it casts a mile. Make sure you have enough line outside the tip or it won't load rods properly at all (not just the R8 but in general for this type of line). I will spend more time with these very heavy lines later on but just know this worked very well in the 5 minutes I was casting it.


11wt: The go-to Tarpon rod, especially here in Florida.

RIO Premier Tarpon Clear Tip (Newest version for 2023) - Hard to tell if this new line is just insanely good or the rod is, or both. Very nice. As a bonus, this new line has a clear floating tip which RIO says they have spent years perfecting. Super nice and performed incredibly well.

RIO Elite Tarpon This has always been the best-selling choice for the majority of my Tarpon customers. The brand new Premier Tarpon Clear Tip I just mentioned above is pretty nice so far and seems to have a similar taper, so both are great options here.

SA Amplitude Textured Infinity Salt - This is a nice line but not nearly as popular in 11wt as Tarpon lines are, in general.

RIO Elite Flats Pro - Always a popular choice. No major reason to get this over the Rio Tarpon line though, but you can if you want. Longer head, different taper design. I like the unique versions of this line such as the clear tips or full intermediate if you are going deeper.


12wt: BIG Tarpon, Giant Trevally & light offshore fly fishing -

Most people buying a 12wt are going after Tarpon or GT. Maybe a Sailfish - or an Arapaima. This rod can handle all of those and more. I'd go with RIO Tarpon or Elite GT for the first two species, or RIO's Leviathan series for the Sailfish and other offshore applications. Maybe a Tropical Outbound Short if you just love really heavy lines but the GT line is also very heavy.

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