TFO Axiom II vs. Axiom II-X

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TFO Axiom II vs. Axiom II-X

Picture of Mark Bachmann with a dorado fish caught on a Mark's Sardina fly in the Sea of Cortex close to Loreto, Mexico, november 2019 with a TFO Axiom II fly rod,

With our itinerary set for the late fall Loreto, Mexico expedition, I texted Dick Sagara from TFO for rods to test on the saltwater fish that inhabit the Sea of Cortez. Dick dropped off an Axiom II 1290 and a Axiom II-X 1290. Twelve-weight rods are on the heavy side for smaller fish, but just right for dorado and roosters in the twenty and above range. Twelve-weight rods are perfect for casting flies that range from four to seven inches in length. The sea of Cortez has a lot of bait in these sizes and grows a lot of sport fish in the twenty to fifty-pound range.

 Picture of TFO Axiom II and Axiom II-X fly rods.

While in Loreto, I emailed Nick Conklin VP at TFO for some technical details about the Kevlar cross wrap in the Axiom II blanks and this what I got back in a matter of minutes:
The Axiom II-X was designed for the intermediate to advanced fly angler seeking to maximize accuracy at distance. Based on the fast action of our renowned TiCrX, we used our highest modulus material and Axiom technology to redefine performance in an extremely powerful fly rod. Unlike other “stiff” rods, the Axiom II-X delivers both the energy necessary for long casts and the incredible tracking and recovery which results in accuracy at distance. If it comes down to one cast, one perfect long cast, this is the fishing tool to do the job.
TFO’s patented and exclusive Axiom technology embeds a double-helix of Kevlar within the blank. The superior tensile strength of the Kevlar acts to buttress the rod’s carbon fiber matrix in compression. The result is that Axiom series fly rods stabilize faster and smoother, absorb shock better and comfortably tolerate over-loading. The angler benefits because Axiom technology virtually eliminates the ability to ove-power the rod when casting. Bottom line – whether you carry more line in the air or push the rod to the limit, you won’t feel any mushiness – What you will feel is line ripping out of your hand as it launches.

Some other important points are that we now offer an 11-weight, (all models have fighting butts). All rods come with socks and tubes, and feature RECOIL guides by REC.

The Axiom II, will not be as fast or stiff as the A2X. Engineered to fit the angler (not the other way around), the Axiom II fly rod will satisfy the broadest range of casting styles and strokes. Whether short and powerful or long and smooth, the rod will accept the caster without the need to adapt stroke to rod action. TFO’s patented and exclusive Axiom technology embeds a double-helix of Kevlar within the blank. The superior tensile strength of the Kevlar acts to buttress the rod’s carbon fiber matrix in compression. The result is that Axiom series fly rods stabilize faster and smoother, absorb shock better and comfortably tolerate over-loading.”

Picture of a Dorado fish caught on a Crease fly.

I had used the Axiom II rod for six days last June in the same location. After trying out several rods in our back yard prior to that trip. The Axiom II rod had stood out from the rest, not necessarily as a show-piece or as the long bomb machine, but as the rod with the best personality for the task at hand.

As casting platforms, boats and parking lots are fairly equal as long as the boat is anchored in smooth water. But, casting from rolling/pitching boats is different from casting on solid ground. The more experience an angler has, the more they appreciate that every cast under all circumstances starts from the bottom of their feet. Rods that are top performers in the parking lot can be too temperamental when targeting fast moving fish from a boat that is also moving. Long accurate casts require smooth acceleration and sudden stops to build fly line speed, which is more difficult when your feet are not on solid ground. When the water gets to a certain stage of rough, just standing upright in the boat can be difficult enough. Adding fly casting to this equation can be overwhelming to inexperienced anglers. Factoring in a rod that is demanding to cast can degrade an angler’s performance and interfere with the acquisition of on-the-water experience so they can get to the next level.

Rods built for casting small to medium lightweight flies from a stable platform might have different design requirements than one that is used to cast large heavy air resistant flies from a boat on rough water.

Also, the fly lines used for flats fishing are different from bluewater fishing. Normally speaking bluewater flies are larger and bulkier because bluewater fish have larger bait available to them. A RIO Outbound line might lack finesse on the flats but is just perfect for most applications in the Sea of Cortez. The fly lines that are most efficient at delivering the flies of choice will also influence which rod actions perform the best in a given location.

I am writing this blog article after using both the Axiom II and the Axiom II -X 12-weight rods on the Sea of Cortez with the exact same reel, line leader and fly. Before leaving Oregon I also watched several YouTube videos and commentaries about both rods. Some commentators were insightful, others dumb, some polished fly casters, others pitiful. None had put much time or thought into their presentations and none had tested the II against the II-X.

Admittedly my thoughts were biased and have not changed the least since testing the two rods against each other. After spending over twenty trips in the Sea of Cortez catching fish and testing tackle, I have already used quite a number of ultra-fast action rods there. If I were fishing shallow water where long casts with lightweight flies were being presented with delicate presentations, there is no doubt that the II-X rods would give the edge. They would also aid long cast demonstrations at sport shows. The robin’s egg blue coloring on the blank is distinctive.

The wraps, and fittings of the two Axiom series are equal. Both series offer great value, and terrific performance for the price. I like the larger guides on the Axiom II rods. I agree with Lefty Kreh that larger guides create less friction when shooting line. I’m perplexed to see TFO wandering away from this philosophy. The lightweight ceramic stripping guides on the II series are larger in diameter than the Recoil guides on the II-X. Admittedly both are adequate.

Picture of a Mexican guide netting a Dorado fish for Mark Bachmann while fishing the Sea of Cortez close to Loreto, Mexico.

By now you have come to the conclusion that I really do like the Axiom II series. I fished a 590 most of the summer as one of my lake rods and it was great. The 1290 is fast-action, but is forgiving. This is its second, but probably not the last trip with me to the salt.

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