Twenty years ago, Thomas & Thomas came out with its Paradigm graphite rod series, a dry-fly tool that paid homage to its uber-classic Paradigm bamboo rods. While both the original graphite and the bamboo versions are collector’s items today, Thomas & Thomas for 2020 is recreating the legendary rod series, using modern carbon fiber, resins, and construction techniques to make a dry-fly presentation rod worthy of the name.
I first cast this rod at the Thomas & Thomas factory in Greenfield Massachusetts alongside rod designer Joe Goodspeed. We tried three different fly lines on the 5-weight Paradigm: Scientific Anglers Amplitude Infinity, Scientific Anglers Mastery Trout, and RIO Gold. To give you an idea of how light and sensitive these rods are, I can say that the Amplitude Infinity—my favorite general-purpose trout line for more than a year—was my least favorite line on this rod just because it overloaded the delicate tool too much, and the steep taper delivered a kick that put a damper on the exacting control the rod was intended to produce. For the Paradigm, what you need is a true 5-weight grain weight line, and a longer gradual taper to take advantage of the smooth delivery of the Paradigm. This is a rod that starts to load at ranges at short as 15 feet, and at 25 to 35 feet, you can create perfectly formed loops to drop a dry fly onto a spot as small as your palm. The Paradigm performs at what I’d call “long” trout fishing distances of 45 to 55 feet as well, but here the rod is bending deeply into the butt. The Paradigm is a scalpel, not a machete, so it’s not meant to be muscled or pushed. Use it for Trico hatches on the Deerfield, Sulphurs on the South Holston, and anywhere you know trout will be feeding on top, challenging you to catch them at close range. Semi-gloss blue Paradigm rods have lightweight titanium-finish single-foot REC guides, matte titanium-finish hardware, and U.S.-sourced bird’s-eye maple spacers. $875 | thomasandthomas.com