Justin Poe, Global Brand Manager
at G.Loomis, gives us the scoop on NRX
The last time we
interviewed Justin Poe he was launching new high end rods at Shimano, this
included the Cumara and Cumulus series which have become very popular and have
no doubt helped elevate the profile of Shimano as a rod manufacturer. We have
seen the attach rate of Shimano reels with the companyís own branded rods
sharply increase and that is a testament to Shimano building rods that consumers
Justin Poe, Global Brand Manager
for G.Loomis, introduces the NRX rods to attendees at last year's ICAST in Las
the Cumulus launch Justin called us and let us know he was also going to focus
on the G.Loomis brand which Shimano acquired in 1997. From our past experience
with Justin as a Product Manager we knew that he would shake things up, and we
were excited to see just what direction Loomis would go. The first launch since
Justin joined the Loomis team was the new premium NRX line which debuted at
ICAST 2010. We get a lot of emails from our readers asking about recommendations
on NRX and while testing for these rods is still underway we wanted to talk to
Justin again and find out more about the development of the series and how the
entire launch of these products has gone overall.
At the show attendees are invited
to cast jigs over a variety of different types of structure
Zander: The last
time we sat down for an interview you were leading product management for
Shimano rods, can you describe your current role at G.Loomis? Are you still
personally involved in rods on the Shimano side?
These Days I wear many hats and I am having a fantastic time with it. I was
given the opportunity in December to take on this new role here at Shimano. My
new title is Global Brand Manager for G.Loomis. I also oversee Product
development for Shimano reels and rods so I work very closely with Robby Gant on
the Shimano Rods and with Kenichi Iida on the reels. So I have my hands in a
little bit of everything. The great thing about the G. loomis part of my job is
that it exposes me to the global market for G. Loomis as well as sitting down
and getting to do the things I have always loved which is drawing and dreaming
up whatís next!
A look at a NRX fly rod reel seat
rod market has become increasingly competitive over the years, both on the
mainstream and premium markets, what do you think separates Loomis from the
Justin: Yes it has! I think the biggest
thing that separates G.Loomis from our competitors is what we put into a rod.
With G. loomis they arenít just buying a rod they are investing in their fishing
future. We hear every day from people that a good rod can make them a better
Angler and enjoy more success. This is true but it isnít the laminates or the
resins or the guides that make that happen it is our ability to listen and make
rods that when people pick it up they knew what we were thinking when we
started. There is something special about looking at a guys face when he
pitches a Ĺ ounce jig on a rod that we designed especially for that. Itís like
he found what he was searching for finally.
Steve Rajeff, champion caster,
talks about the new NRX design at ICAST 2010
talk specifically about NRX and what it took to develop and introduce this
series. We all know Steve Rajeff as an expert fly caster, can you talk about
Steveís involvement in bringing up NRX?
Justin: Steve is incredible fly caster but heís
much more than that. Heís an incredible fisherman and he is an all around
incredible caster. He has won world titles in fly spinning and casting. The
misconception is that he only does fly. Steve is also an incredible all around
fisherman which for me is one of the most important things in our working
relationship. We share a common language of fishing! Steve was the leader and
the driving force of NRX coming to the market. He worked on the formulations
and the recipe that made it work for G. Loomis. Steve performed the testing on
the materials that proved to us that it could work in a manner that we wanted!
Readers have been asking and we
now have some of the NRX rods in the TT lab and in the review process
Zander: The NRX rods definitely stand apart
from the rest of the G.Loomis line. Can you talk about the design elements of
NRX, split grip? The hybrid guide design? The choice of components?
Justin: The key
to NRX is the mix of all these things. We finally felt that we had a material
that was so light and crisp that we could actually make the rod still balance
while removing the excess material from the butt end. This was our hold up
before. To us the rod balancing is way more important than the look of the
split grip. This was the first time we truly felt we had a performance gain by
doing so. Pure performance was the path for the guide choice. What helps it
balance? What casts the farthest? Accuracy? So on and so forth. Most of our
competitors would just use 1 type of guide because itís easy. We tried samples
with all Ti-SIC and all REC we werenít happy with either one. That is where we
ended up splitting the difference for NRX
The NRX rods feature a dark grey
blank and blue and green threading highlights
Delving into the actual blank itself, what makes the NRX graphite so unique?
Justin: As far
as the blank goes we talk to fisherman about this a lot. The uniqueness comes
in how we use it. The material and ratios for how we made it are closely
guarded. We utilize 3M Nano Matrix Silica resin paired with a new graphite
material which is stiffer and lighter than we have ever used at G. loomis. If
you were to just take the resin and add it to a current rod we build already it
would make it stronger but it would definitely be heavier. Bass guys donít
want that!! We built new patterns new mandrels and customized ratios on all
these pieces of the puzzle to build a rod that is the most sensitive and alive
fishing rod I have ever fished with. It is also lighter by as much as 20% than
other rods we make and at least 15% stronger and less prone to impact damage.
The casting and spinning rods both
make use of high grade cork grips
these rods designed specifically with Shimano reels in mind?
current bass reel market is also as competitive as ever!! All of our initial
testing was done with Shimano reels however we did check that our components
would allow for fisherman who chose to walk the line of the dark side in their
reel choices. We wanted to make sure they would still be accommodated.
The NRX rods make use of a custom
skeletonized reel seat design similar to what we have seen on a number of
Shimano rods Justin has worked on
There is a
special button you have to push on the rod when not using a Shimano reel or else
you can hear it whining. (Justin smiles) But in all seriousness it balances best
with Core/Chronarch and Calais.
Enthusiast Editor, Cal, wonders about the
price of NRX rods ($450-$500) when compared with other premium offerings, is
this the best Loomis yet? Time for some side by side field tests.
Next Section: NRX versus GLX?