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Fly Rod Review

Powell's Tiboron XL Fly Rods serve up performance and value


Date: 6/30/08
Tackle type: Fly Rod
Manufacturer: Powell
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 7.41 + BEST VALUE AWARD!

While we have focused on Powell’s bass rods for the last few seasons we decided it was time to take a look at the roots of what made the company what it is today…fly rods. We put the aggressively priced Tiboron XL to the test against Eastern Sierra trout in the first of our fly rod reviews this season.

 Powell Tiboron XL 4PC 9'0 Fly Rod Specifications

Length 9'
Line Wt. 6
Pieces 4
Taper Extra Fast
Power Med-Stiff
Materials Maxumfiber and Titanium with cork grip + Ti-Graphite reel seat, titanium stripping guides, light wire chrome snake guides, rod sock and cordura rod tube
MSRP $289.00

Though Powell is best known among bass fishermen for their line of split grip MAX bass rods the company has a long and storied history in fly rods. This season we brought in a number of fly rods for comparison including representatives from G.Loomis, Sage, Scott, and Powell


Powell's Tiboron XL fly rods are designed for casters of all skill levels


Powell has two lines of fly rods including the aggressively priced Tiboron XL and the premium Legacy Bamboo fly rods. Originally designed by legendary rod builder and fly caster E.C Powell the bamboo cane rods are built with nickel silver ferrules. Powell continues to build the Legacy bamboo rods as a tribute to the sport and the company’s own 97 year history. All Legacy rods are hand-inscribed with the line size, length, weight and serial number and feature Mildrum Tungsten Carbide stripping guides with nickel silver frames. These two piece rods hand crafted retail for $2,700. dollars each and comes in a thick cloth bag and a brown leather tube.


The Tiboron XL breaks down into 4 pieces for easy transport, and comes with a rod sock and cordura travel tube

Powell has updated their fly rods many times throughout the company’s history, with constant updates being made to the rods which make use of updated materials and components. Powell’s new Tiboron XL series is actually the cheapest rod of all the fly rods that we have in for testing. The Tiboron XL 906-4 is 9 feet in length and breaks down into 4 pieces for easier transport. This rod is “flight” friendly and comes in a rod sock and hard cordura tube.

The rod features a Ti-graphite reel seat

The Tiboron XL’s cosmetics like Powell’s other rods is clean and simple, with the only decorative element really being the graphite insert on the reel seat, and even that is less flashy than most of the other rods which use a combination of anodized aluminum and various wood inserts. The black Maxumfiber blank is coated with gloss to protect the rod from nicks. The rod is then finished with an attractive combination of titanium and metallic blue trim. The Tiboron handles line with a combination of titanium stripping and light wire chrome snake guides.

Powell's Tiboron XL features tip over butt ferrules

Reels are clamped in using a traditional screw up clamp which held both of our test reels very securely. The Tiboron makes use of a half wells cork grip and the rod will balance out quite nicely with both 6 and 7wt. sized fly reels. The Tiboron’s blanks is made out of Powell’s Maxumfiber which is designed to deliver a combination of power, sensitivity, and overall light weight.

Casting nymphs under an indicator at Lake Crowley

Real World Tests: To test the Powell Tiboron I decided to mix the tests between fishing on land and from the deck of the boat to gain a better feel for the rod across a wider range of applications. For tests on land I head for Yosemite and more remote creeks and rivers in the Eastern Sierras. For the boat fly fishing tests JIP, Cal, and I towed our Boston Whaler to Lake Crowley, which is famous for a healthy population of Rainbows and Brown Trout.

The cork grip is comfortable to grasp, and the rod balances out with a wide range of reels

For the tests I used two reels, a Galvan Torque and a Scientific Anglers System 2LA. The Galvan Torque was spooled with Scientific Anglers Mastery Series Line while the Scientific Anglers 2LA was loaded with SA’s new premium Sharkskin line.

Though not as crisp as some competitor rods the Powell Tiboron XL laid down plenty of line in cast tests, and was just as good as competitor offerings costing over 100 dollars more when it came to casting

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