Scott Radian Review
The Scott Radian. Much has been said and written about this rod. Most (if not all) of what is being said is positive. Very positive in fact. Winner of the IFTD “Best of Show” 2013: the industry has spoken: this rod is all that it claims to be. The “Fast meets Feel” mantra resounding across the west. Scott has touted this rod well. For all that Scott says of the Radian as well as their specs; check it out here.
I find it important to note that Scott rods are manufactured in Montrose, Colorado; a 2.5 hour drive to the north of us here in Durango. This is important to note as we are a Colorado based shop reviewing a fly rod made in Colorado; therefore the Radian had better measure up to our Colorado standards in a fly rod. So did it? I went on a magical journey of putting this rod through some paces to find out.
There is not another like it
Now that may sound like an audacious claim; but hear me out. There is really no other rod that can compare with the Radian. I have had the chance to get my hands on 4 through 7 weights of the Radian rod line and test each out in varying degrees. I have come to the conclusion that no rod manufacturer is producing a rod that is anything like the Radian. That is not to say other manufacturers are producing inferior rods; but the Radian just feels different. It is a smooth casting rod with (in my mind) a moderately fast action. A lot of other rods are striving to perfect the fast action or improve on the moderate action; none tried to blend the two.
Some have noted that the Radian was crafted and released in response to the Sage ONE. That may be true; but I have come to find that the two rods are incomparable. I absolutely love fishing the Sage ONE, but that is not to say I don’t like the Radian as well. The Radian is NOT at all like the Sage ONE…nor is the Sage ONE anything like the Radian. They are both absolutely fantastic rods; but besides the price point, the similarities end. If you were to compare Sage and Scott, I would say the Radian reminds me of a beefed up Sage TXL-F…but I digress…
Fast Meets Feel?
The Scott Radian slogan of “Fast meets Feel” has been almost a buzzphrase with this rod; so does it measure up to the claim? Well that depends on your definition of “Fast” or “Feel”. I had the opportunity to take the 9 foot 5 weight Radian out on the Animas a few days ago. Currently running at close to 3000 cfs and off color; fishing was difficult to say the least. I tied on a heavy stonefly/cranefly larva rig and proceeded to dredge the banks. As I was manly fishing a high stick/tight line technique, the first thing I did notice was that I could easily feel every rock as the flies bounced along the bottom of each run. Feels great so far. Sitting tight to the bank and bushes; roll casting was a must to get out farther. The Radian delivered in spades when it came to roll and spey style casts. I am a relative beginner to the spey world, but this rod has such a great “feel” that getting 30-40 foot casts of this type was fairly easy for me.
After a while and no luck, I tied on a heavier black streamer to see how the rod would preform. This is where the fast came in. The 5 wt Radian cast a heavy streamer rig (I tied on a second streamer after a few casts) quite easily. I could certainly feel the added weight of the streamers and noticed it did not preform the same as other “fast actions” that I was used to fishing…but it did not preform poorly. In fact, I was so used to the faster actions that once I got into the rhythm of the Radian, I was easily popping 50 and 60 foot casts with little fatiguing effort.
Speaking of streamer rigs…we had the chance to take out the 9 foot 6wt Radian on a float trip down the Animas throwing big heavy bugs at the bank. The “fast” certainly came into play on the 6wt with the necessity of throwing fast casts and picking up line quickly for re-casts while stripping streamers with heavy bullet weights. However, the “feel” was on point when we needed to throw big mends in the line as well as dead drift and “jig” streamers through a run. The Radian 6 wt preformed great as a boat rod alongside our other favored fast rods of similar caliber.
Nymph rigs and streamers aside…Scott hit an absolute home run when fishing the Radian with dry flies. The tip has the”feel” to be able to make quick sniper-like casts at 10 to 20 feet; something not as bragable with many fast actions. The Radian still had enough backbone that I was able to cast 80 feet of line (I am an ok caster, not a great caster) with the 5 wt. This rod can play and land big fish with ease; but it is actually also notable that the Radian still is a whole lot of fun with a 12 inch trout.
A few other points
Through testing out the Scott Radian, the first thing I did notice with every rod weight I tried is that Scott built the cork grip with a thicker palm swell than most other rods on the market. This thicker palm swell actually gives greater feel and control over the rod, is a good balance point when set up with a matching reel, and is actually nice for anglers with larger hands and a wider grip. Also of note is Scott’s standard measurement marks of 12 and 20 inches from the tip of the reel seat butt.
There were two things I did not like about the Radian line. First: Scott did not make a 3 weight version of the Radian. I imagine they have their reasons, but I love faster action creek rods and this one taper would have been a blast to fish on a 3 weight. Ahh, maybe someday. Secondly, the reel seat (see above). The 4 and 5 weights have custom reel seats with burled box elder spacers (see above). This reel seat is absolutely beautiful and I love the aluminum design feature on the side; however Scott did not incorporate this seat on any of their rods with a fighting butt. I imagine this was a function over fashion choice; however the 6, 7, and 8 weights come with just a standard black aluminum reel seat. Not a deal breaker by a long shot, but I think they could have put something nicer looking on the larger rods.
Since Scott claims “Fast meets Feel” with the Radian. It is important to note that fast and feel are two opposing dichotomies that are hard to balance. I think what Scott attempted was to balance both opposite ends of the spectrum without sacrificing the most important aspects from either. In this they met right in the middle…Yin and Yang; it is very Zen. Is this a true “fast action” rod? That depends on your definition of a fast action. The 4 and 5 weights are certainly a fast actions on the low end of the “fast” scale (something I very much appreciated actually). The 8′ 6″, 4 weight makes for a pretty incredible dry fly rod. It is light in hand, quick casting; but with a poppy enough tip to make it a blast to cast size 20 BWO’s to an 11 inch rainbow.
That being said…the 6 and 7 weights really push into the fast action spectrum with the 7 weight being an absolute line thrower. I was finding I was easily able to cast a full length line (not that casting 90 feet is usually necessary in Colorado). These weights really do fall into the class of fast action and makes for a super solid streamer rods that fish great with a variety of sinking and floating lines.
If you ever have had the privilege of watching Lefty Kreh cast; one thing you will notice is the little effort it seems that he is putting into his cast versus the distance he gets. One thing I did notice about the Radian is that when I wanted to get more out of my cast…it required me to slow down and put less effort into it. It actually responded well to a smooth casting stroke without the speed and aggressiveness that is required of some faster rods. For some people (myself included) this equates to less battling the rod and more time having fun while fishing.
A Colorado Rod?
Here at Duranglers we have found the Radian to be a perplexing rod. Perplexing in that when we fish it alongside other rods of similar caliber (especially the Sage ONE) we find that we cannot decide which one we like better. Both rods are so fantastic, yet so vastly different. Not just in looks; but how they fish and cast. How they mend and pick up line. Different in how we enjoy them both on the water. Truthfully we will not ever be able to decide between the two. It could even be a battle of such magnitude as Pepsi vs. Coke. It all really comes down to your opinion and preference.
Here is my opinion on the Radian after a lot of testing, thought, and discussion: this rod was built for trout in mind. Not just in the features and fishablity, but also in the personality and culture that goes along with trout fishing. It is obvious that the the product testing for this rod was done largely here in the mountains of Colorado, working towards the best balance of fast and feel. Fast action with the feel and sensitivity of a traditional fly rod is something that is being more demanded by trout fisherman. In this regard, Scott has achieved this balance. This is an absolute winner of a Colorado trout rod…not to mention it is uber fun to fish.
The Radian has been discontinued as of 2020, check out our review of it’s replacement: the Scott Centric!
What exact fly line do you use duing the Radian 5wt review?
We used two lines. The first was the Rio Grand 5 wt line and the second was Rio Perception In Touch fly line. The Grand was a personal favorite as it seemed to weight the rod just perfectly for fishing with a wide variety of flies. However, the Perception worked really really well with the Scott Radian when casting dries.
Hope that helps and thanks for checking us out!
I’m planning to buy a streamer rod but I’m kind of going back and forth between a Sage One 9′ #7 and Scott Radian 9′ #7. Which #7 rod and length (9’ft, 9’6ft, 10ft) would you prefer when it comes to casting long distance?
For a streamer rod, a lot of us really like the 9′ Sage ONE, although the Radian comes in as a close second for streamers. Depending on what you want to do, a 9’6″ or even 10″ rod work really well. However, you have a lot more control at 9′. A 9’6″ is a good option if you want that longer length if you are using it from a float tube. The best question for us to ask you is where you are planning on using the rod?
Thanks and we look forward to hearing from you!
Thanks for responding, appreciate it. Well, to tell you the truth, I’m actually looking for a streamer rod for midsized rivers with 2-25 pound trouts and salmon here in Finland. At some spots the rivers where I fish become relatively wide where distance casting becomes important especially during times when wading in the water is forbidden. Therefore I’m basically looking to buy a #7 rod canon that can shoot, let’s say, a floating WF SA GPX or a similar line to a 100 feet with ease. So maybe the 9′ Sage One could literally be the one.
This will undoubtedly “raise some hackles” but may actually help some people, which is why I’m writing it :Not to create an argument. I’m over 60, have flyfished exclusively for over 35 yrs, and live in SW Montana, after a 5 year stint as a “trout bum” in YNP and Utah. I haven’t owned a 5 weight rod in over 12 years, my “go to” rods are 4’s and 3’s (yes, I fish the Missouri with those rods). I have owned (fished the Missouri) and sold a Sage ONE in both 9′ #4 and 9’#3. I have been fishing a Radian 9’#4 now for 6 months, which is why I’m writing.
Overall, I agree with most of what the review says, and it’s an excellent review that focuses on aspects that are somewhat different from my style of fishing (I’m often seeking to renew my membership in the “20-20 Club”). The Sage ONE rods are one of the finest Sage has ever built, no question!! I am FIRMLY on the other side of lining them though, and always lined them with a Rio GOLD, not the Grand. I do not feel the rods need to be over-lined, and in fact, if you watch Jerry Siem’s 17 minute video on the development of the rod he specifically mentions at least twice that the prototype 9’#5 was designed to cast the Rio GOLD. Regardless, the rods cast extremely well, except at short distances (I know what the Grand fans are thinking, I’m not going there, just think about this). Sage has rarely marketed a rod that handles well in the 10-20′ range–but there are exceptions. My ZXL 386-4 is an exception, as was that whole line. My only real dislike for Sage, having owned my first one in the late ’70’s, is there has always been a “dead spot” in the action. You may notice it when casting, you will unquestionably notice it when playing a fish. On the ONE series, it is along the second section down from the tip–the #2 piece if you will. It’s not a deal breaker, and probably less noticeable in the heavier weights, but obvious to an experienced angler in the 3 & 4 at least.
Which brings me to the Radian. First of all I’m no stranger to the Scott rods. In fact, I was tremendously fortunate enough to have Harry Wilson teach me to cast. Harry was a very very different caster from Lefty but so much alike in the ability to make it look SO easy and effortless. He was the finest caster I have ever met, and for those who don’t recall, he was the original owner and founder of Scott rods. (All the Scotts I have owned were in the G-G2 series though, for clarification.) The first day I took my Radian out on the Missouri, just upstream from Craig in a familiar spot, I was fishing a typical rig: Rio Gold #4, 5’6″ Blue Sky furled leader with 4′ of 5X tippet, Duncan looped to an 18 unweighted Miracle Nymph, and casting across & down to feeding fish swirling just under the surface : I was throwing 10 to 20 foot casts. This is a tactic I have used for years on that river, with consistent success. What actually Startled me was that after a few casts when a fish took, I ACTUALLY FELT THE TAKE—not on a tight line downstream take, but just after an across stream mend. I truly felt an 18″ 2 1/2 # wild rainbow suck in that Tiemco size 18, 2X short hook. And it happened over and over. Perhaps the best way I can describe it is the qualities of graphite with that distinct “touch” of bamboo. And in playing the fish, there is the smooth unbroken progression of power from tip all the way down the rod. I know this is getting long so I’ll try to wrap it up.
I bought the rod to fish tight line weighted nymphs, I had the Sage mentioned above plus a couple Winston B3X rods for other things. The Radian has become my “go-to” hands down. I’ve already mentioned my feelings on lines, but I would add that I go back & forth between a Rio Gold and Airflow Elite Super-Dry. The Radian casts either with great aplomb. The Gold is better for distance (of course) but the Elite casts a wonderfully smooth flat line and really tight loops to 30–40″. Either line will load the rod & turn a leader smoothly with 10′ of line out.
I agree, I truly wish Scott would make a Radian in a 3 weight :(. But the Radian in a 4, in perhaps either 9 or 81/2 length,is a phenomenal spring creek/tailwater rod that will also smoothly turn a double tungsten bead-head rig and let you feel every rock.
Thanks for reading, I hope this helps a small niche that may have had lingering questions. Tight Lines.
Thank you so much for your comment! We really appreciate your feedback in regards to your preferred rods and line configurations and it is great to hear about your history and experience with these rods. We don’t often get such great information in these comments so I am glad you “kept it long”. I would have to agree that the Rio Gold is a fantastic line for the Radian. It is also awesome to hear how you are effectively using this rod on the Missouri to swing soft hackles. We love swinging wets and it is a preferred method with a lot of our shop staff.
Thanks again and take care Don!
Duranglers Flies and Supplies
Andy– thank you for your kind words. I can get carried away. But I thought after I wrote the note, truth be known the Rio Gold is also “over-lining” the rods, those lines are heavier than spec. They are great casting lines, but I’m also finding that the more I fish the Airflows, the more I like them. For what it’s worth, Jim @ Scott said the Elite is a strong favorite with them. One last thought, apparently Scott is offering a Radian in a 7’6″ 3 weight. I wish it were longer. Tight Lines !
Hello. Can you please tell me what line you would recommend for my SCOTT S4 (905) 5-weight. This is not the S4S, this is the S4 that I believe the RADIAN replaced. Thank you, Ben
Our favorite line for the Scott S4 would be the Rio Gold or the Scientific Anglers MPX.
I hope that helps, let me know if you have any other fly line questions!
Duranglers Flies and Supplies
Lets get to the topic of what reel suits a radian 9″ 5 weight the best 🙂 shoot me the top 3
Our top three would have to be:
Ross Evolution LT #2
Hatch 4 Plus Finatic
Lamson Litespeed IV #2
I hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!
Duranglers Flies and Supplies
I would like to know what your opinion, I just purchased the Scott Radian with the Galvan torque 5wt reel. Is the Galvan a good reel for the Scott?
The Galvan is a great reel to use with the Scott Raidian 5wt. Hope that helps.
Thanks for the reply!!
I am just curious and would like a second opinion. I recently purchased the Scott Radian with a Galvan Torque 5wt. Is this a good set up for trout fishing streams and maybe rivers?
Thanks for replying!
Any suggestions on pairing a reel with the Radian 9’6 7wt? Planning to use for light steelheading in the Great Lakes region as well as some bass from a kayak.
A great reel pairing for this rod would be a Ross Reels Animas 7-8. It has a solid drag and would do great for light steelheading as well as bass fishing.
Thanks and take care,
Duranglers Flies and Supplies
Thanks, Andy. When do you think you’ll get the 7/8 Animas back in stock in the granite color?
It’s time for me to update my tools of the trade. I have b
een fishing Trout in the western part of the United States for 30+ years. However, I have just relocated to southern Ohio and I am finding fewer Trout rivers/streams but, there are plenty of Small and Large Mouth Bass fishing holes. Between the two rods in your article I am still bouncing back-n-forth. After walking rivers near me I am finding that I will be making the majority of my casts short to mid in range. If I kept to a 5wt I would choose the Scott Radian. But if I went to a 6wt It sounds like the Sage One would be the better choice.
I guess my question is: If I choose to fish for Bass for a couple of seasons a year will the Scott Radian stand up to the heavier requirements?
Thank you in advance,
I think for Bass, you can’t go wrong with a Scott Radian 5 or 6 weight. 6 is a good all around size for bass and it will stand up to years and years of heavy bass fishing.
Let me know if you have any other questions!
Would love to know which configuration you like better — the 8.6′ 5-weight or the 9′ 5-weight and why. I’m considering a Radian for turning over larger dry flies and for the few time I get the chance to fish out of a drift boat on medium-sized rivers. I would probably not use this rod for throwing large streamers, and am covered with my G2 and glass rod on spring creeks. Any line recommendations would be appreciated as well. Thanks so much for sharing your insights.
Personally, I like the 9 foot configuration as I feel it is a better rod with which to mend your line. However, many people prefer 8’6″ rods for casting dry flies. If you are fishing out of a boat, again I would go for the 9 footer as you just have a little extra reach to make bigger mends in faster currents. The 9 foot is a great all around configuration for trout, but the 8’6″ is also very good. It could even be argued that the 8’6″ is slightly more accurate as it is a little shorter. How much more accurate is up for debate. You can’t go wrong with either option.
If you plan on doing any nymphing with this rod, the you should consider the 9′ variation for sure.
Please let me know if you have any other questions.
HI Andy, I’m in the market for a new rod, and I’m looking at the Radian 9′ 5-w. I fish drys maybe 25% and the rest is streamer and nymph rigs. I’d like to be able to find something that would also be good in windy conditions (I know line has a lot to do with it as well). I’ve read that the Radian isn’t a very forgiving rod for non-expert casters (thats definitely me). Any thoughts? Btw, I had a chance to cast it along side the Loomis Nxt Lp and Winston B3x. Loved the way they all cast (especially the Winston), but I’m afraid the B3x wouldn’t shoot nymph rigs and the Loomis didn’t seem to have the backbone the Radian did. Thoughts on those?
Hi Andy, I’m looking for a new Rod and was able to cast the the other day up next to a G Loomis Nxt LP and a Winston B3x. I liked them all, but the Winston seemed to lack enough backbone to fish nymphs and the Loomis didn’t seem as hefty as the Radian. 80% of my fishing is nymph and streamer fishing. I’d like something that will cast well on a windy day (I know line and caster has alot to do with it) and could throw big rigs Ana fish drys. Any thoughts? Also, I’ve read that Radian Rod is unforgiving and more for an expert caster (something I am far from). Can you speak to that?
I would agree that of those three rods, the Radian has the most backbone. What I don’t agree with is that the Radian is unforgiving and an “expert caster’s rod”. We have found it to be a fantastic rod for beginners and experts alike as it has a softer tip, but it is still a fast and stout rod. We have put this rod into a lot of beginner’s hands, and many love it. The reason is that while a fast rod, the Radian does not require the typical “fast action casting stroke”. Many find it to be a very easy rod to cast (in the realm of fast action rods). The Radian has enough power to deliver those heavy rigs you are fishing into the wind, but still has the finesse to drop small dries when you need it to.
Personally, I think the Radian would be the best rod option for you as it roll casts and mends very well. It is truly a great all around trout rod.
Please let me know if you have any additional questions at all.
Thanks for the reply!
Just curious on your thoughts on a Sage 9′ 7wgt. For casting streamers with a shooting head. I can buy a brand new one for 389.00 and am close to buying it. Or should I buy a 9′ 7 wgt. X. Just curious about both of these
I assume you are talking about the Sage ONE 9″ 7 weight. The ONE is a fantastic rod, but I actually prefer the X in a 9′ 7 weight. Both are great, but the X in the 7 weight might be one of the better 7 weights ever made. I hope that helps.
Hi there, thanks for a great review. I am looking at a Radian and I am thinking of the 4wt. I fish a mix of drift boat fishing in Fernie BC, (larger river, mostly dry fly Cut throat fishing) and small stream, cut throat fishing near where I live (dry fly fishing mostly). Could you offer your thoughts on how the 4wt would handle the wind (Fernie can be windy)? I know it has a lot to do with the caster and what fly line you use but any thoughts would be appreciated. I currently use a 5wt Temple Fork and my wife uses a 4wt. which she loves for our smaller stream fishing. I cannot afford to have multiple rods so I do need to get a bit of an all around set up so I am thinking that the Radian would work well enough on all but the windiest of days but that the 4 wt. would be light enough to be fun on the smaller fish. Again, thanks for the great review.
It sounds like the 4 weight would be your best bet. A 4 weight is a lighter rod, so while the rod is fast, wind can certainly affect your cast. Since you already have a 5 weight TFO, the 4 weight would be a good compliment for dry fly fishing and on smaller creeks with smaller fish.
Thanks for reading our review, I hope that helped! Take care,
Thanks Andy, appreciate the response and keep up the great reviews
Which is best for streamers and smallmouth here in wisconsin a 7 wt radian or 6 wt
I ahready have a 5 wt radian
It depends on the size of the fish and flies you are using. Without knowing, I would say a 6 would be good. Let me know if you have any more questions.