The winter migrations are heavy in Florida: birds, manatees, turtles, fish, and retirees. The latter being the majority of my relatives from my mother’s side. Most of my aunts and uncles have second homes in the Sunshine State to retreat from the biting Midwest winter cold. My mom even recently joined her siblings with a purchase of a small apartment .
Sunshine, golf, citrus fruit, beaches, sports cars. Winters in Florida are easy living.
Florida winters, however, are not easy fishing for the DIY dad on a budget. With a last minute family trip to Southwest Florida to celebrate my grandmother’s 100th birthday, I was able to carve out a little time to see what I could find on the flats of Charlotte Harbor. What I found was tough conditions and few fish with a lot of blind casting into the wind.
I was even told by a few bait dunkers that the fishing wasn’t very good and I should come back in a month. Being me, coming from Colorado, someone who is used to fishing in temps below freezing; I would have assumed that 70 degrees and sunny should have produced something. My assumptions were faulty. Not to mention there was a lot of great tea-colored water dumping out of the Peace River into Charlotte Harbor that pretty much eliminated any good clarity. Spot and stalk fishing was fairly non-existent for myself.
The silver lining happened to be that my friend Frank Smethurst (and Duranglers’ Scott Fly Rods sales rep) was kind enough to lend me a new Scott Meridian 9′ 8 weight for the mission. I had lawn cast this rod a few times before, but it is nice to try a rod out in the element for which it was designed. In this case: saltwater.
Top quality components, looks great, beautiful…all of that stuff. I am not actually sure I really need to write a “First Impressions” section in this review, but here it is. Of course it looks sweet.
Maybe I will just let Scott tell it like it is for this one:
Meridian rods are fit with newly designed components that defy harsh saltwater environments. Scott designed a new reel seat milled from aircraft grade aluminum, featuring self-indexed slide hoods, extra deep knurling to easily turn lock rings with wet hands, type 3 mil-spec hard coat in non-reflective flat black, and line weight engravings for quick rod identification in boat racksThe new fighting butt shape and transitional check ring help to quickly shed line if it gets caught on the butt by reducing sharp angles that can trap line.
Stripping guides feature SiC rings in full titanium frames and Recoil nickel titanium snake guides for low friction and corrosion free performance.
In summary: Scott builds beautiful handcrafted rods with top quality components right out of Montrose, Colorado. The Meridian is no different.
It also has blue guide thread wraps. I really like blue.
So the Scott Meridian looks great. I was fishing in the heart of retiree country U.S.A. where khaki shorts, pastel polos, and Birkenstocks reign; looks were irrelevant. The question is how this rod fishes.
Since this was a family kind of trip, I was very limited on time. With little time, booking a guide for even a half day was out of the question. With no guide (and sadly, no boat) I was also limited on where I could fish. I managed to squeeze a few hours throughout the week on a local wadeable flat, a few bass ponds, and some nighttime dock light fishing. A fair amount of time to get a good feel for the Meridian.
As I stated earlier, I spent a lot of time blind casting Clousers into the wind. The wind was always blowing, welcome to saltwater fishing. Strung up with a Scientific Anglers Grand Slam Textured 8wt line, the Merdian did everything I needed it to, every time. Tight loops casting a wind resistant gurgler into mangrove cover? No problem. Quick one shots at crusing fish 60 feet away? Yep. Roll casting small minnow patterns into tidal creeks…?
Yes, I could even roll cast the Meridian a good 20-30 feet. Not something saltwater rod manufacturers usually tout, but a pretty great feature for anyone who fishes heavy cover backcountry kind of stuff.
I was even able to throw a few heavy bass bugs into a local pond for cold wintering bass. The Meridian turned over a Gurgler/Clouser double rig with no issues.
To me (and this is my opinion, Scott may disagree), the Meridian feels like a saltwater tapered Radian. It’s as if they took all that is great about the Radian and translated it into a heavier duty stick for bigger game. “Fast meets feel” as Scott puts it.
Now if you ask me, a lowly Colorado angler and crusty fly shop guy, if the Meridian is a fast rod; my answer would be yes. Yes, this rod is fast…but not as fast as other rods. It seems to have more feel (maybe more soul) than the older Scott S4S. Compared to the Sage lineup, it was no where near as fast as the METHOD, and maybe just a touch softer than the SALT. Not a bad thing at all either. It all just depends on what you want in a saltwater rod.
(Maybe we are comparing apples to oranges here, but just know I would grab a SALT over a METHOD any day.)
The line you string the Meridian up with will also make it sing different tunes. The SA Grand Slam (for me) seemed to be a perfect line for this rod with my intended purposes. I could make short one shot casts as well as launch some line for distance. It was a good “all-arounder” kind of set up. Had I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. However, I really would like to get this rod out with a standard Rio Bonefish fly line to see how it preforms (Standard Rio Bonefish, not Quickshooter).
What can I say, the Meridian is a great saltwater rod. It should be; Scott did win Best in Show as well as Best Saltwater Rod at the 2015 IFTD show. For my trip, I needed a rod that could do a lot of things really well. From delicate presentations in skinny tidal creeks to blasting Clousers 80 feet out into a headwind to hucking gurglers under docks; the Scott Meridian did it all. It did it all really well too.
The Meridian is a perfect rod for those who like a little feel in their fast action saltwater stick. If you are scouring the market for a saltwater rod; stop in the shop and cast a Meridian. It can’t hurt to at least give it a few throws.
Had I had my this to do all over again, I would most certainly want the Meridian as my go-to saltwater rod.