A review by Brian Chou
The first time I saw a Paradigm, I was in the back of my high school English Lit class with the T&T catalog sandwiched in my textbook. I distinctly remember a couple thoughts going through my head: Holy sh!t, that is a beautiful rod..but what does Paradigm even mean? It took a while for me to actually get my hands on one but from the first cast, I understood what it meant by the way it felt. The entire angling experience as a whole opened up a perspective of what a 9 foot 5 weight could feel and look like. From the detail of the inscription to the choice of guides, it became clear that this represented much more than what I held in my hands.
Over the next couple decades as I've gotten to know the dedicated crew in Greenfield, Massachusetts, I've seen one thing that has never been compromised: their commitment to create and continue the tradition of making the highest quality fly rods in the world. For any occasion. As new fisheries have been discovered, they have always been at the forefront of creating the ideal instrument to deliver the fly to the target species, and it's been a great honor to partner with them on this journey...which is why when I got word of the re-release of their iconic trout rod, that same kid sitting in the back of class could hardly contain his excitement. But this time I didn't need a calling card to check when it would be available (sorry not sorry!).
New thoughts filled my head now. What if it's different from my 905-3? Will I like one more than the other? I mean, how could they possibly improve on what I viewed as the standard for what a 5wt trout rod should feel like? Well, after having held both side by side, flexed on carpet, in the air and most importantly fished, I can honestly say that, like Ford's GT40, there is definitely a resemblance of lineage from the earlier model to the new, but with subtle characteristics that stand out in their own right. I'll leave some of these for you to discover on your own, as they are not all objective. I don't believe one is "better" than the other, given the resources available at the time of each release (1997 and 2020), both represent the absolute best that T&T could offer. Aside from the obvious differences of 3pc vs 4pc and the technology of the graphite/scrim used, both have a sense of feel throughout the entire cast that can be summed up in one word: Connected. To the line, the fish, the water...in such a way that never feels rushed. If fast rods are your thing, with all due respect, this ain't your rod. But if what you're looking for is a patient yet responsive rod that rewards a relaxed casting stroke with an incredible amount of line speed, the Paradigm has always been the instrument of choice for the angler who wants a presentation rod that literally paints the line and fly on the water.