Airflo Bandit 3 weight.

small stream fly rod review on twigwater

*1/9/16 – update: the Bandit series of rods are being replaced with the new ‘Creek’ series.

For many years I got away with bringing home flash new high end rods without getting divorced with some brilliant excuses like

“I bought it off a mate who just found out he has cancer and needs a couple hundred bucks for an emergency operation.”

“I found it.”

“It was a door prize at the pub.”

“It was only a hundred and fifty bucks – I swear.”

“It’s not mine, I’m just storing it for a mate who’s wife isn’t as beautiful, understanding and thin as you are darling”

As clever as these were, one day my long suffering bride presented me with the task of making a detailed list of all the rods and reels – brand, model, new and replacement cost for our new contents and business insurance.

Ummmmmm…. … ..  .     . 20 years this November!

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Luckily, the Airflow Bandit, for about $200 (honest darling) is less than the tip section of a lot of high end rods and no bad thing either.

And speaking of tip sections, the Bandit comes with a spare tip just in case.

A great idea in my opinion and a potential trip/marriage saver should you have an accident.

Airflo fly rod review on twigwater for small stream fly fishing

A not New Zealand sized brown trout.

Testing the Bandit 3-weight on the lawn, with an Airflo Super Dri Elite Trout line, I would call it a fast action that occasionally thinks medium thoughts without really acting on them. ‘Crisp’ is a word that could also be thrown comfortably into the conversation.

At normal fishing distances, it casts well and holds up very well to being given the hurry up with some aggressive double hauling. Full line cast? The rod won’t be what’s holding you back if it’s not happening.

The rod is designed by the crew at Manic Tackle ( a name my wife objects too) from New Zealand and you can feel their influence out on bigger water where the rod, unusually for a mid length 3-weight, really gets the boogie on. Casts in the 40- to 60-foot range are easy and wind not any real issue. Accuracy is top shelf as well.

Snowy River fly fishing for trout on twigwater

The Upper Snowy River – ideal gear testing water.

To give the rod a proper test, I took it on an end of season trip up the Snowy River gorge with Snowy Mountains guide and casting instructor Matt Tripet to get his view.

“Fly Fishing the small creeks in the New England region of NSW won my heart 23 years ago as a newcomer to fly fishing. Now as a professional guide and aCertified Casting Instructor, I still find myself drawn to the small waters and the gear I grew up obsessing about. So getting the chance to review the Airflow Bandit #3 with Twigwater was a very exciting prospect!

The first thing I noticed after taking the rod out of the 4WD was the high quality rod tube and spare tip provided with an exceptionally finished rod with clean wraps, solid guides and a high quality half-wells to top it off. Casting short distances I found the rod a little lifeless but at about the 20 foot mark it started to really grow a personality, providing wonderful feel and accuracy and when it was asked to throw 30-40 feet it delivered time and time again.

 Personally, I feel the rod would be best lined with an Airflow, Scientific Angler, or Rio +.5 lines to help loading on short casts. Do that, and you have a rod that can compete with many of the ‘premium end’ #3 weights and would be pretty hard to pass up when you review the money you will save. I would whole-heartedly recommend this little beauty to any of my clients and colleagues in the fly fishing world, particularly those not 100% sure about spending $1,000.00 + on a #3 weight. The #3 Airflow Bandit will fit the brief and won’t need that explanation to the-better-half when you have to explain the missing savings with a “oh, I got another rod…”  

A brown trout pattern Abel Creek reel for Small stream fly fishing

The Airflo Bandit has a dark metallic green finish, cool composite cork details in the grip and a solid up-locking black reel seat and comes in a quality Cordura tube.

It’s sold with Manic’s ‘Quick Fix’ warranty that aims to get a broken rod section replaced as fast as possible (and with no divorce on the horizon) for a charge of around $50 for a broken section.

The Manic Tackle Project – Airflo page.

Matt Tripet is a top shelf guide in the Snowy Mountains.


twigwater fly fishing small stream trout flay fishing