We are not admitting anything, although we are all big fans of Rioja wines. However, we can openly say that we have spent a lot of time and money to acquire the best quality cork for our rod handles. Not an easy task nowadays, when the best quality grade AAAA Portuguese cork is getting more and more difficult to acquire. To make sure that the both edges of the handle will stay in good conditions, we added a thin layer of rubber composite to edges. That will prevent premature breakdown of the handle. An old saying states: "The feel of a worn cork grip in your hand is like wearing your favorite pair of sneakers." So true.
In fly fishing, many anglers think that the rod blank does all the work, but cork grips play a much bigger role than you might believe. Cork grips are an important mechanism for improving the ability to control the rod. In addition to that, having a suitable cork grip in your rod can mean the difference between a enjoyable day of fly fishing, or a day after which your arm hurts real bad.
If you spend a full day on your favorite trout river, you can easily make as much as 1000 casts a day. With that many casts, even some grams can make a big difference in your arm when the day is over. In addition to being light, high-quality cork grips are durable and will stand the test of time very well.
Different cork grip styles fit your hand differently and provide different feelings. Many anglers have never tried even the most common styles of cork grips to find out which one suits them best. We have done it extensively and we end up using traditional Reverse Half Wells for the lighter models and Full Wells for the two heavier ones. We have been using those same models for years in our earlier rod series.
We started the XO project in 2013. The goal was to make a rod that exceeds all the rods we've made so far in every aspect. In this time we have tried and tested a lot of different combinations of materials and actions. Good enough was not going to cut it – it had to be as close to perfect as possible. We also wanted to add something that tells about our origins in Finland.