The real test in my mind would be how it threw a line. In the hand it has a crisp action that begs for a dry fly. I had 3 lines on hand that should fit the rod, so I figured comparing all three would the best test I could put together. (left to right: Orvis 5wt DT, Rio 4wt WF & Mastery Headstart 4wt)
Here's what I found/felt/thought...based on my layman's skills and lack of technical rod expertise. I know what I personally look for and like. Beyond that all is subjective.
I began with the 4wt WF line and my thoughts were "crisp. Easy casting and lively. Easy to toss sidearm loops with." But nothing to speak of. Functional, but I was hoping for more.
The 5wt DT was next. With this line I felt the rod really found its niche. Casting was effortless and it seemed to load on it's own. I felt I could fish this setup on most any water I fish locally. The rod won me at that point.
The last line was the SA Heastart Master 4wt. I had bought this line on sale for my sons 7 1/2ft graphite rod. It was not spooled yet, so I wound it on an SA System 1 English made 4/5/6 reel with no backing. The Headstart has a short and 1/2 size heavier head for quick loading. With this line, the rod was almost impossible to miss with. I was picking spots on the snow 15-35' and bouncing a #12 Elk Hair Caddis off of them like I had owned the rod my whole life. A 4 1/2 it was. Would a higher end line in a half-size up cast better? Maybe. But this line fit the rod perfectly.
The rig I believe I will be hitting the water with on the first signs of spring, with only a bit of backing still required. I'll need to shop for another line for my son I reckon.