It's the system! Excellent rod design married to an attractive light weight large arbor reel with a great drag. Can't get any better!! I have fished a 4 wt center axis for over four years. It can handle 7X tippet with finess and a 30" rainbow with authority. Five stars are simply not enough!
I have both a 4wt and 5wt Center Axis and use them regularly on the San Juan River. Both rods are easy to cast, have great weight distribution and have the power to pick up a lot of line for recasts off a boat or wading. Casting with a strike indicator, split shot and a two-nymph combo, even in the wind, is no problem with the 5wt. Probably the most impressive aspect of these rods, is even the 4wt has the power to play bigger fish and steer them away from weeds and swift current. I have a 5wt G-Loomis NRX and a 4wt Orvis Helios and I would compare the Center Axis to both of these rods, and the nice thing is that the Center Axis already has an excellent reel.
I have been fishing this rod/reel for two seasons. I really like the design and function of the combo system. I never have to tighten the reel onto the rod, not drop my reel by accident. I also like the single case which holds both products together for faster set up and really easy to carry on backpacking trips without sticking up to hit trees. I liked it so much bought my wife one this year as she has started to fly fish as well.