Coming at you like a one-two punch, here is a review of the Redington Vapen Red fly rod aka ‘the other half’ of the fly fishing outfit I’ve been using the last few months.
The Redington Vapen is a brand new rod in Redington’s line-up for 2013 and has already won its share of awards such as the IFTD “Best New Saltwater Fly Rod 2013”. The Redington Vapen is actually a series comprised of two rods, the Vapen and Vapen Red. The standard Vapen fly fishing rod has a normal cork grip like you would see across the board, but the Vapen Red comes with an extra innovation Redington likes to call the “PowerGrip”. The PowerGrip is basically a rubberized grip that replaces the standard cork on the fly rod providing a more comfortable and controlled grip. Finally, something new in the world of fly rods!
For the last decade advances in materials have allowed fly rods to become more durable, become faster in action, and reduce weight. Nothing has been done that really drastically changed how the fly rod itself looks in appearance. Before the Vapen Red, the untrained eye or non-gear-whore wouldn’t be able to tell much apart between an entry level and high-end fly rod besides the blank color and maybe some features like stainless guides. Now, Redington’s collaboration with Winn Grips has revamped the fly fishing rod grip as we know it. You might know Winn Grips from their extensive line of golf grips that some professionals swear by.
Fine, it’s got a cool new grip to appease the kids but what else is there in this new Vapen rod? Let’s pull up Redington’s spec sheet from their website:
- X-Wrap graphite technology for maximum vibration dampening, strength and torsional stability
- PowerGrip-Our custom collaboration with Winn Grips, Non-slip Polymer Grip Technology. Reduces fatigue and amplifies power
- Carbon fiber reel seat insert and custom anodized reel seat highlights
- Alignment dots for easy setup
- Custom logo designed grip
- High Quality black suede bag
- Integrated composite cork, superior durability
- Machined hidden hook keepers
- Lifetime Warranty
Pretty solid line-up! Aside from the new grip, the new Vapen boasts some material, process, and other cosmetic advancements as well. The new “X-Wrap” for strength, alignment dots for ease of assembly (and peace of mind for us OCD anglers who need everything perfect), and a carbon fiber reel seat for…well…looks. One thing that Redington doesn’t list which I think is an awesome feature is the addition of hook keepers (see gallery below) which are machined into the reel seat. I believe the reel retaining seat is made by FUJI or some variation of their design- which means there are two holes machined into the forward retaining ring of the reel seat allowing you to stow your fly when not in use instead of those horribly stupid metal loops that are glassed into the rod base by companies in lower-end rods.
Overall the rod looks solid and will get even more looks from others with it’s innovative grip. The small details on this rod are on par with the big boys and their $800 outfits. The rod thread wrapping is done well, the epoxy is spun perfectly, and there are even tiny little Redington logos stamped into the new rubberized PowerGrip handle.
This rod fishes. Simple as that.
It was very easy to pick up this rod and just start chucking the fly. The action is forgiving, but accurate and powerful at the same time. I’m not an 80-100 foot caster, but I was able to cast almost into my backing with this rod a few times while messing around. The accuracy is also better than expected. I spent the first week of owning this rod in my backyard tossing at small pond lilly pads and I was able to get with 12 inches of these sparse little pads each time I tried. These were all within 20-40 feet of the bank so I can figure that to be an average casting distance.
What about that grip!? The grip was neat, actually. I am 2-3 times a year golfer so maybe I was used to rubber grips as well as my cork fly rods. The grip really lets your hands soften up and gives you good control of the rod. The grip is rubbery and soft, but not like a gel-filled ball- it’s literally exactly like a high-end bicycle or golf grip. I guess you can only really know the material and how it feels in your hand when you physically have one in front of you. Want to know something awesome about this grip that I didn’t expect? The ease of cleaning! As you may or may not know, cork can be a royal pain to clean. You may have to even sand it down to get it looking new. This new grip cleans off to like-new condition with some basic household cleaner such as Fantastic, Windex, or any other product.
The weight of the rod is about on par with the current ‘standard’ of 4 ounces. The 8 weight Vapen Red model 890-4V I tested out comes in officially at 4.3 ounces as stated on the Redington website. At no time did I get fatigued while casting the rod on the bow of the skiff, but then again I’m a self-confessed hater of those who complain about ounces of weight on their setups.
When I received this rod, I paired it with some spare line I had laying around which was Monic Tropical Clear WF8F. This line is a clear mono-core line and can be a few grains heavier than the official 8 weight specification for lines. Each time I throw out the line with the Vapen Red I felt the rod load well and I was able to find the sweet spot for casting in a very short amount of time. Come to think of it, I feel that a properly weighted line such as Wulff Bermuda in a regular taper would have been perfect- I just didn’t have any WF8F on hand and I didn’t want to mis-match the line for this article.
Due to the forgiving nature of the rod, the line pickup suffered a bit. That is always a give or take with fly rods as if you have a broom stick in your hand that picks up line better you are giving up other aspects of the rod. My only other qualm about this rod is that it’s not a super fast action rod. My two current personal rods in 7 and 9 weight are both described by their manufacturers as ‘super fast’. Call me Ricky Bobby, but I like my rods fast at this point in my life, but at no time was I disappointed with the Vapen!
Would I recommend this rod? Sure would.
It’s easy to cast and I couldn’t find anything wrong with it. Redington has made a great looking rod that performs well and can only really be picked apart when you come down to extreme specifics of casting style like rod speed and personal aesthetic expectations.
Try one out for yourself!