fly rod review redington vapen
When you first use the new Redington Vapen make sure you’re in a legal shooting zone because, according to Redington, “You don’t cast this rod, you fire it.” That seems like a rather bold statement and I figured Redington had better have something to back up such talk, so I delved into the matter.
First, let’s start with the name: Vapen? Sounds like something out of a Star Wars movie. Curious, I did more delving, this time into the origins of the word. As it turns out it’s pronounced ‘Vay•pen’ and it translates to “Weapon” in Swedish. But my real “Ah-Ha!” moment occurred when I imagined a conversation between two feuding Swedes. Work with me here, folks…
Uff da! The brand new Vapen comes in two models: the standard-issue Vapen with a cork grip; and the Vapen Red, which features Redington’s new PowerGrip. Both models feature an attractive blank using X-Wrap technology. The technical talk is best served up straight from the horse’s mouth:
“X-Wrap Blank Technology effortlessly transforms angler input into powerful casts. When we combined this new technology with PowerGrip, we couldn’t believe the change in power. With every angler who tested the rod, loop geometry got tighter and casts went further,” notes Redington General Manager, David Visnack. “The word Vapen means weapon, Visnack continues, we quickly realized you don’t cast this rod, you fire it, so Vapen is a perfect name for this weapon! It is the perfect addition to an angler’s arsenal.”
Redington’s new X-Wrap construction method involves wrapping one layer of super-high density carbon ribbon inside the blank and another counter-wrapped on the exterior surface. X-Wrap construction provides surprising power with little effort. The technology is so distinct you will actually see the difference in the blank. Anglers have the option of combining X-Wrap technology with the entirely new PowerGrip or a traditional cork handle, thus having an abundance of options within Redington’s new premium fly rod family.
To create the Vapen Red’s custom unique grip, Redington collaborated with renowned golf club grip company, Winn Grips. Together they developed an advanced polymer grip that won’t slip when wet, feels soft in the hand and reduces fatigue. It also cleans easily, doesn’t chip and helps amplify casting power.
Cork versions of the Vapen series are also available and come with Portuguese premium grade cork for the more traditional angler.”
That’s all fine and dandy, but all that marketing mumbo-jumbo is merely rhetoric for most prospective customers. Real world feedback is all that matters, and while your mileage may differ, here are my thoughts on the Redington Vapen (I was provided a Vapen Red model in a 5-weight to demo).
I’ll be the first to admit—the red PowerGrip takes a bit of getting used to, visually. Given the long-standing tradition of using a particular grip material in fly rod construction it’s hard not to gasp when anything other than cork is used. However from a functional standpoint the PowerGrip certainly makes sense. And why not borrow from golf to enhance your fly casting experience? Afterall, Golf and Flyfishing are Kindred Spirits.
It was a warm day in the upper 70’s with a touch of humidity when I did my lawn casting. I noticed that while my hand did sweat a bit, the grip didn’t feel slippery in my hand thanks to the rubbery texture of the polymer material. And it’s comfortable, too. There’s a cushiony feel to the grip so I can see how hand fatigue may be reduced over the course of a long day casting. Visually it’s the grip that is going to cause folks to either love it or not love it. My son, Schpanky, digs the grip. He loves golf, too so that may say something about his character. I understand why Redington chose red but I’d prefer something a bit more subtle. For old guys like me there’s always the cork option.
The blank is a very cool looking dark gray (almost black) with a slight greenish tint under certain lighting conditions. Red accents are pleasing and sporty. You can see the crossing pattern of the fibers which is a result of the X-Wrap technology. The result is an appearance that looks rough and twisted but is smooth as the windless surfaces of a millpond. In my opinion it’s one of the nicer looking blanks I’ve seen on any rod. The carbon fiber reel seat is also very attractive. The overall appearance of the rod gets a thumbs up from both Schpanky and myself with the caveat that I prefer the look of cork to the red polymer.
First thoughts when lawn casting the rod? Powerful. This thing can throw some line. I happened to be using Rio’s brand new Perception Freshwater line, and it shot through the guides effortlessly. Weighing in at 3.4 ounces, the Vapen feels light in the hand and nimble like nearly all modern graphite rods being produced today. Some rods are lighter than others obviously, and the Vapen is no uber-featherweight, but it’s not going to wear your arm out by any means. It has some flex down to the middle of the blank so it’s no broomschtick, but it is definitely a fast action rod that hits its stride when distance casting. Most of my rods are fast so the Vapen fit my casting stroke nicely. I am not the world’s greatest caster, but I ran out of room in our back yard before I could exhaust the Vapen’s capabilities to
shoot fire line. Fore!
So off to the river’s edge I went. I hear tell of some who can cast their entire line, but the best I can seem to manage is 65-70 feet, and even at those distances I am pushing it. Be that what it may, I was able to match that distance with the Vapen and in doing so thought that the 5 weight might really enjoy being over-lined with a 6 weight line—maybe next time. My on-water testing revealed something unexpected: the combination of the Vapen and the Rio line made mending effortless. A quick flick of the rod tip easily put a decent mend in it—the line seemed to be the least sticky flyline I’ve ever used. Rio says:
“Built with ultra-low stretch ConnectCore Technology, the RIO Perception lines provide pioneering levels of sensitivity for intuitively better cast timing, easier line lift and sharp, precise mends. Lack of stretch also means enhanced detection of subtle takes and significantly reduced reaction time when setting the hook.”
Unfortunately no fish were hooked in the testing, but I did like the line. A lot. I never tend to think too much about the lines I use, but I can honestly say that this line felt great and was a perfect match for the powerful Vapen.
If I were to be in the market for a new rod, would I consider the new Redington Vapen? Yes, without a doubt. Would I get the traditional cork or the Red model? My old school inclination would be to go with the cork and leave the polymer grip to the younger, hipper crowd. That being said, the polymer grip is very functional. Hmm…
The Vapen (cork grip) will retail for $299 while the Vapen Red (polymer grip) will go for $349. No matter which grip you prefer, you won’t be able to get your hands on either one until the rod becomes available in August.
BREAKING NEWS: More than a month before the rod is even available, The Vapen Red won the top prize in the fly rod category at the European Fishing Tack;e Exhibition in Vienna, Austria. That’s not a bad way to launch a product.