Redington released the Vapen Red fly rod in 2013, but I didn’t have the chance to test one until I headed to Alaska to take part in a friend’s wedding last summer.
There, I hooked into big grayling on a remote lake and wrangled Kenai River rainbows and dolly varden. I fished long days, taking advantage of sunlight in the sky until midnight as I turned a wedding trip into a marathon fishing vacation.
But Alaska is a unique (and awesome) angling environment. To really see all the rod has to offer, I also used it for a couple months in Colorado, where smaller quarry in smaller streams gave it an entirely different set of tests.
The Gear: Redington Vapen Red ($350, 6-weight tested)
Where To Test It: Big water lakes and rivers where you need distance. Long days when a rod will spend hours in your hand.
First Impressions: Pulling the rod out of its black suede bag, it just drips of technology. Carbon fiber and shimmering graphite greet the eye, a black contrast to the shocking red handle.
This rod is a big gun, and it has the looks to match, but also has details becoming of a much more expensive rod. Slipping together the four pieces, the rod comes to life as it loads up the line.
Casting Power: Redington touts “X-Wrap graphite” in this rod. This blank construction uses a layer of high-density carbon ribbon wrapped on the exterior surface of the graphite blank. The result is a rod with excellent torsional rigidity. Long story short, it works very well.
Within minutes of picking up the rod, I was loading it up quickly for casts in the 40 to 50 foot range and dropping them on target in Alaska. A few casts earned some nice fish that I spotted feeding at the edge of my casting ability.
The fast action was excellent in high winds fishing in Colorado, allowing me to play the breeze to land casts on target 30 feet away. The fast, predictable delivery let the line drift right where I wanted it.
Handle: The bright red PowerGrip handle will get your attention. They were created by Winn Grips for golf clubs, but this non-slip polymer grip technology finds a great application in fly rods, especially for long days in the hand.
While I’ve never noticed much fatigue while fishing, the great comfort of the handle was a nice bonus when spending days on end casting for big fish.
Note On Grip Some people didn’t like the bright red handle, so Redington introduced the Vapen Black for 2015. Same rod, different color handle.
Who’s It For: Anglers who want a fast action rod for long, accurate casts, and those who fish long days.
Important Specs: The Vapen Red is available in four different handle configurations and from 4 to 12 weight. The rod is a four-piece design, making it easy to transport.
Made In: China
Sensitivity: I used the rod drift-boat fishing on the Kenai River. It was an amazing experience and the rod proved itself very capable at sensing the soft bites of rainbow trout scouring the river for salmon eggs.
Killer! I hooked several small trout before locking onto a monster grayling in Alaska. To get the fly to the lunker lying far from shore took all I could muster, but this was the rod for the job. Once hooked, it took me a few minutes to wrangle the big boy to shore, but the lively rod made it easy to keep tension on the line and not let this fish-of-a-lifetime get away.
Flaw: I found it tough to deliver gentle, short casts with this rod to skittish Rocky Mountain trout. Even with my softest delivery I regularly flogged the water too hard on short casts spooking fish, something I rarely do with slower action rods. This is quite possibly user-error, but for those who find a soft presentation difficult, this rod won’t help.
Who Should Buy It: Intermediate to experienced anglers looking to cast long to big fish, saltwater anglers, and those who don’t mind a nontraditional handle in exchange for a more comfortable grip. For $350, this rod is a great value that comes with a lifetime warranty.
For those who want an accurate, powerful rod that’s pleasing in the hand and can’t or don’t want to spend $700 on a high-end model, this is a good place to start.
Contact Brand/More Beta: Redington Vapen Red
—Sean McCoy is a contributing editor. Our “First Look” column highlights new gear arrivals at GearJunkie.com. Photos © Monopoint Media LLC