Redington’s Vapen Red fast-action rod has gotten quite a bit of press over the past year. We had the chance to fish one last week at Andros South, and we really liked it. Here’s the review!
Intro and Specs
We fished the Vapen 890-4V – a 9 foot 8 weight. Redington has another line of saltwater-specific rods called the Predator – but as a general-purpose fast-action rod, the Vapen in an 8 weight is a great choice for bonefishing.
At 4.3 ounces, the 8 weight Vapen would have been considered a really light rod just a few years ago. At 4.3 ounces it’s actually considerably heavier than some other current fast-action 8 weights on the market today – the Sage ONE in a 9 foot 8 weight, for example, weighs 3.5 ounces – but we really didn’t notice the weight.
Speaking of stats, here’s a really important number related to the Vapen Red – it costs $349.95. At the risk of beating ourselves to the punch, we’ll just say that this is a high-performing rod and an incredible value.
The most noticeable feature of the Vapen Red is its grip. Redington calls it PowerGrip – rather than cork, the majority of the grip is a bright red, textured polymer that they created with Winn Grips (the golf grip company). We’ll tell you more about the grip down below. You can also get the Vapen with a conventional cork grip.
Action and Fishing Performance
The Vapen Red has a super lively feel, and we’d call the action fast but not super fast. As opposed to most ‘dedicated’ saltwater rods, you can really feel the Vapen load right down into the grip. For our bonefishing on South Andros, this is a great thing. Allow us a quick tangent…
Most of our shots at bonefish at Andros South come between 30 and 50 feet. Quick presentations to bonefish are key, so it’s really important to fish a setup that gets your rod loaded quickly, at relatively close range. Although some anglers like fishing super-fast rods, they’re not always an advantage in our fishery, because it can take quite a bit of line (and often quite a few false casts) to get a super-fast rod loaded. The butt sections of most fast saltwater rods are typically really powerful to help fighting fish and casting in the wind – but that power can come with the cost of being difficult to load fast.
So back to the Vapen – although it’s fast, it bends pretty uniformly and loads easily with modern saltwater lines, especially of the short-head variety. We fished it in some calm conditions and some windy conditions and really liked the balance of ample power to fight the wind and deliver the occasional long cast, together with the ‘bendiness’ to get the rod loaded quickly and really feel that load.
Did we miss the super-strong butt section that a ‘saltwater’ rod might have? Not really – yeah, when fighting bigger bonefish you might lack a tiny bit of power to really put the wood to ’em, but we’ll take the quick loading to get that bonefish hooked in the first place.
So What About the Grip?
We’ve heard some strong reactions in both directions to the polymer grip on the Vapen Red. Our quick take – it’s pretty cool, but not anything to get incredibly worked up about either way.
The grip was really comfortable. We had no problem hanging on whether it was wet or dry. Pinching line against the grip was easy. Probably the most noticeable trait of the grip was that we felt a little more ‘in touch’ with the rod – the diameter is relatively small and the grip is a little bit soft, and that all adds to the sensation that you can really feel the butt section of the rod load.
The Vapen Red is a great rod and it costs $350, and that makes for an incredible value. It’s an easy-loading, versatile, fast-action option, and it’s earned a permanent spot in our bonefishing quiver. You can check it out on Redington’s web site right here.
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