Introducing the new Redington I.D. reel. This is probably going to go on my striper rig.
Introducing the new Redington I.D. reel. This is probably going to go on my striper rig.
Folks… forward this on to your loved ones if you’d like to drop hints, but don’t want to just fill out an Amazon Wish List.
Flats Anglers have needs… special needs… needs that are different from Rocky Mountain trout anglers or a bass fisherman. We are special.
First… there is the sun. The sun is kind of brutal out there on the flats. There’s no shade wading a flat or standing on a flats skiff. So… here are a few thing we might need to stay un-crisp.
The Patagonia Men’s Tropic Comfort Hoody II.
Long name, but a pretty awesome shirt for the sun. The hood, the high collar, the thumb holes… I like it all. I have one in blue and I want more.
And since we’re on Patagonia… let’s talk about the Guidewater II Pants.
I have several pairs of these. I love them. After a day in the salt they sort of harden to be similar to armor. I love that feeling. I’ve torn a couple pairs at this point, but those were 100% my fault.
I also have this hat…
Trucker caps are cool… but if you are like me (a bit bald) the mesh doesn’t do what I need it to in terms of keeping me from burning.
And because it is part of the uniform and part of not burning… how about a Stalker Mask from Skinny Water Culture.
Everyone NEEDS good sunglasses out on the flats. I prefer Costas, which is pretty much what 95% of the fly anglers I know fish with.
In terms of our feet… well… that is less about sun and more about coral/shells/urchins. There are two boots I’ve used lately. My heavy boots were from Patagonia, but a look on their website and they DON’T MAKE THEM ANYMORE! Crap!
Luckily, others do. Here’s the other pair of flats boots I have. The Simms Zipit Bootie II.
These pack down nicely to save room. I have these a size too small, sadly, which can make a day on the water a bit uncomfortable (I wear a 14 and it can be hard to get what I need in this department). It looks very much like Simms has you covered in their other designs as well. I mean… Simms… pretty solid.
You need a pack while you are out there, and I recently converted over to the Thunderhead sling pack by Fishpond. In addition to being just an awesome company (love their conservation ethic), the sling does a couple of things really well. It is waterproof. I can leave my phone in that thing without worrying. Second, it is big enough for me to carry everything I need without sacrificing. Third, with it sitting higher than a hip pack if I leave a zipper open in haste, it isn’t going to fill up with water with one deep step. I’m a fan.
Now… on to the rod and reel end of things.
Let’s start with the most important element piece of hard gear for the salt… the reel.
The best budget option out there right now, by far, is the Behemoth from Redington. I mean… at $129 you can pick up three of these for the price of one of the bigger named reels. They are not likely to fish for 20 years, but if you need a back-up or want to pick up a rig for your first trip without fully investing… this is a great option.
Other reels I think highly of..
I’ve always wanted a Galvan T8. At $430, this is what passes for a mid-range reel for saltwater. They are also a California company, which is cool.
It seems these days a lot of the top anglers I see are sporting the Hatch 7+. At $650, this is a solid high-end reel.
Now… on to the rods, which some would argue is just as important as the reel… maybe even more important.
On the budget side of things, the revamped Redington Predator is a good, solid option. Budget, for a saltwater rod, is about $300. I’ve got three Predators, an 8, 10 and 12. When you are going multi-species and are looking at three rods, it gets hard to fathom getting three $800 rods. The Predator helps get you around that.
For the top end of the market… I love, love, love my Orvis Helios 2. Now, they have a third version of this rod out now, so, you’d have to settle for an H3 (which is supposed to be even better).
Other rods that are beloved by anglers I deeply respect include…
The Meridian from Scott.
The Sage Salt HD.
In terms of fly lines, I’ve pretty much been a RIO guy for a while.
I like their standard bonefish line. They have a Quickshooter line as well, and I’d recommend that if you are going to primarily wading for your bones, or if you might need a little bit more loading on your rod. They also have a directcore line, which I haven’t fished, but seems really promising.
OK. That’s not IT. There is a ton more. There is tippet and leaders and flies and fly tying material and boat bags and then the actual boats… kayaks, SUPs, skiffs. Nippers, pliers, tippet holders, coolers… so much gear to have so much fun. The gear is half the fun (OK, maybe 10%, but still, you need this stuff to get out there and get after it.)
Flyfishing for Bonefish by Dick Brown
Fly Fishing Belize by Jim Klug
Body of Water: A Sage, a Seeker, and the World’s Most Elusive Fish by Chip Dombrowski
GT: A Flyfisher’s Guide by Peter McLeod
Fly-Fishing the Yucatan by Rod Hamilton (and others)
Yeti Tundra cooler
Fishpond Thunderhead Duffle
Skinny Water Culture Tarponist t-shirt
Estrada Art Tarpon Slime t-shirt
Body Glide (seriously)
Now… let me show you my new gear.
We are full of contradictions and inconsistencies and that proves one thing. We are human.
When I read about a $1,100 trout rod I was incredulous. “Stupid” I thought. No trout (OK, almost no trout) is going to really, really test your tackle. You don’t need space-age materials to land a 14″ rainbow. Man, we fly fishermen are a gullible lot.
But… I really did want a back-up 8 wt. and when I cast the newly re-launched Predator rod from Redington, I kind of wanted it. I have an 8 wt. A really good one. I also have two other 8’s that work in a pinch. I didn’t NEED a new 8 wt, but I did WANT a new 8 wt. and I, in fact, got a new 8 wt.
And… ya know… what’s a new rod without a new reel? So, I picked up a Behemoth as well (cheap and powerful, a good combo).
Had to get a new line too, of course… so I added another RIO Bonefish line to the arsenal.
I could have fished a week without any of these things. I could have gone on with exactly what I have and I would have been fine. But… ya know… I wanted that stuff.
I also picked up a new hooded sun shirt from Patagonia which I hope will keep me from burning anything important in my on-going quest to appease my wife and not die prematurely. I should add it would NOT appease my wife for me to die prematurely.
So, I got a new shirt. I have a lot of shirts. I have favorite shirts and lucky shirts and shirts that are jinxed or hexed and shirts with no known ability to attract or repel fish of any kind. I didn’t need a new shirt. But I did want a new shirt. I wanted two, actually, and so I also got a new Redington bonefish shirt.
Flyfishing attracts gear-heads, it seems, and while it sometimes seems outright dumb to buy and buy and buy there is also something entirely enjoyable about sliding a new rod out of a rod tube and putting backing on a new reel, just as there is something deeply fulfilling about adding the 304th fly into the fly box.
So… YOU DON’T NEED NEW GEAR! But, that’s not really why we buy the gear in the first place.
Things got a little crazy on here after I got back from Florida and some of the stuff I wanted to write I didn’t get to, so I’m going to get back to all of that.
I went to go find the big ladies on their migratory journey. I found a few (very few) and they were uninterested in me (felt like high school). Since I was after the 100 pound plus fish I had a correspondingly heavy rod. In this case, I had a loaner Redington Predator 12 weight.
The Predator 12 is a big rod for big fish. It has the additional cork grip so you can really put the stick to the fish with out snapping the thing in more pieces than intended. I’ve never actually cast a rod with the second grip before and I thought might make things a bit heavy. That proved to not be a concern as I found the rod cast remarkably well. Davin put some casts out with the Predator and he liked it as well.
I can’t tell you how if felt on a fish because I didn’t hook a fish on the 12. I really, really, really wish I could tell you how it felt on a big, mature female tarpon, maybe 110 pounds… ya know, the stuff of dreams. Dreams they remain and not born from them on this trip.
So, what I can tell you about the Predator 12 is that it felt good to cast. It wasn’t too heavy and I’m considering adding that rod to the arsenal. At $249, it is a steal by half.
I like gear that is a value and this clearly is. You can spend anywhere from $150 to $900 on a rod these days and for me, every dollar spent on gear is one fewer dollar for the trip kitty. I like to find value for money and this is clearly that.
They make the Predator all the way up to a 14 (I assume for fishing for submarines).
I’m favorably inclined and I bet, if you were in the market, you might enjoy the Predator 12 too, especially if you don’t want to damage your bank account too much in the process.
Redington has been doing a series called “Find Your Water.” I’ve seen it come through my in-box, but I figured it would be mostly freshwater stuff. Well, that proves not to be the case. The latest episode (it’s short, watch it) takes place in the Everglades with Alex Tejeda and his Kayak. Cool stuff.
I do love the budget gear and the guys over at Gink and Gasoline recently posted some thoughts on affordable bonefish rods.
Of the three, the only one I’ve case is the Redington Predator, which I own in a 10 wt. and I’ve cast in a 9 wt.. I do have a TFO Clouser 8 wt. I use for bonefish and I’ve been pretty happy with it in a variety of situations. The funny thing is the diagram they have implies it has less power and is more of a presentation stick, which I disagree with. I’ve never found that rod lacking in power… not once.
I have yet to fish an ECHO. One has never found its way into my hands on the water. Off the water I’ve used their practice rod, but the new Redington Form Game Rod has relegated that to the garage.
There are a great number of affordable rods out there for your bonefishing pleasure. The rods mentioned in the G&G post are all $250, as is the TFO Clouser I mentioned above. If that’s too steep, there are even cheaper rods that will do the job.
The Redington Voyant is only $190. The TFO Professional Series II is only $160.
Options. Options abound. If you are shelling out big bucks for a premium rod, one of these might make sense as a backup. I’d never head out for a week of fishing with just one rod. That’s one careless move away from doing a lot more spectating than I’d really care for.
The IFTD Show was a few weeks back. I didn’t make it this year, but there were still plenty of folks there. Last year it was a good time. There was some over training on my part, but it was great to actually meet folks I had been talking to, or about, for a while.
The show is maybe mostly about relationships, but people come there to talk about gear.
Gink and Gasoline was there and they had some thoughts. Good stuff.
The Best Saltwater Rod was the Vapen from Redington. Now… I got to fish the Vapen a bit here in mostly fresh water and I wasn’t a huge fan. That may have been largely because I got a bit hung up on the new grip. The rod itself felt pretty good. I said I would have liked the rod a lot more if it just had a cork grip and as it turns out, you can get it with a cork grip. That would help my opinion of it a lot.
The best saltwater reel was given to the Nautilus CCFX2. I haven’t put my hands on one of those just yet. Sam Root captured the the deets.
Here’s the list from MidCurrent. Some notables in there.
I knew it was going to be beyond reasonably hot when I got to the reservoir. It was 11:00 AM and already my car told me it was 94 degrees. It would get hotter. There would be no shade. As I stepped into my waders in the parking lot I could already feel the oppression, the weight of the heat.
Still, there is the whole “a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work” thing, so I grabbed the Redington Vapen and I went to go look for big, prickish carp.
The Vapen is unique. It’s hard to be unique when you make a fly fishing rod. They mostly look identical and it is usually the components or blank color which identify the rod maker. From an appearance perspective, most rods look very similar. On this, the Vapen has done a great job of creating a little space.
With the red grip, you can tell it is a Vapen from 300 yards. From up close you can also admire the very unique blank… metallic, sleek and slightly deadly looking. The grip is what really sets the rod apart. There just hasn’t been a lot of innovation in grips over the years. The biggest innovation was probably that someone took cork, cut it up into lots of tiny pieces, made a composite cork and made a grip out of it. It’s still cork and the feel is largely the same. The Vapen is a hard right turn from tradition. It is unique.
As far as backbone and casting power, the Vapen does well and I can understand why the Vapen is coming in at the top of the Redington line of rods. It casts well. The one big carp I hooked on the rod felt very good on the rod. Wish I could have put it through the paces a bit more, but alas… there was just the one hooked carp.
When giving an overview of the rod, I have to go back to the grip, that red, tennis racquet like grip. I think it is really hard to do something totally unique. Cork has been used for so long largely because it is so effective and well suited to the job. The Vapen grip didn’t work for me. It felt hot (on a day that was a scorcher) and it felt a bit slippery (as I was wading to my waste and my hands were often wet). I found myself thinking about the grip too much. It was a distraction.
I wanted to like this rod. I wanted it to be my new favorite thing. I like risk takers. I like innovation. This rod was trying something new and for that I applaud the good folks at Redington.
The Vapen grip for me was New Coke. Put a cork grip on that thing and it would make it Classic and I’d probably love it.
NOTE: It looks like you will be able to get the Vapen with a cork grip… so… that might make me a lot happier with this rod. It isn’t up on the Redington site yet, but that’s good news.
Here’s what I’m bringing to the Bahamas… for my “family” vacation.
I’m bringing three fly rods.
I’m bringing one spinning rod (first time for that).
I’m bringing three fly reels.
I’m bringing one spinning reel (thanks Charlie).
The gear is almost all mine and almost all on the budget side of things, with the major exception of the Abel Super 7/8n. I’m going to fish the TFO and Abel as my go-to set-up here with the 10 for the cuda and the spinning rig for my daughter and wife.
I think the lines on the fly reels are all RIO. Pretty sure the Lamson’s both have RIO Clouser Tropical lines, which have been kind of my standard lines in the salt, but which, as far as I can see, isn’t in the RIO lineup anymore, although maybe it has just been re-branded. The Abel has the new RIO Quickshooter, which I’m interested to try out.
Christmas came early. My first re-married Christmas is off to a fine, fine start. This is my gift from the Mrs., a 10 weight. Just what I wanted.
I went back and forth between a 10 and 11, but in the end I settled on the 10.
I’m excited to find something to throw this at. I got a Redington to stay true to my “cheap is good” beliefs. I think this is a fine stick and I look forward to feeling something big and nasty pulling on the other end.
This is not the first Predator I’ve had my hands on. I caught my big (for me, anyway) Cuba tarpon on a Predator 11 and I cast a 9 in Hawaii (unsuccessfully) back a year ago. So, we have some history. This stick is workman like. It is not overly fancy (although it is blue and my daughter loves blue), but it is just a good, honest rod at a pretty decent price. This rod will be with me for a long time and that is good value:money.