Vapen, a review

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.

That's a grip you'll see from a long ways off.

That’s a grip you’ll see from a long ways off.

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.

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  1. …and thankfully they offer the Vapen with a cork grip, too.

    Good solid, honest review.

  2. I too really appreciate innovation and risk-taking. If you’re looking for an innovative grip that I absolutely LOVE is Loop’s X-Grip. It’s a patented hexagonal grip that provides a more precise grip and less carpal tunnel action cause you don’t have to grip as tightly in order to prevent slippage.

    Peep it:

  3. bonefishbjorn

    I just saw that… awesome.

  4. Doug Jeffries

    You’re going to have to alter your standards. The Vapen won the best saltwater fly rod in Vegas. Which with 99 cents will get you one of those all you can eat breakfast buffets at a cheesey joint just off the strip.

  5. bonefishbjorn

    Well… if the grip had been cork, I might have felt differently about it. That colored my opinion a lot (yes, that’s sort of a pun). I does come in cork, which is really good to know. Best is a hard thing to say. I’d love to have the cork grip along side the Sage One and the H2. Those are kind of my favorite rods in an 8 that I’v cast to date.

  6. I enjoy the blog! I see that you’ve revived your TFO375. I have the same reel and am about to to go to Hawaii (Big Island) to chase whatever will take a fly. Any ideas why the reel failed on you ? (I need mine to last 2 weeks). Has it been relegated to freshwater now?

  7. bonefishbjorn

    I really don’t care for that reel. I don’t think TFO makes that one any more, at least not built that way. You get it wet and the drag will temporarily lose effectiveness and salt is b-a-d for it. Really… if I were you, I might get a different reel. For budget’s sake, check out Lamson, Galvan or even some of the Sage reels.

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