Vapen, it just sounds cool. Pronounced “Vaw-Pin”, it is actually an old Norse word for weapon, and if you are hunting fish, this is a weapon you want in your arsenal. I am pretty darn sure if the Vikings had a few of these rods they would have been fishing more than pillaging England. Redington has recently unveiled this rod at the IFTD show in Las Vegas and was awarded the best in show for this product. The European Fishing Tackle Trade Exhibition handed the top prize in the fly rod category also, and after spending a little time with it I fully understand why.
I was sent the Vapen Red to try out and see how I liked it. The first thing about the Vapen Red that grabs your attention is the bright red handle. As you wrap your hand around the handle, where traditionally cork would be, your hand encounters a very unusual feel for a fly rod. It is softer than any cork, but still feels solid. When your hands are wet it still allows you a solid grip on the rod without slipping and because of the material, a blend of unicorn skin and narwhal blood, just kidding, the PowerGrip it is actually a new polymer that was created with the golf company Winn Grips, you don’t have to grip the rod as hard and makes casting a little easier. Now I didn’t come to this immediately, at first it was weird and it took a little time to get used to it but once I did it really stood out as a very comfortable rod. Don’t fret too much, for all you cork junkies out there the Vapen is also available with a traditional cork handle. The Vapen uses a new cross-wrap technology that gives the blank a swirling effect and is a very sexy looking rod. According to the website, “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. “ Coming in a well made, as usual, rod sock and a hard tube, the four-piece offering from Redington is a breeze to travel with.
Casting the Vapen Red is a very pleasant experience. The blank has a very nice action and while I was throwing big spun deer hair flies for bass or heavy crab patterns for redfish, this rod really came alive, especially when paired up with the RIO Bonefish Quickshooter line. The rod had a weird feel, a good weird feel, at first and realized it didn’t have a lot of vibration to it. I was concerned at first but the rod is still as sensitive as you need it to be. The Vapen is still stiff enough to generate plenty of line speed and keep your loops tight; I was able to cast good distance with better than my usual accuracy. Once I hooked a fish the rod handled them with ease. A 4-lb largemouth put a good bend in the rod and even though I was fishing an 8-weight version of the Vapen, the tip was soft enough to feel every head shake as it tried to get the hook loose. I switched up flies to a smaller streamer and caught a few bluegill on it. Not as much fun but I was still able to feel the fish all the way down the length of the rod.
The weather finally gave me a window for some salt water fishing where lightning wasn’t crashing and the wind was less then 20mph and I went looking for a redfish. Our first spot we stopped the water was still just starting to rise up and get to the grass flats we were going to stalk some redfish on. I casted a spawning rattle shrimp fly I recently developed into the creek and began stripping the fly back. With the Vapen, I was able to drop my fly 50-60 feet easily and where I wanted it. As I worked my fly up the small creek I let it hit the bottom and was dragging it along and I was able to feel the bumps and clicks as it made its way over the oysters and mud. A decent sized lady fish grabbed the fly and after a few seconds was off. It felt good to feel a salty fish pull back for a change. We walked around and I found a nice spot where the water started to fill in and I set up and waited. As I scanned the grass looking for the tell tale tail,( yes I just wrote that) of a redfish happily eating I slowly stripped my fly line and watched. The water rose slowly and I saw baitfish moving in and then I saw kinda what I was looking for. The gentle breeze was rocking the grass softly to the left and I saw a small clump take a hard dive to the right, a few more inches and another clump dove right. That wasn’t a mullet, for that was a redfish cruising. It was kind of close to me so I softly stepped back a few steps and I saw the tail. The blue edged coppery fin and the spot on the base lazily pushed through the grass. This fish was close and I was in a bad spot, the Vapen is 9feet long and I needed to make a 6-foot cast. I gently swung the Vapen to my right in a slow arc and dropped the fly about a foot ahead and to the right of the fish. A second later there was a big swirl and I saw the fish starting to take off. Dangnabbit, yes I actually said dangnabbit, I thought I spooked the fish, and then I noticed my fly line following the path the fish was taking. Holy Monkey he ate the fly! I dropped a quick strip set sweeping low and to my right and the fight was on. As I brought up the Vapen to a higher angle to keep pressure on the fish he kept running through the grass and the rod bent over, the x-wrap technology did not disappoint. As the fish ran and darted the Vapen just ate it up. I started getting line back a little at a time and he ran again, it wasn’t a long fight but while he was running and the rod was bending I really felt that I could take on a tarpon with this rod. I scooped up my prize and we made happy faces for the camera.
The Vapen is a high quality weapon that throws long tight loops, is comfortable to carry, cast and fight a fish. The Vapen Red ranges in size from 5-weight through 12-weight and will retail for $349.99 once available in August 2013. The Lowcountry Fly Shop in Mount Pleasant (click here) will carry the rods locally. So if you want to see for yourself swing by the shop next month and as soon as we get them in we’ll take out and let you cast it.