Sometimes a compromise isn't about settling for the middle ground, its choosing what's best overall. Going to extremes may be more exciting than picking the safe choice, but its frequently foolish and unnecessary. Incredibly specialized tools may be engineering marvels, but the more practical ones are used more frequently and thus accomplish more.
I've fished the 8'6" 5wt version of Redington's new fly rod a few times now, and it really fits the mold of a practical work-horse. Its not a parking lot rod that will easily lay the whole line out there and wow the crowd. That's a good thing, as those rods don't do well at most types of trout fishing. This rod excels at short precise casts, mends, roll casting, and all the trick casts that need a little more "feel" in the rod.
Its definitely a medium action rod. If you're used to an XP, a GLX, or something similar, you're going to have to slow down and pay attention to what the rod is telling you. Once you've got the feel down, you'll be able to throw wide loops when needed and to tighten up your loops when needing to throw longer distances, or to throw into the wind. Mends surprised me with their ease at first, even slightly easier than with my Sage 490 LL. The rod lacks the "oomph" in the butt section of the LL, but I was still able to throw 65' pretty easily. The rod will bend substantially when fighting a fish, and may not have the authority over a hooked fish that a burlier rod might, but it will protect light tippets better.
The build quality and accessories are impressive as well. I suppose the reel seat insert is the equivalent of Pergo, but its not plain metal or plastic, looks sharp, and undeniably lends to a more "classic" feel than would a woven graphite insert. The metal parts are quite nice as well, and function very precisely. The guide wraps and epoxy work leaves no nits to pick, and the cork is as fine as I've seen on any rod under $300. My only beef is that the top edge of the cork is squared off and I'd prefer it be rounded a bit. The sock and tube are also top tier amongst the sub $300 rod crowd.
So far I've caught no trout on this rod, but that matters not. My local rivers in the Texas Hill Country are basically trout streams that happen to be full of fish that can survive really hot summers. I've fished carefully presented dry flies, swung streamers, spey casted wets, and thrown poppers into tight spots, and its done it all well. Fly weights have ranged from small foam ants to size 6 conehead buggers. Its already landed over 60 fish, and that's what it does well: not waggle in a rod-shoppers hand, or fling 30 yards of string, but present flies and catch fish.
And I think you'll find none that do that better at its price- $149
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