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An Impromptu Comparo of a TFO BVK, Redington Vice, and a Fenwick Aetos

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So the other day I was at my local Sportsman Warehouse, just killin' a little time, when I found myself in front of the fly rod rack. Somehow. Anyway, I decide to actually see what kind of stock they had on hand, and I discovered that they had a TFO BVK, a Redington Vice and a Fenwick Aetos all in 9 ft. 6 wt. rods. All supposed long-distance line-hurlers, all under $260, and all available for a test-drive. And I luckily had a reel with 6 wt. line on it in the truck. Old, backyard line, but it was 6 wt. line. Rio Grand, for those that are interested in such things.

So, what else could I do but inquire about test-driving these three. The clerk was almost as excited as I was about comparing these rods (it may have been a slow day on the floor up to then), so I trotted out to the truck and grabbed my reel.

Conditions: light overcast, with a slight quartering headwind, approx. 5 mph
Surface: old asphalt behind the store in the loading zone
Line lengths: only the line, didn't count the leader

First up was the BVK. I didn't expect many surprises with this rod, as I've cast one before, just not as a 6 weight. Strung 'er up and did some preliminary practice casts to about 30 feet. The rod felt fairly light (lighter in fact than the other two rods). It rebounded quickly with little extra oscillation after the stop. The surprise was that even though I've cast a 5 weight version of the BVK years ago, this one felt lighter and more lively than I remembered. As I don't keep up with such things, it may be just a product of faulty memory-storage, or possibly TFO redesigned the rod while I wasn't looking.

Anyway . . .

As advertised, it wasn't too happy at 30 feet; it didn't feel like it was loading enough and as a result it wasn't very accurate.

At 40-45 feet it felt pretty good. It felt like it was loading well and deeper into the butt than I expected. These loops were tight and the line flew through the guides.

Beyond 50 feet, out to 70 feet (as far as I felt comfortable casting with the passing cars behind me in the parking lot), the BVK seemed to find its stride, slinging line in nice tight loops and laying the short 6 ft. tapered leader out in a fairly straight line with the least effort level the the three rods. The longest cast went almost 80 feet with an almost straight leader, though I did have to focus on my 'downup!' mechanics a bit more than usual.

Next up was the Fenwick Aetos. In the wiggle test, it didn't bend much past the mid-point and it also displayed nearly zero oscillation after the rebound. This rod felt pretty light in the hand, until I put some line on it. Suddenly it felt a little heavier than the BVK.

It also felt uncomfortable under 40 feet, with those short casts seeming to require a bit of a double haul to have any accuracy. Once I let some line slip through it settled down a bit.

The Aetos felt most comfortable between 40 and 60 feet, where it effortlessly cast laser beams from the tip to the bit of fluff I had tied to the end of the leader. Beyond this distance out to 70 or so feet, it seemed to struggle just a bit, resulting in several pile cast leaders. However, that extra 'weight' did seem to make the rod feel more responsive than the BVK, and thus slightly more accurate between 40-60 feet.

Last, but not least, was the Redington Vice. I admit I had never heard of the Vice series so the only information I had was the little blurb in the advertising I read right before we went out back to do our little test. This rod felt heavier than either of the other two, in the hand and once I started it through its paces.

Oh, and the COLOR . . . what the heck were they thinking?

Again, at short distances the rod seemed ungainly. This rod really woke up after the 45-50 foot mark though. That 'felt' weight seemed to make it easier to tell when it was really loaded and firing 70 foot casts was pretty easy. Almost a joy, to be completely honest. In fact, 50 foot casts with pretty tight loops were possible without double hauling. Also, the Vice was the only one of the three that I cast more than 70-75 feet. My second-to-last cast with it went a little over 80 feet, with the leader dead straight.

But it's definitely the heaviest casting rod of the three. I could imagine some fatigue setting in after only 45 minutes or so slinging streamers. And it was the worst rod in how it felt and how it performed under 30 feet. I attributed that to how heavy the rod felt.

However, if I knew I'd be chucking heavy wind-resistant flies into a good wind for awhile, I think I'd be very tempted to have this Vice in my quiver.

As far as all-around performance between the three, in my humble opinion, the BVK was the best of the bunch, only giving up a little power out past 70 feet, but behaving just a little bit better at all the shorter distances. And it just felt a little better in the hand, a little lighter, and a bit more responsive than the other two. The Aetos also seemed like it would be a good all-arounder that had the backbone to sling some line, while the Vice seemed to be the purpose-built rocket launcher.

Note: This was a very impromptu comparo, as I only spent about 10-15 minutes with each rod, and used some really old, dirty, nicked up line. My conclusions are the ramblings of an admitted amateur, and your experiences may well be entirely different. Heck, my experiences might be different, if I had a whole day each with these rods.

But since I did cast them side-by-side, I thought it'd be fun to do a little write-up about it.