Gear Review: Redington Wrangler Fly Rod
There’s something to be said for a solid rod-and-reel combo, especially these days when rods retail for over $1,000, and reels aren’t far behind. But for whatever reason, the rod-reel-line combo kits have always garnered a distinctly sub-par attitude from a lot of anglers, especially the gear junkies. It probably has something to do with the truly awful $30 combo kits you can find at Wal-Mart.
Redington is trying to break that stigma with their all-new line of Wrangler rod-and-reel combos. Each rod in the Wrangler family is designed to fit a specific fishing situation. The Wrangler Pond, for example, is at home on smaller water where long reach and delicate presentations are a must. Meanwhile, the Wrangler Bass has the powerful butt and mid-section necessary to—well, wrangle bass.
After spending the better part of two months with the Wrangler Trout, I can safely say that Redington has hit a home-run here with their rod-and-reel combo. This isn’t some beginner-level kit, even if the price might suggest it.
The rod has a pleasant medium-fast action, and it’s surprisingly light and accurate. The reel is Redington’s Crosswater, and it comes pre-spooled with RIO Mainstream Freshwater line. Yes, this is a great setup for a beginner—especially at the $249 price point—but it’s not just a beginner rig. I fished the Wrangler Trout (a 9′ 5-weight) on a fairly technical tailwater here in Wyoming during a blue-wing hatch and the rod performed exceptionally well. Sure, the swing weight is a bit on the heavy side, and the tip isn’t quite as soft as I’d like. But overall it’s hard to find fault with the Wrangler Trout.
With all that said, let’s take a deep-dive into what I like about this rod-and-reel combo.
What I Like
Often, cheaper fly rods trend towards being very fast and very stiff. The Wrangler Trout has a relaxed medium-fast action that lends itself well to longer casts with dry flies, nymphs, and small streamers. This rod is far from soft, though. It has plenty of backbone to mend long lengths of line or cast into a stiff Wyoming headwind.
Beginners shouldn’t have a problem learning to cast the Wrangler Trout, as I’ve found most new fly anglers do better with slower rods, anyways.
Control at Distance
While fishing during a blue-wing hatch, I had to make some pretty long casts up the edge of a pool. The Wrangler Trout did just fine at 60 feet, which is usually a bit outside the sweet spot of most 5-weights. But this rod has enough backbone to handle fly line at distance, which is great if you need something for fishing bigger water, or when the desire to throw streamers hits, and all you have is your 5-weight.
Good with Dry Flies
I probably fish more dry flies than most anglers, so my opinion of a rod will be heavily influenced by how it performs with dry flies. The Wrangler Trout is a passable dry fly stick with my only true complaint being the tip section. A nice, soft tip is essential for good dry fly work at short distances. The Wrangler Trout gets the job done just fine, but not with the sort of delicate, precise presentation some dry fly fishing—especially on tailwaters—demands.
At traditional fishing distances of 20-40 feet, the Wrangler Trout does a great job of turning over longer leaders and managing the drift for dries. While I didn’t have the chance to fish bigger bugs with it (it’s still winter here, after all) the Wrangler Trout should fish everything from a size 8 hopper to a size 20 blue-wing fairly well.
No review of a rod-and-reel combo would be complete without some words on the reel. The Crosswater is Redington’s entry-level reel, and it’s made from a “durable composite” that feels sturdy. The drag is actually pretty smooth for how affordable the reel is— the Crosswater retails for $59 by itself—and has plenty of room for adjustment. There’s some startup inertia, but not enough to render this reel useless. At 5.1oz, it’s a bit on the heavy side, but the reel does a good job of balancing out the Wrangler.
For the price, I think it’s hard to beat the package Redington offers. The only offering that compares is the Orvis Encounter, and I think the Wrangler Trout might be a better rod. While I don’t love the stiff tip, I’m really impressed with how the Wrangler Trout casts and manages line at distance. It’s better with dry flies than I expected, and it has the backbone to cut through nasty wind, too. The relaxed action lends itself well to beginning anglers. While I’d love to see a cast aluminum reel instead of polymer, the Crosswater has enough drag to stop big trout. From a functionality standpoint, it’s a solid piece of gear. At $249, the Wrangler Trout deserves some serious attention from folks looking to get into fly fishing, or who just want to add another solid setup to their quiver.