Nov 9, 2012

Redington Prospector 4 Weight Switch Rod Review


Prospector 10'9" 4 weight switch
 The Prospector series is Redington’s contribution to the value-priced switch rod arena. At $399.00 these rods come in far below many other fly rods, both single hand and switch. For many anglers, taking the plunge into Switch Rods is not that easy a thing. I for one, have limited switch experience when it comes to trout fishing. Many of the waters I enjoy fishing – creeks and small streams – don’t really call for such a tool. Furthermore, single hand rods have that level of intimacy that I really enjoy. So, it’s no wonder that I rarely use one for trout fishing. However, I recently got a Redington Prospector 4109-4 Switch Rod to test out on the local waters and I want to tell you how it went.

First off, I didn’t really have the correct lines – like an out of the box switch line. What I did have was some weight forward 6 weight single hand lines, both sink-tip and floating, that I use for most of my trout fishing. However, I did have a 280 grain Rio Steelhead Scandi which turned out to be a great spey setup.

I started out roll-casting streamers with a 20 ft 6wt (very short shooting head) sink-tip line. Although it seemed weighted correctly, the head was simply too short for making long roll-casts. When I overhead casted the line it went fine, albeit very slowly. This Prospector 4 weight switch has a deep, progressive flex. Altogether, I would rate it as having a medium slow action, which doesn’t bode well for razor sharp loops for overhead casting. But, overhead is not where switch rods shine. The beauty lies in singlehand and two handed roll casting which helps you cover more water in tighter casting conditions. So I put this line down and picked up my Rio Grand WF6F and tied on some nymphs and an indicator.

This was too light. Not to mention, once again, the back taper wasn’t quite long enough to really hit some long roll casts. So, I guess these lines didn’t really give me a firm idea of the rod’s overall feel. What I wish I had on hand was the Rio Switch 4/5 – this has more grain weight spread out over a longer taper. Or I could have made do with a Rio Indicator in either a 6 or 7 weight. Or if I was to use another Rio Grande or similar WF line, I would have been better off with the 7 weight which would add more grain weight. I should also note that spey casting this line (wf6f) was not at all pretty.

After nymphing up some rainbows and even more whitey’s, I pulled out the Rio Steelhead Scandi – 280 grain to get a feel of its spey capabilities. Starting with a 10 foot floating Rio Versileader, this rod felt pretty good. But I had to open up a little more than I wanted. Essentially the line felt a little long, so I put on a shorter, 5 foot sink Polyleader and then it felt like it was matched up perfectly. Although this rod is a little slower than I typically prefer, there are a few things that I liked about the action. First, it was very easy to load on short casts. Working the line out with one-arm roll casts was pretty effortless. Noticing this, I tried a few short overhead casts to see how the leader laid out, and yup, the rod flexed adequately and the line laid down pretty softly. So having a softer switch rod can help you balance out both roll casting and overhead needs. The other thing I liked was the forgiveness of the rod when fighting fish – which I’ll talk a little more about in a bit.

I tied on a little blue wing olive soft hackle and started working the line out. The rod definitely doubles as a spey rod. The butt on this four weight is long enough to give you leverage with bottom hand duties and when lined properly, this rod really sends some line. Spending most of my time with faster rods however, I really had to tell myself to stay slow with this one. Punching too quickly overpowered the rod but slow, deliberate acceleration kept the flex a little higher up the blank. In time, I was casting 70 feet of line with this four weight, while a high bank was not more than 10 feet behind me.

Since I was there in the river, I thought I would fish. I mean why wouldn’t you? The water at hand was a long run moving at a slow walkng speed. With winter temperatures setting in here, the fish are moving into gentler currents. It was the perfect place to swing some soft hackles. And perfect it was when the first brown smashed this little fly. It took like a steelhead – felt like it wanted to rip the rod out of my hands. And for a serious steelhead angler, this felt pretty darn good. The rod and the quarry were the perfect match. The rod bent over and followed every movement of this fish in delicate fashion. I rather liked the forgiveness of the rod during the fight – where you could feel it down into your hands.


After working through and having a couple more aggressive takes, I tied on a big heavy streamer. Here the cast did break down a little. But I can say, that it really wasn’t that bad. I cut down the leader to about four feet and paid careful attention to my anchor point during the cast. Essentially, by shortening my anchor - making it just the fly and a few feet of leader - I was able to send this streamer way father than I could with a single hand cast. And I even hooked a big boy that shook me loose.

My new fascination with this style of fishing for trout likely overshadows my over-all feeling about this rod. However, I do think it’s a great value rod. People who are just starting out or even expert anglers who really embrace softer rods will like the Prospector. I do think the 4 weight is the perfect size rod for average sized trout. With the four, you don’t sacrifice feel during the fight.

The rod is pretty sharp looking. The dark green finish almost looks black depending on the light. The cork looks good, feels good. Little dots help you line up the rod pieces. No problems with the reel seat.


Prospector
 When I get to thinking about line options, I think I would go with the Scandi Short Versitip #4. Personally, I would want a line that spey casts and swings well with different options of sink. This line will throw streamers more easily than the standard Steelhead Scandi and add more versatility. Although a Rio Switch or Indicator line would work best for nymphing, I would rather first dial in the swing fishing first (that yank just feels too good). However, an extra spool takes care of that issue pretty easily.

Have a good time,
Duffy

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