Redington recently announced the discontinuation of its popular Hydrogen rod series, which has long been one of the brand’s most popular rods. Few companies, however, are willing to put up with their queues these days, especially when it comes to fly rods. And that’s why we have the new Redington TRACE on rod racks in fly shops across the country.
The TRACE, like the Hydrogen, is meant to serve as Redington’s all-purpose fly rod, capable of handling any trout situation. The TRACE has a moderately fast action that slows down well when throwing from a distance. The rod has a lot of power in the blank, which allows both turning heavy rigs and moving large fish.
But is the TRACE really a jack of all trades? Much depends on how you plan to fish it.
As noted above, the Redington TRACE sports solid to medium-fast action that will be familiar to those who have cast a number of Redington rods in recent years. It might be a bit slow for those who like really fast sticks, but for most trout anglers, the pleasant casting pace of the TRACE will be easy to understand.
I love the lawn spinning rods before taking them out on the water – a literal dry run, if you will. When I threw the 9’5wt TRACE on my in-laws’ lawn, I was pleasantly surprised at how easily I could pick up and cast 60 feet of line. For a cane that sells for $ 299.99, I had to work a lot less than expected to get the cane to perform with what I wanted to do.
When I threw real flies to fish Henry’s Fork and Green River, things looked like my lawn casting session. The rod moves the line quickly and it was easy to drill an extra 15-20 feet for longer casts.
This is the time of year when I fish everywhere (well, where three flies are allowed, of course). Lots of 5wts don’t like to cooperate when I ask them to throw so many flies and extra tippet feet, but the TRACE responded admirably to my requests. The long throws with three flies weren’t pretty, but they landed where I was aiming.
The TRACE won’t work effortlessly in high winds, but it’s also not useless in gusty conditions, as some softer rods tend to be. Where the backbone of TRACE really surprised me was in the way I was able to move large fish in a strong current. I spend a lot of time on section A of Green River in Utah. This section of the river has about 12,000 trout per mile with an average length of 17 inches. It’s in a narrow, steep canyon and the fish are best at around 2,000 cfs. Catching a medium trout in this current tests many rodfish fighting skills, and the TRACE has gone beyond its cover here. I had no problem squeezing 20 inch rainbows and forcing them into the net, even against a strong current.
The TRACE has a tip soft enough to protect the lighter tip. While I don’t feel confident fishing a tip lighter than 6x on it, most people using a 9’5wt aren’t likely to drop that small on the tip anyway. For the vast majority of your trout fishing situations, the tip of the TRACE is soft enough to absorb the vigorous head shakes and long hauls of larger fish. And, if you come across finicky trout that are shy, you won’t have to worry about attaching that 6x fluorocarbon.
Redington has released some interesting rods in recent years – remember the Vapen series, with the golf club grips? These have received mixed reviews, and the grip on their Crux rod is the subject of debate in fly shops and bars across the country.
Redington hasn’t done anything crazy with TRACE, luckily. It looks a lot like their classic trout rod – another very popular stick that the company hasn’t played with and shouldn’t. The TRACE is finished in a matte mahogany that glows beautifully in the sun. Paired with matching wire wraps, alignment stitches on each section, and one-foot guides, the TRACE delivers a sleek and pleasing aesthetic.
The reel seat is actually made of wood – it’s just incredibly dark stained. At first I thought Redington went for a carbon reel seat insert, but in the sun you can see the wood grain Redington is using here.
Cork, while not what you find on the flagship $ 900 and $ 1,000 rods, is quality and soft enough to be comfortable for a day of fishing.
It’s also worth noting that the rod, in a 9’5wt configuration, is 2.8 ounces, which is wonderfully light.
What does not work
Casting in Close
I had high hopes for the Redington TRACE as a dry fly rod, and for the most part it lived up to those expectations. A few of my fishing friends who spent time with him noticed how the TRACE threw drys, and I took note of that as well.
Where it falls a bit short, however, is in the cramped. And by close up I mean those really short casts when you’re standing in the middle of a river and a fish starts to rise 15 feet away. Sometimes I had trouble loading the TRACE and delivering throws accurately within this range.
The reason for the tip. Redington specifically said they add more power to the tip of the TRACE than what anglers found in old hydrogen rods. This sacrificed the performance of the rod at shorter distances.
Some anglers, especially those who thought the Hydrogen lacked peak power, will appreciate the change. Others, who like to catch small flies up close, cannot.
Redington has made a very solid offering with the TRACE. It’s lightweight, casts 20-60 feet wonderfully, and has the backbone to handle big fish, big flies, and wind. The 9 ‘5wt is very close to being a real all-rounder, and it surprised me with its precision and lightness. The build quality exceeds what I expected from a $ 300 rod, and I really like the matte mahogany finish on the blanks. In fact, the only thing I would change about the TRACE is the increased tip power, although that’s a change other anglers may appreciate.
At $ 299, the TRACE is set to follow in Hydrogen’s footsteps as one of Redington’s most popular rods.
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