I always laugh a little when trout-specific products are sent to me for review. The nearest rainbows and browns live hundreds of miles from here, so for my tests I'm always "stuck" with targeting typical Florida freshwater species like largemouth and peacock bass, or big bluegill. Not that I'm complaining or anything.
Redington designed the new TRACE series of rods with trout in mind, but as I just eluded to, that surely doesn't mean they are only species-specific. Anyone who likes a little more forgiving rod action should find these sticks appropriate for various types of fish. But, I don't want to get ahead of myself...let's start by seeing how this rod actually fishes!
Line Weight: 5
Measured Weight: 2.86 ounces
Stripping Guide: Chrome frame with ceramic insert
Snake Guides: Chrome single foot
Reel Seat: Aluminum / wood
Rod Tube/Sock: Yes/No
One thing I really like about the cosmetics of the TRACE is the unique color scheme used. The matte mahogany shade of the blank looks great and sets itself apart from other more common offerings like black or blue. While often looking quite dark, this color comes to life in the sun and is really appealing.
The handle is a half-wells design and the cork quality seems decent with a fair amount of filler visible. Dark wood forms the basis of the reel seat and the black aluminum hardware consists of a single up-locking ring/band which does a fine job of holding a reel securely.
My 5-weight test rod has one stripping guide that's small in size which is likely used for pure weight reduction. The snake guides are actually chrome single-foot guides that Redington says were chosen for "decreased weight, improved rod tracking, and increased line sensitivity." Single-foots aren't the normal choice, but after owning many rods equipped with them I've never developed a negative opinion. They work!
All ferrules fit snugly and the rod didn't exhibit any notable issues with craftsmanship.
I fished the TRACE for local largemouth, peacocks, bluegill, and whatever else would want to eat my streamers. The lines of choice during both fishing and lawn-casting tests were the discontinued RIO Bonefish WF5F (160 grains @ 30 feet) and the more subtle RIO Technical Trout WF5F (30 foot grain weight not listed).
Designed with a medium-fast action, the 5 weight TRACE was very smooth and super easy to cast with either line.
Although I prefer fast action rods overall, I'm able to adapt much easier to one with a medium-fast action compared to something like, say, a slow action glass rod. Casting was enjoyable and especially sweet at close and medium ranges where the rod offered good feel and solid accuracy. While the heavier Bonefish line worked great overall, the Technical Trout did feel a bit more "right" on this stick at any distance...as expected. It's an ideal match.
The "in between" action of this rod also makes it no slouch when it comes to casting straight into a breeze or going for a long presentation. A faster rod is obviously better for both scenarios, but the TRACE proved to be a versatile performer that handled real-life fishing situations well. I also need to mention that it's very good for roll casting.
On my scale, the rod weighed approximately 2.86 ounces which favorably competes with high-end rods. Interestingly, the Orvis Helios 3D 5-weight I tested in February 2018 weighed the same! The Redington's swing weight didn't feel as extraordinarily lightweight as I was expecting but still felt good.
Paired up with the new Redington RUN fly reel, the combo makes a lightweight setup for an angler with a modest budget. While the 5-weight TRACE didn't really seem like an overachiever in any particular way, it was a pleasant rod to fish and one that I couldn't find any big faults with. The price of $299.99 puts it on the higher side for Redington, but in a market full of $800 fly rods it's definitely a viable option that keeps you far from the most extreme prices.
Each TRACE fly rod includes a cordura-covered tube with built-in dividers. Rods come in various sizes ranging from 2–6 weight and all carry the same pricing as my tester.
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