Thankfully, companies like Redington exist. Ultra-premium rods are totally amazing to fish with, but I would never call them necessary for catching fish. Redington has long been known for producing some great fly tackle that's fairly priced, and that's important to put the sport within reach of people just starting out or those folks that just can't afford the priciest stuff.
Redington unveiled the VICE series back in 2016. Affordably-priced at just $199.99, these rods range from 3–9 weight and look to be a solid workhorse series with that little bit of signature Redington flare thrown in to keep things fun. Let's hit the water with the VICE 690-4 and chase some green fish with these green rods!
Line Weight: 6
Measured Weight: Approx 3.02 ounces
Stripping Guides: Stainless Frame/SiC Insert
Snake Guides: Black Snake Guides
Reel Seat: Black Anodized Aluminum
Rod Tube/Sock: Divided Rod Tube
Even if I already know what a rod looks like, removing it from the tube for the first time is a bit like opening a Christmas present. Pictures are one thing, but there's no substitute for holding and seeing the real thing. In the case of this rod, elegant isn't the right word to describe the cosmetics, but bold sounds about right. The blank is a glossy forest green color that pops brilliantly in the sunshine, and the wraps are kind of a contrasting green-ish with some thin gold trim at the ferrules and around the logo region. I say this is a pretty good lookin' stick.
The cork grip is a half-wells shape and feels very smooth, but up close inspection shows a healthy amount of filler used—kind of expected at this price tier. Thickness-wise, the grip feels a bit on the narrow side but it's still plenty comfortable to hold and cast for long periods. At the top of the handle is a ring of composite cork for looks and durability, and just above that is the always-handy hook keeper.
Like every VICE rod, this one has an anodized-aluminum reel seat with the name and line weight laser-etched on the top for easy reference. Mine even sported some scuffs and chips from previous testers to add to the character (lol). In addition to the rod model being shown on the seat and at the typical main logo area, the rod model is also displayed (albeit quite small) on each of the other three pieces of the rod blank. I guess this is a good thing if you own multiple VICE rods so you don't get mixed up and try to stick a 6-weight section on your 5-weight.
Our rod was equipped with one stripping guide that had a stainless frame and reliable SiC insert. The remaining snake guides are finished in black for a nice contrast against the green blank.
At this price point, I was totally content with the initial quality of this stick. It appeared to be put together well, looked good, and there was no blank "tick" to be felt when giving the old wiggle/flex test. So far so good.....
I matched the 690-4 VICE rod with my Demystifly Redington i.D. reel that was filled with a RIO Gold line which weighs 168 grains in the first 30 feet—right at the upper "ideal weight range" of what a 6 weight line should weigh per AFFTA standards. This felt to be a good choice on the VICE rod.
The 690-4 has a very solid fast action and is quite stout in feel. For me the rod was fair in close, but I liked it quite a bit more at mid-range and beyond. The blank felt smooth, powerful, and I was surprised how well it delivered my large EP bass flies. Some may not like their 6-weight being so stout, but rods like these do fine for my style of fishing. I really should have tried up-lining it during testing, but I have zero doubt a 7-weight line would throw well on this rod and soften up the action a tad if that's what you're after.
I didn't test the rod in much wind at all, but for trout guys and gals it should also be a good primary or backup rod for those windy days or afternoons.
The VICE casts with authority, but that's not without a couple personal drawbacks. First, let's touch on that grip again. Yes, I found it to be comfortable enough, but I wished it was just slightly thicker in circumference. I put the handle alongside a 5-weight (of another brand) that I have on my rack, and I could see the difference in swell and thickness between the two. Second, the casting weight. The static measured weight of approximately 3.02 ounces on my scale was good, but the rod felt slightly heavier than I'd prefer while casting.
For those anglers who have things like streamers, heavier rigs, and longer casts on their minds, the 690-4 VICE appears to be a good fit. Everyone is different, but during my testing—casting larger flies at mostly modest distances—I was satisfied overall by the performance to be found here. Is it right for you and your style of fishing? Cast one at your local shop and find out! All VICE rods come with a cordura fabric-covered rod tube with internal dividers.
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