Next time you stop into a fly shop, take a gander at the rod rack. Amongst the sea of expensive, often overly-stiff rods, you’ll probably spot the Redington Classic Trout. A rod that casts easily and pleasantly at practical fishing distances—and unlike the rocket launchers for sale beside it, you can buy a Classic Trout for $149.99.
As is typical for the rod market these days, the Classic Trout’s value has gone mostly unnoticed. Rod shoppers likely consider it a beginner or back-up rod, opting instead for the higher-priced rods that barely bend at ordinary fishing distances, even though such rods require more work to cast.
Fly rods store energy when they bend under the weight and momentum of the fly line. They release that energy as the rod straightens, propelling the fly line forward. A trampoline functions the same way: stretching to store energy under the weight of a person, then expending that energy as it launches the person up in the air. For many anglers, the smooth, energy-releasing sensation the hand feels as the rod unloads makes fly casting fun—it also makes casting easy on the arm. If a trampoline is too stiff to bend under our weight, we’ll have to work hard with our legs to make it bend. The same is true for our arms when a rod doesn’t bend.
Still, most fishermen tend to choose stiff, high-dollar rods. Why is this? Likely because of the marketing-grenades lobbed at us by the rod companies, leaving us so dazed that we believe we need their newest, high-end rod, simply because it’s new and expensive. They want us to assume that the price of a rod always correlates with its usefulness as a fishing tool. Fight this assumption.
Major rod manufacturers are forced to produce casting tools that follow market trends. Which means their most expensive rods usually meet the criteria of the most popular trend, whether or not that particular action provides pleasant casting. “Fast-action” rods—a euphemism for the unpleasant sounding “stiff rod” dominate today’s trends. Most of them are so rigid that they only bend when casting a very long line, as in sixty feet or further. Most of us rarely need to reach such distances when trout fishing. Yes, it’s true that these rods can be cast at shorter line lengths, but the experience feels more like casting a broomstick than a fly rod.
Stiff rods are specialized tools, best suited for casting long range. If this is a requirement in your fishing, or if feeling the rod load isn’t a priority for you, then by all means explore such rods. But if you seek a tool that actually contributes to the cast, one that is ideal for casting dry flies, nymphs and light streamers at fifty feet and under, consider the Classic Trout.
Like most rods made by Far Bank Enterprises, the parent company of both Redington and Sage, the Classic Trout loads smoothly. Its fluid bend runs nearly all the way down to the cork, thus communicating valuable information to the caster. It bends similarly to smooth-casting Winston rods that have been lauded for decades—soft in the tip, stiffening gradually as the bend moves closer to the handle.
Weighing in at only 2.9 ounces, the five weight Classic Trout is lighter than some of the “advanced-technology” top-dollar rods. The relatively thin blank is a tasteful, dark-clay color, and its titanium-oxide stripping guides are durable and sleek. It’s hard to tell that it’s a low-budget rod if you’re judging by the blank and guides.
At only $149.99, you can buy six Classic Trouts for the price of some of today's flagship rods. Buying one is practically stealing one.
The soft tip offers forgiveness when setting the hook on light tippet. You won’t snap fish off unless you truly bass-master them.
This soft-to-stiff, deep-bending action has a minor drawback: the rod tip is easy to shock when casting a long line—resulting in a tailing loop. The middle and lower sections of a rod always load by way of the rod tip, since the tip-top guide is the contact point between rod and the in-use fly line. Which is merely to say that the first foot of the rod must support its fair share of the load at whatever distance the rod is cast. The tip of the Classic Trout is vulnerable to shocking at distances beyond fifty feet, requiring a smooth stroke to cast it at long range. (This is the downfall of any fly rod that actually bends at normal fishing distances.) Not a big deal, but worth noting. Anytime you reach to a place where this rod bends severely, you’ll have to tread lightly.
Handle and Reel Components
Though the blank, guides and reel-seat look and feel great, I would describe the reel seat components as nothing more than “fine.” They look nice and function properly, but in the process of fastening down a reel, you can sense they are just bare-bones components, certainly not the solid, quality feel of more expensive hardware. The handle is slightly bulky, made of middle-of-the-road cork—it should be sanded to a thinner diameter for any caster that doesn’t have mega-mitts.
This rod was likely dubbed the Classic Trout because it bends similarly to the most popular rods of the 1970s. That was a fine era in rod building, when the trending rods were the same ones that cast nicely at practical fishing distances. In the forty years since, trends in the market have changed dramatically, but the fishing hasn’t. Whether you just need a cheap back-up rod—or you want a darn good fishing tool—pick up a Classic Trout while they’re still in production. You’ll rarely find a deal this good in our sport.