Redington has released a bevy of rod-and-reel combo kits lately, hitting many of the price points that appeal to beginner anglers. It’s a market that’s increasingly saturated, and it’s tough to make something that stands out from the pack.
The Redington Wrangler fly rod combo kits separate themselves from other rod-and-reel combos because each rod in the model family is purpose-built for a specific fishing situation. The 9’ 5-weight is the Trout model, designed as the do-it-all rod. The Pond is a 9’ 4-weight, while the Bass model is a 9’ 7-weight. The Wrangler family even features a saltwater model, as well.
Those designs are enough to draw interest in the Wrangler, but what will make it stand out is how it fishes. After a few months of putting the Wrangler Trout through its paces, I’ve found that it’s a capable medium-fast rod that’s both light and accurate. It struggles a bit with very heavy multi-nymph rigs and bigger streamers, but for the majority of fishing situations, the Wrangler Trout is more than up to the task.
The Wrangler Trout has a pleasant medium-fast action that allows you to adequately feel the line load, although the Wrangler certainly falls toward the faster end of the spectrum. “Soft” isn’t a word I’d use to describe this rod. It’s plenty stiff throughout, which gives it enough backbone to handle windy conditions and larger fish.
The Wrangler offers good line control at various distances for both mending and casting. I fished this rod during a few BWO hatches, and often had to throw longer casts to reach certain fish. Even at 60 feet, the Wrangler gave me plenty of control over my smaller mayfly patterns. There’s enough backbone in the Wrangler that you can feel confident handling fly line — including mending — at just about any trout fishing distance.
I’ll also include here that the Wrangler is an accurate rod. Accuracy in casting mostly depends on the caster, of course, but certain rods are more accurate than others. The Wrangler feels stable enough, and tracks well enough, that any competent caster shouldn’t have trouble landing their flies where they want.
Dry Fly Performance
I mentioned this above, but it warrants its own section. The Wrangler is a surprisingly good dry fly rod, thanks in part to its medium-fast action. When I fished this during mayfly hatches, I was able to get soft, delicate presentations, even with long leaders. The Wrangler turns over long, fine leaders and small flies with relative ease.
The Crosswater reel included with the Wrangler isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s exactly the right reel for most beginners. It’s built from a “durable composite,” but it feels relatively sturdy. The drag is smooth and adjusts in small enough increments that you can really dial this reel into your local fisheries.
The Crosswater retails for $59 by itself, so again, it’s certainly a budget-friendly option. It weighs 5.1oz, which is a bit on the heavy side, but it does balance the Wrangler Trout fairly well.
Redington includes some RIO Mainstream line and a 4x leader pre-spooled on the reel. The fly line matches the rod well, even if it has a bit of memory.
Fit and finish
The Wrangler is a good-looking rod, with a nice dark gray blank and matching thread wraps. The reel seat isn’t anything fancy — just anodized aluminum — but it’s light and durable. While not as visually striking as Redington’s Trail Blazer rod, it’s still a good-looking stick.
What Doesn’t Work
Heavy, multi-fly rigs
The one area where I felt the Wrangler struggled was when throwing larger multi-fly rigs. With all the high water I’ve had to fish lately, I’ve been throwing a lot of three-nymph rigs, and the Wrangler struggled at times to turn over those longer leaders. It’s great with most dry-dropper rigs, but bigger nymphs, large streamers, and three-fly rigs stretched the Wrangler to its max. The Trout XL model (the 9’ 6wt) is likely a better bet if you consistently fish heavy, multi-fly rigs.
At $249, the Redington Wrangler Trout is a serviceable budget-friendly rod-and-reel combo. It offers great line control at just about any trout fishing distance, and I love the medium-fast action (beginners will love it as well). The included Crosswater reel and RIO Mainstream line round out this ready-to-fish package, and both are valuable given their price tags. The Wrangler’s dry fly performance really outshines other rods at this price point, and it’s what really separates this rod from others in its class.