Okay – I took my wallet to a recent Strip Strike club meeting at Totally Fly in the Viaduct, Auckland. Cunningly Rene Vaz had berleyed the shop with enticing specials and I decided to bite down on a new fly line for my Redington Vapen fly rod.
This is the first ridge construction line I’ve owned and the texture definitely feels different to the super slick conventional designs. It is a saltwater beast with an aggressive front taper that is design to pile drive heavy flies into annoying breezes. The core is 50 pound breaking strain braid so your 15 kg leader will break first, rather than a trout-evolved fly line would do. If you are unlucky enough to get snagged, in my experience, you’d straighten or break the hook before the leader would part.
Then there is just out and out cool colour scheme. First the clear intermediate front taper, a grunty floating blue belly section that is the engine designed to pull out the 92 feet of high visibility yellow running line. That all adds up to 120 feet of reach – for the truly skilled casters. For me, if can do 90 feet (27m) I will be a happy swoffer indeed.
Now all I need is a window to do some winter swoffing!
Finally took the Vapen out with the Sniper for a test fire on the local school field.
Wow – this line is a beast!
You could point it at Cyclone Bola and it would slap the fly in her face with a smug grin. The front taper would probably turn over a seagull if you had one on the end of your leader.
The polyurethane material feels very tough and the line flies out like an express train. I was on the rugby field and easily got 24 meters. Okay, this is a 120 ft line, so shouldn’t I be expecting at least 27 (90 ft)?
Well that’s my fault. As mentioned above this is a 12 wt line and I have a 10wt rod. You can over-line for sure, but in this case , it was definitely too much: getting the head fully aerialised was over-taxing the rod and unable to get good line speed. The fact with less than optimal line speed and flight profile that I could get 22 meters plus says a lot for the line.
At first I thought about cutting back the front taper to lighten it, but it is a line designed for a purpose: deliver big flies with authority. I respect the design and the build quality enough to not want to mess with it because I took a punt on over-lining.
Now to get a good 10 wt to bring out the best in the Vapen … there’s winter fishing to be done!
So three days after the “Shallow Water Kingfish” episode I met up with my fishing buddy Alan Bulmer on the Manukau Harbour to hit the last of the outgoing tide. I was already keen as I had encountered some probable kingfish action four days previously in the same spot. And the extra icing on the cake today was my first outing with my brand new Redington Vapen 10 wt rod teamed with a Sage 4210 reel that packed a drag system that could look a kingfish in the eye and say “game on”.
I arrived a few minutes early and was setting up on the beach when a the water erupted a 100 mteres to my right as a decent kahawai was doing a ram raid in the shallows on a school of sprats. I now know that it is possible to run that distance in neoprene chest waders – but alas not fast enough as the hit and run perpetrator was gone before my frantic casts pepered the area. And that was the scene set. Every 30-45 minutes we would witness some sort of predator bust up or movement – but they were all randomly located one-offs. Despite several schools of bait fish present for the whole duration of our fishing we never saw any attacks by multiple predators.
Meanwhile the weather was not following the predicted pattern and the south-easterly was ruffling the surface which both stirred up the silt in the shallows as well as ruffling the surface making spotting cruising fish virtually impossible.
Just on low water, the wind abated for a while and the silty water began to clear. Alan and I fished off a rocky ledge in water barely a meter deep. I was fishing a floating line with a tan and white clouser as a vague imitation of a small flounder such as we know kingfish enjoying hunting in this type of mudflat environment.
I was retrieving in a slow smooth stripping action when the rod tip jolted down, the line went tight and the water boiled about 10 meters in front of me – a decent fish to christen my new outfit! The first run took all the fly line and went another 20-30 meters into the super braid backing. Alan already had his iPhone out and shooting like a seasoned photo-journalist.
It was quickly obvious this wasn’t a 10 kilo kingy, but the head-thrashing tactic of the unseen fish had me thinking ‘snapper’ but it turned out to be good sized kahawai. I cranked the drag up and it definitely put the hurt on as the runs became shorter and shorter, and within 5 mins the fish was exhautsed and was beached without any last moment histrionics.
One of my best land based kahawai on the fly at 2.5 kilos. A handsome fish and worthy of of respect for it pugnacious fighting abilities.