There’s something about experiencing the unknown that both thrills and terrifies me. I think that’s part of the reason I love fly fishing as much as I do. Being uncertain if my fly is going to be hit by a 6-inch brookie or an 18-inch rainbow thrills me. Walking around the backcountry by myself or with a few close friends and not knowing if, or when, we would walk up on a cow moose and her calf or a fresh bear kill terrifies me. Yes, all of the above has happened to me. It makes for amazing stories, great memories, and stellar outdoor activities.
Picking up an 8wt fly rod for the first time thrilled and terrified me. I regularly asked a few fishing buddies if I was crazy for picking up an 8wt. The answers varied from “Yes, you’re an idiot!” to “No, it’s exactly what you need.”
When I was in the market for my first 8wt rod, I was desiring a few things out of my new weapon:
- Fast action to cast carp and pike flies
- Remain affordable, because I don’t have unlimited funds
- Have a lifetime warranty for when I eventually break my rod
After a lot of conversations, research, and searching, I decided to get a Redington Predator 8wt. I figured if nothing else, it at least has a cooler sounding name (in my humble opinion) than say the Winston Boron IIIX, Echo Base, or TFO signature rods. Like I said, I think the name predator is cool for a fly rod, I’m not judging any of those other rods’ quality. Confidence and enthusiasm are extremely beneficial when it comes to catching fish, so having a cool name definitely helped entice me.
After getting out on the water for the first few times with my Predator, I had some great successes and failures. My first trip was a quick mouse-throwing experience at night on the Green River. First time throwing mice. First time fishing at night. First time using the Predator. Caught an aggressive rainbow. It was a lot of fun. The next three trips went a little like this… First trip: Catch carp and have fun. Second trip, go fishing, catch nothing, feel like my 8wt was an unwieldy instrument compared to the 4-5 weight rods I had fished with for the last 15-20 years. That trip left me a little defeated and feeling like I couldn’t cast. The third trip is where I realized what it meant to me to have my 8wt.
This trip was something different. Open water where I could cast as far as my skills would let me, big fish, and great company. I had voiced my concerns about my casting abilities with this rod and asked my friend to watch and correct things. But on that day with a little breeze and open water my friend corrected a few details and my casting stroke was found. This trip lead to several heavy carp to net, a bent hook, and a lot of great memories.
So onto the important stuff about the Redington Predator 8wt. It is a 9-foot rod, which for me is ideal given what I want to use my rod for. It has a fighting butt, which for those who haven’t had a rod with them comes in extremely useful for fighting bigger fish. The rod weighs in at 4.1 ounces. This is a little heavier than some other 8wt rods. Realistically your 8wt rod and reel should be heavier than your 4-5 wt rods, so if you’re out hitting the water all day, maybe you should hit the gym first (Ok, I’m joking here: it’s really not that heavy). It’s a deep blue color and looks pretty awesome in direct sunlight.
- Price: The Predator is an affordable rod that is listed under $300.00. For this price, it is a quality rod that will be able to cast the big/weighted flies, streamers, and poppers.
- Casting: The Redington Predator is a rod that is built to deliver big and heavy flies. It takes some adapting to go from small dries to heavy flies. After a few hours on the water, casting became much more comfortable and accurate. With some extra practice, I believe this rod should be able to drop flies where I want them, even at a decent distance in the wind.
- Lifetime Warranty: Redington has a lifetime warranty on the Predator. To follow through with the Lifetime Warranty it’s pretty simple and has a small $40 warranty processing fee.
- Fighting Butt: This rod has the ability to handle large and powerful fish. Playing fish that are 10+lbs it comes in extremely useful. It does take some getting used to using a fighting butt, if you’ve never used one before.
- Quick alignment dots: These are present on many rods. This simple detail makes setup even easier and significantly faster than not having those dots. Not having them isn’t a deal breaker in my book, just a nice perk.
- Weight: The Predator is a little bit on the heavy side of the 8wt market. When dealing with a long day of casting and fishing, the extra weight could wear your arm out prematurely. (Hopefully your arm is worn out from fish instead of casting.)
- Casting: I’ve found that when casting short distances (less than 20 feet), that the Predator is a little more difficult to cast than I’d like. With a decent amount of practice, and patience an average fly caster should be able to overcome the difficulty of casting short distances accurately and gently.
It is my opinion that the Redington Predator 8wt is a solid option to go with for your first foray into the world of big fish and big flies! It performs well, has a good price point, has a quality lifetime warranty, looks good, and can readily handle fish that are well over 10 pounds.
Get it, go out, and play!