The Redington Prospector Delivers on the Promise

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Ok, I resisted this for a title but someone is bound to say it so it might as well be me. The Redington Prospector strikes gold.

At least the 4 weight does. This light weight switch rod is one of the best trout rods I’ve fished in a while. I’ll qualify that later but for now let me say that at $370 this versatile little rod, in no way feels like a compromise.

Redington is known for inexpensive fly rods and in the past not always for quality. That started to change a few years ago when the Predator started turning up in the hands of serious anglers. Not too long ago their two handed rods were not worth talking about at all, but Redington has clearly made rod design a priority and that has paid off in the Prospector.

The rod I tested is the 4 weight (remember that’s 4 weight on the Spey scale so more like a 5 1/2 for a single hander) it’s 10′ 9″, weighs 5.3 oz and is designed to cast a 275 grain line. Redington calls it a medium-fast action but I’d call it a true medium and I mean that as a compliment. I know too many guys who get excited about fast action rods only to overline them to slow them down. I’ll not get on my soap box at this point, I’ll just say that a rod weight should mean something and this one does.

The quality of the components and construction seems quite good and the cosmetics are surprisingly nice. The rod is finished all black, including the reel seat, with a few gold and white accent wraps and although the finish is not flawless, I did have to use a 6X magnifier to find the one or two purely cosmetic issues. Even the rod sock is an upgrade. That’s impressive for under $400.

Both grips feature composite cork accents which make for a handsome rod. The forgrip is a full Wells and measures 10 3/4″. The butt grip measures 3 5/8″ and including the reel seat the total grip length is 17 7/8″, which is very comfortable for casting with two hands or one.

The Prospector’s balance and light weight make it an incredibly fishable rod. This may be its greatest strength. It’s a switch rod designed for trout fishing and it offers a wealth of versatility but does not wear you out. It’s a truly great casting two hander that you can high stick all day without a back ache. When matched with the right line, it’s a delicate dry fly rod with incredible line control for technical drifts. It’s a great rod for swinging streamers while wading and a fantastic nymph rod, weather you’re using a bobber or fishing Czech style. It delivers on all of the promises of a switch rod.

I put the prospector through its paces on a variety of water ranging from medium size creeks (20′ or so wide) to medium and large rivers. I found that it was easy to adapt to the challenges of each. In pocket water the extra reach made for very effective fishing, again the light weight being key. I took the rod out to a river with some challenging runs where deep water and dense foliage have always put the far bank off limits. I was not only able to get the fly where I wanted it but could manage a good drift. It put me on a few extra fish that day.

I fished heavy nymph rigs with long leaders and indicators and they cast well with one or two hands. On the Owyhee river the prospector proved to be a great tool for dry fly fishing. It gave me the line speed I needed for some windy conditions but kept the delicacy of presentation I needed for spooky fish. The soft tip cushioned my 6X tippet and #22 hooks, again putting me on extra fish. That’s really all I ask from a rod.

I matched the Prospector with a RIO Scandi Versatip head in 275 grain. I love this line and it’s perfect for the prospector. The accessory tips offer great versatility and it cast beautifully. I used a floating running line for the added line management and although I prefer casting mono running line on two handers, it worked out well. I was even able to carry a bit of the running line when casting overhead, but I only did it to see if I could. I don’t recommend it in practice.

I paired the rod with a RIO Gold in a 5 weight (186 grain head weight) for fishing dry flies and again found it to be a perfect match. Easy to load wit a delicate presentation. If I were throwing heavier rigs I might go with a 6 weight. It exceeded my expectations as a dry fly rod, even with a very long leader in windy conditions. For a reel I chose the ultra light weight Bauer Rogue 3. Keeping the weight down made the rod a pleasure to fish in a variety of conditions.

I own a lot of fly rods. I own a lot of high performance fly rods that fish incredibly well. Is the Prospector the best rod I own? No, but what I’m finding is that it ends up on the river an awful lot while some of those more expensive rods stay at home. I think there are two reasons for that. One is the versatility. This rod offers so many options that I don’t need to choose how I will approach a fish until that fish is in front of me, and I like that. The other reason is I like fishing it. It’s fun. It’s buttery action feels good when I cast it. It lets me play with different styles of fishing and it makes my day more fun. It doesn’t overpower the fish and let’s me feel them pull.

Fun, effective, versatile and good looking and all for $370. What more can you ask for? If your looking for a switch rod for trout, I can’t imagine you not being happy with the Prospector. If you don’t feel right not spending $750 on a fly rod, buy two.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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28 thoughts on “The Redington Prospector Delivers on the Promise

  1. Great review Louis. You’re right, Redington has come a long way in the past few years when it comes to making quality products. I own a couple Predators and wouldn’t trade them for another rod. The Delta reels are not to be overlooked either when it comes to performance. I’ve not made the jump into the Switch/Spey world, but when and if I do the value found in Redington these days would definitely have me looking at their rods.

  2. Thanks for the review Louis, I will have to check this fly rod out. You can get some really good fly rods these days without breaking the bank. I own a St. Croix Imperial 7 wt switch rod for Great Lakes steelheading. That rod is under $300 and I think it stacks up well to rods costing 3X as much.


  3. Just for the record; a 250-300 grains 4 weight switch rod, would be a single handed 10 weight, not 5 and a half.
    Sounds like a great rod though.

    • Jasper, respectfully I’m not sure how you come to that conclusion. A 10wt single hander would cast a head weight in the neighborhood of 385 grains. That said, it’s an apples to oranges comparison. A shooting head for two handed casting requires more weight to load the rod. In two handed casting you are basically using a static line for your load rather than a line with the inertia of the cast. (that’s a gross simplification). The grain weight of the two, very different, lines is not analogous.

      In single handed casting the rod casts a 185 grain line (5wt) well. I judge it to be a little on the light side. There for my referring to it as a 5 1/2. It is in no way anything close to a 10 wt.

      You can read more about how the AFTTA (2 handed scale) and AFTMA (single handed scale) relate here.

      Thanks for your input.

        • Jasper,

          Comparing Spey rods to single-handed rods is an apples to oranges affair. It’s only relevant where switch rods are concerned. There’s more to it than grain weights. Here is an article you might want to read. maybe this will help.

          Another point I’ll make is this. What is a 5wt rod, really? Manufacturers have figured out that people are in love with the idea of fast rods. Most 5 weight rods you buy today would have been 6 weight rods a number of years ago. In an effort to keep up with this creeping standard line manufacturers have made their lines heavier and heavier. The 5 wt RIO Gold that I cast on this rod is a 185 grain line. Whether or not that jives with your idea of what a 5 wt is, that line works for most modern 5 weight rods. Kent wrote a great article on this.

          At this point all I know to tell you is to get one of these rods in your hands and you will quickly understand the difference. It’s a delicate little two hander with a lot of feel. The farthest possible thing from a 10 wt.

          Thanks for your thoughts!

          • Hi Louis,

            Thanks for your reply. Yes, most 5 weights nowadays are easily a 6 weight. My benchmark rod for my input about grains is my own old Sage RPL590-4. That’s sort of where the 5 to 6 shift started in the beginning. I am pretty curious about the lighter switch rods now, guess I really have to try one over here in the Netherlands, as we have a sublime large reservoir where it could be magical. And I think that it also would be really nice for summer seabass fishing.

  4. Thanks for the review. I was looking at purchasing the same rod. How do you think it would perform with the rio switch line vs the scandi that you used? Thanks for the info!

    • Zak, I like the switch line and expect it would work well. The 4/5 switch line is 375 grains so it’s a little heavy but it has a very long head so it might be easier to cast two handed. I’m guessing it will suffer for single hand casting.

      Again I’m guessing here but I suspect a 5wt RIO Grand would be a great single hand line for it as well. Unfortunately when it comes to switch rods you often have to make a judgment on how you will use the rod the most when choosing a line.

      I would not be surprised if Rio makes a line specifically for the four way prospector at some point. I know that Simon is a fan of that rod. I would encourage you to buy one. You will love it.

  5. L-

    Interesting point made about “fast rods – overloading them, slowing them down…”, question; only on topic – your thought on overloading medium rods to “speed them up”? One of mt favorite go to rods is the 5wt Redington Voyant – on a spare reel, I toss a 6wt line…for giggles mind you, not for any specific targets. Seems I can roll “some” heavier bugs but that about it.

    • Scott. I’ll make a couple,of points here.

      A heavier line slows down any rod regardless of whether the action is fast medium or slow. The heavier the line the slower the action. This is sometimes convenient. For example when fishing smaller water and making short cast a heavier line will load the rod with less line out. I will frequently fish a 4wt line on my 3 weight rod on small streams.

      A heavier line does turn over bigger flies more easily. If however the line is too heavy for the rod and you’re not able to make good loops this is not an advantage. It maybe that what you need is a bigger rod for those butterflies. I cannot speak to the Voyant specifically. I’m just not familiar with that rod.

      I hope this answers your question.

  6. Switch rods can be tricky to fit with lines, because they are sometimes used as overhead-casting two-handers, or as single-handers, or sometimes as short spey rods employing water-anchored spey casts. Fitting a switch or spey rod is often a matter of buying, borrowing or begging lines, trying them and learning from each one.

    Rods don’t cast numbers; they cast weight, expressed in grains (or grams across the Atlantic). And fortunately, rods have a performance “window” within which lines of a certain weight range perform well on that rod. (Who’d want a rod that cast well only with one exact line weight?)

    • Well said. And any one line is not perfect for every possible fishing scenario these rods offer. I have been criticized for approaching switch rods from a two and perspective but that’s the way I like to fish them. I think you have to accept the idea that if you’re going to fish your switch rod using every possible technique, you are going to need several lines.

  7. I’m late to the party for commenting on this post, but here goes…

    I’m a huge fan of Redington rods, I have a Predator in 6wt for bass & the CPX rods in 7, 8 & 10wts (all were bought & paid for by me via a staff discount at the shop I worked at or through Redington’s guide program rec’d through the shop…no giveaways or promos for review or anything like that)

    You summed up my “love” of Redington rods with this statement:

    “Redington calls it a medium-fast action but I’d call it a true medium and I mean that as a compliment.”

    I find actions of many rods too freakin’ fast; Redington may (mis)label their rods as medium-fast or fast, but I find them significantly slower action than many other rod manufacturers (*cough* TFO *cough*), and that suits me just fine.

    It took me buying (& then selling/giving away) three 7wts before finally realizing I should’ve just bought another CPX at the start & been done with it.

    I’ve yet to jump into two-handers (yet), but when I do, the first ones I reach for to demo will be Redington

  8. Pingback: What I Read With My Coffee: Deneki Outdoors/Gink & Gasoline | Stalking The Seam

  9. Louis,
    Have you fished this rod with the rio switch chucker line? Great review and I’m planning on making this my first switch rod for trout here in vermont.

  10. Thanks for the review, I have been looking for a two handed rod for trout fishing in local reservoirs and am overwhelmed at the options out there. My fish average 14″ to double digits (Pyramid Lake, Nevada). I have a 6 wt. 12′ 6″ spey which is just too big for my taste for these size fish (excluding the bigger ones at Pyramid which only come occasionally), and think this may be the rod I have been looking for.

  11. Total newb question but anyhow, what would the step up to a 5wt Prospector mean, in your estimation, to the type fishing styles/fished targeted with a 4wt? I’ve heard others say the Dually 5wt switch is an “all trout” kind of rod, but this 4wt seems to be more in that realm.

    Is it safe to assume a 5wt is better suited for slightly larger flies, larger water and larger fish and probably less dry fly action and less delicate presentation?

    • Well, there’s not a whole lot of difference. It’s only one line weight but remember, a 4 wt switch is like a 5 wt single hand rod. Personally I like the 4. The five is a little heavier than I like for trout and not enough for steelhead. Just my opinion.

  12. I enjoyed your review of the 4wt Prospector as that is one of the rods I’m am considering. I currently have a Beulah 6wt switch rod which is a little “over kill” for the fishing that I do. I swing soft hackles and streamers for fairly large brown trout on the Madison River in and out of Yellowstone Park.

    In your review you don’t mention using a skagit line, would this rod be able to handle reasonably sized streamer, i.e. weighted #2 buggers etc. If so what line would you recommend.

    On my current setup I have a Rio shooting line and AirFlow Scandi Compact on a Lamson Konic 2 II and would like you use this reel for whatever lines I choose for the new rod.

    Thanks for any imput you could provide.

  13. I have no idea what size fly is appropriate for what weight on a switch rod….for example, what line wt is too light for some of the bigger steamers use for trout? Like some of galloups patterns? I tie an Autumn splendor in a size two…what’s a good weight for that? Could the 4wt handle that? What about heavier patterns like a rabbit strip Sculpin with a Sculpin helmet? Could you help me out with some well known patterns and the minimum requirement in rod weight to cast them well and comfortably?

  14. I have a Redington Prospector 5wt. 11′ 0″ 5110-4

    I want to use it to cast off the beach but have not figured out how to line it.

    I would prefer a floating line set up as well as a sink tip.
    Any advice.

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