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At the 2007 Fly Fishing Retailer trade show, Redington introduced the new, upgraded RS4 fly rod.  A replacement for the RS3, Redington characterizes the RS4 as a fast action stick. "We've found the new RS4 great for accommodating all day casting, yet powerful enough to cover a lot of water." is what the marketing slicks said.  After spending several months with a 9-foot, 5-weight I'm definitely ready to concede that they've made a very fast action rod that absolutely has the ability to reach out and touch someone!  If you need to grab some big air for long casts, the RS4 has the horsepower to get you there.

I matched the RS4 with a TL Johnson fly reel.  I tried the rod with WF5, DT5, WF6, DT6 and WF7 fly lines.  The RS4 is very accommodating and seemed to work well with most brands, but it definitely felt more alive in my hands with the heavier strands.  The Rio Gold, more a light 6-weight (see review ) than a strict 5-weight, was a fine match.  That's what I fished over the course of several outings.

Redington specifies the RS4 as being made from "high performance 51-million modulus Toray™ graphite".  Of course they don't say why Toraygraphite is a feature about which a buyer should be concerned.  Perhaps I'm alone in this, but the phrase simply had no meaning and wouldn't (couldn't) influence a buying decision.  I had to investigate.

I found that Toray Composites, Inc., is located in Tacoma, WA, and is a producer of composite prepreg materials. Prepreg is short for preimpregnated, a combination fabric or roving with resin. It is the material which becomes the blank once it's wrapped around a mandrel and cured under pressure.  Torayca® Prepreg can be found in golf club shafts, tennis rackets, fishing rods, diagnostic x-ray equipment, automotive and infrastructure items.  I couldn''t find an explanation of how Toray's prepreg would be different or better than other offerings in my casual Internet search, but many manufacturers boast of the inclusion of this brand of material.  Mystery partially solved...

The RS4 has a pretty olive finish that Redington describes as "moss."  The cork work is good, with a smooth finish and few voids.  The reversed half-wells grip is comfortable in my medium-sized hand.  The reel seat is of the up-locking variety and is nicely detailed.  From the advertising brochure: "The blank color is reflected in the unique reel seat, which features small graphite weave pattern in a custom color made just for Redington and a laser engraved hood."  The RS4 9054 has a stated weight of 3.32 ounces, is manufactured in China, and comes with Redington’s lifetime, original owner guarantee.  It's a very attractive package with a reasonable manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of $250. 

The RS4 is a solid performer.  I fished the rod on trout tailwaters and the open spaces of the Ohio River.  Most recently I took it for a morning of smallmouth bass fishing on a quiet, mid-sized freestone stream.  The RS4 is particularly well suited to high-stick nymph fishing with shot or weighted flies in fast pocket water.  Its light weight and strong tip allowed excellent feel of the fly ticking the rocks, and the RS4's quick spine makes positive hook sets possible, even when you're using a water-resistant strike indicator.

Swinging big streamers was easy with this rod, there was plenty of backbone to control the line and the fly.  The rod was responsive to mending in a nearly hypnotic way.  Arial mends, stack mends and tuck casts were all deftly handled.  This rod definitely provides a good sense of control.  I had no problems casting a size 4 Mixed Media to a target well over 60-feet away.  Big dries, too, were a simple load.  A size 8 Goddard Caddis and Green Weenie dropper presented no problems.  This is a great rod for casting big, bushy flies over wide open runs.  Roll casting was acceptable, but not great, with the rod showing a reluctance to load with the short lengths typically in play in tight quarters.  The RS4 definitely likes to work with a good length of line, and if I were planning on using this rod for regularly fishing inside of 30-feet I'd absolutely consider over-lining it with a 6 or 7-weight fly line.

The Redington RS4 is a bit less suited for delicate dry flies, diminutive tippets or intimate waters.  Fast line speeds demand deliberate deliveries to keep the fly from splashing down hard.  The short casts typically used on modest-sized trout streams were executed without feel.  Many (most) spring creeks demand you fish with just a few feet out of the tip and that quick spine that makes hook-sets so positive offers little in the way of protection for low-pound-test terminal rigs.  You should probably leave your 6X and smaller spools at home.

The Redington RS4, in the tested 4-piece, 9-foot 5-weight configuration, is a solid performer that will appeal to those who like fast rods and who fish in big waters.  It's a good choice for heavy trout or light stream bass fishing with its crisp stroke and responsive nature.  This would also be an excellent rod choice for those who obsess over sight-casting to carp. 

The RS4 faces stiff competition from the likes of Temple Forks, Orvis, Echo, and the house brands of Bass Pro Shops, Cabela's and LL Bean.  The $150 to $250 price range offers a lot to choose from and only personally casting the rod with the flies you hope to use at the ranges to expect to fish will help you dial-in and find the perfect stick for you.  Take a close look at the Redington RS4 and you might just find that your audition list has become shorter.

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