Last Summer, Redington announced the release of their new series of fly rods: the Hydrogen. These rods were designed specifically for the trout angler, and our initial test of the Hydrogen was very positive. Since that time, the Hydrogen has been one of those rods we like to mention when anglers come in the shop looking for a good trout rod at a good value. It seems that each year, Redington brings out a new rod or reel that ups the ante with value priced fly fishing gear. Being such good sticks at a good price, these rods have even begun to encroach on the mid-priced rod market…but that is neither here nor there. With such positive initial impressions, we wanted to take a more in-depth look at this rod and publish a quick Redington Hydrogen fly rod review. I managed to pick up a Redington Hydrogen 486-4 as I was in need of a good smaller river/dry fly rod. The 486 fit the bill (that’s 8’6″ 4 weight).
(Disclaimer: Kirk Deeter of Field and Stream likes to point out that any online fly rod review is fairly subjective. This review is no different. I will interject my opinion based on my experiences and you may come to the same conclusion, but it may be different too.)
Out of the tube, the Redington Hydrogen makes a quick impression with it’s skeletonized aluminum reel seat and single foot line guides. The reel seat may not be something most people are used to as most trout rods have a wood spacer; but it seats reels just as well as any other rod. It’s a different design but I dig it. The single foot guides may also be something that most people are not used to. My assumption is that Redington chose the components to cut down on weight.
The half-wells, premium grade cork handle that comes on this rod is a little on the small side. I assume Redington did this to save weight as well. For myself, I don’t mind the smaller handle at all, especially on a trout specific fly rod. However, I don’t have massive hands and I can see how the smaller handle may be uncomfortable or annoying for anyone with larger hands. The rod has a matte grey finish that was used to reduce flash that can spook trout. While nothing to write home about, I actually like the matte grey finish as I have spooked my fair share of fish just by waving my rod in the sun.
One other point of note is that the Redington Hydrogen line up does not come with a hook keeper/tender above the cork grip. This is not a deal breaker for me as I usually loop my leader around the reel seat and hook my fly into the first guide. I assume this was done to cut down on the cost and weight of this rod in keeping it simple. For some, this is an issue…for most it is not a big deal.
The Hydrogen is heralded as the lightest rod in it’s class, and for good reason. There is only one model in the family that exceeds 3 ounces, and that is the 11 foot 3 weight. It is a rod that is very light in hand to say the least. The Hydrogen was built as a medium/fast action fly rod. My initial casting with the Hydrogen was with a Rio Gold fly line which might be the perfect fly line for most people on this rod. It really fills out that medium/fast casting stroke well but does not feel overlined at all. A solid all around trout line for they Hydrogen.
However, I personally opted to line my Hydro up with a Rio Trout LT WF4F. I really like this line for light and delicate casts and roll casting. It has a longer tapered head than the Gold and works fantastic as a dry fly line. It makes the Hydrogen feel almost like a fast action rod, without causing it to feel too stiff. It is a fun line when throwing single handed spey casts and swinging small soft hackles too.
In short to medium distances (read “trout distances”), the Hydrogen is extremely fun to fish. Nothing complex or technical, it is just fun…meaning that is I don’t have to think about my rod set up while using it. It just works for me as I need it to. The medium fast action paired with the Trout LT fly line makes for a light, accurate, roll casting machine. I have thrown everything from small BWO dries to heavier double nymph rigs, buggers, and stonefly dry dropper rigs. It does it all with ease…ease and fun. Since I have this lined up with the Rio Trout LT, I have not really thrown past 40-50 feet. It can be done, I just have not needed to. Were you one to line a Hydrogen up with a Rio Gold, you would probably be able to easily extend your casting distance if you needed to with no issues.
The rod tip is sensitive enough to tight line nymph and feel the difference between bottom structure and an actual fish eat. Fighting fish on the Hydrogen is enjoyable as it is not too stiff to overpower them, but it has enough power when you need to put the heat on. I have not put any monsters on this rod yet, but so far it handles trout up to 17″ very easily.
Even though it shouldn’t need being said; because of the lightness of the rod, no one should feel any casting fatigue. Not that most 4 weight mid priced rods cause casting fatigue, but it is really just a pleasant rod to fish. This is a workhorse rod for my rod quiver and so far, it is holding up it’s end of the deal quite well.
If you were looking for a very nice, mid priced trout stick; the Hydrogen should have your consideration. At $299, this is a very fine rod for the beginner fly angler to learn the art of fly angling yet get many years of use. It is also a fantastic rod for any expert looking to add a rod size to their arsenal. The 7′ 6″ 2 weight would make for a great small creek rod when throwing small dries to high country trout is in order. The 9′ 6 weight is the largest rod in the family, but it would make for a great streamer, big nymph, or even bass rod.
Redington also stepped into the Euro nymph game with the Hydrogen rod family by building 3 models that exceed 9 feet. A 10′ 3 weight, 11′ 3 weight, and a 10′ 4 weight all are being built with a softer tip that helps when turning over heavy nymph rigs and detecting eats while employing Euro nymph techniques. With the popularity of Euro nymphing these days, it is really nice to see companies like Redington bringing rods to the masses that don’t break the bank. We have even heard reports that these longer rods work really quite well when you want to throw single handed spey fly line or just use them to fish dry flies with a lot of mending ability.
All in all, a fantastic trout stick for the money.