Probably because I’m not the world’s greatest fly caster, but normally, I’m not a real big fan of fast action rods. Partly that’s because my casting needs work, but I also learned on a very slow rod, so I’m used to the feel of real bendy rod from tip to base. But a fast rod allows for majestically distant casts, helps with casting forcefully in the wind, and landing powerful fish—all things I want in a fly rod for wintertime steelhead and salmon fishing.
For the past couple weeks, I’ve been testing the Redington Crux 5-weight rod, a new midpriced entry for a brand normally associated with some of the best value in the obscenely expensive fly fishing biz. It’s a fast action rod with a huge amount of flex at the tip, but really stiff in the mid-section. Actually, the flex really begins about 3/4 of the way up the rod, but you get the idea. For somebody like me, it took a little while to get a rod this stiff and light dialed, but once I did, whoa is it accurate. A fast rod seems to like a more wristy cast than I normally use, but it’s incredible how little force it takes to get the Crux to shoot line at a rise 40 feet away. It loads real quick, and stores the energy well, like a little catapult. A solid pluck off the water, a pause, a quick punch forward and whoosh, a tight, perfect loop sails out from the rod. I sent some full-throated casts out past the 70- to 80-foot range, and I bet a person who uses fast rods a lot could cast further.
It’s an impressive caster, no doubt about it.
Redington designed the angled cork handle with a bit of compressed cork at the top of the handle, I’m guessing to remind the user of proper thumb or top finger placement. Seems gimmicky to me, but it looks cool. The reel seat is straightforward, and the four-piece rod assembles quick and easy. The first few times I flexed the rod I heard some clicking and popping, but after a few casts and reseating each section, the clicks went away and it was smooth as silk.
The Crux was a little trickier to roll cast, but to be honest, I’d probably not be using a fast action rod in a brush or tree-covered setting anyway. This rod is built to cast far with relatively minor effort. It doesn’t feel like a small stream tool, though the lightness makes landing small fish a joy.
Speaking of which, all I’ve caught with this so far has been a few bluegill in a shallow, sun-heated lake, and a whole lot of smallmouth bass in a slow moving stream. All of 5F line wrapped around the Redington ID reel (their budget reel, with the added option of accepting personalized decals on the frame). Nothing over a pound, but the lively rod was plenty fun. I did hook up with a steelhead on the season’s opening weekend but didn’t land it. Couldn’t tell how big the fish was, but assuming it was at least a 16-incher, the rod really started to come alive and flex its muscle with a little more tug.
If you’re looking for a rod that’s a little step up in terms of power than a slower 5-weight piece, with windy conditions and bigger fish in mind, the Crux is a terrific choice. I’m hiking back in for that steelhead next weekend and I have no doubt the Crux will perform flawlessly.
$399 • BUY
Like a fast action rod for less than a zillion bucks? Try these
The Orvis Recon is fast, lightweight, rugged rod with a more classic look than the Crux. Pretty similar rod, for just a touch more money—$425.
I spent a little time with a borrowed Sage Pulse on the Gallatin in Montana this summer and was impressed by its long casting. Up close it was a little trickier, but a good medium-sized water rod. $450
The Scott Flex is a classic fast action rod from a respected maker, still less than a mint at $475.