I have to admit to being a bit sceptical of budget-built fly rods, having seen how easily one can source these rods from China at extremely low prices. Indeed, this is why there are so many backyard brands that have swamped the ‘budget fly rod’ category. Sadly the number of these small rod companies innovating is minute, with most opting for the easy, somewhat unethical tactic of copying someone else’s rod.
Vision are one of Europe’s biggest flyfishing brands but to be honest, in the past their products haven’t excited me much. I recently spent a day on the water with Vision’s Antti Vappula who insisted I fish with his Vision Onki fly rod. I resisted, thinking to myself that Vision products didn’t really stack up against what we already had in the shop, and so it was unlikely we’d be stocking them much. However, I didn’t want to insult Antti, so I reluctantly accepted the Onki rod.
What followed was one the finest days of dun fishing I’ve ever had. Antti was giggling like a little girl and he couldn’t believe his luck.
We caught trout using just about whatever technique or fly we tried. Needless to say, the Vision Onki got a workout on some big fish. From the first cast I loved this rod. It’s seriously light for a rod in this price range and its tip recovery and feel is up there with rods double the price. To be honest, some tech expert like Peter Hayes should be the one writing the technical spiel in these rod reviews, but what was obvious was just how well the rod suited me – a good caster but not a certified casting instructor! Speaking of certified casting instructors, the lead designer of the Onki is Antti Guttorm from Finland, a Master Casting Instructor with the Federation of Fly Fishers and all-around fly casting guru.
I like a rod that bends and this just felt like the perfect 6 weight with a 6 weight line. None of that over-lining nonsense necessary. These rods aren’t designed for casting a full fly line but the action they have would certainly add distance to a beginner’s cast. At fish-catching distance of 20-60 feet, they are a real joy.
Build quality is a gripe I tend to have with budget rods but the Onki is different. It looks to be crafted with care and whatever they’ve done in the factory to ensure quality has worked. The thread wraps and fittings are far better than you’d expect at a $400 price point. Some will love the mustard colour and some will hate it – personally, I don’t care what colour a rod is if it fishes well.
Vision’s Onki rods are available in line weights 3 to 7. Besides the 6, I’ve since cast the 3, 4 and 5 weights. They all feature a similar action and the same attributes mentioned above.
As well as this newfound focus on innovation, Vision have just made a change to their Australian distribution, and with the energy and enthusiasm of Antti Vappula at the helm, I think it’s a brand destined for success both locally and abroad.
Vision’s Onki rods are available now for $399.95 at The Flyfisher in Melbourne and online here.