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The Redington Crosswater Combo is one of the most popular beginner fly fishing rod and reel combos available today. It casts surprisingly well for its price point and delivers an excellent overall value.
To get us a closer look, Redington sent Man Makes Fire a 9′ 5-weight review unit. This is what we learned:
Redington Crosswater Combo Review
The first thing you need to know about the Redington Crosswater Combo is that it’s an entry-level combo that’s offered at a beginner-friendly price point. It performs way better than most combos offered at lower price points and yet it performs nearly as well as fly fishing combos that cost quite a bit more. Most new fly fishers will be able to cast well and have a great time fishing with this combo, which is why it’s in our guide to the best fly rod and reel combos.
While I personally prefer lighter fly rods with faster actions (that admittedly tend to cost quite a bit more), I was surprised by how much I enjoyed casting the Redington Crosswater Combo. While wading in waist-deep water, I remember looking over my shoulder at the rod while casting. I was thinking: Wow, the Crosswater is far more comfortable than I expected.
Of course, the Redington Crosswater Combo is more than just the rod — you also get the Crosswater Reel, backing, Rio Mainstream Fly Line, a leader, and a stout rod and reel combo case. At $170 or so, it’s a great overall value.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the components.
The Redington Crosswater Fly Rod
One of the coolest distinguishing features of the Redington Crosswater fly rod is its striking bright blue blank. It looks fantastic in the sun. Most fly rods are made from muted color pallets — tans, browns, olive greens, and grays. The blue Crosswater rod, on the other hand, is instantly recognizable from a distance. I didn’t think I would like it as much as I do.
As I mentioned, the Redington Crosswater casts surprisingly well. But let’s break that down into a bit more detail. The Crosswater is a medium-fast action graphite fly rod. To put this very simply, fast-action fly rods tend to be stiffer and bend more in their tips while medium action rods bend more across their middle and tip. Most beginners do well with medium-fast action rods, and I’ve never met a decent fly fisher who couldn’t catch plenty of fish with an entry-level rod.
Meanwhile, I felt the Crosswater loaded easily while casting. It also delivered thoroughly decent power for midrange-plus distance casts, even when I was tossing a pair of weighted nymphs with a large strike indicator.
For me, accuracy was about average for the price point. It’s not as crisp and clean as experienced casters will find in rods that cost hundreds more, but for most people most of time, it’s plenty accurate. Frankly, you should only buy an expensive rod and reel if you a) have lots of money, or b) have already become a fly fishing fanatic and know exactly the kind of performance you want for the waters you fish.
The most important point here, though, is that that I enjoyed casting and fishing with the Crosswater.
The Redington Crosswater Reel
The Redington Crosswater Reel blends a modern design with an inexpensive polymer construction. The reel itself looks great and works well. The disc drag system is about average for reels that cost about $50 — decent and adjustable and best used on light settings until you have a fish on the reel. Most people, especially while trout fishing, should set their drags at tensions lighter than they expect (or hope) to need . . . and then gradually tighten them if they’re fighting a fish directly from their fly reel.
The outer rim of the reel extends beyond the handle, which is good, because it lets you palm the outer edge to add a bit of drag if you need it while fighting a fish.
The Crosswater Reel easily converts between left-hand and right-hand retrieve.
In the Crosswater Combo, the reel comes pre-spooled with Rio Mainstream WF floating fly line, which is a good entry-level fly line that costs about $39 on it’s own. It will last most beginners several years before they’ll need to think about replacing it.
Is the Crosswater Combo Worth It?
The biggest benefit to choosing a fly rod and reel combo is to get a ready-to-fish outfit with components that are matched by weight. Fly rods have “weight” ratings which must be paired with fly lines that match the rod’s weight rating. So a 5-weight fly rod needs a 5-weight fly line to cast properly. The fly reel also needs to be sized for 5-weight rods and lines. A reel that’s too small won’t hold enough line while a reel that’s too large will unbalance the fly rod, making it more difficult to cast. Combos make putting a fly fishing outfit together much easier, which makes combos great for beginners — and makes them excellent gifts for new fly fishers.
In addition, the best fly rod and reel combo outfits save you money when you buy the complete package. In the case of the Redington Crosswater Combo, if you buy the rod, reel, line, and case separately, it could easily cost over $200, so the standard $169.99 price “saves” you some money . . . that you’ll likely end up spending on flies and fly fishing accessories.
Which Crosswater Combo Should I Get?
If you’re looking for a good all-around trout fishing combo, the 9′ 5-weight model is the way to go. The Redington model number for this rod or combo is 590-4. The “5” is for 5-weight. The 90 is for 9 feet 0 inches, and the 4 indicates that it’s a 4-piece rod (which is what you want). So, a 690-4 would be a 6-weight, 9-foot, 4-piece fly rod. If you’re going to be fishing more on big rivers and lakes for trout, a 9′ 6-weight might be a better choice, especially if you expect a lot of wind.
For smaller creeks — or smaller fly fishers — you could drop down to the 8’6″ 5-weight or even the 9′ 4-weight. The 7’6″ 4-weight is for small creeks or fishing for bluegills. For beginner steelhead or salmon fishing, jump up to the 9′ 8-weight or 9′ 9-weight. If you want to fish for bass, go with the 9′ 8-weight. You’ll want it to throw larger flies and more quickly direct bass out of the weeds.
All-in-all, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed casting the 5-weight, 9-foot Redington Crosswater Combo. Beginners should be able to get going quickly with the Crosswater Combo, and even if they end up wanting to upgrade in a few years, their Crosswater Combo will serve double-duty as a back-up outfit or a great rod and reel to lend to their buddies. Highly recommended.