Looking back over the past decade or so of Just One Week, it always seems to be the case that no sooner have I tested and reviewed a Vision rod than it becomes obsolete and is withdrawn from sale. I've got used to it now and it hasn't put me off trying new rods and writing about them. In the 2021 product cycle there are some real surprises. Over the past year Vision has completely changed its range of double-handed rods:
- The premium XO has been succeeded by the XO Graphene, with the same name, style, finish and performance
- The long-serving Tool has finally been retired
- The entry level Onki range has been reduced to single-handed only, pending stock run-down
- The six-piece Sisu Siks remains, but will probably end shortly
- The Custom series, pitched at £700 - £850, comprises 4 general purpose salmon rods at 13, 14, 15 and 16 feet; and two specialist Skagit rods of around 13' 6". The Custom range hasn't yet arrived in UK, but is scheduled for delivery in late May. In that respect it's worth noting that Vision are not alone in having supply timing issues - presumably owed to the effects of Covid on supply chains - as Sage's new entry level double handers won't be available until after the season has ended.
- The Hero is now their entry-level range, comprising just two rods, an 11' 2" #7 switch at £399, and a 13' 7" #8 general purpose at £449. Both are now available in UK, and as soon as I could I got hold of a 13' 7" to try out.
Hero - First Impressions
Continuing Vision's long established tradition of eccentric presentation, the Hero comes in a cheerful primrose yellow tube with internal sub-dividers. You're not likely to leave it behind! Nevertheless, the cheerful colour is entirely in keeping with the Hero's happy demeanour and what it does for the user's morale.
The appearance is understated in every respect. The blank is semi-translucent black, and like the XO, has an un-machined surface. The effect at distance is gloss black. The whippings are neat and well finished with epoxy. There are two stripper rings and the remainder are chrome snakes.
On the Water
- Scandi. The rod has a wide weight window of 30 - 38 grams. In the event the middle figure of 34 grams proved absolutely delightful, loading the rod fully and responding nicely with every cast, from short range rolls to full distance Single Spey. I was able to cover the entire fishing width of the tail section of Frodle Dub without any wading. Performance with a 38 gram line was competent but dull in comparison with the joys of the 34 gram.
- Skagit. The Hero was in its element with the Skagit, loading down to its boots before sending 10 feet of T11 and a brass tube the full width of Frodle Dub with minimal effort. It also performed very well in extracting the sunken head from a slack back-eddy. I didn't have the specified 580 grain line, but it was equally competent with both 550 and 600 grain lines.
- Sinking Head. Alan Maughan always held that extracting a sinking head was one of the most searching tests of a rod, in which strongly tip-raised actions were often found wanting. The test line was an over-weight #9/10 Guideline 3D S3 with a 2" copper conehead tube. The Hero rolled it up neatly before despatching a good single Spey. I suspect that the Hero could have done a direct extract and cast with an on-weight #8 line.
- 55' Spey. As I had a Unispey in the box I thought I'd give it a go. However, its #9/10 weight seriously overmatched the Hero (and my ability). I suspect that it would be happy with a #7/8, but there again, I only fish a full line once in a blue moon, and it's so much fun with a Scandi, why bother?