Thursday 13 June 2019

Directory of Posts 1-100

Salmon Behaviour
Taking a fly
Feeding impulses
Fast Food & Broad Beans
The Dynamics of the Take
Crash! Bang! Pluck
Hen fish taking times
Good Morning Ladies
Survival - running & choice of
Where are they?
Taking radius
Deep Thinking
Cock fish & hormones
Morning Glory
The Annual Miracle
Salmon Characteristics
Windows on the World
Imaging - how and what salmon
Here’s Looking at You
Sensor systems: hearing,
vibration & smell
Sense of Smell
The Importance of Smell
Underwater glare
Blinded by the Light
Sound & Vibration
Speaking Salmon
Flies underwater
Eye of the Beholder
Light in Water
Fishing Craft
Reading & fishing a pool
Reading Railway Maps
Reading a pool – the MCX
scoring system
Walking to the Water Part 1
Reading a pool - examples
Walking to the Water Part 2
Choosing fly Size
Hot & cold Running Water
Trying too Hard
Forgetting the Fly
Depth & sink tips
Deep Thinking
Using Google Earth to read
Rod, Reel, Flies & Satellite
My flies
Inside the Box
Error! Filename not specified.
Fishing in cold water
Brass Monkeys & Tubes
Fishing tricky pools
Walking to the Water Part 3
Fishing in low water
Calm Reflections
Ambush Tactics & Running Fish
Ambush tactics – Close personal and a little dirty
The Week at Tomatin 2013
The Week
Don’t cast too far
Forget the far bank
Avoiding surprise
Thinking & Analysis
Spot the Lie
Tomatin 2017
Autumn Glory – October Ure
Autumn Glory
Looking Back – the 2013 Season
Looking Back
Spring on the Dee
Spring on the Dee
Lessons from 2014
Lessons from 2014
4 Lessons from 2017
Review of 2017
Rutherford (Tweed)
Pearl of the Tweed
Ure Spring 2014
Joys of Spring
Bonny Dee
Hope Expectation and Reality
Walking in the Park (Ure)
Walking & Casting in the Park
Deveron 2015
Top of the Water
Upper Bolton Hall
The Beast of Wensleydale
Swinton Park (Ure)
Helmsdale April 2018
North Tyne Chipchase 2018

Norway 2016-17
The Preparations
Just One Week on the Gaula
You Want to Go to Norway?
Too Much of a Good Thing
Rod choice
Springtime – Swallows, Primroses & New Salmon Rods
Half the System – Thinking about Lines
Choosing a Budget Reel
Reel Value
Rod costs
Where the Money Goes
Lamson Guru vs Loop Evotec
Head to Head in the Midfield
Vision Tool 11’ 6” #8
Vision Rulla Reel
The Koma is Dead – Long Live the Rulla
Rio Grip Running Line
Running Lines & Dog Days
Vision Onki 13’ #8
User review
Vision Tool 13’ #8
User review
Balancing Rod & Reel
How to find the correct reel weight for your rod

Organisation & Preparation 1
It’s here - the new season
Organisation & Preparation 2
Loading Up
Line Maintenance
D-14 Countdown
Packing & Shopping
D-7 Divine Madness
Vision MAG 13’
Wading Jackets 1
The Great Jacket Hunt Chapter 1
Wading Jackets 2
The Great Jacket Hunt Chapter 2
Wading Jackets 3
The Great Jacket Hunt Chapter 3
Budget Wading Jackets

The MCX Shrimp V3
General Posts
How long can this go on?
Water Flow
The Vital (Missing) Ingredient
Water Flow 2
Look Back in Sadness – 2015 Season
Unusually Slow
Amidst Great Joy

Saturday 8 June 2019

Vision Tool 13' #8

This post follows directly from the review of the Vision Onki 13 footer, which saves me having to repeat all the background and contextual information.  If you haven't previously read the Onki 13 post you would find it useful to do so before starting.

Although the Tool and Onki share a common parentage in the original Vision Catapult, they are distinct in design intent and outcome.  Nevertheless there is overlap between them.  For example, while the Onki has a forgiving through action that is ideally suited to novices, less experienced anglers and ordinary casters, well established fishermen would enjoy using it.  Conversely, the Tool is sufficiently forgiving to allow less experienced anglers to use it with pleasure, although it will be less tolerant of their faults and limitations.  The Tool requires more casting proficiency than the Onki, especially if you are to get anywhere near the best out of it.

I can best explain what I mean by analogy.  Just about everybody will be familiar with the BMW 320 saloon car, which is widely acknowledged as the leader in its class.  It's very easy to drive, has excellent handling and its general behaviour flatters its users.  The M Sport version (not the full spec M3) looks very much the same to the untutored eye, and if you're just pottering about, feels much like the original.  However, once you push a bit harder the differences, especially in the 'feel' of the car, become apparent.  If you've added the right options there is an additional athleticism in the dynamics of the steering, suspension and response.  Of course there are thousands of people who pay an extra 20% to buy an M Sport variant for reasons other than the driving feel, and probably never explore its limits - which of course is difficult to do legally on British roads.  Moreover, in the hands of the average user under normal road conditions, the difference in time from A to B between the two models is unlikely to be significant.  But in any event the difference in feel is undeniable.

So it is with the Tool.  When you pick it up for the first time, it has a distinct 'feel' that is athletic and purposeful, which sets it apart from the relaxed and reassuring Onki.  Old time salmon fishermen might have expressed it in terms such as 'heft' or 'yar'.  The word heft has its roots in old Norse.  Not all axes are the same, ask a Norwegian: differences in head weight and shaft length and shape impact their character, usability and 'heft'.  My father explained to me as a child that 'heft' was an essential quality in all things that you used with your hands, which expressed the quality of their dynamic balance and fitness for purpose.  The same is true of salmon rods.  'Yar' is an American term (derived from Old English) used in relation to the handiness of sailing boats, well explained by Tracey in the musical High Society (showing my age again!) as responsive, quick to the helm and taut.  It applies equally to salmon rods.

The Vision Tool has long had an outstanding reputation as a formidable casting weapon, capable of delivering anything up to Admiralty anchor chain.  In this evaluation I did not set out to explore that aspect, not least because I lack the casting skill to explore its full envelope, but rather to assess its worth in practical fishing use in the hands of a moderate user.  Would it meet my notions of heft and yar?

Tool Overview

At £550 the Tool is squarely mid-field amongst premium salmon rods, in a -/+ £100 zone bounded by the Guideline LPXe below and the Hardy Jet above, that also contains the new Mackenzie NX1.  It's certainly a high quality product.

The Tool arrives in the same WAG styled triangular cordura tube as its little switch brother.  I've long since got used to the colour scheme and I do like the triangular section, which stops it rolling about in the car.  Inside the 4 sections are contained in a plain black cloth bag.

The aesthetics are understated, with unpainted blanks and modest counter-point whippings.  The rings are high quality, probably PacBay but not labelled as such.

The reel seat is a simple down-locking design that exposes the blank beneath.  The locking held secure throughout the 2 days, with only one check.

The cork is average for this price point and well finished with composite butt cap and endings to increase durability.  The grip thickness is somewhat larger than suits my small hands but it didn't cause me difficulty.

The balance test indicated an optimum reel weight in the range 220-240 grams.  The Rulla shown here is at the light end of that range, but produced acceptable balance for the purposes of the test.

Test Conditions

The conditions were exactly the same as those for the Onki: two days on the Tweed at Rutherford in very low water, with an awkward swirling downstream wind.  The need to stay out of the water, or at most restrict wading to ankle depth, had more effect on the Tool than the Onki, for reasons I shall explain later.  During the test I employed the full range of casts (inexpertly) from both shoulders.

I tried 3 different Rio Scandi heads - 34, 37 & 39 grams.  While the Tool handled the heavier heads with ease and the 37 gram produced excellent loading, for me the sweet spot was at 34 grams, which produced the ideal combination of loading, communication and aerial performance.  It was so nice and well suited to the conditions I didn't bother with the 50' head in the car box.

Tool Impressions

Tail of Lovers' Leap
Tweed at Rutherford

As I noted earlier, from the moment you first pick up the Tool you are struck by its 'feel' - athletic, purposeful and most definitely 'heft'.  Nonetheless I had a frustrating start, because on Friday afternoon Lovers' Leap was a pale shadow of its normal character: I'd been looking forward to opening my shoulders (left handed) but rather was faced with a series of streams between awkwardly located rocks.  It wasn't fun as I had to expend all my concentration on fishing the fly briefly in each runnel before rapidly extracting it to avoid snagging and to cover another.  In terms of fishing the conditions were hopeless.  It certainly wasn't fair on the rod.

Between the Caulds
Tweed at Rutherford
Day 2
What a difference: Day 2 was overcast and gloomy, which made even shallow water seem more fishy.  On Between the Caulds I was fishing the left bank, right handed for the Single Spey when the wind permitted, and left handed for the Double and Snake when it didn't.  However, the need to stay close to the bank brought the luxuriant grass behind me into play, thereby restricting the D loop for the left handed casts.  Although the water was very low, the fishing width was the same as that at higher levels, which meant that whenever the wind dropped enough to allow a Single or C Spey I could load up the Tool and let fly.  And fly it did.  Over the years that Tony has kindly hosted me at Rutherford I've fished this run several times at +12" with a variety of 14 footers (including the Loop Classic, Cross S1 and Hardy Marksman).  In broad terms the Tool 13' was covering the same acreage of water with no greater effort.

The communication and rod feel during casting was clear, albeit not amplified to the extent of the Onki.  In this respect the Tool is better suited to a more experienced angler.  It loads all the way down to your hands, even at 60-70% effort.  It most certainly is not some kind of tippy Scandinavian shooting head launcher, but rather a properly integrated through-action fishing rod with serious sinewy muscle - Lasse Viren comes to mind - that brings the energy of all 4 sections into the action.

Island in the sun
After lunch I moved up to Island, where I'd fished the day before in blazing sunshine.  On Saturday it was gloomy and rainy, with a rising wind.  These conditions darkened the water, made everything look fishy and increased my confidence and focus enormously.  The wind wasn't helping my casting with either hand but the Tool made short work of the challenges - point and shoot.  As my MCX Dark #10 swung into the V-seam holding area below the second croy a nice fish took and headed off downstream towards Kelso.  Having been dissuaded from that option by a good bend in the Tool, it then made a bid upstream for Peebles.  It wasn't large but it was certainly energetic, putting in some nice runs and a little aerobatics for good measure.  I was much more forceful than I had been with Friday's larger fish and so brought it to the net still full of beans.  Indeed, Michael had no sooner got the hook out and it was off between his legs and away like a rocket before I could get the camera switched on.  Michael Farr reckoned it was about 6 lbs and had been in the river 8-10 weeks.  The Tool had shown that it was an effective fish-fighting weapon, with enough flex in the top to absorb shocks and good power throughout its length to get the job done quickly.

We then dashed down to the Slap in a desperate bid to cash in on my lucky streak and catch a third fish before tea and the drive back to Yorkshire.  I had one firm tap about 6-8 feet downstream from where I caught the fish on Friday but didn't get a hook hold.  Casting left and right handed I explored all the water, sadly to no avail.  One point I took from the casting was that the Tool wasn't as easy as the Onki in rolling short lengths of line.  Another was from extracting line into the back cast of the Single Spey that had sunk in the back eddy, which the Tool managed in short order.  I concur with Alan Maughan's view that extracting a sunken line efficiently - especially sinking heads - is a real test of design coherence.  Through action rods do it best with least effort because all 4 sections are involved in the process.  Some years ago I had a very prestigious rod but only its top 2 sections took part in extraction: as a result it was a complete pig to use with sinking heads, which persuaded me to sell it.  Vision have certainly appear to have got this right with the Tool, and I should have loved to have given it a real workout in big water with an S3/S6 to confirm my views.


The Tool is not just a first class casting machine but also an excellent all round fishing rod.  It has a delightful athletic feel in your hands - near perfect 'heft'.  I really liked the way in which the action brings every inch of the blank to bear on every activity - extracting, casting and fighting a fish.  It matters little whether you call it full, through or whatever term the marketeers might coin, this type of action makes life easier for the user while exploiting to the full all the energy stored in the blank during casting.  As  Yorkshireman I have difficulty with the notion of paying for 4 sections of expensive carbon when only the top two do the business and the role of the bottom pair is limited to adding altitude to the top ring.  Putting all 4 to work feels like much better value for money, and for me it's certainly more pleasurable.

Two days with the Tool on the Tweed was a most enjoyable experience.  It's a great rod that I can recommend to any competent angler and caster.  You will be able to cover acres of water with minimal effort and without fatigue. However, if you're not confident in your casting, stick to the Onki, which will suit you better.  But if you fish for more than just one week a year, have the skills to match and are looking for a 13 footer, then the Tool is a 'must try' option.

It certainly has great 'heft' - someone did a first class design and development job to achieve this sort of feel.  But is it 'yar'?  Its 11' 6" little brother is certainly yar, but bearing in mind that the sailboat that Tracey was describing was named True Love, I must confess that at 13 feet, it's the MAG that's most yar.