I think I am not alone in this but, no matter how great my gear is, I am always curious about whether there is a setup that might just be even more optimal for the fishing I do. It’s a curiosity thing. While I have not had a lot of experience with Finnish brand Vision’s gear and tackle, what I have had has been good, so I was stoked to get a chance to test out the Rivermaniac medium-action fly rod on our local streams.
On the rod front, Vision are well known for their stream nymphing rods like the Nymphmaniac and they have done extremely well on the award front with plenty of anglers singing their praises. The challenge for me was to see how the Rivermaniac would perform on our local waters, which are predominantly dry fly streams and on the smaller side.
The Rivermaniac comes in a handsome rod tube and rod bag. The quality of the bindings and rod guides looked good. The matt copper colour appealed to me because I prefer to have a dull finished rod for these skinny streams where the slightest rod flash can give you away.
Despite what the comp guys and their 10ft-plus rods might argue, at 9ft the Rivermaniac feels a little long for our local streams. That said, the length does help with reach and getting over fast water when the streams are high. I often use a 9ft rod in the early season high water and I see the Rivermaniac as being perfect for that kind of job.
I matched the rod up with a weight-forward 3-weight floating line and was fishing a 12ft leader and about 3ft of 6x tippet. Within the Vision Rivermaniac range you can choose between a medium or fast action rod from 3 to 7-weights. I was fishing the medium action version. The rod has plenty of power but is still soft enough to handle the thin tippet and skinny water and present flies delicately and accurately.
When needed, I found the Rivermaniac could push out one hell of a cast and getting distance was easy with the rod loading well and keeping a tight loop. For the Cape streams, longer casts aren’t usually necessary and we tend to fish quite short but, every now and then, I wanted to produce longer casts to get to the head of some of the bigger pools where wading closer was not an option. The rod handled this with ease.
Having heard that the Rivermaniac was designed to be more of a dry fly rod, but to offer nymphing versatility too, I had to give it a bash and see how the rod performed because you often need to revert to nymphing these streams when the surface action is non-existent. It’s not a Nymphmaniac but is made of the same materials with a different taper and length optimised for dry fly fishing, so I found that it handled nymphs beautifully. I was fishing a tandem fly setup with heavily weighted flies under an indicator. It’s a rig that can be tricky with softer, shorter rods, but the length and strength of the Rivermaniac pushed out the heavier flies easily. I managed to get tight loops and casts to the far side of the stream when needed and where the river was wider.
On one of the streams I fished, the bank gets quite bushed in and the river too deep to wade. With a nymph on I was keen to get a drift through this deeper run. As I edged along the side of the bank, the rod’s 9ft reach really helped me to get a good cast upstream past an overhanging branch that I was convinced would hold a fish. As my indicator drifted back it bumped and I thought it was probably stuck on the lower parts of a branch that I could see hanging in the river. Then the indicator stopped entirely and I lifted into what turned out to be a really good-size rainbow for that stream. It fought strongly and was trying hard to get back into the undercuts of branches and roots, but the Rivermaniac has a strong enough backbone to bully plucky fish, so I managed to land it.
Ultimately, the Rivermaniac’s biggest appeal is that it is very versatile. Whether you need to fish dry dropper, run nymphs through pockets and deep runs, or lay down delicate dry flies, in any technical small stream situation, it won’t disappoint. I really enjoyed fishing with it and was impressed by how it handled all scenarios. It would be the perfect rod for the early season on the Cape streams. And if I was planning on fishing either Lesotho or larger Eastern Cape rivers, it would be my go-to rod for sure.
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