In this gear review, we’ll be having a closer look at the Moonshine Vesper 9ft 6wt fly rod. Now, you’ve seen me test and fish a couple of different Moonshine rods over the last months, and this specific one I used during the latest episodes of our Stillwater Series.
In this article, we’ll look at how the rod performs, how it looks, and, very importantly, who should consider buying it.
Right before I dive into the review, I want to mention that Moonshine sent me this Vesper for our Stillwater Series. After using it for a couple of weeks, I thought I’d share my thoughts on it, so that if anyone is considering buying this rod, they’ll have some sort of reference.
Where and How Did I Test the Rod?
It’s always important to know where and how a rod was tested because, in my opinion, there’s a lot more to test on a rod than only casting it in the park. You need to understand it in order to give a thorough review, and how better to understand it than to actually fish with it?
When I targeted trout from the bank, I used a weight forward floating line, and while drifting in a boat targeting fish that were holding deep, I used either a di3 or di5 sinking line. Most of the time I threw a two-fly combination which was tied onto a 15-foot long leader.
Where Does the Moonshine Vesper 9ft 6wt Shine?
So, let’s look at where the Moonshine Vesper 9ft 6wt shines.
Casting and Pulling Power
Every person that picks up the rod for the first time thinks it’s a 7 weight rod. I confirmed the advertised weight, and at only 3.1 ounces for a rod with a fighting butt and a full wells grip, it’s far from being heavy.
The reason all of them said it was because of the power of the rod. This thing packs a huge punch, and I won’t hesitate at all targeting fish I’d normally do with a 7 weight with it. But, keep in mind, it’s still super light.
The other reason why I think people get the false sense of weight is the chunky grip, which I’ll cover later in the article.
Two Rod Tips
As with all other Moonshine Series rods, the Vesper 6wt comes with a spare rod tip. I’ll say this again, and keep saying it, I can’t understand why no other manufacturers are doing this.
I put the action of the rod in the “Where the Rod Shines” part of the article, as I appreciate it, but some anglers who prefer uber-fast rods probably won’t. Moonshine states that the rod has a moderate fast action and I totally agree.
But, don’t think the rod is a slouch at all. The recovery rate is on point and the rod is able to generate good line speed.
Watch the Moonshine Vesper 9ft 6wt Review
Where Does the Moonshine 6wt Vesper Fall Short?
Let’s look at where the Moonshine 6wt Vesper might fall short for your intended application.
In my opinion, there are no issues with the build quality or the performance of the rod at all. The first thing that might be a shortcoming for you is if you have small hands. The grip is quite chunky, especially for a 6wt rod, and I think this is why most of my friends mistook the rod for a 7wt.
I have big saltwater rods that have smaller grips than this. Having said that, if you’re an angler with larger hands, this is a great option, especially if you want to lean into your cast and transfer as much energy as possible.
Also, bear in mind that the rod is freshwater specific because of the wooden reel seat insert.
Let’s get up close to the rod itself, and look at it in more detail:
The rod comes in a solid Cordura-covered Moonshine tube, like all of the other rods we’ve reviewed from them. On the top cap, you’ll find a sticker with the rod’s details on it.
It also has a webbing handle which I pass a rope through when I strap multiple rods together. Then you’re sure they won’t fall out and get lost (been there, done that, got the T-shirt).
Inside the tube, you have a rod sock with 5 dividers, one for each section of the 4 piece rod, and one for the spare rod tip.
One thing that I have found with the rod sock is that, once your rod is set up, only the spare tip is left in it. Be careful when you slide this section and the sock back into the tube, as you’re basically pressing down on the tip section. Just keep this in mind and be delicate with it and you should be good.
Now we get to the beef, the rod itself.
Starting here at the base of the butt section, you’ll find a decent-sized fighting butt. It’s made from a combination of high-quality cork and rubberized cork for added durability.
I’m glad to say that the black aluminum uplocking reel seat has two locking rings, which does a great job at keeping your fly reel securely seated in position. The reel seat also features a tobacco-colored wood insert.
I touched on the grip earlier in the article. It’s basically a full wells grip, which makes the rod feel super strong and powerful. Now, if you have small hands, maybe you’ll find that the rod’s grip is slightly too big. Once again this is a personal preference.
The grip is made from the same combination of cork and rubberized cork as the fighting butt.
The blank has a smooth matte grey finish and has a great action. As mentioned, it’s not overly fast, but the recovery rate is good and it has some serious power. You’ll be able to really lean into fish with this rod.
The first stripper guide has a titanium frame and a silicon carbide insert, so you don’t have to worry about it ever rusting. The rest of the guides are all gunsmoke-colored light wire single foot guides, which helps to keep the rod’s overall weight down to a minimum.
As with all the other Moonshine Vespers that I’ve fished before, the clear coat is applied perfectly and there are no signs of smudges or bubbles.
Each section also has orange alignment dots to help you assemble the rod a tad faster.
My Personal Thoughts
So, let me share the pros and cons from my point of view:
- Overall, the rod is ideal for stillwater use and fishing larger rivers. It has enough backbone to cast big streamers and even combinations of big streamers. I never felt that it ran out of power, even throwing a full fly line.
- The rod is very light in the hand when you take into account what you can do with it. I weighed it on a kitchen scale and it just broke 3.1 ounces. That’s light for a sub $500 rod.
- Getting a spare rod tip when buying the rod is a major plus point in my opinion, especially when you stay or fish in far-off countries. For instance, a client accidentally broke the tip of my 9ft 6wt Sage One the other day, and getting that fixed all the way from South Africa takes up to three months. Something to consider.
On the con side, I want to mention beforehand that most of this review is my own opinion. You might have a completely different experience.
The first point is that I think they could have held back slightly on the size of the grip and fighting butt. Not by much, but I think it would have made for a more delicate feeling rod.
If, on the other hand, it is kept beefy, the rod will actually make for a very good ultralight saltwater rod. In that case, however, the wooden reel seat insert will have to be swapped out for something that can handle salt water.
Who Should Buy the Moonshine Vesper 9ft 6wt Fly Rod?
If you’re looking for a solid lake or big river single hand rod, but want something slightly lighter than an 8 weight, this is a great option. The rod has an incredible ability to deal with large streamers and multiple fly rigs, and you surely won’t run out of pulling power.
Moonshine offers great after-sales service, so it will give any angler the peace of mind to fish the rod hard.
I hope that you found this review helpful, and if you have any questions or comments, please leave them at the bottom of the page. If your opinion differs from mine, please let me know too, as I would love to hear your thoughts.
Until next time.