I am starting to see the new batch of 2014 rods, and if what I have tested so far is any indication of things to come, this is going to be the best all-around new model year in at least a decade.

One of the rods that jumps right out at me is the Vapen from Redington (MSRP: $350). You can already see why. The “Red” model features a synthetic grip, called PowerGrip, that was created in collaboration with the golf club grip manufacturer Winn Grips. It slips less when wet (I fished it on a hot, sweaty day recently and found that to be true). It’s also comfortable.

I’ve always felt that golf and fly fishing are essentially the same sport. One is played mostly dry, the other played mostly wet. They share the same ancestral roots, and appeal to the same personality. One thing I’ve never understood, however, is why the first thing a golf pro corrects on a wannabe duffer is his/her grip, yet that’s the last thing fly guides and rod makers have worried about. In fly fishing, it’s all about tapers, and action, tips and timing. But few have bothered to think beyond century-old cork handle designs. And I think where the hand meets the rod might be the most important factor that differentiates great casting performance from average. It’s about time somebody figured that out.

I’ve messed around with grip tapes on some rods for years, but I think the integrated grip is probably a better solution. I am interested to hear your thoughts.