The Vatic Pro PRISM Flash is causing quite a stir among pickleball fans with its low-budget price and high-end specs. It was built for people who find thermoformed paddles too powerful, but traditional honeycomb paddles too soft.
I'd heard people comparing this to the JOOLA Hyperion, so I had to try it out. Read on to see if it really is an amazing bargain or if there's a catch.
Our verdict4.5This paddle is definitely a game-changer and by far the best paddle under $100 I've ever played with. It has all the qualities you'd expect from an expensive raw carbon fiber paddle—at a fraction of the cost. Great control, amazing spin, and plenty of power make this a serious contender among elite paddles like the JOOLA Perseus and Six Zero Double Black Diamond. The only real catch is an inconsistent sweet spot, but if you can handle that, you've got a powerful paddle in your hands at a crazy price.
Buy or pass?
You want an elite-performing paddle at a bargain price.
This plays like a $200+ paddle at half the cost.
You're in the market for a control paddle.
This excels in long dink exchanges, 3rd shot drops, serves, and drives.
You want a complete paddle.
Many paddles claim to offer "power, control, and spin" but this one actually delivers.
You want something lighter and quicker.
This skews a tad heavy and isn't very aerodynamic.
You're a big tournament player.
While it's tournament-ready, it's not on the same level as the CRBN-2X or the Six Zero Double Black Diamond Control.
You prefer thermoformed paddles.
Check out the other Vatic Pro Flash model, as the PRISM was made for people who don't want a thermoformed paddle.
7.7–7.9 oz (14 mm paddle) / 7.9–8.2 oz (16 mm paddle)
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Right out of the box, I felt like I'd unwrapped a high-end $200+ paddle. I was really surprised by its strong, premium feel. It's clearly a proper raw carbon fiber paddle.
The design could've been more exciting, as it's just a standard black like many others, but you don't buy this paddle for how it looks.
Check out my initial reactions here:
For the surprisingly low price of $100, you get an elite performance paddle that feels great on the court. I can see why people compare it to the JOOLA Hyperion. It's plush and very control-focused. Straight away, I could hit almost all shots with good accuracy.
I could generate plenty of spin to play a strong drive game with hard forehands and topspin serves. There was surprising power too—the heaviness helps this paddle pack a good punch. It really delivers on the promise of being an all-court paddle.
The main drawback for me is the inconsistency of the sweet spot. This is what really sets it apart from elite paddles like the CRBN-2X Power Series and the Six Zero Double Black Diamond. I had more mishits with this paddle than those two.
The head heaviness might bother some people too. My paddle clocked in at 8.1 oz, which is ~0.4 oz lighter than the Hyperion. So, I was surprised to find that same lagging feeling as the Hyperion. My reaction time let me down occasionally in fast kitchen exchanges.
The head heaviness also made technical shots, like topspin 3rd shot drops, a little challenging at first. I had to take some off my swing to keep these from popping up.
Watch me test the PRISM Flash on the courts:
The other feature that took some getting used to was the hybrid shape. While this won't be a problem for players already used to hybrid paddles, I'm used to pure elongated paddles and so missed a few overheads during my first practice session.
However, if you can get used to the sweet spot, weight, and shape (which I did after a couple of sessions), you've got yourself an awesome paddle for the price.
Great spin to match the excellent control
Surprising power—I could hit a really hard topspin serve, like a laser, that almost never went out
Plush and stable feel that helped me play my touch game with confidence
Inconsistent sweet spot
Head heavy—a bit sluggish at the net
Adjustment period due to the hybrid shape
The Vatic Pro PRISM Flash is a surprising addition to the paddle market since it uses many of the materials and tech found in very expensive premium paddles at more than half the price.
With a similar build to the JOOLA Hyperion and some of the features, it's really interesting to compare these paddles. One costs $100, while the other is $220+.
Let's take a closer look at what the PRISM Flash is made from, and how it feels on the court.
Toray T700 carbon fiber
The surface is made from Toray T700 raw caThe PRISM's surface is made from Toray T700 raw carbon fiber, which is the same material used in elite paddles like the CRBN-3X and the Gearbox CX14E Ultimate Power.
It's a premium feature that adds durability, as well as spin. After testing it for myself, I was really impressed with the spin on this paddle. I'd say it's even on par with the elite spin I got from my JOOLA Hyperion.
Foam edge walls
This feature first appeared in the Hyperion and gained a lot of attention. It's really surprising to find it now in a $100 paddle. This just shows how far the tech has advanced in the last year or two.
It's interesting to see the 'unibody' design in a paddle like this, as you'd usually find this in top paddles like the CRBN Power Series.
Essentially, a unibody design means the paddle head and handle are made from one piece of carbon, rather than being fused together like most traditional paddles. This usually means a stronger neck joint, so paddles are less likely to snap.
The fact that Vatic Pro uses a unibody design here—where carbon runs throughout the whole paddle—means this paddle should last a long time.
Considering this is a control paddle, I was surprised by how much power it could generate. I could hit really hard topspin drives and serves when I needed to.
The spin and control gave me the confidence to swing hard and make up for any power this paddle was lacking.
This is probably one of the best control paddles I've played with. I could dink, drop, volley, and hit just about any shot with great accuracy my first time playing with it.
My ability to control it only got better over multiple sessions, so I was really impressed. Your touch game will love how soft and plush this paddle is.
While it doesn't have the super-elite spin of the CRBN Power Series or the Gearbox CX14E Ultimate Power, it's on par with the Hyperion, the Selkirk Power Air Invikta, and the Volair Mach 1 for a spin. That's impressive for a budget paddle.
Hard topspin, backspin, and sidespin all performed the way I'd expect with an elite raw carbon paddle. I was able to play a strong drive game with hard forehands and topspin serves.
It's not going to deliver the 2,000+ rpm spin tests we're now seeing in next-gen raw carbon paddles, but it's more than enough to play an aggressive and advanced game.
I found this paddle forgiving overall, with the hybrid shape helping to create a larger sweet spot. That said, it was inconsistent compared to similar paddles at the $200+ price point. This was the one big difference I noted between this and the pricier options.
I had more mishits, and I really had to focus on hitting the ball dead center to unlock the best parts of what this paddle can do. Lower-level players might struggle with this.
Vatic Pro managed to make a paddle that plays similarly to the JOOLA Hyperion with 0.5 oz less weight. However, it played heavier than I expected given the weight difference. It felt a little sluggish at the net and my reaction time was a tad slow.
Overall, the grip is reliable and seems premium. I didn't notice it too much one way or another, but it was solid for the price. In terms of tech, the grip does have two polyurethane inserts that Vatic Pro claims absorb shock to help with tennis elbow.
The PRISM Flash felt like a premium paddle made from top-quality materials that'll last. The textured face isn't spray-dried, which means it shouldn't degrade over time.
Alongside the edge guard, this will boost this paddle's strength. It seems up there with CRBN and Gearbox paddles for durability.
While the hybrid shape helps a bit with aerodynamics, the paddle did feel a little heavy and slow on fast exchanges. If you don't mind that, great, but some people might prefer a more maneuverable paddle.
Priced at $100, the Vatic Pro PRISM Flash is in the budget range—a big surprise given its materials are more in line with expensive premium paddles.
So, is it really great value for money or is there a catch?
Value for money
There's no question this paddle is incredible value for money. I'd even say it's the best value ever offered to players.
For just $100, you're getting a paddle in the same tier as many $200+ paddles. The PRISM Flash gives you everything you'd want from a raw carbon fiber paddle: power, control, and spin.
It plays almost identically to one of the best paddles of all time: the JOOLA Hyperion. While there are a couple of drawbacks (e.g. inconsistent sweet spot), it's still unbeatable value and we can't recommend this paddle enough.
Previously, we chose the ONIX Graphite Z5 as the 'best under $100' pick, but the PRISM Flash blows that one away in every performance category. It's not even close.
Comparing this to the ONIX—two popular paddles at almost identical price points (the Z5 is $10 cheaper)—shows just how far paddle tech has come over the last year.
If you've been wanting to try raw carbon fiber paddles, but couldn't handle the $200+ price tags, now's your chance.
This paddle could stay with you through to the advanced level, or until you're ready to upgrade to an elite paddle like the JOOLA Perseus, CRBN-3X, or Six Zero Double Black Diamond Control.
This paddle is one of our top choices for any player wanting to elevate their game without spending a fortune. I'm still shocked that a raw carbon fiber paddle of this quality is so cheap. It's a serious control paddle with more than enough spin and power to round out your game.
The Vatic Pro PRISM Flash is solid and stable. It'll last a long time and feels great in your hands. I'd even be confident packing this one for a tournament. That said, some players might be limited by the head heaviness and sweet spot inconsistency.
Why not try it for yourself and see if you're as impressed as I was?
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