Review: Orvis Recon Fly Rod Outfit

We live in a world that propagates excess. This is especially evident in the fly-fishing scene. I often hear my buddies yell from the car down to the boat, “How many rods you bringing? Steamer, dry, and nymph rig?”. When I entered the market for a fly rod, I decided to minimize the excess. I wanted a do-it-all quiver killer.

After pouring over technical jargon and consulting buddies for translation, I opted for a classic 9-foot, 5-weight Orvis Recon. I went with the outfit kit, which comes equipped with the Hydros reel, backing, and fly line. The thing was ready to get wet right out of the box.

My first impression when I hit the river was the feel. The set up is light in the hand for perfect accuracy, almost becoming an extension of my arm and eyes. Yet the rod still maintains enough power to reach across the river and hit the hole where I just watched my buddy miss five fish in a row. It can place dries exactly where I want them to land. The strength of the rod leaves nothing to doubt, either. A 5-weight setup makes the average size fish a joy to catch, but still has the backbone to handle the exhilaration of 20-plus inchers.

Once I actually hook into a fish, I want my reel to be the last thing on my mind. Thanks to the lightweight feel of Hydros reel, battling fish becomes almost intuitive. The frame and spool are made from a lightweight bar-stock aluminum, while the stainless-steel-and-carbon drag is strong enough for any fish I am going to hook into ’round these parts. It also boasts one of the best retrieval rates in the industry.

And how about versatility? After all, that was the whole reason I went with the 5-weight setup. Well for dries, it’s darn near perfect. When I take this rod out on the Yellowstone during evening hatches, I feel there’s no hole on the river that’s off limits. Then the colder winter and spring months roll around, and I rig the Recon up with tasty nymphs. Recently, I’ve been diving into more technical set ups, like a drop-shot rig with two nymphs hanging off. With my old rod, I would spend half the winter untangling this complex system of knots and flies. Now, I have no problem floating nymphs right by a rainbow’s nose on Gallatin.

Streamer fishing, however, is always going to be the short fall of a 5-weight. If you are a meat-huckin’ purist, no matter the time of year, upgrade to a 7- or 8-weight. Nothing replaces the long casting abilities of burlier rods. But I don’t have the luxury of dropping another grand on a beefier stick, so I make do with my 5-weight. Less than ideal? Maybe. But it gets the job done. I rig up the Recon with a light sinking leader and strip my way down the Madison. If the fish are hungry, I’ll find out quickly.

There are innumerable variables to consider when fly fishing: weather, water temp, fly selection, etc. With the Recon outfit, I’m one step closer to controlling all the variables I can. I know my rod and reel will perform consistently well, no matter the environment. The classic 9-foot, 5-weight is a fantastic year-round, all-species piece of equipment. The only problem now is that I can't blame my setup when I spend eight hours on the river and still get skunked.