Expert Review: Orvis Recon® Fly Rod

This review is my honest opinion of the rod, which I purchased with my own money in April of 2020.

Close up of the Orvis Recon fly rod.

My go to rod for Steelhead fishing back in Ohio. All photos courtesy of Jacob Jesionek

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About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the rod, which I purchased with my own money in April of 2020.

My take

The Orvis Recon is the perfect fly rod for the intermediate flyfisher who is becoming serious about their game. It gave me the ability to unlock a new level of casting that I wasn't achieving before while not breaking the bank. The fast action allowed me to really figure out how to cast those tight loops and add distance and confidence to my fly fishing. The first time I fished dry flies with this rod, I realized just how important action is, and the Recon allowed me to present flies more accurately than ever before.

A fisherman standing in a river with waders. They have a fish on their line and the rod is bending.

Fighting my first Coho Salmon on the fly

About the rod I own

  • Model: Orvis Recon Fly Rod
  • Rod Length: 9ft
  • Rod Weight: 5wt
  • Rod Pieces: 4
  • Rod Material: Graphite

About me

  • Preferred fishing style(s): Nymphing, dry fly, streamers
  • Experience: 15+ years of fly fishing

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: April 2020
  • Reel Paired with Rod: Orvis Battenkill
  • Line Paired Rod: Orvis Pro Textured WF5
  • Days tested: 100+
  • Waters I’ve used it on: Rivers, streams, creeks, lakes, and ponds all over the country. I fish primarily in WA, CO, and OH; so anywhere from the mountains to the Great Lakes
  • Species targeted with rod: Browns, rainbows, cutthroat, cutbows, bass

How it performs

Casting Ease

What I was looking for

I have purchased multiple Orvis Recons in my fly fishing career. The first was back in 2017, when I was really getting into fly fishing. I wanted to upgrade from the Orvis Clearwater and Encounter (Orvis’s introductory rods) and get something that I knew would up my game. These rods don't just look nicer than basic fly rods, the performance is also boosted. I have achieved increased casting distance, accuracy, and fishing confidence by investing in an Orvis Recon.

A man smiling holding a fish. He is kneeling in the water wearing waders.

A spawned out Steelhead caught in Ohio with the Recon on my back.

Why I chose this gear

I chose the Recon the first time because of both its aesthetics and all of the positive reviews. It’s not a flashy rod, but it still has a touch of class with its wooden-wrapped reel seat and matte-olive tones in the blank. After being so happy with my introductory rods from Orvis, I knew I wanted to try their next level of rod. Orvis has a 25-year warranty on most of their rods, which gives me the confidence to fish more dangerously and learn without fear of breaking a rod. The Orvis stores also have excellent workers that help with how to cast, fly knowledge, and demonstrate where to go to get on the water.

The Orvis Recon fly rod broken down into four parts.

What I love about it

  • Quality: The Recon is boasted as the lightest rod in its weight class. Even with its light, graphite build, it still feels sturdy and powerful.
  • Versatility: I have fished this rod in a variety of waters: whether it be for steelhead in Ohio or tiny mountain creeks in Colorado. It really can do it all.
  • Use Case: When I take the Recon out on the river, it's typically the only rod I bring because of how capable it is of adapting to my fishing style. I do love fishing this rod with dry flies because of its castability, but it also has the power to push heavy nymph rigs or streamers if need be.
  • Action:
    • Ease of casting: I was very happy with how I was able to improve my casting with the help of this rod. It’s a fast-action rod that is very snappy and responsive, so I learned quickly when I needed to make forward and back casts for the best accuracy and distance.
    • Recover rate: This is a fast-recovering rod that provides quick casting.
    • Power: Excellent power-to-weight ratio that gives me the confidence to fish it for a variety of species.
    • Line speed: This rod can pull very tight loops with a simple flick of the wrist. It's great for someone who has their casting down and feels stuck. The rod responds to diligent casting and rewards the fisher with better fly presentation.
    • Ideal casting distance: I haven’t been in a situation where I felt I couldn’t punch my fly the extra distance needed to make the proper presentation with this rod.
    • Accuracy: When dry fly fishing, I knew I would be able to hit my mark after watching where fish were rising.
    • Delicacy of presentation: Tight loops and easy casting allow for excellent in-air control of my fly, allowing me to gently set flies on the surface of the water.
  • Weight: I own the rod in a 5wt, 3wt, and 8wt, so I can fish to essentially whatever species outside of the big-game saltwater species. The 3wt I use for creeks and brooks, the 5wt for larger creeks and rivers, and the 8wt is my go-to steelhead rod in the big water.
  • Literal Weight: The lightest rod in its class is obviously going to impress. I have enjoyed hiking with this rod; it’s light enough to forget I’m holding it.
  • Length: I have the 5wt and 8wt both in nine feet because this length is comfortable to cast and stout enough to cast far while fighting strong fish. The 3wt is seven feet, six inches in length so that I can hike through heavy creek brush easier and make shorter presentations.
  • Sensitivity: I always tell everyone that the Orvis Recon fishes well above its price range; This is due, in part, to the blank construction. The rod is very sensitive, and I can feel bites as I see them.
  • Grip: The 3wt and 5wt have a regular fly-rod butt, whereas the 8wt has the fighting butt to allow more comfort while fighting larger fish. I love the 5wt in particular, as it has a beautiful wood-wrapped reel seat that looks like a piece of art.
  • Build: These rods are made in the U.S. and the quality of the build reflects that. Orvis’s rod makers are well trained and have been at the top of their craft for years. So I know when an Orvis rod comes out of New Hampshire, it will be stamped with the signature of the rod builder who inspected it.
  • Aesthetics: A matte-olive finish in the regular rods keeps me stealthy on the water while still looking sharp. The larger weight rods come in a very sleek matte blue that matches the deep-blue water of the ocean.
  • Warranty: Orvis has a 25-year warranty on these Recon rods, which I have utilized more than once. There is a small fee to repair the rod, but it always beats purchasing a whole new rod.
View of someone fishing with the Orvis Recon fly rod. They are using one hand to pull line out and one hand to hold the rod.
Close up of the Orvis Recon fly rod.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Other: Durability—I have broken this rod a couple of times because I do use it so much. There is a fine line between lightweight and fragile, and I have pushed that boundary on fish too large for my Recon before.
A man holding a fly rod in a river. He is wearing a jacket and there are many trees behind him.

Favorite moment with this gear

I have made a lot of memories with this rod, and one that stands out for me was a few years back during a road trip in Tennessee. There are tons of creeks and small bodies of water that hold beautiful-colored trout in that region, and even though I was unfamiliar with the territory, I went in determined to catch a few fish. After checking in with the local tackle shop, I parked at a trailhead and started hiking up to my creek. As the fog broke over the water, I made my first drift on a nymph rig with my Orvis Recon and immediately hooked up! I landed a beautiful, little rainbow full of par marks and quickly released it to swim another day. It was such a reward after all of the research I put in to find a spot.

Value for the money vs. other options

This is a rod that fishes well above its weight class. I have purchased multiple Recon rods because each time I consider something more expensive, I think about the value of these rods and decide I want another one. At the Recon’s price point, I really do not believe that another company is making a comparable competitor. It's light, accurate, and fun to fish with. It competes with the more expensive Orvis Helios and Sage X.

Final verdict

I can't speak highly enough about the Orvis Recon rod series and how much it has improved my fly-fishing game. It is dependable, lightweight, and makes me feel like a more confident angler on the water.

Selling Orvis on
Orvis Recon® Fly Rod
Meet the author
Fly Fishing Expert Jacob Jesionek
Jacob Jesionek
Fly Fishing Expert
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Written By
Jacob Jesionek
Jacob Jesionek
Fly Fishing Expert
Throughout my life, I have been driven by my love for nature and exploration. At the center of all of my adventures is fishing, the biggest constant in my life. I have been fortunate enough to travel all over the country chasing countless species and learning from every trip. Hit me up and let me he...
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