Expert Review: Douglas Upstream PLUS Fly Rod

This review is my honest opinion of the rod, which I purchased with my own money in April of 2022.

Close up of the Douglas Upstream PLUS Fly Rod.

The Upstream Plus 9ft 4wt. All photos courtesy of Jeff C.

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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 2022.

My take

The Douglas Upstream Plus is a great fly rod with what I would describe as a medium-action rod. It feels slightly faster than the Douglas Upstream. I would recommend this rod for the intermediate to advanced fly fisherman. One could definitely learn to cast with it but truly can’t appreciate the finesse of the rod until they’ve mastered basic casting. I place it in the category of a mid-range rod, but that’s only because of the price. I believe this rod fishes as well or better than some high-end rods. It’s great at a delicate presentation of dry flies with unprecedented grace and feel.

The Douglas Upstream PLUS Fly Rod on a river.

Upstream Plus on a Geogia moutain stream

About my rod

  • Model: Douglas Upstream Plus
  • Rod length: 9ft
  • Rod weight: 2.6oz
  • Number of pieces: 4 pieces
  • Rod material: Modern nano resin composite

About me

I’ve been fly fishing for over 40 years and travel full-time with my wife in a motorhome. In the last three years, we’ve looped the United States twice, and I fly fish everywhere I find water!

  • Preferred fishing methods: Dry fly, nymphing, streamers in fresh and saltwater
  • Experience: 40+ years fly fishing

Test Conditions

  • When I bought this rod: April 2022
  • Reel paired with rod: Pflueger Medalist/Hardy Ultraclick
  • Line paired: Scientific Anglers Mastery MPX in 4wt
  • Days Tested: 12+ times
  • Waters I’ve used it on: Eastern freestone stream and tailwaters. Farm ponds.
  • Species Targeted: Wild Trout, Stocked Trout, and Panfish

How it Performs

Casting Ease
The Douglas Upstream PLUS Fly Rod.

Upstream Plus with Hardy Ultraclick

What I was looking for

I was looking for a new finesse rod in a 4wt that had an “old school” action and feel but would still give me modern performance.

Why I chose this rod

This rod checked all the boxes mentioned above as to what I was looking for. I didn't have to sacrifice any of my wants.

I had also considered the Sage Foundation rod, but after reading an article from Trout Unlimited about the Douglas Outdoors’ family, I decided to go with the Upstream Plus!

A man smiling at the camera.

Hitting the Stream with my Upstream Plus

What I love about it

  • Quality: The quality of the materials in this rod is exquisite! The natural Tonkin color combined with the modern nano resin composite blank really checked off my desire for a modern 4wt with an “old school” look and feel. The uplocking reel seat keeps the reel secure on the rod. This is a rod built with love!
  • Versatility: Although I primarily bought this rod to toss dry flies, the amount of backbone made it quite capable of casting a double nymph setup under an indicator — something I normally wouldn't do with a finesse rod.
  • Use Case: This rod was a joy to use in the tailwaters, smaller freestone streams, and ponds. It allows me to present flies into pockets on a small freestone stream with precision and delicacy and still has enough backbone to make 40-yard casts in tailwaters or farm ponds.
  • Action:
    • Ease of casting: This rod is a joy to cast. It loads effortlessly.
    • Recovery rate: The rod can lift the line off the water and recast easily.
    • Power: The Upstream Plus has plenty of power. Much more power than my casting ability would dictate!
    • Line Speed: The ability of the Upstream Plus to load quickly translates to fast line speed with tight loops.
    • Accuracy: I can change locations on the water with extreme accuracy, even out to 40 yards. This is very comparable to some of my heavier rods.
    • Delicacy: With the correct fly and tippet, the Upstream Plus can land my fly on the water as delicate as a Trico naturally falling to the surface!
  • Weight: The rod is a 4wt , and performs better than rods twice the price.
  • Literal Weight: The Upstream Plus weighs in at only 2.6oz, making it so light that I can cast all day, even for an old guy like me!
  • Length: 9ft fly rods are the most common length. I can still use this rod in tight areas (sometimes getting a little creative with casting technique), which is another point that totally surprised me!
  • Sensitivity: The Upstream Plus is a load of fun fighting the 8-inch stocked trout in Georgia and throughout the Eastern U.S. Using it while tight line nymphing without an indicator (high sticking) is simple and flawless. I can detect strikes with ease.
  • Grip: The Upstream Plus has a reverse half-well grip and AAA cork handle that fits my hand like a glove.
  • Aesthetics: As mentioned earlier in this review, I just love, love, love the looks of this rod. It almost looks like a light-colored split cane (bamboo) rod from a distance.
  • Warranty: I love that the Upstream Plus from Douglas Outdoors comes with a lifetime warranty.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Other: Quite honestly, I have not encountered many issues with this rod to date. And I’ve used it a lot! Keep in mind that this rod is designed to delicately present flies. I would not use this rod for chucking streamers in big Western rivers. It’s just not designed for that.
A fish in a net.

Dukes creek Rainbow

Favorite moment with this gear

This rod was a real joy to fish on Dukes Creek in Smithgall Woods State Park. This is a catch and release trophy trout stream located near Helen, Georgia. Public fishing is allowed on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday only. They also limit the number of anglers allowed on the stream. But the trout here are as wise as fish can be. Proper approach and delicate presentations are the keys to a successful trip. (Photo of trout above!)

Value for the money vs. other options

If someone’s looking for a finesse rod in a 4wt configuration, then the value for the money is unprecedented. This rod fishes like rods costing twice as much. The G. Loomis NRX+ comes to mind for example.

Final verdict

The Upstream Plus is one of my smartest investments to date. I was looking for 4wt rod that I could use in finesse situations, and this rod fits the bill. It was a great addition to my fly rod arsenal! Cheers and tight lines!

Selling Douglas on
Douglas Upstream PLUS Fly Rod
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Written By
57 years old fly fishing bum! I have been fly fishing since I was 15.(over 40 years!) I travel full-time across the United States and fly fish every opportunity. I've fly fished in over 30 states and 3 countries! ​ I give instruction in fly tying and casting. I love targeting Freestone streams and t...

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