Expert Review: Orvis Clearwater® Fly Line

This review is my honest opinion of the fly line, which I purchased with my own money in March of 2019.

A Orvis Clearwater® Fly Line on a reel.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Smith 

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About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the fly line, which I purchased with my own money in March of 2019.

My take

The Orvis Clearwater Fly Line is a budget-friendly all-purpose fly line. This fly line will please beginners, but experts looking for a specific function line may find this line lacking.

About the line I own

  • Model: 2018
  • Weight: 5wt (1/2 size larger than AFFTA standards)
  • Fly line taper: Weight forward
  • Core: Multifilament Core
  • Ideal Temp Range (ºF): Cold water to moderate water temperature
  • Loops: Reinforced welded loop at the front end
  • Total Length: 90
  • Line Profile:
Taper profile for the Orvis Clearwater® Fly Line.

About me

  • Preferred fishing style(s): Dry flies, nymphs, and streamers
  • Experience: 40+ years of fly fishing

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: March 2019
  • Rod and Reel Paired with Line: Orvis Clearwater rod and reel
  • Days tested: 90+
  • Waters I’ve used it on: Local eastern trout streams and farm ponds
  • Species targeted with rod: Trout, largemouth bass, bluegill
  • Fly Size: #2 streamers to #18 nymphs

How it performs

Casting Ease

What I was looking for

I was looking for a budget-friendly fly line to pair with an entry-level fly rod and reel combination. In addition, I wanted an all-purpose fly line that a beginner could use for multiple applications.

Why I chose this gear

I was familiar with Orvis fly lines and, from past experiences, was pleased with their performance. Because I was purchasing an Orvis rod and reel, there was a price discount for bundling the line with the reel. Other fly lines I have used in the past include Rio, Scientific Angler, and Monic. However, in this instance, as this was a line for a beginner combination and I was not looking for a specific function, I did not seriously shop for other lines.

What I love about it

  • Performance: The Orvis Clearwater has a head that easily loads a fly rod. This line can manage nymph rigs and can turn large streamers over.
  • Versatility: This is a floating line bought to be an all-purpose, multi-species fly line. It has been able to delicately land dry flies, handle nymph rigs, and fish streamers. If I need to get deep in the water column, though, I need to switch to a sinking line.
  • Durability: The welded loop has held up, and the line still floats well for four years of use. The overall lifespan of this line, though, may vary from angler to angler depending on the care and cleaning it receives.
  • Use Case: This line does everything I expect it to do. Again, I purchased this as part of a beginner combination and as an all-purpose line. It has successfully fished dry flies, nymph rigs, and streamers.
  • Weight: By being ½ a weight over AFFTA standards, this line easily loads the moderate action fly rod it is used with.
  • Aesthetics: The bright color makes it easy to see on the water.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Quality: This is an entry-level line, and Orvis makes better quality lines, but with routine line care and cleaning, this line has lasted for four years. There are higher floating lines on the market, but this line floats well enough.
  • Casting: This line is not the best shooting line, but it loads a fly rod easily. This fly line functions nicely for casts between 20-50 feet.

Favorite moment with this gear

My favorite moment with this line was fishing with my son as he used this setup and caught a fish using a fly he tied himself.

Value for the money vs. other options

The Orvis Clearwater is a solid entry-level all-purpose fly line for the dollars spent. Other lines to consider would be the Rio Avid Mainstream Trout line. In my opinion, however, the Orvis Clearwater line is better-made and will last longer than the Rio. For a step up from the Clearwater and a little more money, consider the Orvis Hydros line.

Final verdict

For the occasional fly fisherman or the beginner, this is a great all-round fly line that will allow anglers to save money for other purchases. More advanced anglers looking for specific fly line functions will want to look elsewhere.

Selling Orvis on
Orvis Clearwater Fly Line
Meet the author
Fly Fishing Expert Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith
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Written By
I am an avid fly fisherman. Luckily, I have a pond in my backyard exactly two minutes from my fly tying bench. If there is open water, I will fish just about every day. Although I grew up fishing the fabled streams of Pennsylvania, I love to travel and fly fish for diverse species both fresh and sa...

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