For many reasons, some good and some bad, the fly fishing industry doesn’t just settle for what works. Rod builders produce new sticks every year, and most rod designs don’t hang around particularly long, although a few rods have resisted this trend over the years. We think of the classic Redington trout. The Orvis Recon too.
In its early days, the Recon was touted as the best mid-priced rod in the industry. Returning in the 2016 Yellowstone Angler 5-Weight Shootout, the Recon outclassed more expensive rods like the Scott G2, Winston Boron IIIx, Fenwick Aetos, Sage MOD, Thomas & Thomas Spire and Redington Hydrogen. In short, the Recon was hitting above its weight while retailing for just $ 425.
So when Orvis decided to redesign the Recon, I was anxious. Why bother tweaking a good thing? Could they upgrade the original Recon while still producing a cane that doesn’t break the bank?
The short answer is yes. The longer answer is the following.
The updated Recon (aka the ‘Recon 2’) is incredibly light – Orvis claims this to be the lightest rod in its class, with the 9 ‘5wt model clocked at 3oz on point. I have been fortunate enough to fish the 9’5wt and 8’4 “3wt Recons, side by side with the older models, and there is a noticeable difference in weight in the updated rods.
Obviously, the light weight makes the Recon comfortable to carry around all day, especially if you spend a lot of time hiking.
There is a little spring cove that I love to fish all year round here in Utah. It’s full of brown and cutthroat trout, and the water is crystal clear. Think of Silver Creek in Idaho, that’s clear. Fish can see you from miles away, making good tippets a must. And, this cove has some decent fish in it. I grabbed brunettes up to 20 inches and cut throats at 17.
This stream seemed like the perfect proving ground for any advanced protection the Recon would offer. The 5wt and 3wt handled 7x and size 22 dry with aplomb, and the only breakages I had were my fault. Even though the rest of the rod action is quick, the tips are soft and slow enough that any broken tip is probably not the rod’s fault.
Personally, I prefer slow to medium fast rods, but I know I’m in the minority here. The updated Recon has retained its fast action, although I think it’s more user-friendly than the original Recon from 2015. The new Recon recovers quickly, cushions well, and really launches the line when needed. Even the 3wt comfortably hit the line at 60ft.
It also has a large reserve of power, in all weights, to throw larger than average flies. I use true to weight lines on almost all of my fly rods, and both Recons I tested were fished with true to weight 3 and 5wt lines. Without the additional help of a semi-heavy line I was still flipping dry dropper rigs without much work with the 5wt. The 3wt didn’t like these rigs that much, but that was to be expected. I have not yet found a 3wt that Is like throwing three flies.
If you stream trout a lot, I highly suggest you watch the Recon. He has the guts to knock down large meat flies with a double tow at the right time, and the backbone to tame trout over 20 inches.
Arts and crafts
Orvis has (yet?) Taken a lot of criticism for the big white stickers on Helios 3 rods. But when you watch a fishing or river video, you can instantly tell who is using an H3 and who isn’t. And since fly rods are sort of status symbols, Orvis’s premium rods are easily the most recognizable.
The Recon doesn’t wear the same white sticker, but the lettering, font, and white have all been updated to match the styling of the H3 rods. All Orvis rods have had these updates except the Superfine Glass series.
The new Recon features some gorgeous cork that I’m sure Orvis is getting through a deal with the devil. I make bamboo rods and still can’t find cork as good as Orvis’s on the Recon and H3.
I love the burled wood insert in the reel seat and the soft colors of the hardware store. The rest of the rod is standard fare – the snake guides the rod length, a rubber wrap control, and anodized aluminum reel seat hardware. The new Recon is an understated stick, which I think a lot of anglers will appreciate. At the very least, it’s a fantastic update over the old Recon, which looked more like something you’d expect Indiana Jones to wear if he was fly fishing.
I’ll also note here that Orvis gives the Recon the same 25-year warranty as it does the H3, and the Recon is also made in the USA.
What does not work
With every new Orvis rod since the H3, Orvis has missed a hook. Tom Rosenbauer explained to me a few years ago that he wanted the hook removed so that it did not interfere with the shooting line, and the fact that, according to Tom, most anglers tend to hook their hooks. flies at the foot of the stripping guide anyway. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer crochet.
Swing the weightt
So far the only real gripe I’ve had with the Recon in terms of fishing (the hook doesn’t affect performance on the water) is the weight of the swing. If I had to guess what compromises Orvis had to make to keep the redesigned Recon in the mid-price range, I would point out the oscillating weight of the rod. The Recon’s oscillating weight is by no means a deciding factor, or out of step with its direct competitors, but you can notice it on long days of fishing.
The updated Recon is faster, lighter and more fun to launch than its predecessor. Surprisingly, Orvis was able to keep what was great about the original rod and fit it into a more finely tuned set. The tip protection is still there, the reserve power for casting big bugs or fighting the wind is not gone, and the overall feel of the rod is largely the same that made so many anglers in love five years ago.
While I would have loved to see the price stay closer to the original $ 425, the cost of manufacturing in the United States has increased over the past half-decade. The fact that Orvis was able to keep the Recon under $ 500 is impressive, especially since it is ahead of flagship rods from other manufacturers in some fly rod shootings.
Overall, the Recon is a big step up from your entry-level rod and it won’t break the bank. I guess most anglers will appreciate the many virtues of the rod as much, if not more, than its price.
BUY ORVIS RECON