Gear Review: Orvis Recon – 9ft 6wt

A Coffin Fly perched on an Orvis Recon 9ft 6wt.

Over the last 15 months, the 9ft 6wt Orvis Recon became one of my favorite all around trout rods to date for the larger water that I fish. Yes, this rod was released in 2015, but I like to thoroughly fish a rod at least full season before drawing any conclusions.

Orvis released the Recon in the mid price category with a retail price of $425 for the freshwater models and $450 for the saltwater models. It seems that over the last year or so, fly fishing companies are putting more emphasis on offering quality products at the mid price level. While priced in the mid level category, the Orvis Recon is anything but.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect when purchasing a mid priced fly rod because I frequently do so. Over the last 15 months my Recon saw much more than a fair share of water time. Some of my other fly rods are actually feeling neglected. For trout fishing on the larger pieces of water I frequently fish, I can’t put the 9ft 6wt Recon down. Why? It’s simple. I love the way it feels in hand, and love the way it casts.

Although physical weight might make the Recon heavier than some other rods, it’s almost impossible to tell that with the rod in hand. The Recon feels so light in hand, and to me that’s what really matters. The Recon’s progressive action also makes it super smooth and easy to cast. Be aware, this rod is faster than you may think. Yet another reason I dig it.

Whether it’s a long cast with a dry fly, roll casting a heavy nymph rig, or putting the fight to a large fish in heavy water, the 9ft 6wt Orvis Recon will do so effortlessly. This rod is a great tool for wade fishing, but also for float fishing. When it comes to all around trout fishing on larger waters I feel right at home with the 9ft 6wt Orvis Recon.

The only application that I would shy away from the Recon is serious streamer fishing. In my experience, the Recon is not quite as stiff as desired for throwing sinking lines or big, heavy streamers.

If you are in the market for a mid priced all around trout rod, I’m sure it will be hard to find one better than the Recon. At the price point, I almost think that Orvis did too good of a job with this one. Go cast a Recon, see what you think.

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Gear Review: Orvis Superstrong Plus Nylon Tippet


After 8 month of fishing through well over 2500 meters of the Orvis Superstrong Plus Tippet, I think it’s safe to share my thoughts.

I switched over to Superstrong Plus at the beginning of last spring when the era of the original Superstrong came to an end. In the past I’ve always used the original Superstrong, so when the new formula was introduced I was excited, but also a little reluctant. I guess you could say I’m not always quick to welcome unexpected change.

Orvis made it aware that the Superstrong Plus has increased wet knot strength. I’m not really sure how they quantified or defined “wet” knot strength, all I know is whether something seems stronger while I’m fishing. To be quite honest, I really did not have any major issues with the strength of the original Superstrong. Although I will admit, the Superstrong Plus does seem to have improved knot strength. This is a nice feature because if you find yourself in a situation where you need a tow strap, just pull out a piece of 1x tippet. But in all seriousness, I’ve noticed less break offs while fishing with the Superstrong Plus. I’m convinced it’s stronger.

At first, my worry with the Superstrong Plus was what would be sacrificed to achieve increased knot strength. One thing that I really liked about the original Superstrong was it’s suppleness. The Superstrong Plus is more abrasive resistant, stronger, and therefore not as supple as the Superstrong. However, I do not experience a noticeable difference between the two while fishing subsurface. The only situation that could differentiate the suppleness between the two formulas might be while dry fly fishing. However, the Superstrong Plus is stronger than the original so switching to a smaller diameter could achieve a similar suppleness.

Two issues that I did have with the original Superstrong were that it didn’t always knot together smoothly, and it seemed to tangle extra on rainy days. Both of these issues were resolved, and have not been a problem with the Superstrong Plus.

Another feature that I have come to love about the Superstrong Plus is the line cutter conveniently located on the tippet spool. It’s genius, the cutter is easy and efficient to use. No more using your teeth to cut a new piece of tippet off the spool.

After fishing Superstrong Plus for nearly a year, I believe that it is an improved product from the orginal Superstrong. Superstrong Plus is strong, like don’t worry as much about breaking off the fish of a lifetime strong. When compared to other tippet options available in today’s market, I put my trust in Superstrong Plus. I feel confident that you would also.

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Gear Review: Hatch Nipper

A smallmouth courtesy of the Juniata River while the Hatch Nipper hangs from a lanyard out of the way, but at the ready if needed.

I’ll be honest, I was very skeptical as to why a fly fisher would need a special pair of nippers. A good argument is that nippers do not put any more fish in the net for anglers. My counterargument is that neither do waders, vests, fly boxes, or many other pieces of equipment that us fly fishers like spending money on. Notice that I did say “us”, I’m guilty also.

At first I wasn’t sure if spending the money on a pair of high quality nippers was worth it. Despite the dismay of my dentist, prior nippers usually hung from my vest being ignored by the fact that I used my teeth to cut line far too often. I thought purchasing a pair of better nippers would be a good way to break the habit of using my teeth. I thought maybe spending the extra money would help force me to use my nippers instead of my teeth. I was right.

The Hatch Nipper in black.

Using a pair of Hatch Nippers has completely converted me from using my teeth, and any other pair of nippers for that matter. I’ve tried many other pairs of nippers over the years, I’ve never found a pair that cut with the ease and smoothness of the Hatch Nipper. They are razor sharp out of the box, and have remained that way through the duration of my guide season this year. The tungsten carbide blades are replaceable, but I haven’t even had to think about replacing them yet. I also like how the Hatch Nipper is shaped in a way that make them easy to use even if your hands are cold.

They come with a lanyard. I wasn’t sure why I would want a pair of nippers on a lanyard while wearing a vest, but I’ve grown found of the idea since. I think it’s much easier to make snips without being limited by a retractor. Some tools work great on retractors, but I do prefer having nippers on a lanyard now, maybe that’s just me.

Like most pairs of nippers they come equipped with a needle to be used for poking out the eye of a hook. The needle is positioned in a way that is a bit different to use than most nippers. I’m sure that it’s a bad thing, but it took some getting used to.

I really couldn’t imagine a better way to cut line than with the Hatch Nipper. I would recommend the Hatch Nipper to any angler looking for high quality nippers, or to quit using your teeth. Your dentist will be happy.

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For more information on the Hatch Nipper, visit their website by clicking HERE.

Gear Review: Hatch Finatic Fly Reels


Last fall I took a large stride into the Hatch Finatic Fly Reel lineup by adding a 4plus, 5plus, and 7 plus reel to my arsenal. I have used these reels to target trout, smallmouth bass, and steelhead. After spending seven months on the water with the trio, here are some of my thoughts.

The Finatic is offered in a wide range of sizes that cover line weights from 0 all the way up to 12. If you fish a Finatic it is pretty easy to find a reel perfect for any rod due to the option of nine different sizes. Sizes 3plus and larger all have the option of both mid or large arbor spools, which allows even more flexibility.

The most impressive aspect of the Hatch Finatic Fly Reels would be that they are just plain tough. Like fish in any condition, day after day, never stop working tough. In addition, the drag is strong. Like slam the brakes on any fish strong.

In my opinion, the Finatic is one of the most cosmetically appealing reels on the market. In other words, the design is sharp. It looks the way you would want your fly reel to look. 

The Finatic Fly Reels are not what I consider to be light weight fly reels. They are slightly heavier than other reels that I have fished of the same size. Situationally I see this as an advantage. For example, it is easier to properly balance these reels with ten foot fly rods. The extra weight also reinforces the fact that the Hatch Finatic Fly Reels are built to last. 

Overall, the Hatch Finatic Fly Reels are cosmetically appealing, tough, and dependable. I think that there is a Finatic available to suite the specific needs for any type of angler.

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For more information on the Hatch Finatic Fly Reels, click HERE

Gear Review: Orvis Helios 2 – 10ft 7wt


The Orvis Helios 2 is a fly rod sought after by many anglers for many different types of fishing, and for good reason. In my own personal quiver, the Orvis Helios 2 10ft 7wt holds the spot as an indicator steelhead fly rod.

One improvement gained over the original Helios is that the Helios 2 is built 20% stronger. When fishing for steelhead, or other fish worthy of a heavy line weight, having a rod that can withstand a serious fight is vital to success. The Orvis Helios 2 10ft 7wt is built to take such abuse, all while only weighing 3 and 3/8 ounces. The combination of strength and lightweight design make fishing with this rod all day very comfortable for anglers. While on the steelhead grind, having a rod that can easily be fished all day without fatigue is a luxury.

The power and line speed offered from the fast action of the Tip Flex Helios 2 makes casting large flies, big indicators, and heavy rigs an easier task. Hence, the Orvis Helios 2 10ft 7wt is a perfect choice as an indicator rod for steelhead. The extra foot in length on the 10ft model allows for easier line control while drifting indicator rigs. Most of my steelhead fishing consists of nymphing with indicator rigs, and I would not want to do so without the reach of a 10ft rod.

I think that a 7wt rod is a great all around choice for steelhead in most situations. The Orvis Helios 2 10ft 7wt has enough finesse to fish lighter tippet when smaller water is low, but it also has enough backbone to fight energetic fish on larger rivers as well.

If swinging flies, or fishing streamers is your main squeeze, I would recommend considering a 9ft fly rod. If you want an indicator rod to nymph for steelhead, the Orvis Helios 2 10ft 7wt is a great option.


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For more information on the Orvis Helios 2 10ft 7wt, click HERE