A couple of weeks ago, Orvis opened a new store right here in my hometown, The Woodlands, Texas. Believe me, it is lovely. The Grand Opening featured, among other things the opportunity to purchase most everything at a discount price – provided, of course, you had acquired a discount coupon. It follows that my wife and I, along with a couple of coupons I had collected, wandered over to The Woodland’s Town Center for a visit … And I’m glad I went. They offered a ten buck coupon for test casting the new Orvis Zero Gravity fly rod. Be assured I took full advantage of the offer. The practice session led to an extended conversation with Mario Levia, an Orvis sales associate and avid fly fisher whose favorite haunt is the Texas Gulf Coast. Between fly fishers, exchanging tips, tricks, and comments, is part of fly fishing’s fun. I always thought it interesting that the fly cast seems to always draw attention and may be the all-time best way to get acquainted with new folks.
On our way back to the store, I asked Mario about the Frequent Flyer. (I have received questions about this rod but without an opportunity for a field evaluation, I’ve been unable to comment…) Mario responded that one of his friends had purchased a Frequent Flyer and loved it. With that said, we headed over to the rod rack where I selected a Frequent Flyer and proceeded to administer my famous “wiggle” test. It is the same test I am rather certain you use, too. Suffice it to say that I liked its wiggle. About that time, I noted my wife’s “don’t you do it” look. But with my coupons and the money I would save, I went ahead and did it anyway … Actually Cheese-Whiz and Fritos doesn’t make a bad diet as long as you have a little hot sauce and a couple of beers to go with it…
Lot’s of casts later, I confess to really have taken a liking to this rod. The one I selected is the Mid Flex, 8.5-ft., 5-weight. There is a Tip Flex, 9-ft., 5-weight available, but of the two my preference is for the Mid Flex’s shorter length. Considering the fact that the Frequent Flyer uses spigot ferrules as opposed to the tip-over variety, the Mid Flex is a pretty fast rod, fast enough for my tastes.
The Frequent Flyer is very well made and, in my view, takes a backseat to no one in looks or performance. The features include:
Packable 7 piece design, 16" - 17.75" collapsed.
Aluminum oxide guides and hard chrome tip top.
Alignment dots for easy assembly.
AA grade cork.
Freshwater Reel Seat: Silver anodized aluminum with dark green woven graphite spacer.
Saltwater Reel Seat: Black hard anodized aluminum.
Cordura-covered case with sleeve dividers.
Frequent Flyer Rods are guaranteed for life against defects in material or workmanship.
How did it perform? Far better than I expected; in fact, I give it extraordinary remarks. The Zero Gravity might cast a bit better but don’t forget there is about a $580.00 difference between the two rods.
The advantage of the Frequent Flyer should be obvious – my Mid Flex 5-weight breaks down into a neat compact 16-inch package. That means it will go anywhere I go, easily and conveniently, whether it’s in a pack, the trunk of a car, or behind the seat of my Jeep. Keep this in mind: (1) Ease of transport, (2) convenience afield, and (3) performance on the water are three thought factors that should go into the purchase of any fly rod. The Frequent Flyer does extraordinarily well in all three categories.
So how does it perform? Very well, thank you. Of the several lines thrown in my casting sessions, my favorite for this Mid Flex 5 became Cortland’s 444 Precision Taper WF-5.5-F. The “5.5” has a new front taper called the Rocket 2. It’s designed with more weight up front and has an especially long back taper to enhance aerialization. To this, add the slickest line coating yet from Cortland called Duraslick. By now, you’ve probably taken note of the term “5.5.” This means that the weight of the first 30-feet of line, under the AFTMA standards, weighs a half-step up -- halfway between a 5 and 6-weight line -- 150-grains.
For distance, casts of 73 to 82-feet were consistently obtained (except when I screwed-up the mechanics). How do I know the distance? Simple, I used my range finder! But the beauty of the rig was its ability to tip cast at close-in ranges from 20 to 45-feet … with pinpoint accuracy. What more could you ask?
It may be of interest to note that for a leader to line connector I used Scientific Anglers Reconnect tapered leader system. A product improvement over the former L2L System, the Reconnect is simple to use especially in cold weather or on the stream – It beats the devil out of tying knots with stiff clumsy fingers. The Ancient Fish Gods were not pleased when this system arrived on the scene; for years, they have relied on “a knot that’s not a knot” to defeat the fly fisher. Not only is the system inexpensive but as an added benefit it serves as a strike indicator and, in my view, enhances the cast. WOW!
Before some of you contact me for my detailed evaluation with a Zero Gravity rod, let me say this: I have nothing to say other than my initial impression is favorable -- it is a nice rod. Hell, for the money, it ought to be! Any further comment would require an evaluation afield. For more information regarding these and other fly fishing accessories, contact: Orvis, Historic Route 7A, Manchester, VT 05254. Telephone: 1-(800) 548-9548.
For information on Cortland’s Precision 444 fly lines, contact: the CortlandLine Company, Inc. 3736 Kellogg Road, P.O. Box 5588, Cortland, NY 13045-5588. Telephone: 1-(607) 756 -2851.
For information on Scientific Anglers Reconnect Tapered Leader System, contact: Scientific Anglers, 3M Center, Bldg. 223-4NE-05, and St. Paul, MN 55144-1000. Telephone: 1-(800) 430-5000.
I appreciate the review. I have consider this rod for the same reasons as yourself. I was in The Woodlands the day before they opened it and was not able to convinence them to open the doors early. I drulled all over their window looking inside at all there cool stuff. Anyway, keep the reviews coming.
dougm, I agree totally on the Frequent flier. Had a chance to take one home for the weekend when they first came out. And the size is a double bonus, can fit in your back pocket.
I liked the mid flex 5 also. Easy on the tippet.
Now, speaking of the Zero, well all I can say is, we have one at the Lodge and sorry to say, everyone has tried it, but we all go back to the T3.
I think it would be a nicer rod if the whole thing had Boron, instead of just the butt section.
I think that is why the Winston is so nice.
Back to the FF. Can't go wrong. I do think though (if I had to pay full price ) I might have second thoughts. The warranty on rods is real important to me although I have only used one once out of numerous rods.
The tip broke. The FF warranty is MANUFACTURE defect. Most people break them themself (doors, knicks, dogs, step on.....)
I know you are going to love it!