Hey there you guys, my name is Brady and I live in Northwest Arkansas. I have been fishing for as long as I can remember and here lately I've been really interested in fly fishing and I would love to get my own set up. I have used my dads setup which is a TFO Pro II, with an older Orvis Clearwater reel. I've been looking at 3 different options and I was wondering which is best. Orvis encounter outfit, TFO NXT outfit, or the Echo Solo outfit. I like the TFO and the Echo just for the warranty, but I've heard great things from Orvis. If I really need to I'll get the Orvis Clearwater outfit, I just didn't want to spend more than $250. What do you guys think is the best out of these choices? Thanks for all the input
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---------- Post added at 08:37 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:35 PM ----------
Also I am new to this forum so please let me know how to work this correctly if I am doing this wrong
Welcome bradya97! You've found one of the best information sources regarding all things "fly". You will, no doubt, get lots of advice regarding your first rod and reel. I will not be offering tackle advice; rather the reminder to enjoy your time on the water. I grew up in SW Missouri, there's some great fishing in your part of the country!
Welcome to fly fishing bradyA97. One of the best ways to get a fly rod is to make sure to cast it before you buy it. Price isn't often an indicator of how well something will cast. I had an Orvis Trident for a number of years and I was very happy with it. I also have a lower end Fenwick which happens to be the first rod I ever owned and I still think that it casts better than many of the higher end Sage and Orvis rods that I own. When it comes to castability, it all depends on your rhythm and style of casting. I prefer and medium action rod which is what I believe most fly fisherman prefer. As far as a warranty is concerned, I do not have much experience. Rod length is something that you may want to consider as well as rod weight. I prefer long rods (9'0") but spend most of my time fishing from a drift boat or raft and am not usually concerned about where my fly is on my backcast.
Also, I would suggest spending time practicing your casting before you hit the water. Find an open space where you can lay out a cast without a fly tied on so you can experiment without the concern of hooking yourself. As a fly fishing instructor, I spend a significant amount of time teaching fly casting before we do any actual fishing as I want the fishing experience to be enjoyable and not a session of undoing knots and "rats nests".
Hope this is helpful. I kind of got off topic regarding your question.
"A bad day of fishing beats a good day of anything else"
A newbie outfit is a conundrum. As has been noted above personal preference for a certain rod action plays a huge part in how satisfied an angler will be with a beginners outfit. So how does a beginner know what rod action they will ultimately prefer when they haven't developed a preference?
Secondly, there is personal casting preference and then there is the rod action that is best at the type of fishing you will be doing most of the time. I use a fast action fly rod for the Madison River and a moderately fast rod for my native state of Wisconsin.
All three of the outfits you have asked about have a medium fast action, which I think is a good rod action for beginners to learn with and a good fishing action that will work in most situations. So all three companies have chosen the rod action that is best for most beginners. However, only the NXT reel is aluminum (cast, not machined) rather than composite material.
I suggest you consider mixing and matching rather than buying an outfit. The reason is that the Echo Base fly rod has gotten really good reviews in the 2016 5 wt and 8 wt shootouts. The 5 wt rod is $89.95 and is a medium fast action beginner rod. At that price point you can probably work out a beginners outfit with an Echo Base Fly Rod that fits into your price point.
Now, this is coming from a newbie perspective since I have only been fly fishing for 2 years...
My Echo Carbon was the first rod that I really learned my timing when it came to my fly cast. I had purchased Sage's entry level rod (Vantage 4 wt) mostly because I didn't know what a cast should feel like, and during the testing, I didn't really understand that I didn't understand anything about a fly cast...so I bought it, and I had a burning desire for a fly rod, but wasn't about to pony up more than $200 for something I may not even touch again.
Anyhow, the faster action made it really hard to tell when the line loaded up, and when I should be beginning my forward cast, and I felt like the stand in for Indiana Jones the first few days, cracking the whip and losing half my flies. After a few more months of 'trial and error,' I finally could cast the Vantage somewhat comfortably.
Then I picked up an Echo Carbon 3 wt for my local streams, and immediately noticed the softer action. Upon making my back cast, I could tell immediately when I should begin my forward cast because the rod loaded up quite noticeably. It took me a few casts to get comfortable with it and my first legitimate 'tight loops' began happening.
Now, I don't know if me struggling with my Vantage for so long and then getting the Echo just made my technique a lot stronger, thus I felt more comfortable with my second rod, but the softer action of the rod definitely felt 'better,' and it felt effortless making those casts.
As you can see, there is no shortage of people willing to help on here. It's a good forum, so don't be shy about asking questions.
As to your question, everyone has their own favorites. I am a fan of Orvis, so that is my vote. However, neither I nor anyone on here has a vote in what you like or use. It is your call. The best advice has already been given a couple times; try as many as you can, before you buy. And you don't have to break the bank to get a good fly fishing outfit.
I use a TFO Pro (8'0" 2wt) and Orvis Battenkill reel quite a bit for bluegill & stocked trout. I also have an Echo Carbon (6'6" 3wt) I like, too.
Actually I have many rod brands and have yet to buy one I would consider junk.
Most of them have a very individual personality when it comes to casting & fishing them. I usually pick one and stick with it for several weeks at a time because once I adapt my cast to "fit" the outfit it requires less thinking about what the rod is doing and allows more time to just enjoy the fishing.
Pick any of the brands mentioned and fish it a lot, you'll be happy!
And if you pick one that's too fast for your casting style, just upline it one weight.
Your dad's outfit sounds like it could be used as a solid beginner set up for trout. You could probably get another outfit just like it and be happy for at least a half a dozen years or more. Unless you're planning on going for a species other than trout. Please tell us what you're fishing for as to species.
Regardless of what you're targeting, you should try to test cast all three of your candidate rods. If I were you I'd cast at least a half dozen possibilities. The brand of your new rod and reel is not nearly as important as how it casts/feels in your hands.
Also, you should look into some economical quality fly lines (probably in the $50-$70 range) as part of your budget. A decent line is nearly as important as the rod, definitely more important than the reel.
"Three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn." ~Chuck Clark