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whalensdad 01-08-2012 09:38 AM

LLBean Streamlight Ultra 2 Handed 12' 6" Fly Rod Outfit
If you have read my other review ( you know that I am a budget consumer. I look for opportunities to get what I would consider a good quality product at a decent price. Recently I have been itching to get a 2 handed rod for fishing the Salmon River up here in NY. I spent many hours searching the internet, reading posts, looking at sales, etc to find a setup that would meet my needs. I had even considered building a rod, but felt that the cost and time would have been prohibitive. In the end I chose to go with the LLBean Streamlight Ultra 2 Handed Fly Rod Outfit Streamlight Ultra Two-Handed Fly Rod Outfits: Streamlight Outfits | Free Shipping at L.L.Bean

First a want to give a shout out to Hardyreels for the feedback he provided which helped make this decision easier.

I started my purchase by going to the LLBean web site. On the web page I found or should I say didn't find some of the specs that I felt were important (i.e. grain window for the rod, size of the reel, etc). So I decided to call Bean's fly fishing hotline (1-800-Fish-LLB) to speak with one of their experts. The person I spoke too was very helpful. He answered all of my questions, looked up the information I wanted and ensured me that they would do whatever was needed to make me happy. I even asked if I could exchange the line for a heavier one if I wanted and he said "no problem; just give us a call if your not happy". That is what I call customer service. I placed the order on a Monday 12/26 and he told me I would have the rod Wednesday or Thursday; $322.92 shipped (Note that shipping was free). Sure enough, the rod came on Wednesday.

The rod came packaged in a long reinforced paper bag. This was surprising, but not totally unexpected, since I had received another rod from them in the same way a few years ago. The complete setup consisted of a 12' 6" 7/8 wt 2 handed rod, a rod case, a Streamlight Ultra LA #3 reel, 150 yds 30lb backing, SA Mastery Evolution Spey Line 530 gr fly line and 9' #16 SW leader. The rod was in the case and the reel was already spooled with the backing, line and leader. The only thing I needed to do was attach the reel, add a fly and go fish. What could be easier than that.

Rod Comments:
When I looked at the rod I was not disappointed. It seemed to be well manufactured. It was a little on the heavy side, but I'll be using 2 hands any way. I did notice some striations under the finish, but I believe it is only a cosmetic issue. The guides and ferrules looked okay and the cork handle looked like it would last. If there is only one complaint is was that there were no alignment dots on the rod.

Reel Comments:
The reel came pre-spooled which was nice. When I inquired about the size of the reel I was told that all of the 2 handed rods get the same reel. I was also told that the reel can handle the 680 gr 9/10 wt version of the line, so I felt assured that there was sufficient capacity on the reel. I was not disappointed. When I looked at the reel it seemed like there was sufficient space to add a different line if I wanted to. One thing about the line is that I did not see it listed on SA's site. I may have missed it or it may be discontinued.

Case Comments:
My only complaint about the entire package was the case. While it will protect the rod, I am iffy about the construction. The last case I received from LLBean was an all canvas rod on reel case, where the rod portion was canvas over a pvc tube. This case is also a rod on reel case with the canvas over pvc tube, except the area over the reel is canvas over a polyesterine (sp?) filler. This makes that area kind of hard but flimsy. I'm concerned that I will damage the case if I lean anything against it or on it. I also think that the reel protection area is way to big. I would have preferred to have the reel protection localized to only the reel area.

First Use:
Let me start this off by saying that I am a complete hack when it comes to spey casting, so take my comments about use with a grain of salt. For a "first timer" I was very happy with the rod. I felt it loaded well with the SA line and I was able to cast it easily (when I made a proper cast :) ). It was also forgiving when I did not cast very well. The line felt smooth through the guides and went mostly where I wanted (no fault of the rod). The rod did not feel too heavy in use. My only complaint, if you can call it that, was that the leader was too heavy for where I was using it. That was my fault for not checking it before I went out. Definitely check the supplied leader for your needs before heading out. As I get better at spey casting I'll update this post with comments about how the rod performs.

Final Thoughts:
Overall I am very happy with this setup. It would have cost me $100 to $200 more to go with something else. LLBean has the best warranty and customer service I have seen. I also have an outlet store a mile away so I wouldn't have to pay shipping for a return. All in all this is a great package for a person who is looking to get into 2 handed fishing without breaking the bank. I give this setup a :thumbsup:


mcnerney 01-08-2012 10:48 AM

Re: LLBean Streamlight Ultra 2 Handed 12' 6" Fly Rod Outfit
Whalensdad: Sounds like you made a good choice for a two handed rod, and I have to agree, LL Bean's has incredible customer service. Keep us posted on how your Spey casting comes along. I've been kind of thinking about get a two hander myself but haven't made the leap yet.


Guest1 01-08-2012 12:12 PM

Re: LLBean Streamlight Ultra 2 Handed 12' 6" Fly Rod Outfit
Sounds great. I'm sure you will love Spey casting. The only thing I saw where you might want to change what they sent is the leader. I generally try and go with the length of the rod unless I have a specific reason not to. That usually ends up being even longer. It's easier to tie your own than find a tapered one the right length, and much cheaper as well, which is I'm sure why they sent a 9' leader. You can add 3 feet of tippet to that and be just about right though.

lancer09 01-08-2012 05:24 PM

Re: LLBean Streamlight Ultra 2 Handed 12' 6" Fly Rod Outfit
I've always thought about taking up two handed rods to throw streamers when the tailwaters are generating but thought it too expensive. You sir may have just found my next big purchase.

Ard 01-08-2012 09:30 PM

Re: LLBean Streamlight Ultra 2 Handed 12' 6" Fly Rod Outfit
Hi Lee,

I hope I got the name right, I sometimes get confused when it comes to who I talked to about what. As you know I've been using the 13' 8/9 for a few years and have nothing bad to say about the rod at all. Mine was 185.00 and has definitely delivered more that the cost in enjoyment.

In order to get the 13' working I had to use a #9 Scientific Anglers short head and I suspect that a #10 line will really allow the rod to shine. As far as performance you will no doubt be surprised as you become more familiar with the rod. Last fall I shared a fishing spot with a fellow who was casting a Sage Z Axis 13' with all the right stuff added. At the end of the day as we walked toward camp (we were both camped in the same area) he ask, "What kind of rod are you using" he followed that question by saying that he had been watching and felt that I was reaching out farther and that the leader & fly were turning over better than his rig. I was humbled when he said these things and quite sheepish when I turned my wrist to show the LL Bean logo on my rod. I said that I had bought it because of the low price thinking that I might one day move up to a quality rod. He seemed to think that I had the right rig and I thanked him for saying so.

I do have another rod now and am waiting for spring so I can test it. They are not the same at all so the comparison will not be of an apple to apple type. The new rod is a 15' that uses an 875 grain mid Spey head & body. I wanted it so that I can reach out a little farther without having to push the cast any harder.

You're going to love fishing your streamers and salmon flies with that rod :)

whalensdad 01-09-2012 07:01 PM

Re: LLBean Streamlight Ultra 2 Handed 12' 6" Fly Rod Outfit

You got the name right. Since I'm new at this 2 handed stuff, I'm going to use the line that I got and not worry about going to a heavier setup, yet :). Although I asked LL Bean when I ordered, based on the conversation we had, about being able to get a different line. Their response was to just give them a call. When I placed the order, they actually allow you to choose what weight line you want. They didn't force the 530 gr even though I was getting the 7/8 weight rod.


peregrines 01-10-2012 12:44 PM

Re: LLBean Streamlight Ultra 2 Handed 12' 6" Fly Rod Outfit
Great review-- good luck with your new set up Lee.

randyflycaster 01-10-2012 05:37 PM

Re: LLBean Streamlight Ultra 2 Handed 12' 6" Fly Rod Outfit
One thing I'm not sure about is what kind of line do you have - Scandi, Skagit, mid- or long-belly?

The kind of line will determine the kind of leader (and tip if it's a Skagit line) you'll use.


whalensdad 01-10-2012 07:52 PM

Re: LLBean Streamlight Ultra 2 Handed 12' 6" Fly Rod Outfit

The SA Mastery Spey line is a mid-belly line I believe.
Rod Weight: 7/8
Grain Weight:530
Tip: 0.3'
Front Taper 1: 17.5'
Front Taper 2: 17.0
Belly: 16.0'
Rear Taper: 4.5'
Total Length:52.5'


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