The Helios 3 rods are Orvis' top-of-the-line offerings, and they are indeed impressive. I've fished the 5D, personally own a 4D, and have great things to say about both. But, that performance comes at a cost, and a premium cost it is indeed. What to do if you can't justify or afford such a lofty price tag, but still have an appetite for strong performance? The new Orvis Recon may be the answer.
From what I hear, the last generation of Orvis Recon rods performed very well. I say "from what I hear" because I just never got around to reviewing one! Well, with the recent launch of these brand new Recon rods, I knew I had to get my hands on one asap. Promising added refinement along with fresh new looks, they certainly seem enticing.
Line Weight: 8
Measured Weight: Approx 4.34 ounces
Stripping Guides: SiC (2)
Snake Guides: Chrome snakes
Reel Seat: Aluminum
Rod Tube/Sock: Yes/No
The new Recon rods utilize design tech trickled down from the Helios 3 series. Orvis said the improvements they've made to these rods results in less weight along with better hoop strength, tracking, damping, and accuracy. So, in a nutshell, improved performance and feel.
Our test rod featured a dark matte blank with charcoal and light blue accenting. The blank color is classified as "matte blue," but it changes between purplish and bluish depending on the available light. Very pretty!
The guide train consists of two large silver stripping guides along with silver snakes. Each rod joint boasts an improved unsanded ferrule design for a smooth, tight fit. On top of the rod and adjacent to the logo, there's a "quick rod identifier" to help you tell which rod is which. This particular model doesn't feature a hook keeper.
Sporting a full-wells grip, the cork quality seems very good with no big streaks of filler or other imperfections to be seen. The new reel seats are Type-III anodized aluminum with a pewter finish, and the two up-locking rings have a nice grippy textured finish without being too aggressive. The gaskets in between the rings give a nice ramp-up of tension as a reel is tightened down, and reels are indeed held tightly. Below the seat, there's a 1.5 inch fighting butt with flared composite cork end.
Our tester was assembled with care and had no glaring defects in manufacturing or finish. Also of note, all Recon rods are made in the USA.
I casted and fished this rod with one of the new Orvis Hydros Saltwater lines. This line is rated at 224 grains @ 30 feet, which puts it just a hair above the AFFTA 8-weight standard range of 202–218 grains.
Rated with a fast action, I think "dialed in" would also be a very fitting designation. They really nailed an ideal fast action here, with a tip that seemed slightly softer than is typical but with good reserve power down below. This made the 8-weight Recon extremely pleasant to cast at various distances.
I found short range feel to be quite nice, and casting at more "average" fishing distances (aka the mid range) was especially sweet. The Recon feels like a true 8 weight and doesn't need a very heavy line for excellent performance. I also thought the rod did very well when casting long distances, but I really felt that it truly shined at those medium distances where most fishing takes place. I sure would've liked to have done much more with the Recon, but it did make an excellent largemouth rod on local waters. There was no problem casting fluffy bluegill flies and chunky divers, and the rod obviously never broke a sweat on fish up to about 4 pounds.
This is NOT a heavy, clunky rod at all while casting. It also does have a relatively precise feel to it — likely a result of the Helios 3 technology sneaking its way into this blank.
I continue to be downright impressed with the rods, reels, and lines coming out of Orvis these days, and the Recon 8 weight is undoubtedly another winner. This latest example looks fresh and techie while delivering excellent performance thanks to its finely-tuned action and satisfying feel. Is this the best mid-priced fly rod out there? I don't know, but I will say you absolutely can't go wrong with this one!
Freshwater Recon rods come in weights 2–6 for $498 while Saltwater Recon rods are available in 6–12 weight for $549. Orvis also offers Recon combos which pairs up a rod with a Hydros SL reel, backing, and appropriate Hydros line for a savings of up to $55. Whether purchased alone or as a combo, each rod includes a nylon-covered tube and comes equipped with a 25 year guarantee.
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