It's no surprise that 4-piece fly rods are undoubtedly the most popular. A long fly rod isn't exactly easy to get around with, so chopping it up into several pieces sure makes portability less of a hassle. Although there are many awesome 4-piece rods out there, a rod with fewer pieces can offer some benefits. Less ferrules (joints) means less weight, fewer weak points, less pieces to keep track of, and possibly a little bit better casting performance. In this review, we look at somewhat of an outlier in this day and age—the new 8-weight 2-piece ECHO Prime 2 fly rod. It had been years since I recall fishing a 2-piece fly rod, so I was really looking forward to fishing something out of the ordinary!
Length: 8 feet 10 inches
Line Weight: 8
Measured Weight: approx 3.83 ounces
Stripping Guides: Titanium frame/SiC Inserts
Snake Guides: Titanium Alloy Snakes
Reel Seat: Aluminum
Rod Tube/Sock: Yes/Yes
When I unpacked the rod and assembled it here at home, I immediately took notice of how lightweight this rod felt in hand. The slightly shorter 8'10" length and 2-piece design surely play some role in this, but regardless of the reasoning the rod was already scoring points in my book. To make for a truly featherweight combo, I attached my 3-TAND TF70 (6/7/8) reel which only weighs 4.6 ounces by itself.
The handle of the Prime 2 features what ECHO calls a "Dual Zone Handle" which lets the angler use a standard thumb-on-top grip or alternate to an extended finger grip if they choose. I found the grip comfortable and the extra flair at the top makes for an especially nice spot for the thumb to rest.
Check out that reel seat! The black aluminum seat with dual up-locking rings sports a large "Kraken" graphic on the top for an awesome touch of artistry.
ECHO gave the rod a subtle low-flash blank for less chance of spooking fish during sight-casting situations in shallow water. The grey blank is accented by contrasting light grey wraps and there's alignment dots at the only ferrule. This particular model uses titanium guides throughout, all of which were sized appropriately for saltwater.
The ECHO Prime 2 wasn't made to be ultra fast or insanely powerful. It was specifically designed for what ECHO calls "real world distances" and what I typically call "average fishing distances." While very long casts can sometimes be necessary on many bodies of water, much of my saltwater action commonly comes in that roughly 20–50 foot range. Here, a rod that loads easily and is deadly accurate is what matters the very most, and fishing at average distances like these are what the Prime 2 is touted as specializing in.
I fished my 8 weight tester with two lines. The first was a true-to-weight WF8F line with a 30' head weight of 210 grains, and I even tried a heavier WF9F line with a heftier 30' head weight of 270 grains. To clarify, the bulk of this review talks about rod performance with the WF8F line.
Unlike other saltwater fly rods that can be very fast and powerful, this rod definitely dialed all that back a bit. What I found through my time with it is that ECHO is exactly spot-on with their claims of what this rod can do.
For short shots this is likely one of the best saltwater 8 weights out there. The rod has a tip that was softer than I had anticipated, thus making it quite good for nearby presentations. Since my possible trip to Pensacola never materialized, I instead used the Prime 2 for chasing snook on local beaches where short to medium presentations are the norm. I found the rod to load easily and be quite accurate for putting the fly in the face of numerous snook and even a small tarpon...which jumped off after about two seconds!
At those modest fishing distances is where this rod really shines. It casts beautifully with great smoothness, accuracy, and tracked precisely. The action of the rod is dialed for this distance which makes it really easy to recast in a hurry or pick the line up and fire it back out in a different direction. The 8'10" length also comes into play here too. It might seem like just two inches taken off the typical 9'0" rod might not be noticeable, but I could detect the slight length difference. While making a rod shorter can lessen the height of the back cast or rob a bit of casting distance (in this case the differences would surely be tiny), it also makes the rod just a hair lighter, more accurate, and quicker to move around. For me, this rod did feel a little more nimble than most.
This Prime 2 will throw far but it wasn't my favorite at the long game...and I didn't care. It's fun to cast for extreme distance but how often do I use that on the water? The answer is pretty much never. The ECHO can get it done but I would definitely want a faster, more powerful-feeling rod if I was putting a huge emphasis on casting into the next zip code.
As mentioned, I did fish a WF9F line so I'll briefly touch on that. The rod certainly doesn't need such a heavy line to perform well, but it'll handle it. Anytime the casts are on the shorter side up-lining isn't a bad idea as it results in deeper rod load, however a good WF8F line would certainly be my all-around pick for this stick.
One final note again is on the lightness. I already mentioned it several paragraphs back, but this rod just feels so nice for an 8 weight while casting or simply holding in my hand. A lightweight rod not only results in less fatigue, but it also results in more fun, feel, and enjoyment.
The ECHO Prime 2 8-weight was a rod that seriously impressed with its lightweight feel and more easygoing casting performance. If you're tired of the ultra fast and ultra powerful, this is a rod you need to experience. ECHO is well-known for their affordable rods, so the tested price of $524.99 might be a bit of a surprise. However, keep in mind that this is their flagship saltwater offering and when compared against other top-tier rods out there, it represents a nice value alternative.
All ECHO Prime rods are 8'10" in length. Prime 2 (2 piece) rods come in 8,10, and 11 weight sizes, while Prime 4 (4 piece) rods come in 8,9,10,11, and 12 weight sizes. Prices range from $469—$564 depending on model. Each rod comes with a fabric-covered square tube and sock.
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