When someone mentions fiberglass fly rods, my first thoughts naturally gravitate to small waters full of trout. Of course, nowadays these rods come in a huge variety of line weights that are suitable for much more than just trout. In browsing social media, I've seen species like salmon, blacktip sharks, and even tarpon whipped by glass sticks! Unique, yes, but this really doesn't come as a huge shock since fiberglass has experienced a massive resurgence in recent years. As a result, manufacturers will continue to expand, upgrade, and diversify their offerings.
ECHO Fly Fishing is no stranger to the glass game. There's no doubt they've fully embraced the glass movement and in my opinion are one of the most familiar names in the segment. Back in 2017 when this site was less than one year old, we reviewed a 4-weight from their "Glass" series. Despite the popularity of that affordable lineup, ECHO's new River Glass has now replaced them and offers several design updates.
Action: "Glass Med-Fast"
Line Weight: 3
Measured Weight: Approx 2.33 ounces
Stripping Guide: Stainless (no insert)
Snake Guides: Chrome Snake Guides
Reel Seat: Cork and Aluminum
Rod Tube/Sock: Yes/Yes
New ECHO River Glass rods are hand-painted in your choice of either Amber or Glacier color schemes. I just had to pick the latter because, well....just look it! Glacier is a beautiful translucent light-blue color that pops brilliantly in the sun and in my opinion just makes the rod even more fun to fish with.
The newly-revised cork grip on our tester looked a bit nicer than the now-discontinued ECHO "Glass" series rod I last tested, but this one still has a good amount of filler visible. The grip design itself has now been elongated to accommodate both different grip styles and hand sizes. Below, the aluminum reel seat hardware has also been updated and is shiny silver rather than the pewter-ish color of the outgoing series. The seats are still down-locking and sport a cork spacer in the middle. I felt the locking ring could've been a little thicker for easier manipulation, but once the reel is affixed you really don't have to mess with it anyway.
Due to the shorter length, this little 3-weight features three-piece construction and yes, there's (tiny) alignment dots at both ferrules. There's one small, old-school stainless stripping guide (a new addition) with no insert, while the remaining guides are the typical chrome snake guides. Translucent-white wraps secure all the guides to the blank, but this does allow for imperfections underneath to very easily show through.
As for overall craftsmanship, it was decent but there could've been a little more refinement in the build quality and some components.
Thanks to the short length and 3-weight rating, the rod felt quite nice in hand. Fiberglass rods always feel a bit heftier when put up against a slim, quality graphite rod, but this one was very good in the weight department. With the matching ECHO ION fly reel aboard, I'd also rate the balance as very pleasant.
Every time I cast a glass rod it really throws me off at first. I'm so used to fishing faster graphite fly rods that it takes me some time to really slow down and let the glass do its thing. Make no mistake: this model is obviously not a great tool for big water, but it is supremely fun when working with short amounts of line. I took the River Glass 3-weight to a large lake nearby that's full of smaller largemouth and peacocks. Presentations here require casts no more than about 30-feet and there's a fair amount of trees around to get in the way—perfect for this stick!
Coupled with an Airflo Super-DRY Elite WF3F line, the rod loaded easily and deeply.
Despite the "Glass Medium-Fast" action rating, you'll still feel ample flex right down into the handle. While indeed soft, the rod never felt clumsy at all. It's downright buttery-smooth and accuracy was good thanks to the lack of any overly-sloppy feeling that a slower or bargain basement glass rod might exhibit. Speaking of which, ECHO is using new S2 fiberglass in this series that are said to slightly increase blank crispness.
The short length also aided the rod's accuracy and allowed me to aim back casts around and under tree limbs. I couldn't really get any serious distance out of this stick, but it was a solid short-range weapon that was able to cast a little baitfish streamer fairly well—though that's about the biggest fly I'd likely want to cast on it!
Fighting fish with this thing was incredibly fun. I caught bass from six inches to about two pounds and it was a total blast. Under a decent load, the rod doubles over and makes it look like you've hooked an absolute giant! I don't have trout near me, but I do have tons of bass water and this River Glass model RS-369 made an EPIC pond rod.
Besides being just a fun novelty to fish with, a glass fly rod can offer advantages, too. It can be easier to cast for those with a slower casting stroke, and these soft rods do an excellent job of cushioning very light tippets and tiny hooks in delicate situations. As long as the popularity of fiberglass continues to hold, look for ECHO to continue to be right in the thick of it all. Although it took some initial getting used to, the River Glass RS-369 turned out to be one of the most fun-to-fish rods I've reviewed yet.
River Glass fly rods range from 6'9" to 8'6" in length and come in line weights from 2–5. Each rod is priced at $249.99 which includes a color-matched tube and sock.
Want to grab an ECHO River Glass fly rod?