Orvis Recon 2 Saltwater Fly Rod Review
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Hello old friend. The first iteration of the Recon was one of our favorite rods of all time. Seriously, we love the Orvis Recon. To say we were enthusiastically awaiting the release of the Recon 2 would be an understatement. We were fortunate enough to get our hands on some prototypes a bit earlier than the general public but we thought we'd wait until Orvis released the rods to give you an in-depth review.
Since the release of the first Recon series, the mid-priced saltwater market has seen some gems including the T&T Zone and (more recently) the Sage Maverick. We've reviewed the Zone here and the Maverick here so if you're in the market for a new saltwater rod those reviews are worth checking out. This time around, the Recon 2 has some real contenders for the best mid-priced saltwater fly rod. How does it compare? Read on to find out.
Read our review of the 5wt Recon 2 here.
Fit & Finish
If you've read our review of the Sage Maverick, you read a little bit about 'trickle-down technology'. Turns out the Recon 2 rods benefit from the same phenomenon. Orvis used what they learned in making the Helios 3 Fly Rod Series to refine and remake a classic. They also softened up the taper of the Recon and built the Recon 2 rods to be more caster-friendly and more versatile. But more about that later. Here's what Orvis has to say about the new Recon rods:
The Recon 2 8wt features what Orvis calls 'Silver snake and stripping guides', a pewter type III anodized solid aluminum reel seat with double uplocking components, a 1.5" fighting butt, matte blue blanks with charcoal and light blue accents, and a nylon-covered rod tube. The Recon 2 also has a quick rod identifier on the blank for grab and go on the water. These rods are built in the USA and come with a 25-Year Guarantee.
While we were hoping Orvis would make these new Recon rods lighter than ever before, it seems like they added some weight to the rods in exchange for increased performance... which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The old Recon 8wt weighed in at 3.6 ounces with a swing weight of 79.5 gm2. The new Recon 2 8wt has an overall weight of 4.41 ounces and a swing weight of 90.2 gm2, a little on the heavy side.
Orvis designed the Recon 2 to be a fishing tool first. This rod isn't going to impress your friends in the parking lot. The taper of the rod accommodates the widest spectrum of casting strokes at typical fishing distances but we felt that the rod ran out of power at 80-feet. We could certainly bomb an 80-foot cast with a line like the SA Titan Taper, but accuracy suffered. This rod is a solid option if you're blind casting for 'schoolie' Stripers but don't expect to put a fly on a dinner plate at 80-feet.
That being said, saltwater fly fishing rarely necessitates accuracy at 80-feet. There just aren't too many scenarios when an angler needs to put a fly on a dinner plate at this distance. We pushed the Recon 2 8wt out to 80-feet for the sake of determining a maximum casting range but we really focused on the rod's performance inside 60-feet. And I'm sure Orvis did, too, when designing these rods.
The Recon 2 has stellar accuracy at our shortest saltwater casting range of 40-feet. While you can feel the heavy swing weight of the rod, it presents flies extremely accurately with great recovery speeds and solid feedback. This rod is a great choice for close shots while targeting Redfish on the east coast of the US or small Stripers in the marsh. Its short distance accuracy also makes it a nice Bonefish rod... think wading the flats and presenting smaller flies at short range.
The rod's accuracy only got better when we pushed it back to middle distances (60-feet). Seriously, this is a VERY accurate rod out to 60-feet. We also started to feel the rod's slightly softer action at this distance and found that the taper was extremely forgiving. The Recon 2 threw tight loops, agreed with the power we applied to the rod, and placed a saltwater fly on target nearly every cast. The rod's castability and versatility at this distance was a highlight for us. In fact, we found it more versatile and forgiving than other mid-priced saltwater rods like the Maverick and the Zone.
The rod's accuracy suffered a bit at longer distances. That's not to say it wasn't accurate when cast properly, but we saw some of the rod's versatility that we loved at middle distances fade as we moved back to 80-feet. Orvis designed the Recon 2 to be a caster-friendly rod and had to decrease power levels to attain that. Again, that's definitely not a bad thing.
Flex & Feel
The decreased power levels also allowed Orvis to build a rod that provides tangible feedback and feel. While we loved the fast action high-performance design of the original Recon, we felt that the rod's stiffness left a little to be desired in the flex & feel category. The Recon 2 is a huge improvement on that.
This rod gives you immediate feedback at short distances and anglers can easily sense when the rod loads and unloads. The rod has a soft tip that makes these shorter casts beautifully. The rod taper also allows for a slightly softer mid-section than the original Recon which, again, puts more feedback into the hand of the angler. Even at longer distances when the rod ran out of power, we could still feel what we were doing wrong and make adjustments in our casting stroke. Overall, I think we appreciated the new flex profile that Orvis built into these rods... it just helps anglers be more in tune with the rod and its performance overall.
Orvis 25-Year Guarantee
Parting with the original Recon was hard for us. Those rods were well-known for their high-performance capabilities and lightweight design. Orvis' Recon remake has some different features to be excited about, however. These rods embody widening versatility, extreme castability, and more feedback and feel than ever before. Purchase this rod if you're looking for an 8wt that cuts through the marketing slush and just flat out performs when you need it to.
Watch Our Review
- Runs out of power at longer distances
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