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Freshwater Rods

Orvis Recon 9-foot 5-weight Fly Rod

Might be all the rod you really need.
Kirk Deeter author.
Kirk Deeter
January 3, 2024
Orvis | Recon 9-foot 5-weight Fly Rod
product description
“Mid-price anglers, your fly rod has arrived. With Recon, you get high-performance feel, lightness in hand, close-in loading ability and the power for longer reach.” – Orvis
company ethos
“We live to develop and share our equipment, apparel and expertise to outfit deeper connections and authentic experiences in the outdoors for a more inspired life.” – Orvis

There are two things you need to know about the fly rod market. First, in terms of total sales volume, most rod companies sell a lot more low and mid-priced rods than they do fancy, premium rods. “Helios” might be Orvis’ flagship, image-defining rod, but Recon and Clearwater are the workhorses. Most anglers don’t have a grand to drop on a fly rod, and frankly, when it comes to just getting out there and going fishing, most anglers can’t feel or appreciate the difference–at least not by perceptible leaps and bounds–between top-line rods and rods that are perfectly suited to just go fishing. This is a vital sales channel, and the companies know that and pay attention accordingly. There’s no such thing as an “afterthought,” mid-priced fly rod. 

Second, when it comes to fly rod “evolution,” the tapers and designs are refined over time, but they’re still pointy at one end and thicker at the other. What facilitates how that taper performs, how much the rod casts, how resistant it is to breakage and so on, are the materials, like graphite and resins, and components, like guides and reel seats, that are used to build them. Many of those things are born of the aerospace industry, where “lighter matched with tougher” is always valued. The thing is, those materials are constantly evolving, and what was breakthrough science 10 years ago, is often commonplace today. Accordingly, that rod that was the bee’s knees, game-changer a decade ago, is pretty similar to the mid-road, blue-collar rod that’s hauling the load for the rod companies today. None of those companies will come right out and say it, but there’s a lot of fly rod DNA from 2012 market icons in the 2024 market bell cows.

So, we live in a good time for fly rod selection, and you can find a very good rod these days for about half the money it costs to buy the most hyped stuff. 

That’s no more manifest than with the Orvis Recon series of fly rods. Weighing only three ounces, built in America, featuring fine accents like a premium cork grip, they’re attractive, functional, accurate and track well, load with authority, versatile and dependable. In fact, Orvis upgraded and redesigned the Recon family four years ago, so the series itself has managed to evolve with the times.

Product story

Orvis says of their line of Recon fly rods:

“With Recon, you get high-performance feel, lightness in hand, close-in loading ability, and the power for longer reach, and–thanks to H3 construction techniques–improved accuracy. And you get it all at an affordable price.”

Design

“The 905-4 is a rod that can handle big trout, bass and panfish from coast to coast. This length/weight rod is the number one selling configuration. Its length and mid-range line weight give it great versatility for dry-fly fishing, streamer fishing, perfect for a drift boat and nymphing mid-to-light/heavy rigs. When you want to cover water, throw everything from an Adams to a deer-hair popper, the Recon 905-4 is an exceptional choice for all-around versatility in a mid-price fly rod with premium performance built in.”

Performance

By way of performance, I took a few “high-end” models (circa 2012) from different rod companies to an alpine lake, along with Recon, to fish from a belly boat. Mixing dries with droppers, then switching to small Woolly Buggers, I played around with overhead casts, roll casts and such, and Recon felt pretty much like the others. I then fished it from the drift boat, and pulled on some decent trout and the all-around “feel” was better than satisfactory. Perhaps most importantly, I had a canine mishap where my dog jumped over the gunwales of my dory and landed smack-dab on three rods I had set down between the seats…two rods snapped, and Recon did not.

Pros

Lightness (~3 ounces) and accuracy.  

Tough hoop strength–they’re hard to break (within reason), but still come with a 25-year guarantee.

Nicer than average components.

Cons

Is $600 really a “mid-priced” rod?

We’re not wild about the finish, graphics and aesthetics.

The action is pretty fast, and it’s not the kind of fly rod that will “develop” a caster–built more for the “set in their ways” angler, who wants to save some money.

Pricing

You’re probably getting more for your money than most of the other fly rods priced within $100. Recons sell for $598 or less.

Craftsmanship

We’re not wild about the finish, graphics and overall aesthetics–a little loud and busy.

  • Price: $598 or less
  • Dimensions: 9-foot 5-weight, 4-piece fly rod
  • Weight: ~3 ounces
  • Construction/Materials: Utilizes Helios™ 3 graphite construction techniques for increased hoop strength, better tracking, improved damping
  • Guides: Silver snake and stripping guide
  • Rod action: Fast
  • Rod tracking: Straight
  • Rod recovery: Fast
  • Warranty information: Orvis rod repair/warranty

Orvis rod repair/warranty.

Orvis 25-Year Guarantee: Step on it, close the door on it, run over it with the car–it doesn’t matter, they’ll fix it. If they can’t repair it, they’ll choose a newer model rod of at least equal value to replace it. Your investment is assured for a nominal shipping and handling charge.

“The Orvis 25-Year Guarantee means we’ll fix your broken fly rod, and if we can’t fix it, we’ll replace it, no questions asked. Purchase an Orvis Helios™ 3, Recon®, Superfine®, Clearwater®, or Mission rod from Orvis or an authorized Orvis dealer and we will repair or replace it for a quarter of a century. If we can’t repair it, we’ll choose a newer model rod of at least equal value to replace it. Your investment is assured for a nominal handling charge. This 25-Year Guarantee also applies to Helios, Access, Zero Gravity, Hydros, T3, TLS, and Clearwater (since 01/01/99) fly rods originally purchased from Orvis.”

Likely buyers

Recon models cover a wide range of lengths and weights. While you might consider some of them specialty rods, for the most part, Recons are all-arounders, meaning, they’re adept at anything from spring creek dry fly fishing, to basic Euro nymphing, to tossing the occasional streamer. They aren’t going to lead the pack in any of those categories, but they’re going to cover them all. This is all the rod the vast majority of anglers will ever need. It’s also priced as a value in today’s accelerated market.

Conclusion

The only thing that stands in the way of making this your preferred stick is ego. If you’re hell-bent on taking the latest and greatest fly rod on your trip to Chile, knock yourself out. You likely won’t cast any straighter, or land any more fish. That said, if you’re looking for a specific weight rod to fill out the arsenal, but you don’t want to go top-drawer, Recon is a solid path to follow. If you’re a guide and want tough, legitimately-performing rods to hand to clients, Recon is a solid choice. If you’re a never-ever, and you’re not sure if you’re going to attach to fly fishing for the long haul, there are other, less expensive gateway rods you should consider.

Orvis Recon fly rod lifestyle image
Orvis Recon fly rod lifestyle image
Woman landing trout in river.
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