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Orvis Clearwater Combo – Best Intermediate Fly Rod?

The Orvis Clearwater Combo outfit is more of a mid range choice. It is not the cheapest outfit, and it isn’t the most expensive. This makes it a great option for intermediate anglers who want something a bit nicer.

Although there are plenty of budget outfits on the market, experienced anglers often want something a tad better. This is where the Clearwater Combo comes into play. It offers performance features and quality components, but it’s still an overseas made rod.

This article will cover the pros and cons of the Clearwater Combo, and will hopefully guide your decision in choosing an outfit. We previously reviewed the Redington Path Combo, but the Clearwater is a step up from that. For anglers that have committed to fly fishing and do it regularly, the Orvis Clearwater is a good choice.

The Clearwater Rod

The Clearwater rod has a medium-fast action on most models, and fast action on the big game models. Many anglers will prefer a medium fast action rod for most applications. They are easy to cast, and they offer plenty of power. However, they are not too stiff and still have some play.

These rods are a black chrome color with white accents throughout, and they have chrome snake guides – which is the industries gold standard. The reel seats are aluminum with a black nickel finish.

Although the Clearwater rods are made overseas, they are built to higher standards. They offer features that you would find on a Sage or a Scott rod, which is great when considering the lower cost of the Clearwater.

The rods are very accurate to cast, and are best paired with a standard weight forward line. I like to put the Rio Gold on the these rods, it fishes really well. There is no need to overline these rods, as they aren’t super fast rods. I don’t recommend it, as it will make the Clearwater feel sluggish.

Overall, the Clearwater offers the casting accuracy of a high end rod, while remaining at a lower price point. I think it is the perfect option for intermediate/advanced anglers who are on a budget.

The Clearwater Reel

The Clearwater reel is a die-cast construction, meaning that it is made with a mold. The aluminum is poured into a mold instead of being machined. Machined reels are carved out of solid bar stock aluminum, which makes them much stronger than a cast reel. This is really what separates cheaper reels from expensive reels – cast vs machined.

Overall, the Clearwater reel is built well with a nice finish. It does feature a stacked disc drag, which is plenty strong for trout – as well as larger species. The Clearwater reel also features a large arbor. With a larger arbor, you can retrieve more line quickly – this is a huge advantage when fighting fish. Most modern reels nowadays feature a large arbor, it is a much better system than a standard arbor.

This reel can quickly be converted to left or right hand retrieve, which can accommodate any angler. Most anglers use left handed retrieve, but some prefer right handed retrieve.

For a cast reel, the Clearwater is very capable for most situations. It has the features of some nicer machined reels (stacked disc drag), and it can definitely be used for the long term. The main thing is just not to drop it – cast reels are more likely to break if they are dropped.

The Line

The Clearwater line is just a standard Orvis weight forward floating line. It works well, but I would probably recommend upgrading it at some point. It will definitely last for a season or two, but the longevity could be improved.

Fly anglers who fish a lot will definitely need to replace the line at some point. Since fly lines are consumable items, serious anglers will need to get a new line each year anyways. It is rare that a fly line lasts a long time, especially if you fish a lot. They get worn down and they stop floating as well. Eventually, they will start to crack – this is a sure sign that a new line is needed.

It would be nice if Orvis included a premium line, but it would raise the price point of the outfit. Overall, the line floats well and has a good taper. For the 5 weight model, the line will handle nymphing, dry flies and small streamers. I have mostly just fished the Clearwater 5 weight line, since my local rivers have trout. I have not tried the heavier big game lines yet.

Long Term Use/ Orvis 25 Year Warranty

Anglers can definitely hold on to this rod outfit for the long term. It is a nice enough setup, that there isn’t really a reason to upgrade. The only reason would be if the angler really wants a premium rod.

Most fly rod companies are offering lifetime warranties, while Orvis offers a 25 year warranty. This isn’t as good, but it still has benefits. Orvis’ warranty is a “no questions asked” policy. Whether it’s a car door, a dog, or your buddy who stepped on your rod – they will fix it! Since these accidents do happen, it is nice to know that Orvis will get you back on the water. Their repair fees are pretty reasonable, and the turn around time is relatively fast.

They are even offering a new system where you can buy a new rod section online. This makes the process much faster, as you don’t have to wait as long for them to build a new section.

I know some seasoned anglers who still like fishing their Clearwaters. Since the rod is so accurate and is built with nice components, it is still satisfying to fish year after year. Some anglers will get the itch to upgrade to a premium rod, while others will not.

The Clearwater is here to stay, and I think many anglers can benefit from this rod outfit. Instead of having to piece together a rod, reel and line – you can get it all in a convenient package. This rod setup is much nicer than the Redington Path, and it is built for anglers who prefer quality mid priced rods.