MidCurrent Tested and Trusted: Orvis Clearwater Fly Rods

July 10, 2024 By: Kubie Brown

Image by Kubie Brown

I’ve always thought that shopping for a fly rod is a lot like shopping for a car. There are your expensive sport-car-type rods with the latest and greatest in graphite and ceramics and usually a flashy paint job. On the other side of the spectrum you’ve got your cheap, shady used car lot type of fly rods that will certainly get you from A to B but look pretty ugly and will probably have a breakdown sooner rather than later.

Both options seem to make up the bulk of the fly fishing market, meaning that you either have to spend an arm and a leg to get a good fly rod or you’ve got to suffice with a bit of a junker for a while until you scrape some extra cash together. However, there is a third, middle of the road type fly rod option that is both equal parts reliable and sporty while also incredibly affordable—the Orvis Clearwater.

The Jack of All Trades

Of course, just hearing the word “Orvis” may automatically make you think of grandiose and luxurious equipment that most trout bums would have to sell their first-born child just to afford. But with a $249.00 price tag the Orvis Clearwater is a more than reasonably priced rod that delivers a solid performance in the field.

The Clearwater is a bit heavy, but like all Orvis fly rods, it’s supremely well balanced. It just seems to fit the hand of the caster like a glove, making it a great entry-level rod for beginners or as a back-up rod for more seasoned anglers. Designed with a medium-fast action, the Clearwater fits the niche as an all-round workhorse of a rod that you can easily use for some small stream and small trout fishing action in the morning and then take out on the big river to hunt for giants in the evening without missing a beat.

The stiffer action of the Orvis Clearwater fly rod makes picking line up off the water incredibly easy and it’s forgiving enough that even if you’re a novice caster, you will still be able to throw 20 to 30 feet of line out pretty easily. In addition, unlike a lot of inexpensive rods that are usually colored neon green or muddy brown, the Clearwater’s sleek black chrome finish and white accents mean that even the worst casters will still look cool while they flail the rod around aimlessly.

Delicately Tough

Most inexpensive fly rods seem to sit in one camp or another—either they’re sensitive and soft enough for delicate presentations but will be snapped like a twig in a strong breeze, or they’re seemingly unbreakable but provide all the casting grace of a waterlogged two-by-four. But the Clearwater seems to have just the right amount of foot in both camps.

Though it’s a little stiff, a Clearwater rod is more than capable of tossing out a tight loop of light tippet over a spooky-trout-filled spring creek without splashing the line down like a kid belly flopping into a pool. It’s also surprisingly durable. The usual suspects of tailgates, ceiling fans, and unseen overhanging branches will still break a tip or two. However, when you accidentally set the hook into a rock or take a spill climbing down a riverbank, your Clearwater is probably going to survive the experience. Even if it doesn’t, the Clearwater has you covered.

More For Your Money

Aside from its easy-to-use performance and 1990’s Chevy Truck commercial durability (Like a Rock!) the thing that makes the Orvis Clearwater Rod the best bang for your buck is its warranty. Like all Orvis products, the Clearwater comes fully covered with a 25-year warranty that will see any broken Clearwater repaired or replaced with no questions asked. No other reasonably priced rod on the market has such a guarantee and as the old adage says— it’s “when” you break your fly rod rather than “if”—this quarter of a century assurance makes the Orvis Clearwater an absolute standout.

In the end, the Orvis Clearwater fly rod is just an arrow that every fly fishing enthusiast, casting curious greenhorn, or hardcore guide should have in their quiver. Just like a reliable new car fresh off the lot, it’s going to give you a lot of good miles and always get you where you need to go.