Review: Ross Essence FC Fly Rods

The Ross Essence FC rods show that the under-$200 rod category is providing better value year after year. photo courtesy Ross Worldwide

WITH LUCK, there will be a handful of times during your life when you’ll have the pleasure of obtaining and using a product that is greater than the sum of its parts. The Ross Essence FC fly rod is one of those products.

The FC designation is Ross’s mid-range line (two others exist at slightly higher and lower price points). My 4-piece, 3-weight model was designed by the late Mel Krieger and is notable from both performance and value standpoints.

For starters, the $170 price tag makes the rod very obtainable. Not long ago, manufacturers designing rods in this price category were paying little attention to tapers, and you can find plenty of rods from five and ten years ago that either sacrificed castability for muscle or that had moved too hastily into the fast-action market. But as Lefty Kreh noted in a recent podcast, it’s currently difficult to purchase a fly rod that isn’t a satisfactory fishing instrument — regardless of where the rod is manufactured. As a side note, he also contends that gone are the days where “Made Overseas” indicates inferior quality. With the high-end materials being shared by manufacturers around the world, rod designers have the luxury of focusing on tapers and can often add considerable value and variety, without worrying about the basic performance of materials and components. Ross Worldwide has taken full advantage of those changes and produced a finely balanced instrument with an appealing, progressive flex.

The FCs will handily cast flies in far to mid to short distances. And just five years ago, few would have thought of taking a 3-weight to any place but a trout stream with smallish fish. This just isn’t the case anymore with the better-made mid-price rods. The FC is responsive and delivers the strong sense that you can land an unexpectedly large fish if you have to. I’ve done so on several occasions, without exhausting the fish and without thinking about the possibility of having to send the rod in for repair.

Ross Essence FC rod series at a glance:

  • R-2 graphite
  • 4-piece design
  • Titanium oxide guides
  • Nickel-plated reel seat with engineered walnut insert (3wt. – 6wt.), anodized aluminum reel seat (7wt. and up)
  • Grade A cork handle
  • Cordura rod case
  • Lifetime warranty

Pros: Casts precisely at all distances, highly responsive, can be fished with confidence
Con: Cork grip diameter may feel too small for some hands (even for a 3-weight)
Price: $170
Rating: 9 out of 10