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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Gear Review: 9-Weight Fly Rods & Reels

If you chase big fish, you need a 9-weight fly rod to carry along on your adventures. BACKPACKER reviewed five rods that fit the bill.

by: Dan Corbett

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5
(Photos by Dan Corbett)
(Photos by Dan Corbett)
Ross Essence FW
Ross Essence FW
Orvis Hydros
Orvis Hydros
Orvis Frequent Flyer
Orvis Frequent Flyer
Sage Xi3
Sage Xi3
Temple Fork Clouser
Temple Fork Clouser


Orvis Hydros Rod
($525, 4-pieces, 9’, 4.1 oz., www.orvis.com)
The Hydros, billed as “the second lightest rod in the world” a e on the Orvis website], offers the top accuracy of all the rods I tested at distances approaching 100’. Bested only by the Sage Xi3 for consistent distance, the Hydros could cast easily in the most extreme situations. While the Ross Essence FW performed comparably for accuracy in my test, I found that the Hydros has an easier time throwing massive streamers. Bottom Line: The Hydros offers flexibility across fresh and saltwater with unparalleled accuracy.

Orvis Frequent Flyer Rod
($225, 7-pieces, 9’, 4.6 oz., www.orvis.com)
What does less cash get you within the same company? Improved convenience with a loss of performance, at least at a distance. Normally when I try a 7-piece rod I expect it to be extremely stiff. Surprisingly the Frequent Flyer has the slowest action of any rod tested. I could cast 60’ of line without difficultly but my accuracy greatly suffered at any further distance. The convenience of a sub-18 inch rod tube, sized to be easily stuck into your daypack (or briefcase or purse on a business trip i), makes the Frequent Flyer an ideal choice for any space-limited travel. Bottom line: If you love long, slow casts, even when throwing enormous flys, the Frequent Flyer is for you.

Orvis VO2 V Reel
($395, 4.25”, 10 oz., www.orvis.com)
Size does matter. As the largest and heaviest reel I tested, the VO2 V is designed for the biggest of big fish. This reel consumed an entire 250 yard spool of 20 lbs. backing with room for more. The drag system feels a bit off at the lighter settings however. Bottom Line: if you exclusively play with big saltwater fish, the VO2 V is a great reel for you, but if you like freshwater action as well, this reel may be overkill for your needs.



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READERS COMMENTS

Dan Corbett
Dec 22, 2010

Hi John,

You are correct - there is a lot more to these rods than just casting distance. If you cannot cast accurately (and softly) to that tailing bonefish, distance is not overly important. That said, it is nice to push the limits if you see the fish is not moving any closer to you.

During the comparison testing, I did not have a fly attached (or a leader for that matter). I did use the Sage Xi3 in Florida, the Orvis Hydrous in Costa Rica, and the Ross Essence FW in a local Colorado reservoir with flies. Unsurprisingly big streamer flies did not cast as far or as easily, however small crab patterns, containing a bit of weight and a relatively aerodynamic profile, I could cast even a bit further.

Cheers,
Dan

John T
Dec 14, 2010

Dan - you seem to focus a lot on the casting distance. I cannot remember ever making a 60' cast steelhead fishing. When you were doing your testing, did you have a fly on the line? The big saltwater flies are a really hard to cast because they are so wind resistant.

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