Echo EPR Saltwater Fly Rod Review

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Louis Cahill

I’ll put this simply. The Echo EPR out fishes rods at twice the price.

Let me tell you a story about how I fell in love with this rod the first time I cast it. I did something I’d tell any angler to never do. I flew down to Abaco, Bahamas for my March hosted trip and went out the first day with a rod I’d never cast and a line I chose on a guess. I needed to test the rod and just hadn’t had time, so I made a bold choice and hit the water.

I was out that morning with a good friend and guide Travis Sands, who’s a bit of a local rockstar. The wind was absolutely howling. My buddy got a fish and I stepped up on the bow with my new EPR. As I was stripping line off the reel, Travis spotted a fish.

“Bonefish at…ummm…I don’t know, it’s an impossible shot.”

“Where is he?” I asked.

“Three o’clock, at 70 feet,” Travis replied with an almost sarcastic tone.

That meant the shot was a backhand cast, directly into the wind. I spotted the fish. My philosophy is that you try to catch every fish, especially the impossible ones. So my first cast at a fish with this rod was 70 feet, backhand into the wind. Two strips and he was on. Travis was dancing and singing on the platform. As soon as I released the fish he jumped down and asked to cast the rod. He loved it and so did I.

No fly rod is going to make every shot like that a payday but there are a whole lot of rods that will never do it. The more I fished the EPR, the more confidence I had in it. I had six 8-weights on that trip and the EPR quickly fell into the top two. At $449, it’s about half the price of the next cheapest rod in that collection.

I’ll be honest, I had limited expectations,

which is crazy. I know what a great rod designer Tim Rajeff is, but you have to feel like a rod that’s half the price is in some way a compromise. After fishing it, I don’t think it is. Everything about the EPR feels like an expensive rod, and fishes like it, too.


It’s a wind tamer. The EPR is fast. Really fast, and that’s a good thing, but more importantly the action is super smooth. It’s easy to load just the tip with a short stroke and make an accurate cast at 20-30 feet. It generates plenty of line speed but you don’t have to force it. It’s a true tip action and responds quickly to a short stroke and from stop. You get a ton of power without stomping the gas.

I paired it with an Airflo Tropical Punch line and I’ll call that perfect. The Punch is a 3/4 overweighted line and the EPR likes that, especially in the wind. On a calm day I wouldn’t hesitate to put a longer belly line on this rod. If you are a good caster, I think you will find it’s a very versatile tool. If you are a fair caster, this is a rod that perform well for you now, and have plenty for you to grow into.


Echo has come a long way in the quality of their components. The EPR is a great example. It has large guides which shoot line freely. The reel seat is the nicest I’ve seen on a mid-priced fly rod. My favorite is, without question, the cork grip. It has a very comfortable profile and surprisingly nice cork but what I love is that it’s finished at each end with a slim band of composite cork. This is where saltwater grips really start to fail and when that front swell starts to crack and give, it’s a real casting problem. I feel like this grip is going to hold up very well.

It’s a great looking rod, if that matters to you. The blank, snake guides and reel seat are all black and it has fine copper tipping on the black wraps. It has an all-business look about it. I’m going to get extremely picky here. The only thing I don’t like is the rod tube. It’s a square fabric covered tube and isn’t up to the aesthetic of the rod. That’s silly, but it is room for improvement.

I had a friend ask me if I would recommend the EPR as a backup rod. I told him absolutely not.

I’d recommend it as your go-to rod. Unless you just want to spend an extra $450 to make yourself feel better. Get out to your local Echo dealer and cast this rod. Come back and tell us what you think.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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12 thoughts on “Echo EPR Saltwater Fly Rod Review

  1. Great review as always! Curious as to whether you have tried the Echo 3 Saltwater and how the two compare. I recently cast the E3S and was shocked at how nice it was, and I own an H2 8wt.

  2. Thanks for the great review. I bought the 12 wt EPR after casting it along with many other high end rods, and really preferred the ECHO over the others. Cork on mine wasn’t as nice as the $1K rods tested, but I really liked the more exaggerated swell in the grip, and loved the feel of the rod. Fished it for 3 days in the keys in overcast light and it does fish really well when you cant see them until 30′ out, but is an absolute cannon at distance too. I have also cast the 10 wt and almost walked out of my local shop with 2 rods that day, the 10 wt is super nice also…..

  3. You commented that on a calm day you wouldn’t hesitate putting a longer belly line on this rod. It was my understanding that longer belly lines outperform shorter lines in the wind ?

  4. I just got back from my local fly shop and finally casted this rod in #8 with airflow line. You can tell this rod picks up line with ease and can most definitely just blast line. It was windy today so I made sure to cast into the wind and was very pleased. I was going to get another 3S to match the #12 I have but for $50 difference in price I cannot pass this rod up. I will be purchasing this next week.
    P.S. About the rod tube, I keep my 3S in a #10 EPR case and compared to other Echo cloth covered hard cases i prefer the EPR CASE. It is MUCH lighter than others and very strong. The square design doesn’t bother me at all but might for others.

  5. I love the Echo square rod tubes — you can fit 2 rods in the tube & comes in handy when traveling.

    Love the 8wt 3S-ti… unfortunately no fly shops carry Echo around me so I can;t test cast the EPR.

  6. My Echo EPR 8 wt is a blast for striper. And the range of casting capability is great — accurate at short range, but when you put some muscle into it, it can punch a big fly a good distance. It’s a rewarding rod to fish with, surprisingly lightweight, and it can handle a 30″ striper but is still great fun for smaller fish. I run an 8wt Rio OBS for striper in the SF Bay and Delta. It’s a good fit for the rod.
    Throw in Echo’s solid customer service, and it’s a no brainer.

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