Orvis Recon 10ft 3wt Review

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Photo by Justin Pickett

Photo by Justin Pickett

By Justin Pickett

I never leave the house without a ten-foot rod.

Big water. Small streams. No matter the size of the water, I have found that a versatile ten-footer can serve me well in a multitude of situations when fishing for trout. This past year Orvis developed their own nymphing rod. Built from the ground, the newest edition to the Recon family was made for the angler that demanded a versatile rod that excelled in euro-style nymphing techniques. Enter the Recon 10ft 3wt. And for the past several months, this rod has been hitting the water with me everywhere I go.

What It Is

The Orvis Recon 10ft 3wt is the only stick of its kind in the Recon family of rods. While the ten-footer wears the same coat of grey paint and trimmings, this Recon’s taper and action is completely different from any other rod wearing the Orvis name. The rod is finished with a reverse wells grip and fighting butt, a burl wood reel seat, and black nickel snake guides that line the four-piece blank. I love having fighting butts on my nymphing rods. For me, it provides me with a great anchor point while fighting larger fish. The rod comes with a divided rod sock inside of an aluminum rod tube with Recon graphics and is backed by a twenty-five year warranty.


FullSizeRender-3Setup –

Reel – Orvis Hydros SL III

Line- Airflo SLN Euro Nymph fly

Backing – 150 yds of 20# Dacron

Leader – Custom hand-tied leader/Appalachian Furled Leaders Euro Hybrid

Weight and balance

I’ve mentioned in prior writings that having a light rod that is well-balanced with your reel is super important. Fly rods are getting lighter. Even with the longer rods, weight is becoming less and less of a concern when comparing rods at the shop. This rod is super light, and, at the time of this writing, is still the lightest ten-foot rod on the market. At only 2.5 ounces, this rod is easily balanced and doesn’t require up-sizing your reel, or adding a ton of backing or counter weights.


Yup, that’s right. Casting. While the majority of my fishing with this rod has been lobbing flies into the current via a euro-style leader, I’ve spent time playing around with other rigs as well. Using a level line (like the Airflo Euro Nymph) with most tight line techniques allows for very little casting when wanting to fish with dries, though you can get away with it if you must. However, with a weight-forward line, I was able to enjoy some time tossing dry flies and smaller streamers with this rod as well.

I casted this rod using a couple different lines (Orvis Superfine WF3F and Cortland Finesse Trout WF3F) and the rod performed well with both. The rod is accurate, fun to cast, and tracks straight. Casts out to fifty feet were easily attained. Though I doubt I will ever find the need to cast this far with this rod, its longer length and fast tip makes it easy to cast longer distances in a variety of conditions. Dry/dropper and double dry rigs are tossed with ease. As for indicator rigs, I found that bobber-style indicators (AKA bobbers) are best cast with this rod when they are no larger than ½” in diameter. The Smaller the better. Once you start adding indicators and split shot, the system can start to kick quite a bit. It is, after all, still a lightweight rod, but as long as you don’t try to rig it like a six weight you’ll be good to go. I prefer the New Zealand indicator, which this rods casts without a hiccup. Smaller streamers can also be thrown with relative ease on the 10ft Recon, however once you start adding weight, again things start to get sketchy. This is not your sink-tip chucking, streamer rod, but it can do some light work when called upon.


As would be expected, this rod excels when it comes to euro-style nymphing techniques. Why? Sensitivity. Knowing where your flies are in the water at all times greatly increases your chances of success. Being able to “feel” your flies rolling and bouncing along the riverbed is a must and the Recon does this extremely well. Every little tick, bump, and thump is translated through the blank and to your hand, assuring you that your flies are in the strike zone. This same incredible sensitivity also helps the angler pick up on the most subtle takes. Whether you are fishing superlight tippet with small flies or big junk flies in high water, this rod gives you the sensitivity to stay in constant contact with your flies.

Fish Fighting

FullSizeRender-6Another set of characteristics that set the better nymphing rods apart from others are their ability to be light and sensitive while still being able to hoss a fish when some hefty work is in order. I have owned many nymphing rods and not one of them has been able to pull on fish quite like this one can. I’ve caught fish anywhere from eight inches to over eight pounds on this rod, and it seems no matter the size of the fish, this rod wanted nothing more than to land each one. Hooksets are solid. Running through my tippet I pulled on trout with everything from 3x to 7x with great results. Now of course every tippet is going to have its limits and once I began pulling on larger fish with 6x and 7x, I would break off. It’s gonna happen! However, what I was most pleased with was the rod’s ability to absorb shock and protect the lighter tippets. When I would break 6x and 7x tippet it seemed as though I really had to try and even then the rod kept bending, absorbing more energy. On several occasions, while using 4x and 5x, I have nearly straightened out heavier nymph hooks while testing the performance of the Recon. As for the rod’s actual fish fighting capabilities, don’t let the “3WT” label scare you into thinking that this rod is only meant for small streams and small fish. Not the case. While this rod is certainly light and sensitive, it definitely has the “ass” to fight bigger fish. Thanks to the butt section of the rod, there is plenty of fight in this dog.

Overall Impression

I love this rod. I have to give the folks at Orvis a lot of credit for nailing such a niche rod. Orvis built this new, specialty Recon with input from other competitive anglers, and constructed it to be a nymphing machine, and it does it like a boss! But at a middle price point in the fly rod world -$425- this rod also gives you some versatility and is far from a one-trick-pony. With the desired combination of light weight, sensitivity, tippet protection, and fish fighting power it has quickly become my go-to nymphing rod. The tight lining performance of this Recon is certainly its bread-and-butter, yet this rod can handle a myriad of other techniques. The only thing that I would change about this rod is the shiny, painted finish on the blank. I would prefer to have a matte color in order to avoid glare, but this still isn’t keeping me from reaching for this rod every time I hit the water. If you’ve been looking for a great euro nymphing stick, you owe it to yourself to check out the Recon 10ft 3WT!

Justin Pickett
Gink & Gasoline
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