orvis clearwater vs recon

Orvis Clearwater vs. Recon

So you have finally narrowed it down to two rods. The Orvis Clearwater vs. the Recon. I too had the same debate when it came down to choosing a new rod. They are both excellent choices so the decision was difficult! Really what you’re asking is which rod provides the most value for the money. After plenty of research, this is what I have found out.

The Orvis Recon is the better rod but it, of course, cost more money. However, if you are looking for the rod with the best value that would be the Clearwater. Your experience level will also play into your choice of rod as well. What makes the Clearwater a better value and why is the Recon a better rod? Read on to find out!

Build Quality

Orvis Has always been known to make a quality fly rod. so quality is not lacking in either of these rods.

The Clearwater has an excellent build quality for being under $200. It has ceramic stripping guides which is almost never seen on a rod in this price range. The new clearwater rods also have an updated taper that is designed differently for each weight of rod Orvis offers. An updated cork on the Clearwater also outclasses the previous handle they had included in last year’s model. The reel seat on the Clearwater is a nice black nickel aluminum. The overall look of the rod is very nice with a black blank and the white Orvis logo that was adopted from the Helios line. Since they updated the Clearwater they have done away with the hook keep, unfortunately.

The Recon is a beautiful rod as well. With its olive color and silver snake guides, it really is a looker. The aluminum reel seat has a dark wood insert.  Where this rod beats the Clearwater is in the grip. It is built of a higher grade cork and feels more comfortable in the hand. The Recon also has a hook keep! A small addition that can be dearly missed if you’re used to having one.

orvis clearwater vs recon
A hook keep is something that the Clearwater is missing. The Recon still has it…..for now.

Both rods are built to last and both come with a 25-year warranty. If they can’t fix your rod then they will replace it! It will take Orvis roughly 4-6 weeks to return your rod to you.


The way a rod casts, how far it casts, and how well it casts in shorter distances can affect many things while on the water. For this comparison, we will mainly be talking about distances between 0-45 feet which are common distances you’ll find on the water. 

The Clearwater is a nice casting rod in most situations. Where it lacks is in the shorter distances. It has just enough stiffness that it makes is somewhat harder to cast dry flies delicately within 25 feet. Is this a deal-breaker? No! It just takes more effort on the caster’s part to figure out the correct way to lay their line down on the water. The rod works great at longer distances over 25 feet. It loads well and it shoots line fairly easily. 

The Recon does everything the Clearwater does but better. It’s better at shorter distances and makes it easier to have better presentations on your dry flies. As you begin to fish longer distances it’s more accurate than the Clearwater. 


Sensitivity comes into play when you nymph fish. Especially if you’re euro-nymphing. You want to be able to feel yourself ticking bottom and if there are any hungry trout nibbling on your flies. 

Both the Clearwater and Recon have great sensitivity for this type of fishing. The recent update on the Clearwater has really made it a great rod for nymphing. Although the Recon has more sensitivity the Clearwater is not far behind in this category.

Who should buy the Clearwater?

Whenever I’m looking to buy a rod I always wonder what would be the best rod for me and the type of fishing I am doing. So who should buy the Orvis Clearwater rod? If you are a beginner looking to get into fly fishing and want a high-quality rod under $200 then this is the rod for you. It is leaps and bounds better and any other entry-level rod on the market. It casts well, it is light, and it has a great build quality. I also recommend this rod to someone who is trying to get into another form of fly fishing. For example, I wanted to get into euro-nymphing and I didn’t want to buy a $500 or $600 rod to do so. So I bought an Orvis Clearwater rod to try out this form of fly fishing and I couldn’t be happier with the results. After trying other European style nymphing rods that cost more than the Orvis Clearwater I was still very happy with sticking with the Clearwater. This is not to say that the Clearwater is a bad rod for experienced fly fishermen though. In fact, I think this is a great backup rod and a rod to have in your quiver. you won’t regret buying this Clearwater rod to either expand your rod collection or as your go-to fly fishing rod for all types of scenarios.

Who should buy the Recon?

Perhaps you have fly fished for a while now and you no longer consider yourself a beginner. you already own a rod or two and you’re looking for another rod to step your game up or to upgrade to. The Recon is a great mid-priced rod that can take on rods in the higher-priced category. If you don’t want to spend $800 to $1,000 on a high-end rod then the Orvis Recon should be your go-to choice. It offers everything you need in order to improve your casting and presentation skills. It is also a great rod for beginners, though it is higher-priced. This is a rod that you could own for a lifetime and be satisfied with from day one until you cant fly fish any longer. 


Although these are both outstanding rods, the Orvis Recon does come out on top in terms of casting, sensitivity, and better overall fishing experience. If you are looking for the best value though then the Clearwater is a great choice. For what the rod provides at the $198 price point it is very hard to beat. So if you’re a beginner or an experienced fly fisherman looking to try out a different form of fishing then the Clearwater is an excellent choice. If you’re simply looking to get a higher-performing rod than your current one the Recon will give you all of the performance you need at a mid-range price.

Check out the latest prices on both rods below!

Orvis Recon

Orvis Clearwater

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