Orvis Clearwater Review

Looking for the right rod and reel at the right price. It is simpler to say than to do.

The Orvis Clearwater rod and reel is among the most cost-effective fly fishing equipment. We gave one of the Euro nymphing rigs a spin and discovered that it exceeds expectations and is really enjoyable to fish with.

Let’s get started.

A Note About Orvis

Orvis is not your grandfather’s tackle shop; it is an industry titan.

Since almost 150 years ago, they have crafted fly rods and reels. Orvis has excelled as a rod manufacturer over several centuries. They were started during the business of bamboo rods and expanded when fiberglass became the new standard for rod-making materials.

In the 1970s, lightweight graphite transformed the fly fishing industry, but one thing has stayed constant: Orvis remains one of the most trusted companies in the industry.

Orvis is proud of its goods. They abide by the warranty they provide on their rods and reels designed in the United States. Their dedication to wildlife and nature preservation is well-established, and they have a robust network of conservation and non-profit partners.

All of my contacts with their customer service and shop employees have been good, which testifies to their culture as an industry leader in the area of fly fishing.

One of the most obvious advantages of purchasing an Orvis rod and reel is that it has over 150 years of history, a tried-and-true design, and a commitment to customer satisfaction.

Orvis Clearwater: Performance Equals Price

With all of the rods and reels that Orvis provides, all of the technologies and features to weigh, and all of the financial concerns to take into account, the purchase process might get a bit hazy.

When I’m buying a fly rod, especially one for specialized use, I try to find the specific balance between price and performance.

I don’t want to spend my yearly rod-buying money on a rod for experimenting with a new technique in just one click, only to discover that my almost four-figure rod spends too much time on the shelf and too little time getting bent.

I also despise investing in an expensive (or too expensive) rod to fulfill a specific task, just to have a friend three months later show me his cheaper, nearly equally-performing rod.

The sheen and novelty of “I’ve got a (insert nice rod here)” has worn off by then, and if the fish don’t care (which they don’t), why should we?

On the other hand, if the cheapest option did the job flawlessly, the pricier alternatives would likely not exist. A fisherman may miss out on the benefits of a specific new technique if he purchases a rod that is too general and underdeveloped.

This can be much worse in the long term than overpaying for a rod: it’s simple to envision wanting to give a specific sort of fly fishing a spin, spending the bare minimum on a setup, and then abandoning the technique when no results are achieved, and no fish are caught.

It is crucial to have the proper equipment, particularly the correct rod. We’ve all experienced situations in which we were unprepared, such as casting dry flies with a rod that lacked finesse or flapping streamers with a fly rod that felt more like a raw spaghetti noodle.

I am always on the lookout for rods and reels that fit within my budget and allow me to isolate and appreciate specific aspects. The Clearwater Rod and Reel by Orvis is ideally situated at the intersection of price and enjoyment.

Review of Orvis Clearwater Rod

Orvis has a Clearwater for you, whether you’re fishing for spooky brown trout in mountain streams, Pacific-run steelhead on huge rivers, or migratory tarpon on the flats. And there is a Clearwater for every fish technique, from carefully presenting dries to Euro nymphing in riffles to swinging a spey throw.

The Clearwater Rod is available from Orvis in four distinct categories: freshwater, saltwater, two-handed spey, and travel.

Their freshwater collection spans from a 7’6″ 3 WT medium-action small-stream rod to a 9′ 6 WT medium-fast rod.

A Clearwater built for European nymphing is also available in 2 WT, 3 WT, 4 WT, and 5 WT varieties.

The Clearwater saltwater rod is available in 6 WT – 12 WT sizes and 9′ – 10′ lengths, allowing fishermen to select the appropriate rod for their desired species.

The Clearwater is outfitted with chrome snake guides that maintain their form and durability admirably. It has a stripping guide with ceramic inlay and reel seats made of black nickel metal. Small touches, like Clearwater’s upgraded reel seats and snake guides, set it apart from the competition, despite the rod’s low price.

Again, Orvis is a leader in its sector for a good cause. The Euro nymph and larger-game rods have composite tips on their fighting butts for increased durability. As a member of the Orvis rod family, all Clearwater rods have black chrome blanks with white accents that give them a clean, sleek, and recognizable appearance.

The Clearwater comes with a gray, rigid, sectioned, and padded rod tube. As with all other Orvis rods, the Clearwater comes with a 25-year warranty.

Orvis Clearwater Reel Review

Orvis provides a Clearwater reel to complement their rod (or any fly rod, for that matter). The Clearwater reel is a huge arbor reel that swiftly takes up line at an unbelievable price. It is a die-cast reel with a powder-coated dark gray finish.

Its Carbon®-to-stainless stacked disc drag puts the Clearwater reel at the top of its class among die-cast reels. It boasts an adjustable click-drag knob and a contemporary, open-faced design.

The Clearwater LA II for line weights 4 to 6 weighs 5.4 ounces and has a 3.5-inch diameter, while the Clearwater LA IV for line weights 7 to 9 weighs 6.1 ounces and has a 3.75-inch diameter. It is highly adaptable to either a left- or right-handed retrieve.

Review of the Orvis Clearwater Combo

A fantastic aspect of Clearwater is the range of rod and reel lengths and weights. Clearwater is available as a rod-and-reel combo for fishermen desiring to purchase it as a package. Rod, reel, fly line, and backing are included.

Orvis Clearwater Review | Concluding Remarks

To put Clearwater to the test, I wished to see how well it delivered specific outcomes for a specific goal.

I took the 10-foot, 3-weight, four-piece Clearwater rod, and Clearwater LA II reel out for a spin with Euro nymphing in mind. I rigged the Clearwater LA II reel with Hydros Tactical Nymph Fly Line from Orvis and a long Euro nymph leader. I donned my tungsten-jigged flies and waded into the lake.

The Clearwater’s aim was apparent almost immediately; this is a well-designed Euro rod.

It felt quite light in the hand and was perfectly balanced when combined with the Clearwater LA II reel.

Any Euro nymph will preach this in a Euro stick. Finding a natural balance in hand that enables you to hold the rod extended and maintain the tip up and leader taut is the difference between recognizing strikes and missing them, catching fish, or capturing more fish. With the Clearwater rod and reel, I was able to discover this rhythm fast and easily; I didn’t have to try to locate it.

I expected to discover lightness and natural balance in a Euro setup, but I didn’t expect to find it so good and at such an affordable price. This was the very first thing I noticed about the Clearwater, and it acted as a continual reminder: the rod fits perfectly in my palm.

Playing fish is one of the pleasures of Euro nymphing in general and Euro nymphing on a 10′ 3 WT Clearwater in particular. The Clearwater provided a sufficient amount of force, allowing me to effortlessly go from detecting strikes with the rod tip to battling fish with the rod’s backbone.

I had a terrific time reeling in many 14″ to 18″ fish and felt their head shakes through the rod. On a couple of occasions, I hooked a running brown trout with the Clearwater reel and let the huge arbor release line before quickly retrieving it.

The sensitivity of Clearwater enabled it to detect impacts. I was able to detect hits that I normally would not have. I have little doubt that a more costly and refined rod than the Clearwater would give somewhat greater sensitivity.

In addition, I have no doubt that Clearwater is more sensitive than many more expensive rods. I’ve fished $200-$400 Euro nymph rods with comparable specs (length, weight, and materials), and the Clearwater has a superior feel, backbone, and sensitivity.

There are a few small disadvantages to Clearwater. It lacks a hook keeper, which I find quite odd. Certainly, nothing to lose sleep over, and I’m sure the Orvis Recon, the Clearwater’s finer (read: more costly) relative for Euro nymphing, has a hook keeper.

I also tested the Clearwater for dry fly applications by tying a hopper pattern with a dropper below. The dry-dropper rig’s precision wasn’t very impressive, but it might have been far worse. I attribute this primarily to the nature of the rod, which has a delicate, softer tip that was not built for casting dry flies. Also, this does not mean that you cannot.

Orvis’s 25-year Guarantee is a further point of interest (I struggle to rate it as negative or positive). Orvis’s warranty on their rods is limited to 25 years, although other rod manufacturers give lifelong coverage. Only. In other words, if you are still fishing the Clearwater a quarter-century after the Guarantee ends, I would consider that a success. As previously stated, Orvis will also prioritize customer service during these 25 years.

Orvis Clearwater Advantages And Disadvantages


  • Lightness and feel in the hand
  • Sensitive tip for detection of strikes and tippet protection
  • Adequate support for landing fish


  • No hook keeper
  • Not extremely precise with dry flies
Additional Orvis Products

Orvis provides an extensive selection of fly rods and reels. There are specialized rods available for European nymphing, spey casting, and targeting saltwater species.

These rods range in price from the entry-level Orvis Encounter to the ultra-premium, top-of-the-price Orvis Helios 3D.

Orvis’ fly reel selection mimics that of their fly rods; there is a reel to match your rod and specific demands. From the entry-level Clearwater to the modern Battenkill click and Battenkill Disc reels, Orvis has a wide range of sturdy and reasonably priced fly reels.

The Orvis Hydros, Mirage LT, and Mirage reels are exceptional and ideal for anglers with greater budgets.

Last Words

With the Clearwater line, Orvis accomplished its goal of creating a fly rod and reel that embodies the brand’s reputation for quality at an affordable price. It would be difficult to find a better fly fishing deal than the Orvis Clearwater combination. I liked the feel and sensitivity of the 10′ 3WT rod, and it matched wonderfully with the Clearwater reel.

The Orvis Clearwater rod and reel strike a perfect balance between cost and features. Clearwater flies are infallible, and there is a variant available for every fly angler.

One Comment

  1. Thanks for your review, it was honest and very helpful. I am a longtime nymph fisherman and am just getting into euro nymphing (EN). I am considering a Clearwater 10′ 3WT rod/reel setup as an entry set of gear to give EN a serious try. You answered my questions and it is a go.



Leave a Reply