I was looking through my photo library recently and noticed an image of me playing a chinook with an Echo II Spey rod. This was in 200, and I’m as sure as I can be that I’d already fished this rod for summer steelhead in 2008 and possibly earlier too. My conclusion was that I have been fishing Echo fly rods for at least a decade. Not bad.
I decided that I’d try to figure out how many Echo fly rods I’ve fished over the last ten years. Some things I remember quite well and some things are a little on the fuzzy side. But here is the list I came up with—25 rod models at least and most certainly amounting to at least fifty individual rods of various line weight designations.
• Echo II Spey rod
• Echo Dec Hogan
• Echo Dec Hogan II
• Echo TR Spey
• Echo TR 2017 rev.
• Echo Glass Spey
• Echo King
• Echo Glass Switch
• Echo Switch
• Echo 3 Switch
• Echo Switch SR
• Echo 3 SW
• Echo 3 SW 2916 rev.
• Echo Boost
• Echo Boost beach
• Echo Bad Ass Glass
• Echo Prime
• Echo EPR
• Echo Ion
• Echo Ion XL
• Echo Base
• Echo 3 FW
• Echo Shadow PE
• Echo Edge
• Echo Ion
• Echo Pin
During that time, an Echo rod failed me a total of ZERO times. Nada. Zip. Never. Not once.
I have put 3 wt. to 12 wt. Echo fly rods to the test. Of course, the test of a 12 wt. rod is quite different from the test I applied to a 3 wt.—but test these rods I did. I’ve caught black rockfish, lingcod, coho salmon, chinook salmon, chum salmon, sea-run cutthroat, dorado, jack crevalle, black skipjack, northern pikeminnow, rainbow trout, brown trout, summer steelhead, and winter steelhead on my Echo fly rods. Not an impressive list compared to the fish caught by many professionals, but since I’m an average fly fisher beating around my home waters, this is a fair assortment of the fish we have in the Oregon rivers, lakes, and nearshore ocean. I do note that I’m missing smallmouth bass and carp, so anyone who wants to help me with those beauties just get hold of me and let’s see if we can schedule something.
Casting performance: good to superior. These fly rods, in ever model and line class, have either the Tim Rajeff magic or the Timmie blessing. None of these Echo fly rods are knock-offs or copies of someone else’s rod design. I find that I cast well with these rods, and doubt that anyone would find them lacking, expect of course the world class caster who is able to extract the last 5% in a cast.
Blank color/finish/appeal: beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I generally find Echo fly rods appealing, some more so than others. I’m not hot for the TR Spey rods and the old Ion left me cold also – but the new ION is very nice and the Bad Ass Glass is awesome. Face it, color is less important than performance.
Component quality: I’ve never had an issue with the quality of Echo fly rod componentry. That said, these rods must be shaving a little off the high end components on rods like Sage, Winston, Scott, and Loomis. All I know is that I’ve never had a complaint about Echo components.
Thread wraps: again, I find these colors pleasing and subtle, not fancy, but entirely durable and dependable.
Cork: I have had issues with cork handles on Echo fly rods—rarely—but no more so than I’ve experienced with high-end fly rods. My only less than pleasing experience was with an Echo 3 SW rod of about 6 years ago. The handle just seemed less durable than usual. I have had the same experience with Winston and Sage and I assume that any rod maker can get a less than perfect batch of cork. Overall, I rate Echo on par with any rod maker.
Rod Tube: Quite satisfactory. I have seen higher quality rod tubes on rods that cost 2X or 3X higher. Personally, I’d rather get a decent tube and have no need for a highly engineered tube.
Rod Sock: Again, Echo socks are satisfactory, sometimes superior to socks on high end rods. I think my personal favorite is the Winston Rod Sock.
Warranty Service: Superior. No question about this, Echo delivers the fastest and lowest cost warranty service.
My advice to anyone who is considering purchasing an Echo fly rod?
• You will find a rod that is durable and totally dependable to cover every imaginable fishing circumstance, except maybe whale fishing.
• You will find that each of the Echo fly rods will cast as well or better than many rods at twice the price.
• The key differences between Echo rods and more expensive rods is usually in the components and the high-end rods might be a little lighter and might perform a smidge better in the hands of expert casters.
• At my average casting skill level, I’ve not found Echo rods lacking in any aspect of performance.
• In my opinion, Echo fly rods are “over-engineered.” By this I mean that Tim Rajeff has built-in a safety cushion to each rod. If’ I’m right, this is likely the reason that Echo fly rods are so darn tough.
• I would ALWAYS take Echo fly rods on destination fishing trips because I don’t want to take the chance of having a trip ruined by fly rod failure. If I pack an Echo to go on the trip I’ll most likely be packing it back home at the end of the trip.
• Warranty service (for rods I have broken by my clumsiness) is UNSURPASSED in the industry. Simple. Trust it.
Ok, this is enough for now.
I welcome any questions about specific Echo fly rods if I may be able to help.
And let’s not get carried away. While I trust my Echo fly rods faithfully, I also have a soft spot in my heart for a few other rods too, especially a few Burkheimer, Winston, Scott, and Sage rods that have earned forever status in my tackle bag.
Jay Nicholas, January 2018