Orvis Clearwater Review

In this Orvis Clearwater Review we test the performance of the signature entry-level series from Orvis to determine if it is the best beginner / backup rod. We also have a review of the Orvis Helios 3 if you’re looking for a more premium fly rod.
orvis clearwater review

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A good fly rod is something you’ll likely have for a lifetime. But, at prices anywhere from $99 all the way beyond $5000 it’s hard to know where to start. The Orvis Clearwater series provides you with the best quality fly rod for the price. Whether you’re a beginner or need a backup rod in case of a car door slam disaster.

There are a number of rods in the Clearwater series, one for just about every type of fly fishing there is. However, in this review, we will focus on the best general purpose fly rod for trout fishing. See the video below from Tom Rosenbauer (30+ years at Orvis and host of the Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast) who explains the series in its entirety.

For a roundup of the best beginner fly rod check out our article here. We also have a review of the 30 best fly rods available on the market today if you’re looking for more. Otherwise on with the show…

Things to consider before you buy a fly fishing rod

There’s plenty to think about before you invest in a fly rod to make sure you get the right gear for your individual needs. You’ll need to consider the fly rod action, the line weight, and the rod length. Firstly, think about what kind of fish you will be catching most often.

This will help determine the fly line weight you need, and also the required fly rod weight and the fly reel. As for the fly rod length, the longer the rod length, the better it will be for long casts or when using a heavy line. In contrast, shorter rods are better for precision and short casts in small streams. 

But there is another way around this. You could invest in a fly rod combo outfit, like the Orvis Clearview Fly Combo Outfit. Quite simply, a fly rod outfit already has the fly rod, reel and line ready loaded for you.

You’ll have everything you need to get started straight away, and you won’t have to worry about matching things up correctly to get good results. 

orvis clearwater rod

Review – Pros and Cons

The Orvis Clearwater rod is often described as an all-rounder fly fishing rod or a workhouse. The Clearview rod has had a complete redesign recently, bringing it up to date with the latest technology to match the best entry-level rods out there right now.

From the colour scheme to the components and the new lighter weight, everything has been updated. It’s built with Helios tapers, a nickel cast aluminium reel, chrome snake guides, and a strong inline drag system. The Orvis fly reel is excellent quality, too, so no need to upgrade like with some fly combos. 

You can see our post here on the Best Fly Rod Combo for more selection.

orvis clearwater handle

With a moderate action, the Clearwater beautifully captures that midpoint between precision and power. You can use the Orvis Clearwater in the majority of environments, rivers, and lakes. Whether you’re casting small dry flies or heavy double nymph rigs, Orvis fly rods are versatile enough to function well and take you from being a novice fly fisher to the next level. 

It’s a great rod to start out with, but it’s not just for beginner anglers either. Whether you want to try a new aspect of fly fishing or you’re itching to give saltwater fishing a go for the first time, you can do it without breaking the bank with the Clearwater rod.

We like to pick out the good and the bad factors for our reviews, so you can quickly see if it’s the right product for you: 

The Good

The Bad

orvis clearwater rod

Orvis Clearwater Features

Let’s dig in deep now in this Orvis Clearview review and explore the features and benefits that the Orvis fly reel, rod and line outfit combo brings. 

You can check out our full Orvis Clearwater Reel Review here.

An Attractive Design

The OrvisClearwater fly rods have been remodelled, and now they have a modern yet classic look to them. With a cool, understated dark grey colour and olive guide wraps, the new Clearwater rods really do look like premium rods. The reel seat complements the look of the blank, for a simple but attractive rod. 

orvis clearwater rod


In our rod review, the Clearview rod performed well across all distances, from 20 ft – 60 ft. Even when you reach 60 ft, the accuracy is impressive and consistent. This is rare to find in a fly rod, with many working best either for close, precise work or for long casts – but not both. 

The performance is amazing – it tracks well and forms tight loops. Choose a 5 weight fly rod or a 7 weight fly rod if you’re looking for a versatile fishing tool. You’ll be able to handle everything from perch, bass, and trout right up to catfish, for a nice haul to take home at the end of the day. 

fly fishing backing fish running down mountain stream

Great Performance

The Clearwater series of fly rods are accurate, with an impressive performance, lots of feel, and flawless balance. You’ll find that the line control is very precise when you start casting out flies, perfect for catching those wily river trout. 

With this rod, you can take your fly casting skills to new levels with minimal work. It’s easy to develop and become a successful angler when you have the right equipment. With the Clearwater rod, you’ll be all set to throw out a range of different flies and reach your targets with precision. 

Sturdy Construction

The Orvis Clearwater fly rod series is designed to last. The reel seat is sturdy, while the graphite insert is strong and requires little maintenance. Whatever conditions you use your Clearwater rod in, it should more than stand up to the challenge. 

Comfortable Cork Rod Handle with Clean Finish

The cork handle has been improved, and is comfortable to hold for long periods of time. The quality of the cork is superior to earlier models and has a smooth, clean finish. 

Amazing Value for Money

Starting at $198, the Orvis Clearview fly fishing rods are not much more than the beginner rods on the market. But when you invest in a Clearwater rod, you’ll see a huge gulf between the quality and performance of these very basic rods and the Clearwater. 

If you’re looking to become more precise and skilled in your fly fishing, the Orvis rods will give you the ability to do just that, very quickly. At such a reasonable price, anyone can become an avid fly fisher without making a dent in their savings. 

The Orvis Warranty

Whether you buy your Orvis online or in store, you can be reassured by the 25-year Orvis guarantee the company provides. If you manage to damage or break your rod somehow, you can send it back to them and Orvis will fix your rod, with no charge!

This generous Orvis rod repair guarantee is a real bonus. You can relax and use your rod without feeling like you have to wrap it in cotton wool. Thanks to the Orvis warranty, you are guaranteed to have a trusty rod to serve you for the next 25 years, so that initial investment in the Clearwater rod goes a long way. 

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Orvis Clearwater Review – Customer Reviews

Don’t just trust our judgment – see what other customers are saying in their reviews!  It seems like the Orvis Clearwater rods are pretty popular all round. Here are some raving reviews I found after scouring the Internet: 

 It is a good rod up close and out to about 60' and it roll casts real good.

I really like them, but didn't realize how much until all three of us went stillwater fishing... I picked up the 5 wt. Clearwater to recast for my son and it was like butter- really nice feel. Only then did I realize how nice those rods are.

Great quality rig for the price. Rod is top flight and reel not far behind.

Orvis Clearwater Alternatives: The Reviews

Here, you’ll find our reviews of the top competitors of the Orvis Clearwater.

Top Pick
Temple Fork NXT Fly Fishing Outfit
Budget Option
Redington Fly Fishing Combo Kit 590-4 Crosswater...
Starter Set
Wild Water Fly Fishing 9 Foot, 4-Piece, 5/6 Weight...
Temple Fork NXT Fly Fishing Outfit
Redington Fly Fishing Combo Kit 590-4 Crosswater…
Wild Water Fly Fishing 9 Foot, 4-Piece, 5/6 Weight…
All in a handsome rod and reel travel case
Machined aluminum reel seat
Machined aluminum reel seat
Loaded with weight forward floating line, backing and leader
Alignment dots for easy rod set up
32” hard tube case with, reel pouch and side storage pouch with zipper
Large Arbor Reel
Limited 1 year Warranty
Retractable Zinger
Top Pick
Temple Fork NXT Fly Fishing Outfit
Temple Fork NXT Fly Fishing Outfit
All in a handsome rod and reel travel case
Loaded with weight forward floating line, backing and leader
Large Arbor Reel
Budget Option
Redington Fly Fishing Combo Kit 590-4 Crosswater...
Redington Fly Fishing Combo Kit 590-4 Crosswater…
Machined aluminum reel seat
Alignment dots for easy rod set up
Limited 1 year Warranty
Starter Set
Wild Water Fly Fishing 9 Foot, 4-Piece, 5/6 Weight...
Wild Water Fly Fishing 9 Foot, 4-Piece, 5/6 Weight…
Machined aluminum reel seat
32” hard tube case with, reel pouch and side storage pouch with zipper
Retractable Zinger

redington crosswater review

Redington Crosswater

This affordable fly fishing outfit comes in just slightly under the price of the Orvis Clearwater, at around $150. This Redington product has good action, feel, and balance, and could be a good budget option as a starter rod. It casts well and can reach most distances, but it may be less durable than the Clearwater. Certain parts of the Crosswater are made from plastic, including the fly reel, unlike the Orvis fly reels.

  • If even the Clearwater is too much for your budget, this could the rod for you
  • Casts well and loads well
  • Has a high quality hard case, making it perfect for traveling with
  • The fly reel is made from composite plastic, which feels cheaper and isn’t as strong as the Orvis fly reels

Take a closer look at the Redington Crosswater here!

Temple Fork NXT

Temple Fork NXT review

The Temple Fork NXT is another strong beginner fly rod outfit which will kit you out, ready to hit the water for a great fly fishing experience. With a medium-fast action and good flexibility at the tip, it’s easy to be accurate when casting. The reel is good quality, and the whole rod is easy to use, so ideal for those just getting the hang of fly fishing for trout. The main letdown is the fly line – you’ll probably want to replace the provided fly line with a better quality line sooner or later. 

  • Similar price to Orvis Clearwater fly reel and fishing rods
  • The moderate action allows even a novice angler to cast well without scaring off the fish 
  • It seems that the tip is prone to breaking off on the Temple Fork NXT, though the company do provide a repair service 
  • The fly line included is slightly lower quality, so you might want to upgrade this yourself 

Check out the Temple Fork NXT

Wild Water Fly Fishing Rod and Reel Combo:

wild water combo review

This starter set by Wild Water really does have everything you need to get going with fly fishing. Ideal as a gift for an amateur fly fisher who hasn’t got their own gear yet, or just to treat yourself so you can explore your new hobby more deeply.

You’ll find included a 9′ 5/6 weight rod, as well as line, backing, and leader, large arbor reel, rod sock, rod case, and even the flies and fly box. Phew! And at less than $100, you’ll be ready to get started. However, if you’re looking for a quality product that will last for a long time, this probably isn’t for you.

Lower quality materials have been used, so it’s worth upgrading the line. Do note that the reel isn’t the best out there – but if you’re just learning, it’s something to get started with. 

  • Cheaper than the Clearview product
  • Produced by a US-based company, with US customer service support available if needed
  • Cheaper components on this product mean that breakages are more common, from the reel to the rod tip 
  • Doesn’t allow for precise casting compared to professional rods 
  • A good set if you’re looking to get started with fly fishing on a tight budget 

If you’re shopping for a great budget starter set, the Wild Water Reel and Rod Combo might suit you perfectly, so check it out! 

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Final Words

To sum up this Orvis Clearwater review, we strongly believe that it is the best beginner fly rod for the money on the market right now. You’d be much better off skipping the flimsy and less accurate basic rods and buying this! The increased performance and the precision you can achieve will make all the difference in your fly fishing abilities and enjoyment.

Whether you’re looking for a 5 weight fly rod, a 7 weight fly rod or something else, Orvis have created a great range that is truly versatile and a joy to use. Orvis is a reliable company with plenty of expertise, including the Orvis Travel department which offers fly fishing adventures – so they know what true quality is in this industry, and it shows in their products.

In this price range, you won’t find anything that combines the same  excellent quality, performance and durability of the Clearwater series for this affordable price. And then there’s that amazing Orvis rod repair guarantee which gives you peace of mind, no matter how much you use your rod. Check out the awesome Orvis Clearwater now!

We have reviews of many other Orvis Rods that may suit your skill level. You can see our Orvis Recon Review, Orvis Superfine Carbon Review, Orvis Superfine Glass Review or the Orvis Encounter Review here.

Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Outfit 905-4 - 5wt 9ft...
Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Outfit 905-4 – 5wt 9ft…
Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Outfit | 9’0″ 5WT

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