Echo Classic Spey Rod Review, November 2012

Echo Classic Two Hand Fly Rod Review, November 2012

If you do an Internet search on “Echo Classic” Fly Rods, you’re going to get confused – right fast. That’s true as I write this review, but the confusion is likely to diminish over time as the new 2013 Echo Classic Two hand rod takes a firm foothold in the market and on the river.

The Echo Classic Two-Hand Spey rods hitting our rod racks for the 2013 season are NOT the same Classic rods that Echo offered roughly a decade ago.  Tim Rajeff helped me sort all this out recently.  Please note that I am paraphrasing our conversation, in an effort to make Tim sound smarter than he really is.

Echo produced a basic fly rod series roughly a decade ago, and then followed with an Echo II series.  The Echo II had a spare tip, providing the angler with a choice of moderate or fast actions.  Somewhere around the time the Echo II was introduced, customers and fly rod shops started referring to the original Echo series as the Echo Classic.  Even Tim is a little fuzzy over whether it was principally anglers or his staff who coined the name Classic, but at some point it caught on, and for a time, the Echo Classic was considered a standard rod series – with a single tip, at a lower price point than the two-tip Echo II.  Time passed and both the Echo Classic and the Echo II were replaced by more specialized rods.  The Dec Hogan, Tim Rajeff, Echo King, and Echo 3 Spey rods are all examples of the latest generation of Echo Two Handers.  The Echo Solo was (past tense) Tim’s entry-level Spey rod – a very good and shockingly inexpensive route to get anyone into the Two Hand game.

As time and Echo rods evolved under Tim Rajeff’s hand, he recognized the need to provide people an opportunity to dip their toes into the long-rod waters, so he decided to upgrade the Solo for 2013.  The Echo Solo Spey Rod is out, and the Echo Classic Two Hand is ushered on stage with much deserved excitement.  Here is the 2013 entry level Spey rod that will challenge the performance of every mid-priced long rod on the market today, with a full-on Echo warranty.

Tim Rajeff thinks that the biggest potential obstacle to sales of the 2013 Classic is a preconception that Spey rods must be expensive to be good performers.  Tim and others have seen customers in fly shops turn away from the Solo simply because it was priced so far below other two hand Spey Rods.  Not one to be deterred by rejection, Tim took a rod that was already very good, and gave it a make-over to create the 2013 Classic.  Minor adjustments in graphite composition, lay-ups, resins, and finish components combine to produce the 2013 Echo Classic Two Hand rods.

The Echo Classic’s price is achievable by the use of lower modulus graphite than, for example, the E3 series, and this requires completely different formulas for mandrels, resins, and production processes.  The Result is a CLASSIC Spey rod that is in every respect a great member of the Echo rod family.  Tough?  You bet.  Feel the rod load?  Yes.  Skagit and Scandi Lines – sink tips and dry flies?  All on the Menu.

Classic Two hand rods are heavier than the more expensive Echo rods of similar length and line class.  Sure, the components are not quite as nice.  Of course the high-end Spey rods offered by Echo, Sage and others are more refined Spey rods that more experienced anglers will certainly appreciate.

Who should consider an Echo Classic Two Hander?  For the novice fly angler who is trying to decide whether or not to try the 2-hand game, and for the one-rod Spey fisher who is considering a lighter or heavier rod to meet an occasional fishing need, the Echo Classic is a PERFECT intersection of price and performance:  a great “value” fly rod.

Complete Classic Outfits: The Caddis Fly Shop assembled a complete rod, reel, line, backing, tip outfit (under five hundred bucks) that takes the uncertainty out of ordering all the parts and pieces and makes it easy to go from the fly shop to the river.  Check out this Classic Outfit and consider it for a first rod, a Spey fisher’s back-up, or an all occasion gift.

Don’t let the 2013 Classic’s low price put you off. The Classic is back, with up-graded materials, tapers, and cosmetic finish.  This Two Hand Classic is better than the Classic of a decade ago, but – get this – offered at the SAME PRICE as the original Classic.  Wow.  At well under three hundred bucks this solid, lifetime warranty, Echo Spey rod ain’t nuthin’ to sniff at.  The Classic Spey rods of 2013 look great, fish great, and deliver Echo toughness and casting performance.

On-Water Review of the Echo Classic Spey Rods. Our friend, Echo/Simms Rep, and multi-talented angler Eric Nufeld fished the Classic series of Spey rods and gives us this report.  Apparently some people think that Eric’s experience and finesse is superior to mine, and so I offer his thoughts first. Eric reports in November 2012:

Jay: good talking with you today.  I’ve cast and fished the Classic on a number of occasions and river conditions, but decided to focus on one day to simplify my remarks. I spent 3 hours fishing 4 runs on the Snoqualmie this morning.  River was at 3320 cfs and dropping.  Water was perfect and I sure was hoping for a pull.  Unfortunately the Snoqualmie is one of our sad East Side Puget Sound rivers and my morning amounted to a good 3 hours of casting practice.

Here are my thoughts on the ECHO 7129:

Basics first:  the Classic’s green color with silver trim wraps is very attractive and certainly looked at home on the Westside of the Cascades among the moss, ferns and fall colors.  The top or fore-grip is comfortable, not to long and not to short.  I like the bottom grip and it both looks and proportional on the rod.  I fished an ION 8/10 reel on the rod and it balanced quite well.  I spent the morning casting a host of lines and the overall grip configuration was comfortable and once I started fishing really didn’t think twice about hand position, which is a good thing.  Overall action of the rod is certainly on the medium fast side of the river.  I definitely could feel the rod load and unload – and its recovery is on the smart side, which I really like.  I spent time running through most all river right and river left casts and the Classic’s performance was really solid.  This rod has ample power and I felt like I was in the game casting short and long. No doubt the 7 wt Classic rod would be a great all-around stick for the angler looking for a winter and summer steelhead rod.

Skagit Compact trial: I fished flies that I consider in the large size range and suited for winter steelhead & King Salmon (i.e. Silvey’s Tube Snake, Morejohn’s Spot On Prawn) with an Airflo 540 gr Skagit Compact and 12″ of T-14 and the rod handled these heavier flies.  I also fished a 510 gr Airflo Skagit Compact with 12″ of T-10 with smaller steelhead flies (i.e.Silvey’s Silvanator, Harkwick’s Hooser) and think I liked this line + tip configuration a bit more.  This isn’t much of a surprise, since the 510 gr line, shorter/lighter tip and smaller flies just don’t require quite as much finesse timing to execute the cast.

Skagit Switch trial: I looped on an Airflo 510 gr Skagit Switch with 12″ of T-10 in tight D-loop locations.  The short, 20 ft head on this Switch line perfect for tight quarters.  The Airflo Skagit Switch with just a slightly shorter stroke really rocks fished on this rod.  My personal conclusion based on casting the standard Skagit Compact versus the Skagit Switch Compact on the 7 wt Classic leans to the Airflo Switch as my preferred line for sink tip fishing for most places in the Pacific Northwest.  It was great in tight quarters and launched long distance casts very well.

Rage Compact Trial: Lastly, I lined up the 7 wt classic with a 510 gr Rage Compact with a 10″ Clear Intermediate Salmon/Steelhead Poly Leader with a standard #5 summer run fly.  This line literally soared off the rod with Touch & Go type of casts as well as Skagit Style casts.

Scandi Compact & Speydicator trials: I didn’t fish these lines on the Sosoqualmie this day (not enough time to cover all the bases and still try to catch a fish).  Previous work with these line combos on the Classic Two Hander were proof positive that the Classic series of Spey rods are very versatile and perform well over a huge range of lines, tips, flies, and water conditions.  The 510 gr Airflo Scandi Compact and the SD7 Airflo Speydicator are matched about right with the 7 wt Classic.

Overall …..

Seven wt Classic:  the 7129-4 Echo Classic Spey rod really did everything I asked it to do within average Steelhead situations.  It has enough power to lift and cast the full range of flies and tips that we would consider in the light to modest class.   It was comfortable with both Skagit and touch-and-go style casting styles.  I agree with Tim’s assessment that the Classic is a fine 2-handed rod for the new Spey caster or as an economically priced back-up rod for anyone.  I’ve fished rods that cost a fair bit more and don’t perform any better – which is what makes this new Echo Classic two hander special.   It’s genuine Echo value.

6 wt Classic: The 6126-4 Echo Classic is the summer steelhead rod or a great all season steelhead nymphing stick for relatively small waters like we find both here in the PNW and around the Great Lakes.

8 wt Classic: The 8130-4 Echo  Classic is the rod I would recommend for winter steelhead and light salmon fishing.  Load this rod with full 15 ft T-14 or T-17 tips plus heavy Skagit Compact heads and fish to your heart’s content in deep swift waters with your big heavy flies.

Talk to you soon Jay, Eric.

__________ End of interview ____________

Thanks Eric, let’s go fishing.

Jay Nicholas, November 2013

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