Updated: Oct 7
An in-depth review of the Echo Base fly rod kit
Finding the right fly rod and reel can be daunting. With so many options and every company claiming to have the "best of the best", it's hard to know what's the right option given your specific situation.
I'm Travis with Noses Up Fly Fishing, and in this article I'll be reviewing and sharing my thoughts about the Echo Base fly rod and reel kit, which I have learned a lot about by owning and fishing it for the past 4 years.
*Note: I have no relationship with Echo or Rajeff Sprots (the maker of Echo fly rods), other than being a long time customer.
In this article, I'll cover:
What the Echo Base rod kit includes
The Pros and Cons
How to tell if it might or might not be right for you
Which size would make sense for your style of fishing
Echo's customer Service
The fly rod's warranty
Overall strengths and weaknesses of the kit
The Echo Base fly rod and reel kit is a fly fishing package that includes:
A four piece Echo Base graphite fly rod in one of 4 line weight sizes: 4wt, 5wt, 6wt, or 8wt. The rods are rated as "medium fast", meaning the butt and midsection are stiffer, while the tip section remains flexible.
An Echo Base reel matched specifically to fit the respective rod size selected. The reel can be switched to accommodate right or left handed anglers, and is made with an impact resistant frame.
A rod carrying case that includes a shoulder strap.
Echo rods and reels, including the Base models, are designed by world renowned casting instructor Tim Rajeff. He’s been quoted saying that fly fishing gear should be of the highest quality, but also affordable, especially for those getting started in the sport.
Pros and Cons
Price to value ratio
Will work in almost any situation
Enough power to cast in moderate wind
Durability and quality of materials
Flexible tip to protect lighter tippets
Reel: Durable and well balanced with the rod
Lack of delicacy can make presenting tiny dry flies (size 20 and smaller) tough
Moderate power can limit throwing heavy streamers effectively
Limited power to cast accurately much more than 45 feet
Reel: Limited range of drag setting
Is the Echo Base Rod and Reel Kit for me?
The kit's a great option for some people, but for others it might not be a good fit.
If you could see yourself saying either of the following, the Echo Base Rod and Reel Kit is worth considering.
"I’m early in my fly fishing journey (or have never owned/purchased a fly rod/reel before), and want to get a complete setup that will allow me to get started without breaking the bank."
The Echo Base fly rod kit comes with the Base model rod, Base model reel, and durable carrying case. I’ve found it’s a great option for someone to get a complete setup that balances extremely well together at an affordable price.
"I’ve been fishing for a while now, and I’m looking for an all purpose back up rod that can handle a wide variety of fly fishing situations, but I'd rather not spend as much money as I did on my primary rod."
I view the Echo Base as my “swiss army knife” rod. It rides with me on every fishing trip. Whether something goes wrong with my primary rod, or I encounter a situation my bamboo or fiberglass rod isn’t meant to handle, I know I can reach for my Echo Base because of its versatility.
I can also say the Echo Base Combo isn’t a great fit for every angler.
If you could see yourself saying either of the following, they're probably better options out there for you:
"I spend the vast majority of my time making short casts (15ft or shorter) with small (size 20 or smaller) dry flies on narrow streams and creeks."
The action of the Echo Base can make throwing the soft loops often required for these delicate presentations difficult.
"I spend the vast majority of my time casting over 45ft with heavy (size 8 or larger) streamers."
The power of this rod isn’t bad, but it’s not designed to throw something that large that far.
Which size would make sense for my style of fishing?
Echo Base Rods come in 4 different sizes and are matched with one of 3 reels.
Echo will automatically pair the correct reel based upon your rod selection, so all you need to do is select the rod size that best fits your fishing preferences.
Which sounds most like your situation?
I want to be able to cover the widest range of fishing situations:
5wt: It's light enough to cast traditional size flies, but also strong enough to handle larger fish and windier conditions. Aside from carp and saltwater fishing, I wouldn't hesitate to use the 5wt in any fly fishing situation.
I have limited or no experience casting a fly rod:
The 5wt: The first time I cast the 5wt, I immediately noticed how well it was balanced. This will make learning to cast so much easier than a rod that's too light or too heavy, or one that's not paired with the correct size reel. (Remember, the reel that comes with the kit is automatically selected to match the rod you chose, so there's no guess work on your end as to which reel would provide the best balance.)
I'll spend most of my time fishing for panfish from the bank:
The 4w: The lighter 4 weight makes fighting smaller fish fun because it allows you “feel” the fish after hooking it.
I'll fish mainly for trout in smaller streams:
The 4wt: One of my favorite benefits of the 4wt's flexible tip, is the protection it provides for the smaller tippet sizes often required when chasing spooky trout. Its flexibility also allows for a soft presentation that most graphite rods don't. Despite it's smaller size, it still has enough backbone to handle a 20 inch trout without a problem.
I'll be fishing mostly from a boat or the bank for bass:
The 6wt: The power of the 6wt allows for longer casts with heavier flies, and the strength of the butt and mid sections are plenty for handling larger hard fighting fish.
I'll be fishing the shallows for carp:
The 8wt: If your looking for something with a backbone, this is it! It's not designed for delicate presentations, but no other size of the Echo Base compares to its ability to fight larger fish.
Echo Rod Specifications:
Echo Reel Specifications:
Customer service and support
I can tell you from first hand experience that the customer support at Rajeff Sports (makers of Echo rods and reels), is top notch. I had a rod break during the “normal fishing use” described in their warranty policy. I reached out to them and they were prompt in getting back to me and gave me clear instruction on next steps. I sent the required service fee (it was $35 at the time, which I think is still the case but I’m not 100% certain), and had the repaired rod back in my hands in less than two weeks. I haven’t had any issues with the repaired rod since then.
I’ll do my best to give you an overview because I think it’s important to know, but please note:
* I am not affiliated with Echo in any way other than a satisfied customer, so the warranty details I’m going to discuss are from their website as of September 26th, 2020, and may not be up to date or 100% accurate. These are subject to change at any time, and I’ll do my best to update this article when/if there are any warranty changes I’m aware of.*
Direct from the Echo Website:
"You don't need to register your rod until you require service." Which makes it nice if you’re wanting to head straight to the stream after purchasing your rod.
“If your rod breaks during normal fishing use, we will repair or replace your rod for a service fee (fee level differs by rod model) while the rod is a currently produced model and repairable. If your rod is a discontinued model and is not repairable, you will be offered a current equivalent replacement model at 50% off the MSRP. Rajeff Sports / ECHO Fly Fishing reserves the right to update and change this policy at any time. We understand that every situation is unique and strive to stand by our products and guarantee quality, performance and reliability.”
Strengths and Weaknesses Summary
The kit comes with the Echo Base reel. It’s nothing flashy, but definitely a step above other economically priced reels. It’s high quality material allows it to withstand the inevitable bumps and bruises that come from fly fishing. What I like most about it is the way it's been designed to balance with the Echo Rod itself. The one area that could use some improvement is the drag system. It’s very smooth, but seems to lack in its range of variability. I could see this being an issue if I was in a situation where I needed a wide range of drag variance.
Balance with the Echo Base rod
Most noticeable Weakness:
Limited range of drag variance
With its medium fast action and mid range power, it can fit almost any trout, panfish, or bass fishing situation. However, because it's designed as a “universal” rod, if you’re looking for a specialty rod to target a very specific style of fishing, you can make it work, but there are probably better options out there.
Ease of casting
Most noticeable Weaknesses
Short casts with small (size 20 and under) dry flies
Casts over 45ft with bulky streamers
First impressions are important, but I’ve owned my Echo Base rod and reel for a little over 4 years now, and have enough experience with it to get a good idea of how it performs over time:
As a beginner who fishes a variety of different styles (dry flies, nymphs, streamers, etc.), the Echo Base rod kit will get you off to a great start because it’s easy to cast and can be used in the vast majority of situations.
Because I now specialize in fishing for wild trout in narrow spring creeks with tiny dry flies, I primarily use my bamboo and fiberglass rods. My graphite Echo Base kit still serves me well as I’ve progressed through my fly fishing skills because of its versatility. I take it on every fishing trip as my back up incase I have a malfunction with my primary rod, or I encounter unfamiliar water that my bamboo and glass aren’t designed for.