Hands on with the Orvis Encounter Fly Rod Outfit

Shane Rickert

Fly rod combos are a safe way into fly fishing gear for beginners. Here’s why the Orvis Encounter ticks a lot of boxes but not all.

Specs and features:

Multiple sizes from #5 to #8 available

Price: $198

Rod: Medium-fast

Reel: Adjustable drag

Rod and reel tube

What’s included: all variants feature a rod, reel, backing, line and leader. Depending on the size you go for, different reels, lines and leaders are included.

Warranty: 5 years

Model tested: 9′ #5

Disclaimer: All products in this guide are independently researched by our team. We only recommend products we believe in and never get paid for the reviews. Learn more about our review process here.

The Idea behind the Orvis Encounter Fly Rod Outfit

Orvis Encounter Fly Rod Outfit Closeup
The Orvis Encounter Outfit comes in a travel case that protects rod and reel (even when attached to the reel seat). © The Wading List 2024

Orvis has a long-standing tradition to making some of the finest fly rods and reels in the business. Good thing is they also make fly rods and reels for beginners and intermediates. When you’re just starting out, a fly rod combo can be a great way to make sure your gear will work together nicely. Picking the right fly fishing gear can seem a little overwhelming in the beginning: what does rod weight mean, what does reel size mean and which fly line should I pick?

If you don’t have any fly fishing friend to help you out, going for a fly rod set can be a good way to start. These outfits have been put together by experts which ensures that all components will work together smoothly. If you’re an intermediate, the Encounter’s bigger brother, the Orvis Clearwater outfit might be a good choice for you. If you are unsure whether you are going to stick with fly fishing or if you’re on a budget, the Encounter might be the better choice. We’ve put this combo that comes in at less than $200 to the test and tell you what we like about it and what we don’t.

Design and Build

Orvis Encounter Fly Rod Outfit Blank Color
Rigging the Orvis Encounter Fly Rod Combo. Photo: Shane Rickert

The Encounter fly rod outfit comes in different weight classes representing the most common use cases for beginners. Availbable from #5 and #6 (the most common line class for trout) up to an #8 (most common for bass and pike) they all come in between 8’6″ and 9’6″. We took out the #5 as a 9ft version which will cover almost all trout fishing scenarios.

Right out of the box I liked the fact that the rod and reel comes nicely protected in a rod and reel case which even allows you to leave the reel on for transport. What’s great about this is the fact that you need to get used to taking care of your fragile gear when just starting out. Solid protection is key to making sure you don’t break anything.

Orvis Encounter Fly Rod Outfit Fly Line
Getting the Orvis Encounter Fly Rod Outfit ready to fish. Photo: Shane Rickert© The Wading List

The Encounter features a beautiful green blank color and a full wells grip which has just the right size. With it comes the Encounter fly reel that features a large arbor for quick line pickup and comes pre-spooled with a WF #5 line that will easily deliver any pattern you’re fishing.


What’s great about the Encounter is that it comes pre-spooled with fly line backing and the fly line and leader which means all you have to do is to tie on a fly and you’re ready to go. It would indeed be nice to include a few flies to get started since from my experience that is something that beginners struggle with as well. Another thing I was missing when putting the rod together was a hook keeper. Here again in my eyes it would help beginners to safely get to the river without tangling their line somewhere in the bushes along the way.

Orvis Encounter Fly Rod Outfit Handle
Blank color of the Encounter fly rod. Photo: Shane Rickert © The Wading List

Casting Experience

This fly rod combo is clearly targeted at beginners and the Encounter does a solid job at getting the line out and delivering the fly to where you want it to be. In the beginning it’s not crucial to make the most precise casts since that is something you’ll pick up along the way as you improve your casting. The WF line makes it easy to perform roll casts and overhead casts. As you can see in the video, we took the Encounter out on a windy day and in these conditions you could feel the limits in its casting performance. Compared to its bigger brother, the Clearwater, I felt like it was missing a bit of a punch.

I found the Encounter II reel to provide solid stopping power and the large arbor definitely makes line control and line pickup easy – that’s something that helps when reeling in your first fish. The dimensions of the reel also make it look good with the Encounter fly rod.

Casting the Orvis Encounter Fly Rod Outfit in a River
Testing the Orvis Encounter Fly Rod Outfit in Montana. © The Wading List

Value for Money

The Encounter is a nice addition to the fly rod outfit line up of Orvis. You get a solid fly rod and reel in a secure rod and reel case paired with Orvis’ excellent guarantee. However, if you want a fly rod combo to grow into and have the budget, I recommend going for the Clearwater. If you’re looking for an even more affordable combo that comes in at even less than the Encounter, make sure to check out the Cabelas Bighorn fly rod combo. We took it out as a #4 and were impressed by its casting performance.




Orvis Encounter Fly Rod Outfit Blank Color
Beautiful dark green blank color on the Encounter fly rod combo. © The Wading List

FAQs: Orvis Encounter Fly Rod Outfit

Is the Orvis Encounter Combo a good choice for beginners?

Yes, the Encounter is made for beginners. It features quality components at a solid price. Best thing: it comes with Orvis’ guarantee.

Can the Encounter outfit handle bigger fish?

Yes, since the Encounter is available as an #8 version. This rod and reel class has enough backbone to handle bigger predators such as pike, muskey or bigger bass.

Is the Encounter fly rod outfit a good fit for trout fishing.

The Encounter is a good option if you’re after trout. As an allrounder I’d recommend going for the 9′ #5 version since it can handle all trout fishing situations such as dry flies, nymphing and streamers. If you’re fishing waters with bigger trout, go for the #6 and if you’re fishing smaller creeks with tighter quarters, go for the #5 8’6″ version.

Why You Should Trust Us

Leonard Schoenberger and his team spend plenty of days out fishing. Their goal is to test and review products for you so you can make a solid purchase decision and improve your fly fishing game. We always express our honest opinions, never get paid for reviews and are proud of our editorial independence.

Disclaimer: All products in this guide are independently researched by our team. We only recommend products we believe in and never get paid for the reviews. Learn more about our review process here.