On the Water: Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Outfit Review

Last updated on April 23rd, 2024.

Shane Rickert

A fly rod combo is a great way to make sure your setup is well-balanced. Here’s why the Orvis Clearwater is a great choice.

Specs and features:

Multiple sizes from #3 to #8 available

Price: $419-429

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. The 10′ #3 version for example is aimed at the nymph fisherman and hence includes a special nymph leader setup.

Warranty: 25 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 Clearwater Combo

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

The Orvis Clearwater combo has been in the market for a long time and like a fine wine it’s aged well over time. This set includes two of Orvis’ most popular products: the Clearwater fly rod and the Clearwater fly reel. On their own these components are a great trout rod and trout reel already. So why not combine the best of both worlds to create a great fly rod combo? That’s exactly what Orvis did. We took this set out to fish in snowy Montana and tell you what we think of it.

Design and Build

Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Outfit closeup
Rigging the Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Combo © The Wading List

The Clearwater outfit costs around $430 (depending on the model you go for). That puts this fly rod combo in the mid-range section and you can tell that this set features quality components the moment you take it out of the neat travel case it comes in. As a rule of thumb, fly rod outfits are designed to make it easy for beginners and intermediates to ensure that their set is well balanced. What I also like about these sets is the fact that they are ready to fish within minutes.

Since the Clearwater combo comes in a practical travel case, you can even leave the reel attached and only have to assemble the rest of the rod pieces when you get to the water. Orvis even makes that process easy for you by putting alignment dots on the sections of the rod to make sure your rod will work perfectly. The clearwater features a nice, subtle dark blank color with white accents. What I also like in terms of the design is the fact that the rod and reel blend in nicely – everything is kept in dark tones – good job, Orvis.

Rigging the Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Outfit
Alignment dots on the blank make it easy to rig the Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Outfit. © The Wading List


Besides the popular Clearwater rod and reel, the outfit also comes pre spooled with backing and a fly line. Here again, it depends what line class you go for. In our case, since we tested the #5 9′ version, the set comes with a Clearwater fly line. This WF (weight forward) line is a great allrounder that enables you to cover almost all fishing situations you might encounter when out fishing for trout in rivers. The set also includes a 4X leader (which is on the stronger side if you want to fish dries or nymphs for example) that worked well for us since we fished with bigger streamers. The rod and line had no problems getting big streamers out and across.

The Clearwater reel is a very solid fly reel as well. It features an adjustable drag that I found to work well across the board. Sure, it doesn’t have the craziest breaking power in the game but you wouldn’t expect that from a reel that costs around $120 (if bought separately). What’s great about this reel besides its solid performance is the fact that you can easily switch it from left-hand retrieve to right-hand retrieve and back – that means no matter whether you’re reeling in with your left or right hand, the Clearwater can do both. Another plus of this reel is its large arbor. In real life that means you can pick up line faster than with a traditional arbor reel. This helps when a trout is running towards you and you have to make sure to keep tension in your line (that is particularly important if you’re practicing catch and release and using barbless hooks).

Rigging the Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Outfit
The set comes pre spooled with backing and a WF Clearwater fly line plus a 4x tippet. © The Wading List

Casting Experience

The heart of any fly fishing setup lies in its casting performance. From my perspective, the Clearwater rod excels in this department, offering a responsive and accurate casting experience. It loaded well at shorter distances, making it ideal for smaller streams, while still delivering the power needed for longer casts on larger bodies of water, enhancing my overall fishing experience. In the photo below you see us casting a big streamer and the rod had no issues doing that to our full satisfaction.

Casting the Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Outfit
Testing the Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Outfit in Montana. © The Wading List

Value for Money

In my eyes, value for money is a crucial consideration in the realm of fly fishing. The Clearwater combo strikes an excellent balance between performance and affordability. If you think $400 is too much for your budget and you’re still looking for a quality fly rod combo, make sure to check our big “Buyer’s Guide to the Best Fly Rod Combo” in which we discuss a wide variety of fly rod combos and compare them to each other. The Redington Original and the Cortland Guide combo are two more fly rod outfits that we got our hands on recently and that we can recommend. They come in at almost half the price of the Clearwater.




Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Outfit closeup
Rod and reel match nicely in terms of design. © The Wading List

FAQs: Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Outfit

Is the Orvis Clearwater Combo suitable for beginners?

In my eyes, absolutely. The Clearwater combo’s moderate action and user-friendly features make it an excellent choice for those new to fly fishing.

Can the Clearwater combo handle larger fish species?

Based on my experience, yes. The Clearwater rod and reel are designed to handle a variety of fish sizes, providing the necessary strength and drag for larger species. The strongest setup in the Clearwater lineup is an #8 which can handle pike, salmon and even saltwater species like striped bass.

Is the Clearwater combo suitable for different fishing environments?

From my experience, yes. The combo’s versatility shines through, making it suitable for various fishing scenarios, from small mountain streams to larger bodies of water.

Does the Clearwater combo offer good value for money?

Absolutely. The Clearwater combo delivers exceptional performance at an attractive price point, offering great value for both beginners and experienced anglers. Plus, Orvis gives you a “no questions asked” warranty of 25 years.

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.