On the Water with the Cabelas Bighorn Fly Rod Combo

Leonard Schoenberger
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Fly rod combos are an easy entry into the world of fly fishing.

They come in all sorts of combinations regarding lengths and weight classes. The most common one is certainly a fly rod combo for trout which tend to be #4 or #5. An affordable candidate is the Cabelas Bighorn fly rod outfit that comes with a rod and reel that is pre-spooled meaning all you have to do is tie on a fly and you’re ready to catch fish. We’ve taken it out to test and here’s how it performed.

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Specifications and Features

Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Hip Bag with Cabelas Bighorn Fly Rod Combo
We tested the Bighorn Fly Rod Combo as a #4 with an 8′ rod while trout fishing in upstate New York. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

Overview:

Weights: available in different lengths and weight classes ranging from #3 to an #8

What’s included: rod, reel, backing, fly line, leader

Price: $99

First Impressions

When the Cabelas Bighorn fly rod outfit arrived, I was a little disappointed that it doesn’t come with any form of protection. Most fly rod combos come with a rod tube or at least a rod sock. Not so for the Cabelas – that’s definitely a downside.

However, when taking a closer look at the rod and reel in this kit, that fact as quickly forgotten since the components left a quality impression at first glance. The rod comes in a nice bronze color and is made from carbon graphite. A hook keeper and nice logo placements on the blank and the bottom of the reel seat definitely portrayed quality. The same holds true for the cork grip that is made from smooth cork material and has a nice, ergonomic shape.

Cabelas Fly Rod Combo Reel
The bottom of the reel seat features the Cabelas logo. Photo: Christian Anwander

The same was true for the reel that features a sturdy design and a large arbor for quick line pickup. It comes pre-spooled with backing, fly line and leader.

Reel Cabelas Bighorn Combo
The reel of the Bighorn Outfit features a large arbor design and an adjustable drag. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

Putting the Bighorn to the Test

Umpqua Waist Pack
Casting the Cabelas Bighorn fly rod combo for some trout in upstate New York. Photo: Christian Anwander

I admit it, right out of the box, I didn’t expect too much from a set that costs $99. But already when making the first, shorter casts I was pleasantly surprised. The rod and line worked well together and you could tell this outfit had a good balance. What really surprised me was how this admittedly short rod (8ft long) performed on mid-range and even longer casts.

I had no problem casting tight loops over longer distances. I’d describe the action of the rod and medium fast, not too fast though as is sometimes the case with modern day fly rods. Even into the wind the rod did a good job.

Umpqua Fly Fishing Waist Pack in River
Out fishing with the Cabelas Bighorn Fly Rod Outfit. Photo: Christian Anwander

In order to prevent bias, I asked a couple of my fishing buddies to give this combo a try as well. Jokingly, I said this is the new Cabelas $1,000 rod to prevent them from being prejudiced. They had the impression as me and said this was a good rod. What was true for the rod’s performance was also the case for the reel. It features a nicely adjustable drag that easily has enough breaking power for everyday trout fishing.

Simms Freestone Waders Z Suspenders
The Cabelas Bighorn Fly Rod Combo. Photo: Christian Anwander

Strengths and Weaknesses

PROS:

  • Outstanding value for money
  • Well balanced rod, reel and line
  • Allround performances: this is a great overall trout fly rod combo
  • Quality components: this set does not come off as cheap at all

CONS:

  • No protection included whatsoever: neither a rod tube nor a protective sock at least
  • A small selection of flies would be the icing on the cake for this combo as you could start fishing right away.

Verdict

Cortland Guide Fly Rod Combo and Cabelas Bighorn Fly Rod Combo
The Cabelas Bighorn and the Cortland Guide fly rod combo during our testing. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

You get it, I was seriously impressed with this fly rod combo (considering the price it sells for). For less than $100 you definitely get a decent fly rod combo with quality components. It will serve you well to make your first steps in fly fishing and even as an intermediate there is nothing wrong with fishing this set. It can also serve well as a backup combo. The only real downside is the fact that there is no protection included, no rod tube and not even a sock.

GET IT AT CABELAS

GET IT AT BASS PRO SHOPS

GET IT AT CABELAS CANADA

FAQs: Bighorn Fly Rod Combo

Does this fly rod combo provide good value for money.

Yes, after intense testing, I can confidently say that the Cabelas Bighorn provides excellent value for money at less than $100.

Does the Bighorn Fly Outfit come in different sizes?

Yes, the Bighorn Fly Combo is available in different lengths and weight classes.

Does this outfit include flies?

No, this set includes a rod, reel, backing, line and leader but no flies. You will have to buy these separately.

Does the Bighorn Combo come with a rod tube?

No, this fly rod combo does not come with a rod tube (nor a protective rod sock).