Home Fishing Review: Orvis Clearwater Freshwater Fly Rod

Review: Orvis Clearwater Freshwater Fly Rod

Orvis Clearwater Freshwater Fly Rod


Outdoor Empire pick for best fly rod for the money.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have the perfect fly rod for every occasion? You’d have a dry fly rod, a nymph rod, a streamer rod, a rod for sunny days, and a rod for windy days.

But for most of us, a massive collection of specialized rods isn’t a possibility. Instead, we have our one or two go-to rods that can be counted on to fish whatever flies and techniques are needed to get our quarry to bite.

That’s exactly the kind of rod the Orvis Clearwater Freshwater is — an all-around performer that can be utilized in any fishing scenario.



With a very tame mid-flex taper, the Orvis Clearwater has a true-to-form moderate action which offers a nice blend of finesse and power.

With relatively quick loading, short and accurate casts are easy to execute. But it still has enough backbone to bomb out long-distance casts to span the river.

With this moderate action, it is extremely versatile, making it an ideal candidate for the angler who wants a single rod that can be fished in different ways — from chucking streamers and heavy double nymph rigs, to casting small dry flies on light tippets.

Aside from its casting and fishing performance, what draws anglers most to this fly pole is its bang-for-the-buck factor. It is slightly more expensive than typical entry-level rods, but with that bump in price comes a tremendous leap in quality.


Outstanding Features

  • Understated yet classy olive-colored blanks and a premium cork handle make it look like a high-end rod.
  • The reel seat is made of machined anodized aluminum that’s very sturdy and holds the reel secure.
  • The insert is made of woven graphite. Though it doesn’t look as nice as a wooden insert, it’s more durable and doesn’t require maintenance.


25-Year Guarantee

Another bonus of the Clearwater Freshwater is Orvis’ generous 25-year no questions asked rod repair program.

If you break your Clearwater — doesn’t matter how — you can send it to Orvis and they are going to fix it free of charge. But if they can’t fix it, they are going to choose a current rod of at least equal value to replace it (with a nominal fee of $60).

With that kind of guarantee, you can fish as hard as you want knowing that if something happens to your rod, you are covered.



Available line weights: 3, 4, 5, 6
Material: Mid-modulus graphite
Action: Mid-flex moderate action
Number of pieces: 4
Grip material: Premium cork
Grip shape: Half wells
Reel seat: Machined anodized aluminum
Insert: Woven graphite
Rod weight: 2.8 ounces (5-weight 7’6″)
Rod tube: Yes



Comparison to Similar Products

This comparison table is based on the 5-weight fly rods of each manufacturer.

ProductOrvis Clearwater
Orvis Clearwater


St. Croix Imperial
St. Croix Imperial

Rod Weight2.8 oz2.8 oz2.6 oz
CostCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price


Orvis Clearwater vs. TFO BVK


The TFO BVK and the Orvis Clearwater fall under almost the same price range. As we covered, the Orvis Clearwater is a great all-around fly rod; but what about the TFO BVK? Here’s how the two rods compare.


Moderate vs. Fast Action

The biggest difference between these two rods is their action — the Orvis Clearwater is a moderate action rod through and through while the TFO BVK is a (very) fast action rod.

TFO BVK’s action is so fast that many anglers feel that the five-weight model casts and performs more like a six-weight. Most anglers even choose to fish a six-weight line on a five-weight TFO BVK rod for better performance!

While the fast action of the TFO BVK is ideal for long distance casting, it’s hard to load when making short casts. The Orvis Clearwater, on the other hand, excels at these quick, accurate casts.


Rod Tube vs. No Rod Tube

Most fly poles these days, including the Orvis Clearwater, come with a solid rod tube to protect the rod during transport. The TFO BVK, however, breaks the mold (and not in a good way) by not including a rod tube.

TFO has a rod tube available for purchase but you have to shell out an additional cost.



While in the same general pricing tier, the TFO BVK is more expensive than the Orvis Clearwater.


The Verdict

Regarding quality, both are very comparable. But due to the increased versatility of the Orvis Clearwater, thanks to its easy-to-cast moderate action, it’s an all-around better choice than the TFO BVK.



Orvis Clearwater vs. St. Croix Imperial 

St. Croix Imperial
St. Croix Imperial

While the Orvis Clearwater and TFO BVK are different beasts altogether, the St. Croix Imperial gives the Clearwater a serious run for the money.


Moderate vs. Fast Action

The action of the St. Croix Imperial is faster than that of the Orvis Clearwater. And unlike the TFO BVK, the St. Croix performs true to its line weight classification — the five-weight casts like a five-weight.

Both the Orvis Clearwater and the St. Croix Imperial are very smooth casting rods. They both load and unload quickly for short-range accuracy, but the fast action of the St. Croix Imperial gives it an edge when casting longer distances.


Graphite vs. Rosewood Insert

Both are built with high-quality components, but the St. Croix Imperial has a rosewood reel seat insert whereas the Orvis Clearwater has a woven graphite insert.

As long as you dry off the rosewood insert before storing the fishing stick, you shouldn’t have any problems with durability. But if you don’t want to worry about it, go with the graphite insert of the Clearwater.


The Verdict

It’s a tough call to say which is better.

Both deliver exceptional quality and performance for the price, though the St. Croix Imperial is slightly more expensive. With similar casting performance and versatility, choosing which rod to go with might come down to warranty.

Though St. Croix has a decent rod repair and replacement plan, it’s nowhere near as flexible and forgiving as the 25-year guarantee offered by Orvis. So if you’re hard on your gear, the Clearwater is likely the better choice.



Rating the Orvis Clearwater Freshwater Fly Rod



four star rating

It is a very powerful and accurate rod that you can cast all day, thanks to its lightweight feel. 4 stars are given for its accuracy.



four star rating


Because of its firm mid-flex design, you can achieve an excellent and accurate casting. You don’t have to worry about its power and the distance that it can reach. 4 stars are given for its distance.


Value for Money

five star rating

The components that makeup the rod, including its performance, give you every penny’s worth of what you paid for. Get the quality and features of an expensive rod at an affordable price. 5 stars for its value for money.



five star rating

Orvis is surely confident about their rods. Offering free of charge repair service for 25 years says it all. I’m sure anglers are willing to pay $60 if the company can’t fix it, rather than buying a new one that costs more. 5 stars are given for its warranty.



Final Verdict

The Orvis Clearwater Freshwater Fly Rod series received an overall rating of 4.5 stars. Delivering the performance of a high-end rod for a much lower price, it is a great option for novice and experienced anglers alike.

Easy to cast moderate action, high-quality components, beautiful olive blanks, and one of the best warranties in the industry all add up to a fantastic fly stick that leaves some money for gas to get to the river.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.