Clearwater II Fly Rod Review

Clearwater II
9 ft, 5 wt, 4 pc Reviewed

I received an Orvis Clearwater II 9 ft, 5 wt, 4 pc midflex 7.5 for Christmas 2007. After having used this rod for fishing for 2 and a half seasons and for my fly casting class, I have some definite opinions about the rod.


  1. The rod is well constructed with oversized guides which I like. The blank is a beautiful blue color.
  2. Guide feet are securely wrapped and covered with rod epoxy.
  3. The grip is a half wells with cutout for the top reel foot.
  4. Reel Seat is an uplocking style with double locking rings. For an uplocking reel seat, I like the double rings because you don’t have to overtighten the locking rings to secure the reel. I have a tendency to crank too hard on single rings. (Over time tightening the locking rings too hard can force the bottom of the reel seat off the blank.)The reel seat itself is woven graphite to reduce weight and the same blue color as the blank. The reel seat hardware is high quality anodized aluminum.
  5. The cork grip is premium grade with any holes filled and sanded smooth. The half wells grip is one of my favorites. I can use the smaller cigar part of the grip for most fishing which is less tiring for me. Then switch farther back on to the butt of the grip for long casts.
  6. The guides appear to be the standard hard chrome snake guides with an oversized stripper guide lined with an insert to reduce line wear.
  7. The rod comes with a handsome cordura covered hard case with zipper closure and an internal divided sock.
  8. Priced between $169 and $219, the Clearwater II is a bargain at these prices. Rod weights 4-6 are available in both 4 and 2 piece models. Models range from 4 weight through a 10 ft 8 wt.
  9. The Clearwater II series is covered by the 25 year Orvis 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Fishing Characteristics

I do a lot of nymph fishing so I like mid-flex or medium fast rods. Generally I only have to cast 50 to 60 feet max to reach my target. My Clearwater II 9 ft works well for Czech Nymphing, regular high sticking or long line nymphing out to about 30 feet which is my comfort level on drift control.

The rod is sensitive to subtle strikes when used without a drift indicator. The mid-flex action allows the rod to do some of the work of setting the hook. (The fish will take the nymph and turn to run hooking themselves.)

Casting Characteristics

The mid-flex 7.5 casts extremely well out to about 60 – 65 feet for me. After 60 feet I have to put some muscle in it to reach 70 feet. My casting instructor tried this rod in my last class and reached 78 feet and 75 feet. So the rod has the capability if the caster has the skills.

The Clearwater II also comes in a 9.5 tip flex action for those that grew up with and like fast action rods. I have come to the conclusion that there is a point in distance casting where the rod action does start to make a difference along with the ability of the caster.