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L.L.Bean Gear Review: The Orion Fly Rod (9ft,6wt)

July 7, 2009

-The Orion fly rod represents the start of a new fly fishing era for me, making it the most exciting rod to test by far this season.

Living in southern Maine has opened many new doors for me, one of which is Salt Water Fly Fishing. Chasing Stripers on Maine’s coast is a true test of patience and skill, and something that greatly excites me. While the rain has been falling consistently for almost a month now, I spent a good part of May testing the 9 weight Orion under the early summer sun. From beaches, to marshes, to coastal rivers, the Orion has seen a variety of water and has performed remarkably well. I hope you enjoy the review as much as I have enjoyed the testing…

The Orion on the Beach

Beauty is a BEAST

  • The first thing I noticed when I pulled the Orion out of it’s tube was how sturdy it looked. From the burly fighting butt to the machined aluminum reel seat over a graphite spacer, to the Fuji SiC stripping guides, the Orion is a knight in shining armor. L.L.Bean claims that it just may be the finest looking fly rod they have ever produced, and I would most certainly agree. When I finally put it together, I was impressed with how sturdy this faster action rod actually felt. My past experiences with fast action rods have been shoddy at best, and I’ve never been one to enjoy casting a fly rod that feels more like a noodle. There was no such experience with the Orion. My one word to describe this rod would have to be Power, because while it is cosmetically impressive, it packs a serious punch. I give L.L.Bean much credit for creating a beautiful fly rod that does not skimp on performance. What I initially saw was a sturdy, powerful rod, and the Orion proved to be all that and so much more.

Impressive Impressions

  • LLBean developed the Orion 3 out of high performance graphite and gave it a slimmer profile to produce higher line speeds for more powerful, precise casts. The moment I began casting the rod, I knew that I was in for a real treat. Staying extremely balance and weighing just enough to be comfortable in my hand, the large 9 weight rod performed more like my 6 weight Trout rod than a larger Salt water rig. The faster action of the rod really allowed me to feel the line go through the guides, and gave me a sense of control that left me pleasantly surprised.
  • Casting on the beach presented it’s own set of unique challenges for me, namely the wind. The Orion packs just enough punch to push tight loops through hefty wind gusts, delivering larger flies out to the sandy shallows where Stripers wait to strike. At one point, a nasty cross wind repeatedly bounced my large fly off the back of my head, forcing me to turn my back to the surf and work the back cast. As any avid fisherman knows, back casting is not easy in gusting winds, but the Orion handled them with relative ease and most certainly saved me a barb bending, bloody trip to the E.R.
  • When the need for distance was replaced by precision, the Orion continued to shine. On the edge of the marsh and on the banks of the coastal rivers, I was impressed with how accurate I could cast with the rod to roaming Stripers. While I can’t speak for the “fish turning” capabilities of the Orion rod (Damn skiddish Stripers) I will say that sight fishing was a breeze, and I was extremely impressed with how little effort was needed to place my casts exactly where I wanted them.
Testing the Orion 3 on the Banks of a Coastal Marsh in Maine.

Testing the Orion 3 on the Banks of a Coastal Marsh in Maine.

At the end of the day, the Orion impressed me in all aspects of the game. For the price, it is surely at the top of it’s class as far as high performance fly rods are concerned. I would be hard pressed to find a rod of the same quality for such an affordable price, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a top of the line Salt Water rod, but doesn’t want to pay an arm and a leg to get it.

It did raise one question for me though, when will L.L.Bean develop a Spey or Switch Rod? I don’t know a ton about two handed casting, but it seems like the Orion design in a longer, slightly stiffer version would make an excellent switch rod. Maybe I’m just dreaming, but a new addition to the Orion line might as well be in the works, because I don’t see how the developers can improve on an already near-flawless design.

To learn more about the Orion 3 Fly Rod, and to purchase your own, visit the L.L.Bean Fishing Page.

Tight Lines,


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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 8, 2009 10:45 am

    They have a 2-handed streamlight.

    Just landed a switch rod (TFO Deer Creek 11/7) and its just amazing for swinging streamers. Spey casting makes long casts effortless and so much more enjoyable. Fast rods arent great for spey casting from what i understand. If your intent is to overhand with a switch rod, prob better off just going with a fast action single hand; lighter by far.

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