Orvis salmon rods have come somewhat late onto the scene of my own fishing career but they certainly have made up for lost time. Something of a dyed-in-the-wool Hardy man, I had never tried an Orvis double-handed fly-rod before 2009 but since then I’ve caught about 90 salmon and grilse on Orvis rods in Norway, Russia and Scotland.
That August I was fishing the River Gaula for the first time and fished with a Norwegian Flyfishers Club hire-rod – a 15ft Shooting Star and it brought me my first Gaula salmon – a lively fresh 11-pounder that hit my fly out of nowhere in the waters of Upper Renna pool.
Now up and running, and with the zeal of the convert, I bought my own Shooting Star 15ft that winter, and took it out to Russia in May 2010. There I used it in the second half of the week and caught a dozen or so early running Varzuga springers on it. Earlier in the week I had used a 15ft Hardy Swift to catch 30-odd salmon and don’t get me wrong, I like Hardy rods as well, although I remember thinking the Swift, although powerful, true (in the cast), clinical and very impressive all round, somehow lacked the soul of the Shooting Star – the Orvis rod being light, powerful, excellent with shooting-head lines as the name suggests – but also exhibiting two special additional qualities.
The Shooting Star, in both 14 and 15 foot lengths is friendly and forgiving (the latter a very good quality in a friend).
So there it is, I fished my 15ft Shooting Star on the Tweed at Birgham Dub in July 2010 to catch a 7lb salmon and 6 sea-trout to 5lb plus.
Then back to the NFC beats chaired by Manfred Raguse I waded (actually very little wading was required, I wore welly boots much of the time) out on a shrunken River Gaula armed with a 14ft Shooting Star. Now Manfred tells me that if anything the 14-footer has out-performed its bigger sibling in tests and reviews in Germany and this strikes a cord with me. Teamed with a RIO 8/9wt AFS floating/sink tip shooting head line this little rod was superb and I was able to catch three grilse on it in a tricky week, on lighter line tactics (long, 15lb leaders and I even was able to catch one grilse on a dropper).
The rod was simply superb in the swift, chill waters where it was well able to handle very hard fighting fish to 12lb.
A great fishing tool all round.
As a footnote I used on the Gaula this August a different, and newer Orvis rod – the 15ft Helios Spey (8 3/8oz, 10wt ‘Tip-Flex’). This I found a powerful tool which still kept the delicacy needed to flick out tricky casts under overhanging foliage and I was able to catch a salmon of 5.5kg and a grilse of 6.5lb on it. Perfect!
So which is my favourite rod? Ah, that would be favouritism! Love ’em all and my own ‘15’ Shooting Star is close to my heart although I have an undeniable admiration for the power of the Helios Spey – a proper big river rod.