Tim Rajeff, the man behind every rod that bears the ECHO name, has long been swimming upstream by scoffing at the idea that a good fly rod has to cost a month's rent. And Tim has delivered many ECHO rods that cast and fish extremely well and do so at a price point that drastically lowers the barrier to entry for newcomers to the sport of fly fishing and allows experienced anglers to expand their quiver of rods without going broke in the process. ECHO's two-handers are skagit and scandi-throwing staples on steelhead rivers across the northwest and beyond, and their single hand offerings such as the ECHO 3 and 3s have become go-to workhorses for many guides and other anglers — all without breaking the bank. But if early feedback from testers, fly shops and so forth is to be believed; one of ECHO's latest offerings, its $89 ECHO BASE fly rod, may have taken Rajeff's philosophy to the extreme.
ECHO debuted the BASE at this year's IFTD show in Orlando, where more than a bit of buzz was flying from those that took the BASE for a whirl on the casting pond — including more than a few jokes suggesting that ECHO had slapped the BASE logo on a different, pricier, more "premium" rod, passing it off as a sub-$100 phenom. Off course they hadn't, and the jokes were understandably widely regarded as a complement.
Since the BASE has found its way into the wild, feedback has been similarly glowing. Fly shops have been confidently touting it to greenhorns as a "no-brainer" first rod, given the rod's medium-fast action and it's high level of performance despite its price tag — which will allow anglers to grow with the rod for many years. And, as noted, many have found the BASE tremendously easy to recommend as a quiver-expander, for anglers that want to add to their arsenal a 6 weight for throwing streamers to trout, an 8 weight for big largemouth or steelhead, or even an inexpensive saltwater rod.
The BASE also fared surprisingly well in this year's 5-weight shootout, a rod-testing bonanza that has become an industry tradition of sorts, produced by George Anderson and others at the Yellowstone Angler fly shop. Some swear by Anderson's "shootout" results while others scoff at them, but there's no denying there is value for anglers researching new rods in reading and considering the opinions of experienced anglers that cast a lot of different rods, side-by-side, year-in-year-out. In this year's testing, the BASE out-ranked a dozen rods, 10 of which were at least triple the BASE's price and several of which that are priced at over $800. Testers repeatedly heralded the rod's performance and versatility, never failing to mention what a value the BASE represents for its price.
James Anderson, a veteran shootout tester, noted "My advice? Buy one (or two or three or four) as soon as you can — there’s no way this rod is going to stay at this price once the laws of supply and demand go into effect."
Learn more about the ECHO BASE at echoflyfishing.com and in the video below.