If you’ve got kids of a certain age, you’ve likely viewed the Pixar flick Ratatouille, in which the lead protagonist, Remy—a rat—is inspired by Chef Gusteau’s proclamation that “anyone can cook.” It is possible that no other company more tightly follows the vision of its leader than ECHO fly rods follows Tim Rajeff, who proclaims that anyone can fly fish. You don’t need years of practice, and you certainly don’t need wads of money. But Tim knows that you do need the right fly rod.
The ECHO BASE I own is a workhorse of a rod that I’ve put through the paces for various species of warm water fish for nearly four years. You can learn a lot about a rod in that amount of time.
A pleasing action
ECHO says the BASE is a medium-fast action rod. Personally, I’ve found the action difficult to define because I throw so many different types and sizes of flies, but whatever it is, I like it. Casting the BASE is an enjoyable experience.
On the lighter stuff, sure, I’d call it medium-fast with a lean more toward the medium. Heavier Clousers, bunny strips, and big poppers slow the action down considerably. It’s nowhere near glass levels of softness, but it is a languid, very liquid feel. Smooth is a good word for it. Overall, let’s call the action a comfortable medium.
I don’t worry about dainty presentations because none of the fish species I pursue really care about them. That being said, I’ve slipped a few tiny streamers into some minuscule moonshine-clear pools without alerting the resident smallmouths until one was hooked. And I did it with accuracy. The BASE is a surprisingly accurate rod out to about 50 feet and even a bit beyond.
It’s not a spool thrower, not in my hands anyway. Maximum casting distance is 65-70 feet for me, and in pursuit of bass, bowfin, gar and drum, pinpoint accuracy at those distances is rarely needed. One fine summer day, I did unfurl a dandy toss that perfectly intercepted a couple of cruising grass carp more than 60 feet away. I’m not saying that’s the norm, but I wasn’t shocked.
Pretty much anything I’ve tied on, the BASE has handled from size 10 nymphs for spooky panfish to 2/0 hollow flies. Only when trying to stretch my casts with the beefiest of flies does it feel like the BASE is laboring and only on the biggest fish have I wondered if the BASE had the guts. Twenty-inch largemouth, 17-inch smallies, 18-inch spotted bass, two-foot gar, 8-pound freshwater drum, channel catfish long as my forearm— all have succumbed to the BASE.
The grass carp was, perhaps, the ultimate test. And, though it took a while, the BASE eventually wore it down, too. Tackling 15 pound grass carp in mild current is a lot to ask of any 6-weight rod.
The graphite BASE is a deep ocean blue accented with black and silver wraps. It features chrome guides, an anodized reel seat and two grip options. It also comes with a lifetime warranty and excellent customer service. Just a few months into my ownership of the BASE, a sloppy backcast led to a collision between the rod’s tip and a heavy Clouser. The dumbbell weight cracked the tip. But after a quick call to ECHO, a new tip was on the way and I was back in the water with it in less than two weeks.
The BASE costs $89-$99 depending on what size you want. This include a sock and hard tube.
I’ve got some buddies who dig the finer things in life, including expensive fly rods. I won’t throw out the brands they own, but when I put the BASE in their hands, they were shocked that a sub-$100 rod could compete—fiercely—with their rods costing five to seven times more. As for me, in a comparison with their rods, I could not tell that more dollars spent would equate to making me a better fly caster. And I sure as hell wouldn’t want to bang up and down the creeks I roam with a rod that costs nearly as much as my set of off-road tires. I’ve abused this rod—beat the crap out of it, actually—from falls on slick rocks, to clambering up bluffs with it in hand, to traipsing down brushy deer trails hoping not to snap it, to asking way too much of it on big fish. The BASE has not let me down.
My 9-foot 6-weight weighs in at 3.9 oz. Some might consider that a little heavy. I’ve logged several four- to six-hour fishing trips, crammed full of blind casting with the BASE in hand, and never thought twice about the weight.
A lot has happened over the last four years: I finally finished my college degree (after a 20 year hiatus). My hopes for the country’s future took the steepest of nosedives. I became a grandparent — twice. But one thing that did not happen was me finding a better fly rod for the price for my local smallmouth bass or pretty much anything else I want to tackle. ECHO’s BASE is the penultimate everyman’s fly rod.
The BASE is a good—really good—fly rod at an incredible price. It punches above its class in nearly every category. Regardless of your skill level or your bank account, with ECHO’s BASE anyone can be a fly angler.