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In this in-depth review, we’ll have a look at the Echo Shadow 2, 2wt 10ft. We’ll have a look at what makes it good, what are its downsides and limitations, and who should buy it. I also share my experience when casting the rod at different ranges.
Make sure to check out our Echo Shadow 2 Review Video at the bottom of this post.
As a disclaimer, I have to mention that the specific rod in review has been bought with my own money. I am in no way sponsored by or affiliated with Echo fly rods. These are my own thoughts and opinions, and may, and will probably, differ from those of other anglers.
Note: The links in this post lead to Amazon where you can purchase the Echo Shadow 2 Fly Rod in different lengths and weights and in most cases have it at your door within a day or two.
Why Trust My Echo Shadow II Review?
First of all, let’s get the main thing out of the way. I’m not paid by Echo to write positively about their rods and while there are affiliate links in this article, as a content contributor I stand to gain nothing from them so you can be sure that this review is completely unbiased.
I bought the Echo Shadow II about a year ago. The main reason for the purchase was that I just got involved in competition fly fishing. I found that my 8ft 6in 3wt was slightly too short for the techniques used.
Since then, I’ve started using it more and more in my recreational fishing. In the past year, I’ve spent about 30 full days with it on the water. I’ve also had numerous clients and family members, who are complete beginners, use the rod.
This experience with the rod allows me to comment on both my personal use and that of other anglers. The rod has been used exclusively on trout streams between 10 and 40 feet wide. The fish caught on it range between 6 and 14 inches.
I love my 2-weight 10′ Echo Shadow 2, but there are others in the line-up that are equally great value and useful for different styles of nymphing.
The above rods are all fast action and while they are specialty nymphing rods, they can also be used to easily and accurately toss flies longer distances with traditional fly line and casting methods.
What Makes a Good 2wt 10′ Rod?
So, what sets a 10ft 2wt apart from other, shorter 2wt rods? Or what’s the difference between a 10ft 3wt and 2wt rod? Let’s dive a little deeper into the uses and scenarios where it’s intended to be used.
In most cases, a 10ft 2wt rod is designed for technical fishing in close ranges. It must be able to work well with long leaders. Competition rules state that a leader length of twice the rod length is allowed. For a 10ft rod, this translates to a 20ft leader.
Nymphs and Dry Flies
The rod should be fairly adaptable in terms of fly types. Yes, a 10ft 2wt rod will probably be a good nymphing rod, but can it deliver dry flies with ease? Very often, a combination of dries and nymphs are used.
One of the biggest reasons to choose a 2wt 10ft rod over a 3wt is the lighter tip. A 2wt should have an incredibly sensitive tip. This feature will allow you to detect bites from small trout while tight line nymphing.
The softer tip will also assist when fishing down to 7X or 8X tippets. Even on a small 8” trout, 8X snaps on a stiff rod tip.
A good 10ft 2wt is suitable for small and medium fish sizes. On this size rod, you have the tip of a 2 weight, but because it’s a 10ft rod, the thicker butt section provides the same pulling power as a standard 3wt.
Where the Echo Shadow 2 Shines
The Echo Shadow is an exceptional rod if it is used in the right situations. Do not compare it to your fast action 6 weight that can throw a size 4 Woolly Bugger to 80ft. No, this is a rod with finesse and suited to the finer things in life (such as small flies and thin tippets).
The Echo Shadow II is best suited at close quarters. It performs well at presenting multiple flies at the sub 30ft range. I also enjoy the sensitive tip when nymphing without an indicator. Once you’re dialed in, you’re able to detect even the most subtle takes.
The Shadow can be used by anglers from beginner to advanced level. I’ve guided novices on small trout streams with great success on the rod. The key is to fish river sections that don’t require long casts.
That being said, the rod comes into its own when in the hands of an experienced angler. Especially when tight line nymphing. The Echo Shadow II is an excellent rod for any angler to get into euro-nymphing techniques.
As many anglers will tell you, one of the greatest advantages of a 10ft rod is the ability to manage fly drag. Drag, on both nymphs and dry flies, is one of the biggest reasons why fish refuse flies.
The extended reach of a 10ft rod allows you to keep more line off the water, especially when fishing across currents that flow at different speeds.
Protecting Light Tippet
The Shadow II 2wt does a superb job at protecting light tippets. This is thanks to the very soft tip. Having such a light tip gives you a little more comfort when switching over to 7X and 8X tippet.
Where The Echo Shadow II Falls Short
As I always say, no rod does it all. The Shadow II 2wt is no different. Below are some of the areas that I find the struggles with. However, it doesn’t mean it can’t get the job done.
- Casting big streamers.
- Casting more than 50ft. As mentioned earlier in the article, it can get the job done, but it’s not that accurate at this distance and lacks the confidence that faster rods have
- Fighting big fish. If you are regularly targeting 20in plus trout, it might be worthwhile to go for a heavier rod. A 3wt or 4wt would be better in this case. I find the 2wt cannot turn strong and stubborn fish.
What’s in The Box?
The Echo Shadow II comes with the following items listed below. You can also see these items in the video which is embedded at the bottom of this post.
The black rod sock has 4 section dividers. Each divider is sized according to the relevant section. The sock has enough material folding over to protect the rod. The bottom and top securing cords are long enough to properly secure the rod in the sock.
There are no rod specifications or branding on the sock.
The rod is shipped in a hard fabric covered rod tube with a zipper cap. The black tube has Echo Shadow II written on the side with the same mayfly nymph logo as the rod’s reel seat. The specific rod details are marked clearly at the end of the tube, making for easy rod identification.
Echo Shadow 2 Review Features & Specs
Let’s have a look at the rod itself and see the different aspects of what makes it such a great rod. The build quality of each part of the rod is finished with care and I really think it’s a great value item for the money.
The rod features a black anodized aluminum uplocking reel seat. It’s appropriately decorated with a laser engraved mayfly nymph image. A single uplocking screw secures the reel and I haven’t had problems with the reel coming loose.
The butt cap on the 3 and 4wt models can be unscrewed, making it possible to add and remove weight. The competition kit (sold separately) includes a cork fighting butt for the anglers that prefer propping the rod against their forearm. The kit also comes with various weights to balance the complete setup.
The half wells cork grip fits perfectly in hand. A thin rubberized cork ring is located at the front and back of the grip. This ring not only adds an accent to the grip but adds durability to the areas that usually get damaged.
The cork has held up over the past 12 months, having no parts breaking out. It must be noted that the cork is of sufficient quality and not the best in the business.
One of my favorite features on the Shadow II is the placement of the first stripper guide. Echo has purposefully placed it on the but section of the rod. This position minimizes the amount of slack between the stripper guide and the hand controlling the line.
The rest of the line guides are black silicon carbide (SIC) and of the single foot type. They are secured to the blank with black thread wraps.
On the specific rod that I have, the glue holding the first stripper guide in place hasn’t been finished off very neatly. Some of it has been left to dry without it being cleaned off. This does not hamper the performance of the rod in any way, I just felt I had to mention it.
A hook keep is positioned right above the grip. This is a pretty standard place to have the hook keep, though I usually don’t use it because I tend to have a long leader on this rod, so I wrap the leader around the reel and hook into one of the line guides.
The blank has a smooth matte finish. This finish reduces sun glare, reducing the potential to spook fish with any light reflecting off the rod. Standard black ferrule thread wraps have silver section alignment dots, making for easy rod setup.
For a rod under the $300 price point, in my mind the build quality is satisfactory. The rod won’t win any beauty pageants, but I do like to overall stealth look of it. That being said, there are some minor issues that I picked up on my rod. Note that these would not impact the performance of the rod whatsoever.
- One cork ring was patched during the manufacturing process. As mentioned in the grip section above, I had no bits breaking off during the time I’ve had the rod.
- There are bubbles in the clear coat over the winding check.
- An uneven clear coat is applied on the line guide thread wraps. Applying the resin in these areas on a matte finish rod is particularly difficult as any mistake shows up immediately. On gloss rods, these minor imperfections are less noticeable.
The overall action of the rod is quite fast for a 10ft 2wt rod. However, the rod’s soft tip does make it feel a whole lot slower at short distances. I will rate the 10ft 2wt Echo Shadow II as a medium-fast action rod.
The Echo Shadow II range uses a high-modulus lightweight graphite material. The material makes for a very sensitive tip and a rod that’s light in hand.
- Physical Rod Weight (10ft 2wt): 2.8 ounces
- Other rod weights available in the model range: 10ft 3wt and 10ft 6inch 4wt
The Shadow II 2wt weighs in at 2.8 ounces. Although I’m not an angler that always prefers the lightest of rods, having a light nymphing setup is crucial. The rod is light enough to high stick the entire day. At 2.8 ounces, it’s right there in the mix with more premium offerings.
The Echo Shadow II comes with a lifetime warranty to the original owner. This warranty covers defects in craftsmanship and material failures. It does not cover wear and tear and damages. That does not mean you’re stranded if you accidentally close a car’s door on the rod.
The repair or replacement fee will depend on the exact rod model you have. If the rod is discontinued and they don’t have any spare sections for it, Echo offers you an equivalent replacement model for 50% off the recommended price.
I broke a tip section on the Shadow II a couple of months ago. The dealer through which I bought the rod had a spare section in stock. They sent it to me and within 3 days I was back on the water. I do recommend buying a second tip section for the Shadow II as a precautionary measure.
Casting the Echo Shadow II 10ft 2wt
As mentioned in many of my articles, I spend most of my time fishing the local trout rivers near Cape Town. During the early part of the season, the rivers present incredible dry fly fishing. For this, I mainly use an 8ft 6in 3wt rod.
However, as the season progresses, the fish are less willing to rise, and therefore a nymph is thrown into the mix. This is when I take out the Shadow II.
The rivers also lend themselves toward a longer rod, where most fishing occurs in pocket water and casts no more than 20ft required. Here, the total length of my leader and tippet combination is 20ft. I use a dry dropper rig with something like a size 16 CDC & Elk at the top and a size 18 jighead nymph at the bottom.
With a 10ft rod, 10ft of the leader (which is only half of it in my case) is out of the rod tip. Although this sounds short, it is used frequently in cascading pocket water.
I find the rod very capable at casting rigs without any fly line out of the tip. Very accurate casts are possible once you get used to the action.
20 – 30ft Casts
At 30ft, the full leader is out of the rod tip – but still not a mentionable length of the fly line. This, to me, is the distance where most fishing occurs. It amazes me that the rod can still deliver two small, lightweight flies accurately at this distance. It does take some practice, but I’ve had clients pick it up within 30 minutes.
30 – 40ft Casts
At 40ft there is approximately 10ft of fly line out of the rod. This is the maximum distance I fish the 20ft dropper leader with. There’s a clear difference in the feeling of the rod, as the fly line weight loads the rod, forcing you to slow down much more.
For the 60ft cast, I changed to a 12ft leader and tippet combination and fished a single dry fly. This resulted in about 38ft of fly line out of the rod tip. The rod gets the job done at this distance, however it is not sure-footed.
I also found the accuracy to lack slightly at 60 ft, although, for a 2wt that’s a long way out.
My Personal Thoughts
So, what are my thoughts on the Echo Shadow II rod after the first season of using it? Below I’ve split my personal opinion about the rod into pros and cons:
- Good value for money
- Suitable for the angler that targets small trout in small streams
- I like the matte finish of the rod, especially when fishing crystal clear water on bright sunny days
- The first tripper guide on the butt section is a clever idea and assist in line and tension management
- Not the highest build quality
- I do have a concern about the durability of the rod. This is not only due to me breaking a tip, as I could have damaged it easily while hiking to or from the river. Echo recommends carrying a spare tip for the rod due to its sensitivity. Well, although I do think this is a great idea, it does sound like it’s prone to breaking.
Echo Shadow 2 Review Video
The Echo Shadow II has become an indispensable little rod in my arsenal. It’s one of the rods that I spend the most time with at the moment. The rod will suit anyone looking to get into the euro nymphing game without milking the cow too much. This is the same reason why I bought it.
Before buying any rod, be realistic about where and how you intend to use it. Do not buy a rod because it’s popular or pretty, rather look at it out of a functional point of view. If you do that with the Echo Shadow II, you won’t be disappointed.
If you found this article insightful please share it with your fellow anglers and friends. Leave any comments or questions at the bottom of the page. I would love to hear what your thoughts and experiences are with the rod.
Until next time.
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