This is my unbiased and honest Orvis Encounter Review after using the set-up for many years.

When it comes to beginner fly fishing setups, you’ll have a challenge finding one better than the Orvis Encounter. There are dozens of beginning fly fishing packages available for anglers at a variety of prices, but the overall quality of the Encounter is hard to beat.

With beginner fly fishing gear, particularly with fly fishing rod and reel combos, you need your rig to do a little bit of everything. Orvis discovered the secret and the Encounter gives new fly anglers enough to be successful in almost any type of fishing.

If you’re uncertain of all of the types of fishing you may do, the Encounter has proven to be up to the test for just about anything. Its versatility gives you the freedom to identify what features are the most important to you on a fly fishing setup.

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Why Trust My Orvis Encounter Review?

I’m not sponsored by Orvis, nor is this website at the time of writing, and while there are affiliate links in this post, I personally do not stand to gain anything from their commissions.

I have full creative freedom to write any positive and negative comments in this Orvis Encounter review and stand to gain nothing extra either way.

I recently took a trip to Northern British Columbia in Canada and needed to update my 8-weight setup. I didn’t want to break the bank and needed something versatile so I went with the Encounter.

Orvis Encounter Review
My Orvis Encounter Reel Hooked Up To The Rod

The 8-weight Encounter easily handled salmon upwards of 15 pounds. I’ve used Orvis products for several years and the Encounter gave me even more reassurance that the company knows what they are doing.

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While many would be skeptical of a beginner setup only costing $170, I was pleased. I received a quality setup and was confident in its quality.

I would consider myself to be an experienced angler, I’ve fished this set up in many different fly fishing destinations, and I have confidence this rod will be a consistent part of my arsenal.

What’s In The Box?

When you purchase the Encounter, you’ll receive the 4-piece rod in a sturdy travel tube as well as a fully equipped reel. All of it is shipped in a well-packaged box with plenty of packing material to keep things safe.

Travel Tube

When it comes to packaging for a four-piece rod, it’s difficult to find rod holders that are short enough to take on airplanes. I had no trouble taking the Encounter rod tube on an international flight as a part of my carry on.

The only downside of the tube is that it doesn’t come with extra space for you to keep your reel attached. Whenever you tear down your setup, you have to remove the reel and place it in the cloth carrying case.

Rod

You’ll receive the rod broken down into four pieces. This rod is easy to assemble and there were no apprehensions when holding it for the first time. It has a high-quality feel and the dark color is sharp.

Orvis Encounter Fly Rod For Trout Fishing
Me Holding My Orvis Encounter Rod Set-up

 

I don’t like to use flashy reel or rod colors so the subtle black and silver is a nice look!

Reel

The reel came fully equipped with backing, weight-forward line as well as a few options for leaders. The drag was loose enough that it hadn’t worn down the ball bearings in the time that it was sitting in the warehouse.

It’s a large arbor reel and that is one of the main reasons I chose it. I knew the salmon were going to take quite a bit of my line, but I was never in danger of being spooled.

The reel comes with a bright green or yellow fly line depending on what weight you choose.

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Orvis Encounter Review Features & Specs

The Orvis Encounter is a quality rod from a reputable brand. While Orvis places the majority of their gear under warranty, the Encounter does not receive such luxury.

Reviewing The Orvis Encounter
My Orvis Encounter Fly Rod

With that being said, I’ve used the Encounter regularly over the past year and have had no issues with it at all. If you do happen to break something, you can purchase replacements for any broken segments of the rod.

Rod Build Quality

When it comes to choosing a fly rod, anglers are picky. They want a specific length, material, and even color. The Encounter is meant to be versatile. This means that it isn’t spectacular at anything, but does well in almost every situation.

The rod itself is made from graphite. It has a medium action so it’s equipped to throw both larger and smaller flies. You’ll feel the subtle tugs from trout in the dead of winter and be able to power your way through a fight with a large double-digit fish.

Rod Weight

Overall, the 8-weight rod weighs around 120 grams. Most anglers would likely say that the 8-weight feels more like a true 7-weight due to its lightweight. The rest goes for the other available weight options. They all feel one weight less.

Orvis Encounter Review Featured Image

The less weight is why Orvis places a weight-forward line on the reel. The heavier tip of the line makes casting a bit easier. You won’t have any problem getting plenty of line out of the rod as you cast.

The Encounter is available to be purchased in 5 through 8-weight setups. You can also buy 8’6″ versions all the way up to 10′ rods depending on what type of fishing you will be doing.

Long Distance Accuracy

Long-distance casting is where the Encounter runs into problems. Due to its light weight and medium action, the Encounter and windy days don’t get along. Anglers have to be confident in their casting abilities to hit all of the spots on days with rougher conditions.

The rod will allow you to cast 50 or so feet accurately, but after that, it all depends on your skill level. You’ll need to manipulate the rod and complete quite a few false casts to get your fly exactly where you would like it. Your timing needs to be precise when casting the Encounter long distances.

A fly fisherman fishing for Atlantic Salmon on the Margaree River in the fall.

The lighter weight also makes it a bit heavier to cast streamers. The bead head streamers take a while to used to casting on the Encounter. You’ll have a harder time finding your rhythm, but once it gets going, the rod is able to handle them.

For lakes and wide rivers, the Encounter isn’t going to let you cover a vast array of water, but it performs well enough that you’ll still be able to find a nice amount of fish with your fly.

Short Distance Accuracy

When it comes to 10-40 foot casts, the Encounter is great. The sensitivity of the rod allows you to pick your spots. You can take the 8-weight into tight casting lanes and perform well.

It works well to river load as well as roll cast. The Encounter excels in pocket water and tighter seams. What you lose in overall power, you can make up for in your finesse casts for larger fish.

Fly Fishing Ireland

The Encounter allows you to lay down your fly softly and feel some of those tiny nibbles.

Species

The Encounter can handle everything from salmon all the way down to small trout. You won’t have as much power when fighting the salmon that some of the higher-end 8-weight rods will give you, but it provides an extremely entertaining fight.

I had a blast fighting the 15-pound salmon on this rod and wasn’t worried that the rod was going to break.

Fisherman Catches and Holds Salmon on Fly Rod

However, I knew that the rod wasn’t powerful enough to force them into shore. I had to rely on my abilities to fight fish. This rod will test your angling abilities all while helping you improve them.

This fish can handle pike, bass, and carp as well. You’ll feel every head shake and movement of the fish, but you have no need to worry about it surviving. Take your time, give the fish a fair fight and you’re going to land some impressive fish.

The smaller trout and gamefish are also a blast to catch on the 8-weight. You won’t feel like you’re completely overpowering them and you can still experience a solid fight. The rod’s ability to finesse fish is quite impressive.

Reel Quality

For beginning anglers, setting up a fly reel can be overwhelming. The proper backing, fly line, and leaders all seem to be a bit confusing. On top of it all, you have to ensure you have the proper size arbor. Orvis takes away all of these concerns with the reel on the Encounter.

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Materials

Orvis Encounter reels are made out of composite plastic. For some anglers, this is an immediate “no-no.” However, the Encounter is able to withstand saltwater use as a result of its makeup.

Saltwater Fly Fishing in Costa Rica

The reel is anodized and that is fairly rare to find on an entry-level fly setup. However, the reel isn’t sealed so you’ll need to be sure to clean it if you ever use it in saltwater.

Most high-end freshwater reels are made out of aluminum. You can tell that the encounter reel is not the highest quality, but it by no means feels cheap.

Drag System

The Encounter reel comes with a disc drag system as well as a solid drag knob. You can easily set the drag to whatever resistance you need. Plus, you can adjust the drag to a necessary level in the middle of the fight.

Size

The Encounter reel is a large arbor reel and can hold up to 150 or so yards of line. This is enough line for you to fight any sort of larger fish you hook into.

You won’t ever have to worry about getting spooled so feel free to let your fish run and tire themselves out. The fight to bring them back is almost worth them taking the extra line.

Line

As mentioned above, the Encounter comes fully equipped with plenty of backing.

It also has weight forward line attached. For beginners, weight forward is the perfect option. It allows you to fish with everything from dry flies to streamers.

6 wt fly rods delicate presentation

Your dry flies will either need to be a bit heavier or equipped with floatant to keep them on the surface. Eventually, the heaviness of the weight forward tip will drag smaller dries underwater.

For nymphs and streamers, the weight forward line will help them reach the necessary levels, but you may have to wait a bit before they’re fully at the bottom.

Plus, you’ll receive a few leaders when you purchase the reel. The fly line has a loop at the end and all of the leaders have loops connectors as well.

Orvis Encounter Rod Review

Overall, the Orvis Encounter rod is a great choice for anglers of all skill levels, but it works best for those fairly new to fly fishing. It’s not in its element on large water with difficult conditions, but it will handle just about everything else.

However, on clear days and medium-size bodies of water, the Encounter will feel right at home. You’ll be able to cast 50-60 feet and pick your spots. It’s going to handle larger fish, but not without a long fight.

Fly Fishing Spain

You’re going to leave the water tired after using the Encounter. You’ll use quite a bit of strength and pressure to get the most out of this rod, but for a newer angler, it doesn’t get much better.

Orvis Encounter Reel Review

The Orvis Encounter reel is the best aspect of the setup. On top of the fact that it comes fully equipped with everything you need to begin fishing, it will fight whatever you throw at it.

It’s made of a hard plastic, can take a beating and you don’t have to worry too much about any intricate aspects of the reel breaking. It’s a fairly simple setup that will go above and beyond anything you ask of it and work when you need it most.

Orvis Encounter Review: My Personal Thoughts

To finish off this Orvis Encounter review, I just want to give a few of my own opinions after using the rod and reel combo for such a long time.

Pros:

For a beginner, this rod is great. You’ll be able to use it in almost any scenario you would like. Plus, this setup is only going to cost you around $180 with shipping.

Fly Fishing Kayak

You receive everything you need to begin fly fishing besides the flies. At times, Orvis does sales where they include flies in the purchase of an Encounter setup.

Cons:

This rod isn’t meant to be the main rod of choice for experienced anglers. It will do the trick in certain situations, but shouldn’t be the only 8-weight in your arsenal.

You’ll have trouble on the days with difficult conditions. It won’t fight against the wind and you’ll wish the rig had more power. You’ll know that you’ve been casting when you’re finished using the Encounter.

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Concluding My Orvis Encounter Review

The Orvis Encounter is a necessary purchase for anyone new to fly angling. You’ll get a taste of some features of top-notch rod combos, but still yearn for more. It is equipped with enough quality features that you’ll gain a strong idea of what you would like for your upgraded rig.

The Encounter will give you everything it has and you can have peace of mind that it’s going to last.

Some images in this post are courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

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