#12 Echo Base 9 foot #8 $99.99
We weren’t as enthusiastic about the Echo Base as we were the top ten rods in our Shootout, but when you factor in the price at under $100, this puts a whole different light on things. Yes, it is heavy, verging on what we would call a clunker, but it still casts a pretty decent line. But for a beginner, I’d recommend they spend just a little more money, like $189.95 and get the Fenwick Aetos. The Aetos has a lighter swing weight and performs a lot better at short distances. Casting the Base all day is going to be tiring, but at mid to long range it still scored 18’s, which isn’t too shabby. What the Base will be is a great rod for guides that want to have some extra rods on hand for clients. And the Base looks like it will be tough. If it breaks, Echo has one of the best warranty programs, and you’ll get another rod at minimal cost. Cheap and tough are the main criteria that most guides love. Years ago you had a heck of a time finding the blank and components to build a rod and not spend a hundred bucks. Now you can buy the finished rod for that price, and Echo even gives you a case! (TFO are you listening?)
The Base is nothing fancy but it’s not all that bad either. The color is a very dark blue, almost black, with black wraps trimmed in silver. The handle is a standard full wells and seems comfortable enough. The quality of the cork is not that great, but what do you expect for a hundred bucks? Echo uses a decent black anodized double locking, uplock seat, which is pretty much standard these days, and a short extension butt with a nice rubber butt cap. The guides are two SiC stripping guides followed with good-sized hard chrome snake guides.
George’s casting notes:
Performance at 35 feet: 17 points out of 20
The stiffness and heavy swing weight didn’t make this rod too pleasant to cast in close.
Performance at 60 feet: 18 points out of 20
Decent, but nothing to write home about. Both the Imperial and Predator were better.
Performance at 80 feet: 18 points out of 20
Ok, but you are going to get a workout.
Performance at 100 feet: 17.5 points out of 20
You can hit 100, but with a tremendous amount of effort. Both of the Fenwick rods do it a lot more easily.
#10 Echo Base 9’#8 $99.99 69/80
The Echo Base is a great rod. Don’t let the performance scores bum you out. If you love fly fishing and have the chance to go saltwater fishing but are on a budget the Echo Base is a no brainer! This rod puts you in the game and unlike any other inexpensive rod bought at Cabela’s or Walmart, this rod will put you in a better position for success on the flats. Ditto if you are looking for an inexpensive streamer rod, fishing a sinking line.
Back up rod worthy? YES. I’ll bet money that anglers who purchase this rod as a backup and end up using it will be very happy they brought this rod. Is it the lightest rod best performing rod of 2016? Of course not, but it can still be a trip saver and can still help you land you that fish of a lifetime. And for $99.99 why not leave the rod with your guide as a tip? Certainly this rod is worth a lot more than a C-note, (expect to see the price on this rod go up under normal laws of supply and demand).
Performance at 35 feet: 17 points out of 20 Stiffer (and heavier) than the Mystic Reaper. Still the Base tracks well and is accurate, even in the wind.
Performance at 60 feet: 17 points out of 20 Again, excellent tracking and accuracy for any rod, much less a rod at this price! The extra weight is holding it back from a higher score. The overwhelmingly large grip isn’t helping either.
Performance at 80 feet: 18 points out of 20 At distance this Base is starting to feel pretty good! Much better than the Mystic at this distance. No tailing loops. Fantastic performance for the money!
Hit the Hun? 17 points out of 20 Yup. I bet TR can throw the whole line plus another 30 feet of backing. I would have scored it even higher but the extra weight requires extra work to get it going.
#13 (tie) Echo Base
Both the Echo and LTS felt a little clunky compared to the BIIIx. The LTS looks like some of the fiberglass rods that are making a comeback. The cork on the Echo felt really fat in my hand. The rods reached out to 80’ pretty easy but lost accuracy. The hardware for the Echo and LTS are just so-so for saltwater. The Winston is winning in that department. The Winston BIIIx's action is just a little too soft for aggresive casting, but might make a good rod for learning saltwater anglers as it is easy to feel.