I had the opportunity recently to get my hands on the new Echo OHS (That’s ‘One handed spey’) and am convinced that this is a very innovative and fresh idea for Great Lakes steelhead. While rods in the 10′ to 10’6″ range are not new, this 10’4″ OHS and its action, the brainchild of Tim Rafeff, really lends itself to small and medium sized rivers and might be the perfect stick for Great Lakes steelhead.
While there is little question that the ideal Great Lakes steelhead rods would be the popular “switch” lengths (10’9″ through 11’9″), those rods really are one trick ponies in that they don’t make a good “cross over” rod at all. In the past, the gold standard single hand steelhead rod was a 10′ 7wt which made a very nice streamer rod, a good bass rod and even an ‘OK’ saltwater rod, if it was all you had.
The OHS has essentially combined the two, making for the ultimate versatile medium game fly rod. Atlantic salmon anglers should covet this stick as well because it makes for a great dry fly or swinging rod and with a light Scandinavian head, one would not be giving up much distance at all.
I was casting the 7104 with a 265 grain Scandinavian head and a light Versi Leader and was easily reaching distances of 75 feet but if needed, I could have pushed it beyond that range without compromise. The rod is fast enough to mend long running lines nicely but I feel not so fast as to be hard on light tippets in an indicator or high stick nymphing role.
While casting two handed rods has become very popular in our region and there is most certainly a place for them, it is my opinion for the angler that is looking for one rod to cover a variety of situations, this new OHS fits the bill. There are a couple of unique features to this rod that add to the value and versatility. The first one being the stretched full wells grip. Although longer than an average big game handle, it is not prohibitively longer. (Anyone that has cast a switch rod single handed will tell you that the longer forward handle often feels awkward in hand.) That is not the case with the OHS. The second feature and this is the one that I particularly fell for, is the interchangeable fighting butt.
The rod is sold with two; a standard and a 2 1/2 inch fighting butt which allows one to cast it single handed or convert it to a short two-hander. Another small but not insignificant feature is the rod tube that the OHS is sold in. It’s a square tube (if that’s possible) and will hold two rods if necessary.
As Echo continues to evolve, they are quickly becoming, in this fly fishers opinion, one of the most important brands in the category. Obviously, one can’t argue Rajeff’s lineage or his accomplishments as a fly rod designer, but more than that is his and his team’s desire to put quality rods in the hands of anglers at a reasonable price. The OHS is on the top end of Echo’s price point but promises to be a wonderful tool and one that really needs to be considered when thinking about a steelhead rod.