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Review: L.L. Bean Pocket Water Fly Combo

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September 25, 2012

Review: L.L. Bean Pocket Water Fly Combo

By Joe Cermele

I have never been a huge fan of pre-matched rod-and-reel combos. I guess that's because I prefer to pair those items on my own, ensuring I like the way they feel together and being confident the set-up is fit to do exactly what I want it to do. That being said, the new Pocket Water from L.L. Bean is the first combo that is making me eat my words, and I think it's because what they've done is create a quality outfit that fills a void in many flycasters' arsenals at a pretty good price. 

Many flyfishermen, at least I think, want to include a short, light rod made just for small fish in small streams in their retinue of sticks. However, they know they won't use it every weekend, and, therefore, don't want to drop loads of cash on a 3-weight, line, and a small reel that may only hit the water a few times a season. The Pocket Water series offers 3- to 5-weight rods, none longer than 7' 10," complete with a simple, though well-built reel loaded with backing and line. Combos start at $285 and max out at $300.

By Bean's own admission, these outfits are not designed to make casts longer than 40 feet. If you're after wild Alaskan rainbows on the Kenai, this is not the outfit for you. But if you're into small stream trout, it's a great little rod. I didn't use it for trout, but spent a day stripping a girdle bug through riffles and pools for rock bass, bluegills, and a few less-than-trophy smallmouths on a hometown stream I grew up fishing. I'm really not blowing smoke when I say the 7 1/2-foot 4-weight I tested was a slick little sharpshooter. It was super-light, very accurate, and very fun to fish. And it didn't feel like the beginner's special combo in my hand, but rather an outfit expertly matched by the owner of a country fly shop.

I also like the rod because it's not incredibly fast, giving it somewhat of a bamboo feel without the bamboo weight. The finish even has a sort of bamboo hue, and the reel has a bit of a throw-back design. Put together, there's a subtle vintage charm. Important to note is that all the Pocket Water rods are 4-piece. Packed down in its little tube, this rod will go anywhere. If you're into hiking to small waters for trout or panfish, you need to check out these combos.

Comments (10)

Top Rated
All Comments
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

I don't see anywhere in the article what the action of the rods are as described by BEAN, OR..what the material is they are made out of..means nothing to me without that information.

-4 Good Comment? | | Report
from sgtsly wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

What, your monitor's black and white. Notice the different color of the text. It's called a link.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

While I am not in the market for another fly rod, this one looks like it'll fill a niche.

Clinch, I'll copy and paste the link for you. You may not get good reception from your mothers basement.

"A favorite pastime of Maine fishermen is hiking into small, remote streams and ponds in search of native wild brook trout. You don't need long, fast-action fly rods for this kind of fishing; shorter, suppler rods are the weapons of choice. With a painted finish that's reminiscent of the finest bamboo, our newest fly rod series is designed specifically for the delicate, accurate casts required on small streams. Best of all, they come with an incredibly affordable price. The premium graphite blanks are built with a smooth, medium action and excel at casts less than 40 feet – ideal for stealthy fishing in small water. Built with premium hardware including cork half wells grip, burled wood spacer and double-foot snake guides. Four-piece design for easy packing on hikes into remote streams. Lightweight carbon fiber rod tube won't weigh down your pack. Imported."

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

buck..You're comprehension skills seem to have been dulled to say the least. I asked what the action of the rod was? And I also asked what the material of the rod was made of?
I wouldn't want a $300 fast action graphite in 7'5". Provide needed information if you want to promote a product.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

And it is your, not you're. We have small streams out West as well. Please allow the consumer to decide where they would use the product once the needed info was provided.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Joe_Cermele wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

Clinch, I note in the blog that the rod isn't too fast, which I like in a short rod. As for the material, it's graphite. My apologies for not mentioning that I guess, but given that the material is not something unique, like fiberglass or bamboo, I didn't think I had to mention it. 99.9% of rods on the market these days are graphite or graphite composite, from a $12 Ugly Stik to a $600 G. Loomis.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from HelloStrega wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

where would you use something like this instead of a slightly more inexpensive and possibly more portable Tenkara rod?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Joe_Cermele wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

HelloStrega, good argument. I love Tenkara, truly I do, but I (and I'm speaking only for myself here) don't think they are the best option on small water all the time always. No matter how you slice it, they are limiting. In true pockets they shine, but I've been on streams with a Tenkara where trout are rising downstream and I know if I get in Tenkara range I'm going to spook them. To me, Tenkara is another great tool to have in your arsenal, and there are situations where they are the best tool for the job, just not every job in every situation. I also don't find them as good for weightier flies, like wooly buggers, which I use a lot on small waters.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

Where would I use it? I'd use it on BEEEEEG Rivers. Once you learn sections of a big river, you narrow it down to eh small water runs/riffles. I fish a big river like the Clark Fork in Montana, and never really see the big river always looking at my water off the banks in general. And I like a rod, and REEL. Managing line is a big part of flyfishing, and handling line on a reel is a lot of the pleasure of flyfishing. Thanks Joe for that info. I to want a flexible rod in the shorter lengths, but also not a buggie wipe flemzy, poorly made rod as well. And the line? Floating, but could be a DT, or a WF tapered line.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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from Joe_Cermele wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

Clinch, I note in the blog that the rod isn't too fast, which I like in a short rod. As for the material, it's graphite. My apologies for not mentioning that I guess, but given that the material is not something unique, like fiberglass or bamboo, I didn't think I had to mention it. 99.9% of rods on the market these days are graphite or graphite composite, from a $12 Ugly Stik to a $600 G. Loomis.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from sgtsly wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

What, your monitor's black and white. Notice the different color of the text. It's called a link.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

While I am not in the market for another fly rod, this one looks like it'll fill a niche.

Clinch, I'll copy and paste the link for you. You may not get good reception from your mothers basement.

"A favorite pastime of Maine fishermen is hiking into small, remote streams and ponds in search of native wild brook trout. You don't need long, fast-action fly rods for this kind of fishing; shorter, suppler rods are the weapons of choice. With a painted finish that's reminiscent of the finest bamboo, our newest fly rod series is designed specifically for the delicate, accurate casts required on small streams. Best of all, they come with an incredibly affordable price. The premium graphite blanks are built with a smooth, medium action and excel at casts less than 40 feet – ideal for stealthy fishing in small water. Built with premium hardware including cork half wells grip, burled wood spacer and double-foot snake guides. Four-piece design for easy packing on hikes into remote streams. Lightweight carbon fiber rod tube won't weigh down your pack. Imported."

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Joe_Cermele wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

HelloStrega, good argument. I love Tenkara, truly I do, but I (and I'm speaking only for myself here) don't think they are the best option on small water all the time always. No matter how you slice it, they are limiting. In true pockets they shine, but I've been on streams with a Tenkara where trout are rising downstream and I know if I get in Tenkara range I'm going to spook them. To me, Tenkara is another great tool to have in your arsenal, and there are situations where they are the best tool for the job, just not every job in every situation. I also don't find them as good for weightier flies, like wooly buggers, which I use a lot on small waters.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from HelloStrega wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

where would you use something like this instead of a slightly more inexpensive and possibly more portable Tenkara rod?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

Where would I use it? I'd use it on BEEEEEG Rivers. Once you learn sections of a big river, you narrow it down to eh small water runs/riffles. I fish a big river like the Clark Fork in Montana, and never really see the big river always looking at my water off the banks in general. And I like a rod, and REEL. Managing line is a big part of flyfishing, and handling line on a reel is a lot of the pleasure of flyfishing. Thanks Joe for that info. I to want a flexible rod in the shorter lengths, but also not a buggie wipe flemzy, poorly made rod as well. And the line? Floating, but could be a DT, or a WF tapered line.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

buck..You're comprehension skills seem to have been dulled to say the least. I asked what the action of the rod was? And I also asked what the material of the rod was made of?
I wouldn't want a $300 fast action graphite in 7'5". Provide needed information if you want to promote a product.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

And it is your, not you're. We have small streams out West as well. Please allow the consumer to decide where they would use the product once the needed info was provided.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

I don't see anywhere in the article what the action of the rods are as described by BEAN, OR..what the material is they are made out of..means nothing to me without that information.

-4 Good Comment? | | Report

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