Review of the Orvis Zero G 906-4 Tip-Flex 10.5 (Part I)

gear bagThere are several people in the world who were tired of my incessant research on a new streamer rod. I’d been searching for months, read reviews until my eyes were sore, and cast at least a half-dozen different models. Sure, I already had a decent rod for streamers (the Sage 690-3 SP), and my short casting stroke and obsessive use of sinking lines and 6-inch pieces of dumbell-ed rabbit strip was pushing it – nonetheless I was pretty satisfied with its performance. I’d been lucky too – no multi-ounce flies had yet knocked a tip off – but I was in need of a backup quarterback just in case. Instead I wound up with what may be a starter – the Orvis Zero G 906-4 Tip-Flex 10.5.

Like my last ostentatious and frivolous purchase rod review I’ll being doing this one in two parts: paint and trim, and track acceleration (reels do the braking). I purchased this beauty from (where else?) Orvis – specifically from the Cherry Creek location. I’d hinted to the folks there that I was in want of a rocket launcher, and a few days ago Kerry Caragher said I had to cast this one. Fast forward to this afternoon – I was back in the shop, BYORL (bring your own reel and line) and out on the grass for a test drive. I’ll have more to report in regards to performance later, but I can say I was false casting 30+ feet of 5 inch/second sinker with barely a twitch of my elbow and some short tugs on the line – you guessed it…I was sold.

Following is the first half of the review, and some pics, of the latest addition to the quiver…

Nice red pebbled finish tube
zero-gravity-tube

Rod sock with nostalgic Orvis warranty information I hope I’ll never have to read again
orvis-rod-sock

The fit and finish of this rod is exceptional. The base color is this deep red that reminds me of the 389LL, but it also carries this somewhat metallic sheen – and Orvis was easy on the glue. Guide and ferrule wraps are a darker red, and the ferrule areas are accented with a modest touch of gold (along with nifty gold alignment dots). The ferrules are fully finished, meaning full glossy (and wax required). The snake guides are titanium oxide (fancy jargon for gunmetal gray) and the stripping guides are black with gunmetal inserts. The reel seat is the classic Orvis cutaway with silver carbon weave beneath – it and the butt are polished aluminum finish. The cork is light and smooth, and has no blemishes.

Four fine pieces
orvis-zero-gravity-4-piece

zero-g-handle

All the pieces fit together like gloves, and despite my anal retentive, bordering on insane meticulous professional-level inspection I could not find a single ascetic flaw on this tool. In fact, the only problem I found with the entire package was with the rod tube and sock – the tube seems about a 1/4 inch too short for the rod-filled sock, so you have to ‘scrunch down’ the end a bit in order to comfortably get the cap back on. Hardly a reason to make a warranty claim.

orvis-zero-gravity

tip-flex-10-5

You’ve probably noticed from the pictures above that this rod is a saltwater model. My hand has always felt better around salty cork, but I’m not inclined to have custom handles put on stock rods (or build my own) – I just take it when I can get it. The fighting butt is ancillary, but since I’ll be using this rod on big rivers while targeting big trout, let’s keep our fingers crossed that I’ll actually find it useful.

This season I’d already picked up another reel for 6-weight use, an earlier model (but still new) Waterworks-Lamson Litespeed 1.5 in the guide finish…

Filled with gel spun backing and a 200 grain SA Streamer Express
litespeed-reel

And here are the happy couple together…
rod-and-reel

“Billfish Of The World” poster hanging in background for visual imagery purposes only

When I was first introduced to this rod, I was concerned it would feel heavy and sluggish with the featherweight reel. But when put together they’re like peas and carrots – I think Orvis sandbagged their measured weight on this rod by a tad – after the test run I not only believe I’ll have no problem slinging streamers with this rig for ten hours straight, but I also think it feels a bit lighter and more responsive than my previous setup.

I’ll be back with the second half of this report on Sunday or Monday. If you don’t hear from me by then I’ve either decided to camp out riverside a few more days because the fishing is so good, or a speeding conehead took the tip off the rod on the first cast and I got skunked on the following couple of hundred with the backup.

UPDATE: After a few weeks, I switched reels. Bottom line – the Litespeed 1.5 was just too light for this rod. A Velocity 2 Hard Alox, roughly an ounce heavier, took it’s place, and the setup feels much better balanced now.

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