It’s blue, badass, but does it cast? The new Echo Bad Ass Glass fly rod created loads of excitement within the fly fishing industry. It’s understood glass rods offer excellent presentation for dry flies in smaller weights but nobody has really tried to build a solid glass rod in sizes 8 to 12-weight. Fiberglass rods in general are great but most people have questioned a rod in the upper echelon of weight classes. It appears Echo did their research and built one of the more exciting rods this year. JC and I have come up with the following product review after we both decided to add one to the arsenal.
My thoughts when I first looked at the Echo BAG rod I was speculative to say the least. I thought a glass rod for flats with huge fish? Naahhh. This rod is going to explode and shoot chards of fiberglass into the atmosphere. The rod is slightly heavy but it isn’t made of one of the lighter materials on the market. Of course there are plenty of light and super-solid graphite options on the market but I wanted to try something different. Besides that it sounded fun and looks like a light-saber from Star Wars so who wouldn’t want to try it?
I made my first cast with an Echo BAG rod on Utah Lake trying to track down white bass, walleye, carp, and pike. Luck would have it I ended up destroying some white bass within 30 minutes on some FISHSKULL clousers I happen to tie up earlier that week. It would have been impossible to have any more fun on any other 8WT rod for small bass. The white bass ranged in size but no bigger than a few pounds. Being a fiberglass rod the take was explosive and made for playing fish a blast. White bass would crush the clouser then proceed to jump out of the water giving the rod a fun-bouncy-feel. The rod is stout but will handle a huge bend so setting the hook was super fun; big strip sets, and allowed for some good fighting action. I did end up hooking into something large on the bottom, most likely a walleye or catfish, the rod performed well until a big head shake allowed to the hook to be spat. I don’t think the rod had anything to do with losing that fish, more of my hook size for a large fish and poor line management.
Having crushed some white bass I ended up exploring some murky flats trying to find some carp. The BAG is probably one of my favorite rods for carp now minus the accuracy which some of it has to do with my casting abilities. If your timing is a little off and your forward haul is to too rough the rod tends to track-off to the side and the fly misses the target. On the other hand the rod makes it insanely easy to launch a small cray-fish or cottonwood seed fly with ease. What I mean is less double hauling to fling line through your guides and perfect turn-over for a nice delicate presentation onto your target. Unfortunately that day the water so murky I couldn’t see fish and got a few shots at bubbles and surface disturbances. After awhile I finally locked into my first carp on the BAG and it was way too much fun. The initial eat has so much feel all the way through the rod it’s unbelievable. The next best part of the fiberglass design is fighting large fish. The rod has a decent amount of backbone but still lets the fish go nuts and run like a track and field champion if it so desires. Of course some of that has to do with your drag setting but fighting a fish with this rod is like shooting Roman candle fireworks at your friends: pure excitement and solid entertainment.
I used my Waterworks-Lamson Force reel with this rod and it made for a great combo. The balance of the rod is a little off but I’ve never been picky about that. The reason I like it so much is it’s definitely the lightest reel I own with the heaviest 8WT rod I’ve ever used. Makes it easy to cast it all day and allows the glass rod to do its thing. I was running a Scientific Anglers Wavelength floating 8WT line and it was perfect. Per usual the textured line allows easy pick-up which is super fun with the BAG rod because you can shoot out that same distance like a giant trebuchet shoots pumpkins in the fall season.
The biggest downside I’ve found with this rod is it doesn’t have enough backbone to wrench larger fish into the net as quickly as a normal graphite rod. It can be difficult to net larger carp by yourself with this rod. I’d be interested to try the 10WT version to get some more backbone for horsing fish into the net. If the rod had all the backbone needed I don’t think it would offer the same launcher status and delicate presentation. In general I think the pro’s of this rod outweigh the con’s.
I too was overly skeptical when it came to the Echo Bad Ass Glass. I love fishing fiberglass rods on small streams with light tippets and dry flies for trout. However, anyone who knows me knows that I love to spend time looking for carp and other larger fish. Only time would be able to tell if I would find the same level of enjoyment out of this rod. Unlike Carlin, I opted for the 9-weight model of the BAG in hopes that it would give me a wider range of use. Especially in salty environments. Even though I haven’t had a chance to use it in the salt yet I have spent a bunch of time with that rod in my hands walking around the flats of Utah looking for carp. With that said here are my early thoughts about the rod.
The casting characteristics of this rod are SLOW! For carp, I have been throwing this rod with the Scientific Anglers Sharkwave Saltwater Taper and it has a ton of line feel. At first, it took me a minute to dial in the cadence of this rod due to it’s extremely slow nature. Once I had that down I am able to uncork casts accurately at long distances. This rod has plenty of power in reserve for throwing larger flies (poppers, merkins, baitfish, ect.) and I can’t wait to see what it can do in those areas.
When it comes to the looks of this rod its fantastic! The blue blank is unlike many other factory rods that you see these days. Couple that with the raw/unpainted look of the fiberglass blank and you have a rod that truly pops.
The fiberglass construction of this rod makes this rod feel like a noodle. Meaning that the rod itself has a TON on line feel. Even the gentlest eats are detected with this rod which means that in theory you can fish lighter tippets. Furthermore, when fighting fish, that feel can turn into a lot of fun. You can feel every subtle movement and headshake over the course of an interaction with a fish.
What I’m not completely sold on is the overall feel of this rod. Even though the rod can be a lot of fun to fish it is also fairly hard to fight fish with. I am of the impression that this rod does not have enough backbone when it comes to breaking the will of a fish at the end of a fight. Now this could totally come down to the fact that I am used to modern graphite rods and their characteristics when fighting fish. The Echo BAG will just continue to bend and it makes for some tricky situations when trying to stop the run of a large fish or at the end of a fight when trying to land them. However, with that being said I will continue to fish this rod until I figure out a much better way to fight these larger fish.
I am looking forward to seeing what the BAG can do in more freshwater and saltwater big game situations in the coming months. Next up for the BAG is a trip down to the Northern Yucatan to have some fun with Saballito (Baby Tarpon). I will return a full performance report afterwards. I am sure that it is not going to disappoint.
Overall we highly recommend giving the Echo Bad Ass Glass rod a shot and I’m almost certain it will peak your interest. If you want to check one out give us a call and stop by Fishwest.
To see more photos and the BAG rod in action follow us on Instagram: @cuttypowshark and @jcweeks3