LL Bean Pocket Water
- Least expensive in the class
- Medium action better matches the normal casting stroke of most anglers
- Stiffer medium-action rod allows helps control bigger, heavier flies
- Faster action taper means less precise presentations of small flies
- Somewhat heavy for its size
- Accuracy is sacrificed for added power
- Not made in the USA
The very affordable Pocket Water allows anglers to pursue trout in small streams, ponds, and pools effectively, provided they can find fish within the rod’s limited casting range—roughly 30-35 feet for accurate casting range and 35-40 for maximum range. The rod’s medium-action performance gives the Pocket Water a bit of versatility since it has enough stiffness to cast and present larger flies and even small weighted nymphs. Unfortunately that boast of casting power limits the rod’s accuracy and ability to make delicate presentations without expending extra care and effort.
The Pocket Water from LL Bean offers a compromise between power and performance that seems ideally targeted at anglers who want a dedicated dry fly rod without changing their casting stroke or techniques.
The more robust taper of the Pocket Water rod blanks creates a much stiffer, faster-action rod than any of the rods in this class, without reaching the full fast-action performance. The tip section does offer significant flex, so presentation of small dries is smoother and softer than you’ll find with a true general purpose rod. Likewise, the shorter rod length helps control short casts in the tight quarters commonly encountered on small brush-lined streams. Both of these features give it dry fly and skinny water credibility and performance. But the faster action structure keeps it from being a master of the dry fly craft.
Casting Distance and Accuracy
The medium-action design potentially gives the rod power to move line on longer casts, but the soft, noodly tip destroys accuracy beyond about 35 feet for most casters. When fishing in close (within 30-35 feet) the rod can be cast accurately with a gentle presentation, especially with mid-sized flies (hook size 12-16) that turn over easily. Beyond that range, the rod works well when throwing weighted nymphs where accuracy and presentation aren’t vital.
Within the limited range of casting accuracy, the Pocket Water serves anglers well whether fishing with small to medium sized dry flies, weighted nymphs or even heavy multi-fly dry/dropper style rigs. Beyond that range, the rod’s performance drops precipitously.
NOTE: We tested the 7’6”, 4-weight but the Pocket Water is also available in 3-weight through 5 –weight versions of various lengths.
How We Tested It
Fishing for rainbow trout on the tailwater fishery of the Upper Yakima River and the Rocky Ford spring creek, both in Washington state, and the Metolius and Crooked Rivers of central Oregon. We also fished small streams in eastern Washington and Oregon (notably the Lostine, Owyhee, John Day, Touchet, Tucannon, Wenaha and Walla Walla.). Testers included long time outdoor writers, game wardens, western fishing guides, and a few select blog readers.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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