I’ve spent the last few months fishing the updated Orvis Recon fly rod. It’s a solid performing mid-priced rod that can handle a variety of situations.

The arrival of my rod in the mail in mid-April did not mark the beginning of my experience with the redesigned Recon. As an employee of the the Orvis rod shop I’ve had my hands on these rods in one way or another since the development phase. So pulling my new rod out of the shipping box was more like meeting with a colleague than making an acquaintance.

The rod I selected was the 9′ 5 weight because, in spite of having been fly fishing for over 20 years, I have never owned such a rod. It’s universally considered the best all-around trout rod so it seemed like the logical choice. I primarily fish nymphs and streamers and the 9′ rod does well with both, particularly when mending is involved.

Casting the Recon 2 (as it has come to be known within the Orvis community) took some acclimating. I have come to prefer rods with a faster action but have lots of experience fishing slower action rods. This rod lies between the two. For those familiar with the “3D” and “3F” designations of the Helios 3 rods the Recon 2 action is in between. Once I got a feel for casting I started to appreciate this slower action. It will still throw line a good distance and, let’s face it, not many of us can cast 90 or even 80 feet of line even with a fast rod. It makes a delicate presentation when necessary and I particularly enjoy that it doesn’t take a lot of speed and effort to cast. A gentle cast gives better performance than a brisk one.

It has enough backbone to handle a sink tip line with ease and slinging large, weighted flies were no problem. A size 6 cone head zonker with a 4x long shank was a big as I went but I’ve no doubt the Recon can handle bigger. I gave it a workout on a pond stocked with brook trout in April through early June and it performed exactly as a 9′ 5 weight should. I hooked and regrettably lost what was almost certainly a very sizable brown on the Battenkill. The rod was stiff enough for a good hookset and for the time I had the fish on I felt like I had control. If I’d been more diligent with my knots I would have more to write about the Recon 2’s fish playing ability.

The MSRP on the Recon is $498 for freshwater models and $549 for saltwater, landing it in the mid-priced category. It has, however, benefited from the same engineering and technology as the pricier H3 which starts at $898. When you look at it that way the redesigned Recon is a bargain.

If you’re in the market for a new fly rod I’d highly recommend checking out the Recon. Obviously everyone has their own preferences and selecting a rod is quite a personal decision. I’m far from an objective reviewer but I honestly don’t think there is anything to not like about Orvis’ latest incarnation of the Recon.

I’ll be perfectly honest. I don’t enjoy trout all that much. I release most of my trout and prefer to smoke the ones that I keep. But my daughter likes to keep her trout so I’ve been experimenting with some recipes that deviate a bit from the norm.

I’m not sure exactly what to call this recipe, but “trout, wild leek and day lily tart” is simple and descriptive, so it will do. The inspiration for this was scrambled eggs with lox but I wanted to add something else to round it out a bit. Since I came up with this in early May it seemed logical to incorporate some spring flavors and, since the trout were wild caught, some foraged ingredients were all the more appropriate.

Wild leeks, also known as “ramps” (personally, I despise the word “ramps”- I don’t know why, I just do. So I call them “wild leeks”) have become quite trendy of late and every foodie (another word I hate, and I don’t consider myself to be one) worth a nickel gets quite excited about them and as such, they have started to become more main-stream and can sometimes be found in retail locations. But day lily will likely never become the darling of food enthusiasts. Most people don’t even know it’s edible. I mostly focus on the young shoots which is what I used in this recipe although other parts are edible as well. The shoots certainly aren’t bad but they aren’t abundant in flavor which will probably keep them off the radar of those who think far too highly of their own gastronomic prowess. Day lily shoots should be cut more or less flush with the ground when they are no taller than about 12″. The shorter they are the more tender they’ll be. Give them a good wash before cooking and do the same with the leeks. Alright… on with the recipe.

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Three spring time ingredients: Trout, day lily and wild leeks

Trout, wild leek and day lily tart

  • Two whole trout, about 10″ each
  • One handful wild leeks, leaves and bulbs
  • One handful day lily shoots
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • oil for frying/sauteing

Crust:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup lard
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup water (about)
  • dash salt

For the filling pan fry the trout in oil until flaky. Let cool, remove bones and skin and set aside. Chop the leeks and day lily into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces. Saute in the same pan as the trout, adding more oil as needed. Add salt and pepper. Cook until tender and wilted. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add cream cheese, mixing/folding until melted and incorporated. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs with milk/cream. Add the egg mix to the leeks and day lily and add the trout. Mix until combined.

For the crust, combine the flour, salt and lard in a mixing bowl and work with a pastry blender. When the lard is thoroughly incorporated add the egg and a small amount of the water and continue to blend. Add more water as needed until the dough can be formed into a cohesive ball.

Roll the dough into a circle or press into the bottom of a tart pan being sure to work the crust up the sides. Pour the filling into the crust and bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until the crust starts to brown and the filling is set. Let cool and slice into wedges.

 

When you want to be outside and you’re stuck inside sometimes the best cure is to watch something about the outdoors. Here are some of my picks to help get through the ever-lengthening stay-at-home orders:

  • Jeremiah Johnson This used to be standard background viewing while I cleaned guns or rigged fishing equipment. It chronicles the life of a mountain man in the 1840s. Based partly on the biography of a real mountain man named John Jeremiah Johnson, it was filmed in Utah and was released in 1972. One of the best parts is the dialogue.
  • Lonesome Dove I call this a movie but it’s actually a miniseries. It aired in February of 1989 and is an epic-style western based on the novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry. The book is worth reading although this is a rare case of the movie being just as good as the book.
  • Meat Eater This TV series features outdoor writer Steve Rinella and his various hunting exploits. I was introduced to Rinella’s work via his book American Buffalo. What I like about this series is that he isn’t a redneck, nor corporate sponsor hack. Dialogue and monologue revolve around thoughtful introspection rather than empty banter and shameless product pitches. Perhaps most important is that things don’t always work out for Rinella and his companions which makes us regular folks feel better about our failures.
  • Chasing Monsters Another series, this one about fishing, is hosted by Cyril Chauquet. As the title implies he pursues large specimens of any given species. Traveling all over the world, Chauquet catches some pretty interesting critters. From the St. Lawrence River to West Africa to the Amazon, this series highlights the variety of game and food fish throughout the world and the cultures that have developed around them.
  • North Woods Law I will admit upfront that I have not seen this reality TV series but I have heard from reliable sources that it is a quality program. The first several seasons are set in Maine and follow the daily trials and challenges of that state’s game wardens. Later seasons take place in New Hampshire. I’ve spent a fair amount of time hunting and fishing in Maine and once spent a few days at The Fly Fishing Show exposition in Marlborough, MA getting to know one of the Maine game wardens. They are the apotheosis of what a game warden should aspire to be and it’s high time that they, and all game wardens, are finally getting some recognition.
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