November 08, 2011
By John Larison
Shopping for your first two-handed rod? Or are you tired of struggling with the spey rod you own and want to cast a rod that actually works with you rather than against you? Look no farther than Echo's Dec Hogan line-up, which I now believe are the best two handed fly rods under $350.
The "Decho" (Deck-o) line of fly rods is, hands down, the best performing rod per dollar that I've encountered. I was fortunate enough to spend this fall with the 13' 7 wt, a perfect do-everything rod for medium-sized rivers. Want to throw a Skagit head and an Intruder? Loop in a 540 compact. Looking to send a floating line and small wet fly to the far bank? Loop in a 510 compact Scandi. Or are you looking to cover a wide riffle as efficiently as possible? Try a 7/8 short-belly. The 13' 7wt performs well with each of these lines--and moreover, this rod actually helps you cast better.
The taper of the Decho line was designed by Dec Hogan himself exclusively for Echo. These rods feature a forgiving middle and soft butt section, making the cast exceptionally easy to time and lending the rod a soulful feeling during the cast. Yet these rods aren't noodles. The stiff tip ensures the rod's load won't be lost during the forward stroke, as the line and fly are lifted from the surface (in a Skagit cast) or steered through the D-loop (as with a Scandi or short-belly).
The rod's weakness is its price. At $349 bucks, Echo can't afford to endow these rods with high modulus graphite. The result is a slower recovery time than most high end rods, which limits the effective range of the rod. (Slow recovery wobbles out energy from the line). However, I've yet to find a rod that helps beginning casters throw fishable loops as far as quickly. Similarly, for those more experienced casters who struggle with timing or have a hitch in their cast, the Decho is the first rod I recommend. It really does work with the caster, helping any angler place a fishable cast, every cast.
The Decho series includes 9 rods, ranging from a 4 wt 11'9" to a 9 wt 13'6". The series also includes two long rods for big summer water, a 14'6" 7wt and a 15' 8wt.