LL Bean Silver Ghost ReviewFebruary 15, 2018
- Great price
- Decent versatility
- Good rod for novices
- Good for small rivers and streams
- Not as accurate as others in the class
- Poor distance performance
- Not made in USA
- Poor performance with heavy flies
LL Bean, perhaps best known these days for its household gear and casual apparel, still offers its own branded outdoor gear, including fly fishing equipment. The LL Bean Silver Ghost rod represents their incursion into fast-action performance. The Silver Ghost features an aggressive taper that adds weight to the rod while also giving it stiffness in the butt and mid-section for increased power. The rod casts well at medium distances but lacks both accuracy and distance performance. The rod is a good mid-range, medium-sized fly option.
Weight, balance & general feel
The Silver Ghost, with its modified western grip, fit comfortably in hand though one tester — one of our bigger men with extra-large mitts — felt the grip tapered a little too much and the rod fit loosely in his hand. The rod also felt a touch unbalanced, but with a slightly heavy butt. This was especially true when mounted with a medium- or large-arbor reel. That left the rod feeling a bit wobbly in casting which may have been why the accuracy felt a bit off compared to other rods in this class.
A full day of casting from a boat during a long drift on the Yakima River produced a bit of hand strain, suggesting we had to overgrip the slightly unbalanced rod.
The Silver Ghost met our needs in reaching fish in the 30-50 feet distances, but we struggled to get line past that with consistency. The best casters were able to work longer lines, but for most testers, the Silver Ghost presented an effective casting distance of less than 50 feet. That works great for novices and anglers targeting smaller rivers and streams, as well as lake fishers who plunk from boats or float tubes. But when you need to get a fly well out over the water, the Silver Ghost routinely comes up short.
The accuracy wasn’t there for most of our testers. I felt like I was casting blind at times as the fly seldom hit closer than a foot or two of where I was throwing. That was especially true when trying to reach out past 30 or 40 feet to narrow pockets and tight seams where fly placement was vital to successfully attracting a fish.
The Silver Ghost handled small to medium dry flies efficiently but casting streamers or even big dries — like foam grasshoppers or big salmonfly patterns — to any distance taxed the rod’s capabilities.
When tied into a trout, the Silver Ghost handled the fish well. The soft tip did offer good sensitivity on strikes, and the rod’s butt section had the strength to hold good-sized trout in control. The stiffness of the butt section also provides good power in levering diving fish up out of the depths, and the soft tip gives the flexibility needed to let the fish move without breaking off.
I struggled at times with multi-fly rigs, both in casting and in hook-setting, largely because of that tip softness, but with a bit of effort we caught fish on dries, nymphs, and streamers,
The Silver Ghost performed well within its narrow range. It’s not a rod I’d choose for still water fishing — it lacks the subtlety needed for soft presentations on flat water. Nor is it the stick to grab when you need to cast big flies good distances. But it’s an effective tool for anglers who only plan to fish 30-35 feet out. In small to medium-sized rivers, whether fishing dries, nymphs or double-fly rigs, the Silver Ghost is an affordable option.
Dan Nelson- Managing Editor & Fly Fishing Editor
Dan Nelson is GearInstitute.com's Managing Editor & fly fishing editor. He is based in the Pacific Northwest.