Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Fly Product: Review of Risen Fly's Ichthus Reels

A couple of months ago I saw a random Tweet from some no name company about a $12.50 fly line. Of course, being a frugal guy, I decided to check out the link and see what this Risen Fly company was all about and why they were offering lines so cheap. Clicking that link and heading over to was the catalyst to a chain reaction of fly line purchases and the start of a great relationship.

Since then, we have been featuring the non-stop sales Risen has offered as "Daily Deals" and "Fly Products". The prices they've been throwing down are out of this world, unbelievable. Now, I wont lie, initially I did second guess purchasing the lines, thinking "these prices are too good to be true, there has to be something wrong with these lines or maybe they're just poorly made." I was completely wrong. I own about a dozen fly reels, if not more, and I have a majority of those main dozen strung up with Risen Alpha fly lines now. The prices of the lines have gone up a little, to around $17.50, but thats still minimal scratch, especially for a high quality line. I was more than satisfied and have backed up my stocks with lines as well.

The level of satisfaction I had through these lines transferred naturally when I was contacted by Risen to do a review of their Ichthus fly reels, I was thrilled. I decided, before receiving the reels to read up on them and see what they had to offer. The Ichthus reel comes in four different sizes 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, and 9/10 and costs, RIGHT NOW (I say it that way because they are still having their 30% off grand opening sale), $98.00, $101.50, $105.00, and $108.50 respectively. They come in two colors, black and gunmetal. Risen sent me the Ichthus 3/4 in gunmetal and 7/8 in black. Both colors look great, they have that "flat" look to them and look like that classic all-american reel with a new-school touch.

Since fishing was slow when I first received the reels, it was really tough to get the review rolling so I decided to channel my cabin fever into getting a good feel for the weight and balance of the reels on my rods as well as stringing them up with my DIY spooling station to have them prepped for when the fishing turned on. I spooled up the Ichthus 3/4 with some of Risen's 3wt Alpha Line and seated it on my Redington CT 3wt as well as the Ichthus 7/8 with Risen's 8wt Alpha Line on my 8wt Allen Compass rod and threw a few loops in the park. Now, I know what your thinking, "how did that test the reel bro?". Exactly, so what I was doing was not only shaking the old sticks and brushing off the rust in the shoulder, but allowing myself to pull line off the reels using different tightnesses on the drag system to see what felt "right" for when this bad boy hit the water. The only complaint I had was that the reels were a bit stiff initially but a little bit of reel lube had these reels purring like a pure bread cat.

Based on "park testing", the reels felt great, I had an idea of where I'd like the drag when I want to peel line off the reels for casting and the counter balance they would have with my rods. It was perfect. With the 3/4 Ichthus weighing in at 4.06 oz, it balanced out both my Redington CT 3wt and CT 4wt. The 7.76 oz Ichthus 7/8 balanced out both my Allen Xa 7wt and Compass 8wt. I was pretty satisfied with the feel and it even seemed as if it balanced better than the Allen reels did on the Allen rods.

I took the reels with me on a few trips but walked away with skunk after skunk. The one day I forgot the 7/8 at home, Luis and I had a field day on the Pickerel in the Severn River, crap. After months of sending Risen emails that at some point said something along the lines of "no fish again", I was ready to get the monkey off my back and hear one of these reels sing. That day came shortly after sending another sad email to Risen asking for forgiveness for slacking on the review (aka apologizing for the shitty fishing we were having). Some of you that follow us on Instagram and Facebook may remember that amazing day I had on the C&O Canal during the carp pre-spawn through all the pictures I posted. If not, let me lay it out for you...

I had my Allen Xa 7wt with the Risen Ichthus 7/8 on my hip. I parked at Lock 7 and checked the water. It was super high and decently murky, but I immediately spotted tails and mud clouds. After about 2 hours of missed hook-ups, I decided to sit down and have a bite to eat. I sat on the wall of Lock 7, about 15ft up from the closed lock and watched the water. Mid-sandwich I spotted a group of about five 5-15lb carp headed my way. I set down my food and grabbed the rod. What happened over the next few minutes was amazing. I had hooked into my personal best carp, on the Risen Ichthus 7/8 (thanks to John Montana's Soft Hackle Hybrid) and listened to the Ichthus sing good enough to almost record and turn into a ringtone. Boom...

Ass the day went on, I went 11/21 on fish and went home with smelly hands, a full SD card from the GoPro, over 200 likes on Instagram photos and a big smile on my face. I had my best fishing day in about 2 years and I will absolutely never forget it. Every time I tell the story of that day or reminisce, I will be able to mention how well that Ichthus 7/8 held up.

The drag on the Ichthus is pretty sensitive. It goes from as loose as you can possible imagine to tight enough to stop a 15lb carp dead in its tracks and put a good bend i your rod. The drag, as Risen explains it, is a "large diameter Cork/FXB polymer disc drag delivers ultra smooth, low start-up inertia". I never got to use the drag really on the 3/4 since Bluegill dont tend to run hard and fast...or have much weight on them. The one disadvantage to the drag is that its not sealed. If I were to make any changes, it would be to seal it on the larger 7/8 and 9/10 models for saltwater applications. 

Here's what Risen has to say about the rest of the reel...

-Two sealed, precision, stainless steel ball bearings
-Fitted with one-way roller bearing
-Quick left and right hand handle reversal
-Counter balanced spool
-Large arbor design
-Easy drag adjustment
-Drag clutch with zero-backlash
-Silent retrieve with a crisp out-going click
-Quick release spool
-Exposed palming rim for additional control
The "quick release spool" is ideal for those who want to purchase a spare spool but unfortunately, Risen does not offer spare spools yet. The "silent retrieve" is probably my favorite part of the reel, I hate reels that click on the retrieve. The large arbor design is what kept the big carp from that day from spooling me, allowing for more line and backing capacity. Here are the rest of the specs of the reel...
WIDE (in)
Ichthus 3/4
Ichthus 5/6
Ichthus 7/8
Ichthus 9/10

Overall I was not only happy with the reels but actually surprised. I came into this review with excitement just to get another Risen product in my hands but had pretty high expectations and set the bar high, making sure these reels really had to win me over. So, with all of that said, here we go...

The Ichthus reel is an amazing reel for the price. By the end of this month, Risen's "Grand Opening" sale, everything 30% off, will be over and the Ichthus prices will jump back up to the 3/4 being $140, the 5/6 being $145, the 7/8 being $150, and the 9/10 being $155. Still not bad, honestly. The size of these reels is perfect for the weight rods and lines they match up with. With the only real problems we found with the reel being the unsealed drag and stiff drag prior to us lubing it, we can only take off half of a star bringing the Ichthus Reels home with a 4.5 out of 5 stars!

A HUGE thank you goes to Risen Fly for provising these products and not only allowing us to use their reels for a few months, but for helping make some awesome memories. Keep and eye on the blog for upcoming Risen reviews and features!

You can check out Risen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as their site Let them know the guys at TLTFF sent you.


*This review was completely unbiased and these reels were lent to me for review purposes only. This review, as with all of our reviews was, completely fair with no intentions coming into it of giving it a "good" or "bad" rating. We do our best to keep all reviews as fair as possible with biases being thrown out the door.


  1. Your only problem, with the sealed drag, is fixed with our Anakim reels! Thanks for the great write up!