Friday, May 30, 2014

Fly Product: TLTFF Review of the 5wt Risen Fly ITB Fly Rod

ITB - In The Beginning. Not only the first rod to hit the Risen Fly portfolio, but one that stands for something more than the sport of fly fishing. 

Risen Fly "composed this rod to meet the demands of many anglers needs especially those just getting into the sport.  It's a great rod with an eye catching design that will get you on the water throwing tight loops and placing your fly where you want it."

Here are some of the specs via the Risen Fly site:
  • High module graphite blank in a bold burnt orange color and brown/orange wrappings
  • Mid flex, fast action
  • 4 sections with the length and weight of rod marked on the end of each section to avoid confusion and alignment dots
  • High quality 2 toned cork
  • Steel snakes and guides with hook keeper
  • Machined reel seat with wooden insert
  • Triangle rod tube to prevent the rod from rolling around
  • 4 section rod sock
  • Backed by Risen Fly's Lifetime Warranty

(Click on the above photos to enlarge)

I received the 9' 5wt ITB rod prototype a few months back but the harshness of this winter didn't allow for much fishing until everything melted early this Spring. I was able to go out for one recon mission with Luis on the Severn River after some pickerel which did give me a great feel for the rod and its action. We did get skunked that day so no bend was felt on any fish. I was finally able to get the rod out for a real mission back in early March after some trout on the Gunpowder River followed by a trip to the mountains of Western Maryland.

Initially I had the ITB 5wt lined up with some 6wt line as I thought the rod felt a bit bigger than the 5wt description and because I typically line fast action rods up one weight. I found quickly that the rod was line fast action within the first few casts. The rod is for sure mid-flex but I'd say more of a medium to medium-fast action rod, slightly more noodly than any fast action rod I've ever cast. I was able to accommodate during our pickerel mission on the Severn and adjust to throw some pretty good loops thanks to a little power and I was actually able to get some flies to go good distances thanks to the head on the WF line.

After putting some WF 5wt line on my reel, taking some time to take better photos at home of the rod, and letting the ice melt down a bit, I took the ITB rod out on the Gunpowder to chase "local" trout. While taking photos I was able to really focus on some of the finer ascetics of the rod. I loved the cork handle with the accents and the orange color of the rod. As many of you know, I love colorful gear, from my reels to my backing and even clothing. The orange stands out and turns heads, especially when pair with one of Risen's matching Alpha fly line in orange (which I unfortunately did not do, but I imagine it would look great). The rod tube looked great, a triangular shape with a great cushioned carry strap and spot to put a business card or ID card. The reel seat was made of machined aluminum and a nice looking wood insert that added to the ascetic color of the blank. There is a hook keeper on this rod, which again as some of you know, I like a rod to have. The fact that the rod is a 4-piece is great. I love 4 piece rods for their ability to travel well. One complaint I did have, and this was something I noticed on the first trip, was that the alignment dots on the rod pieces didn't actually line up with the proper alignment of the guides and rod. I'm hoping this was worked out with the final product (as this was a near-finalized proto). 

 (Click on the above photos to enlarge)

Up on the GP, that I was able to get a feel for how it casts a 5wt line, much better, but again, still not convinced its a fast action rod, I decided to hold to the medium to medium-fast action. Mid-flex is still a perfect description. I was able to cast further with tighter loops and present flies like a $300 rod would. After starting 2014 off with a bang and actually putting my first fish of the year on the ITB, a nice 8" Brown, I was ready for the tougher trout of the mountains of Western Maryland. 

(Click on the above photos to enlarge)

The 9' length of the rod was definitely uncomfortable for the tighter quarters of stream fishing both out in Western MD and on the Gunpowder River. It was nice as a nymphing rod but being a 5wt, I was packing' pretty heavy for Maryland trout (I typically throw a 3wt). I threw some streamers and a few nymphs and had a blast, putting fish after fish on the ITB and having a good time watching the rod flex pretty well on some decent fish. The ITB rod has the backbone needed to cast a 5wt line a good distance and fight a fish, while also bending enough to make a smaller trout on the line look like a trophy to the guy downstream of you.

(Click on the above photos to enlarge)

The rod is comfortable in hand and fits the bill when it comes to price for what you get...Coming in at  $135.00, the price tag is a bit steep for where the rod fits in on the market.

All of the above said and considered, I would HIGHLY suggest this rod to any beginner, again fitting for the In The Beginning name. There are more affordable rods on the market from more notorious names but when it comes to a beginner's rod, the quality is there. Overall, the Risen Fly 5wt ITB rod gets 3.75 out of 5 stars. The 1.25 stars were lost on the alignment dot problem, the (over)price, and the fast action rating that should be more around medium to medium-fast as mentioned above.

This rod is now available (for the same price) in 7'6" 3wt and 8'6" 4wt (all 4-piece) and coming soon in both 6wt and 8wt in addition to the 5wt, you have a great selection  of ITB rods before you. 

Ryan at Risen Fly has stood by TLTFF since the company's beginning and has been amazing with providing gear for review and giveaways here on the blog. For that, we thank you Ryan. The check out the amazing lineup and affordable prices of quality gear, goto Risen Fly's website. Be sure to check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more and enter their monthly photo contest for a chance to win some great gear! Stay posted for more upcoming reviews as we kick into high season here at TLTFF and prepare for more excitement to come!


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