Risen Fly ITB Rod Review

Over the last few months, since spring has sprung and rivers have become trouty again, I have had the distinct pleasure of wrestling my fly rod under the tug of a wild trout numerous times. This feeling is something we fishermen hold near and dear, and it is not unusual to wake up with a sore arm from fighting dreamy trout all night long.

This year I have been primarily fishing with the ITB Rod from Risen Fly. This rod is a beauty to fish with and the 9′-0″ 5-weight provides the ability to handle just about any situation I stumble upon. From chucking streamers that look like something the dog hacked up last night, to dropping a tiny dry fly with the lightness of a Chinese fire walker; the ITB rod simply has it all.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Risen Fly, these guys have been pumping out high-quality rods and other fishing gear for a little over 3 years now. Being positioned in trout rich western Pennsylvania means that Risen Fly provides equipment that is proven on waters ranging from tiny mountain brooks, to large, fertile rivers with even larger fish.

I recently spoke with Ryan from Risen Fly, and he was able to shine some light on the design of the ITB rod. “When I was brainstorming on the ITB rod I wanted a good quality rod that was built to be easy to cast for new fly fishers as well as having the attributes to match certain fishing conditions.  The ITB rod has more of a moderate action to help people feel the rod more and to load it properly.” He then went on to point out some of the finer touches to the ITB rods such as the wood reel seat and alignment dots on each of the 4 pieces. One thing that struck me immediately upon pulling my rod from the protective tube that come with it was the color. As Ryan puts it; “We wanted it [to be] different but also have a bit of a nostalgic look to it to remind you of the old fiberglass and bamboo rods of the past.” If you are still skeptical about whether they thought of everything, they made the rod tube triangular so that it does not roll around so much as you bomb down back roads trying to make it to the river in time for the hatch.

Finer details on the ITB rod

Finer details on the ITB rod

Early this spring I found myself stalking along a Southeastern Michigan trout stream flowing strong and cold as the sun slanted toward the horizon. A slick run emptied into a tight bend and pushed the far bank back into a spill over backwater. The stream here was triple its normal width and likely five times its typical depth. I eyed deadfalls on the outside of the bend, descending into inky water and hiding the sought after brown trout. The current pulsed and bubbled, giving the telltale signs of the sunken structure Hog Johnson calls home. I looked at my ITB rod and the BWO/Pheasant Tail double rig I had been using, and slowly shook my head in a silent but affirmative “No”. Out of my vest came the heavy metal and I sank a large Muddler in the tail of the run and started to strip it in.

The strike felt like a soggy log coming alive, but following fight was the best I have had from a trout connected to a fly rod. The ITB was able to direct the heavy Brown in and out of log jams, resist its desperate dives into deep water, and finally guide it into the sandy shallows where my net was waiting. The rod gave sturdy resistance when needed, and provided enough play to keep undue pressure off the 6x tippet I was using. This was the trout that kick-started my spring and I was glad it was taken with my new Risen Fly rod in hand.


One of the larger Brown Trout you can find in SE Michigan

I have taken more heavy fish over the last few months than in most springs prior. I have also taken numerous small Brookies and immature Browns which heavily populate the tighter waters that I like to explore. One of the hesitations I had about the ITB rod is that it would not give the same action on a mountain brook trout stream that I was used to when fishing with a 3-weight. However, I can tell you now, that a 6-inch Brookie can still light up the 5-weight ITB and send electric tingles all the way from the tip of the rod through my spine. There is something admirable about a trout attacking a fly almost half its length, pulling said fly a foot underwater, and then fighting tooth and nail to yank that meal clean off my line. In the same way, it is deeply pleasing to have a rod which is able to accentuate that encounter enough in order to make the 8-inchers stand out in my mind as much as any mature fish.

The lively ones are the fun ones

The lively ones are the fun ones

Simply put I could not be more pleased with the ITB Rod from Risen Fly. They currently have 5 rods of varying lengths and weights ranging from a 3-weight to 8-weight. With the rods starting at $135 anyone can add the ITB to their repertoire. Whether you are a beginner looking for a quality first rod, or an old pro looking to add a new piece to your pile of equipment; make sure you give Risen Fly and the ITB rod a serious consideration!

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