The entire idea of a much ballyhooed “lifestyle” brand is largely lost on me, my shortcoming entirely, nothing wrong with the rest of you. Guys love wearing other people’s advertising, and I don’t – insisting that Jim Beam pay me for the privilege.
( … and due to the vast expanse of my pasty and sodden flesh, it better be at billboard rates …)
But I get the idea in theory – whose intent suggests you like something enough to buy their other products, or recommend them across the board, or that you’re branding your arse cheeks with some companies logo because you are committed to their policies and neo-industrialist war mongering products …
Or there’s the nonchalant fly fishing variant, bastardized of any real nobility by changing it into a “support my feet up, beer swilling, fishing lifestyle by dumping large coin for my washed out tee shirt that we’ve emblazoned with a cool logo.”
Naturally all this is going through my head as I’m suddenly confronted with a rod company claiming it’ll sell me the graphite rod of my dreams for $233, featuring an extra tip, a case and sock, with the additional promise of weregonnadonate20%oftheproceedstothefish …
That’s rarified turf by any means, and I simply had to support them for no other reason than give Harvard Business School some heartburn …
So I ordered a 9’ #4 to replace my backup trout rod – which was starting to show the wear of real abuse, given its infancy rattling around the boat followed by rattling around the back of my truck.
The rod arrived in January and while both of us were largely idle, we managed to dance outside in between squalls and beat the lawn to smithereens. It felt responsive and supple, so we took it to the creek and tormented ourselves by roll casting over the late model Nissan’s breaking apart in the chocolate water …
It’s a nicely apportioned rod, with a crisp action that smacks of the RPL III days of Sage. The picture above gives you a glimpse of black wraps on brown blank, and the simple block-letter label.
It has a simple “Made in China” label on the reel end, which made me pause not at all.
This is a fishing rod, not a garish streetwalker, this is that “lifestyle” tool that suggests, “if the #4 was rock solid, I bet the #7 is tasty too.”
… and it’s about time for an inexpensive rod that you’d feel brokenhearted if you sat on it sudden-like, but wouldn’t break you to replace it . It’s the rod you give your kid on his fourteenth birthday hoping he’ll take it up permanently, knowing the rod won’t be an issue until he’s expert … and then only maybe …
Sage-like action that I’d call “crisp,” neither too slow or too fast to alter your casting stroke, and when you suddenly change direction because of a rising fish or low hanging limb, it responds quickly without feeling slow or overburdened.
With my known preferences on rod speed and recovery rates, it would be a #4.5 in your language. Enough power left in the spine to throw a #4 with authority, and it wouldn’t feel awkward with a line size heavier.
The fittings are sturdy and unremarkable, like the gleam of a new Craftsman hammer. Solid, business-like and competent.
Cork work was better than average – with few filled crevasses and no unsightly color mismatches.
Typically a rod maker fills any gaps in a cork handle with sanded cork mixed with adhesive. Poor cork quality yields overly large areas that need to be repaired, and can result in a color mismatch, which persists as handling oils and dirt will color them slightly different due to the adhesive being present.
The largest crevasse in the handle is shown at right, about half an inch, the balance of the handle was immaculate. This is indicative of quality cork and quality control.
If there’s any component on a fly rod worth cursing it’s the reel seat and its thread. You’re unwrapping a bad cast from the tip of the rod instead of the water, and while doing so – dragging your reel and reel seat in the sand on the bottom.
Naturally we’ll find out it’s jammed once its black dark, the assembly rendered balky due to grit in the threads.
The Rise reel seat has a broad thread that made it difficult to tell whether it was sharp or dull (triangular or square thread), sure sign of some rounding. A single knurled sleeve fastens reel to reel seat – and while I’m more comfortable with the second locking sleeve, it’ll do on a light rod.
I may rethink that on the first 12 lb carp I hook – but for the moment I’m content …
The balance of the fixtures include a knurled hood imbedded under the cork to complete the remainder of the reel seat, shown above.
But the biggest surprise was finding that the low price included a hook keeper – which due to habit, I find to be an essential component of my scramble up banks, brazen dash through bramble thickets, and for quick and lazy disassembly of rods for that drive to the next hole.
Guides are two footed; two carbide, 7 snake, plus the tip.
Below is an example of the finish on one the largest carbide stripper. Laid on thickly as is customary, nothing out of the ordinary.
Testing the four pieces of my rod shows the blank is not aligned on a single spline prior to the guides and grip being mounted. Two of four pieces lined up, the remaining two placed the spline on the sides of the rod.
My preference is for all component splines to line up, but as this is a hotly debated issue amongst rod makers, I’ll leave you to the opinions and mercy of your local rodmaking Sensei.
Buying a rod on another’s say so is a tremendous leap of faith, yet after four months of fiddling around trying to find something I don’t care for on the rod – the best I can do is the block lettering is unsuitable, fly fishing should have something light and airy – and in cursive …
All I’m suggesting is that the nice people at Rise have earned my admiration, mostly because I adore an action like those early Sage or Echo tapers.
… and while the rest of the crowd lusts after “hedge fund” rods from the perfumed darlings of yesteryear, I’ll stick to my Asian imports and continue to make payments on my house.
High priced painted strumpets we’ve got a plenty, and I’ll let their fanbois argue their respective merits, what’s been sorely needed is the “Craftsman” rod – a rod that costs commensurate with a hobby, a lifetime tool – one that won’t take a lifetime to pay off ..
Full Disclosure: I purchased the above Rise fly rod at full retail, which should have been $233, but I was volunteered to save New York state to the tune of eighteen dollars. It was later refunded.