February 17, 2011

Product Review: Rise Fishing Co. Level Series Fly Rod

Rise Fishing Co.
I recently received a 7 weight Level Series Saltwater Fly Rod from Rise Fishing Co. to put through the paces of roughfisher branded abuse.  Here are the specs from Rise:

Model     Length     Line     Action     Sections     Price
90-7wt     9'0"           7          Fast         4                  $249.99
9’ 7wt – The 7wt rod will perform short casts with tight loops yet has enough backbone to punch flies in to the wind with accuracy. The rod also excels in throwing poppers to largemouth bass, presenting small shrimp flies to dock light snook and even nymphs to steelhead.

Level Series Fly Rod
First Impressions:
From the moment I opened the shipping carton I was impressed. The rod was encased in a sturdy cordura covered rod tube, complete with carry strap, embroidered logo, and a nice feature: a laminated pouch to put a business or identification card. The rod was stored within a 5 piece rod sleeve, with a screen printed graphic logo, including model and line designation. The next bonus you'll notice when removing the rod sections is the included spare rod tip. It's always great to have a handy insurance policy along. The fit and finish of the rod is superb. From the hand finished cork grip and fighting butt, to the laser engraved reel seat, to the ferrule alignment marks, no detail is left out on these models. The best part is, the alignment dots on the rod sections actually lined up! I've been irked by other premium rods that I've owned where the dots weren't lined up properly, even ones that were wrapped and marked by hand! I especially like the spartan appearance of the rod: a straight up midnight blue with gloss finish and black wrapped titanium carbide guides. The blank is as dark blue as the abyss! The simplicity of this rod is the true beauty, often times, rod makers will throw all this extra junk on a blank to try to woo the eye of the angler. In my honest opinion, this makes rods looks gaudy and cheap, though their price tag may be far from it. I don't want to pay extra for stuff I don't need.

Level Series Fly Rod
Level Series Fly Rod
Inauguration:
Let's face it, there's not a whole lot that can be determined of a rod from the wiggle test, yet we all do it when we pick up a rod. When I picked up the Level Series rod for the first time, I figured on the rod being fast. After all it didn't "wiggle" much and the brochure said it was fast. Well after stringing up a reel and line, I can confirm that the action is indeed fast. Having predominantly cast medium-fast progressive rods for the majority of my angling career, I must admit that it took me a few casts before I got the rod to load in its sweet spot. To be fair though, I was casting a long bellied steelhead taper, whereas I should have casted a line with a more traditional shorter length head with this type of rod. Once I let a little bit more of the belly section out of the rod tip, this rod picked the line up off the water with ease. Within two false casts I already had 60 to 70 feet of line out of the guides with a single haul. That's damn good, considering that a hack like me typically relies on my roll cast and single-handed spey casts to get my fly downstream. If this rod can make me cast like a champion, then imagine what it could do for you. While I didn't put this rod through it's entire test yet, it did handle the basic overhead and rollcasts quite well. Loading the rod typically wasn't an issue, and aside from a few sloppy dump casts, the accuracy of my casts were placed right where I wanted them. Even in the wind. I like how this rod casts and feels, as it will find perfect duty out on the carp flats. However, for my primary needs as as nympher, this probably wouldn't be my first choice as I prefer a longer rod (9'6" or 10') and one with a softer tip and progressive action. But that is comparing apples to oranges; this rod is made for running and gunning. It's hard to believe that a rod of this quality is retailing at only $250.

Rise Fishing Co.
Thinking points:
This rod did everything I asked it to. It definitely met my expectations, and for $250 retail, picking up a rod is a no brainer, whether it be a primary or back up rod. And while this rod may not make it as my daily driver, anyone looking for a fast action carp rod need look no further. This rod will hang with the big boys out on the flats, and then some.

Caveat Emptor: The Level Series rod was provided courtesy of Rise Fishing Co., in exchange for review and extensive field testing.