Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Gear Review: Risen Fly Ichthus Fly Reel

Back in January I was daydreaming about spring and what new gear I want needed for the upcoming season.  I noticed I've been targeting steelhead more and more, I got addicted to fly fishing for carp, and I even wanted to target some pike, musky, and hybrid striped bass on the fly rod so I thought I should invest in a good 7/8wt fly reel. After doing some research the Ichthus Fly Reel from Risen Fly was brought to my attention.  I'll admit, I was a little hesitant at first, but after hearing some good things about this reel I decided to get it.  And of course when you get a new reel you also need line and backing to go with it, so I decided to get the 8wt Alpha fly line as well also from Risen Fly.

From the day it came in the mail I was very anxious to get it out on the water. I was very pleased by it's construction, it's drag system, and how light it was.  Throughout the rest of January and February I was able to fish with it a handful of times on the local rivers, but I didn't connect with any fish to fully test out the reel.  Even though I didn't get a chance to see how the reel performed, I was able to get a good taste for the Alpha fly line which I loved from the very first cast.  It is the cheapest fly line I own, and it is just as good as my most expensive line.  It is currently $17.50, which I think is the best deal in fly fishing right now.  The only thing I don't like about it is it doesn't have a pre-welded loop, but that's not an issue at all. 

As March came rolling around I found myself spending more time on the area trout streams and didn't get to fish with the 8wt that much.  Towards the end of the month I couldn't take it any more and just had to get out and test this reel on some steelhead.  I fished the Rock River on the west side of Cleveland, OH.  Unfortunately the fishing was very slow, but I did hook into two hard fighting steelhead which gave the reel a little workout before the fish came loose.  Even though the steelhead didn't cooperate, the hard fighting lake-run white suckers did and and even they put the drag system to the test.

When April started the pike and walleye fishing really heated up on a local river.  I wasn't able to hook up with any pike on the fly(spin fished most of the time, which I now regret as it would have been the perfect chance to get one on the fly), but I did catch 2 nice walleye fly fishing.  Finally my first good fish on the Ichthus!  One of the 'eyes was my biggest ever caught fly fishing.

The walleye were fun, but they didn't really make any long runs to test out the drag, so it was back on to steelhead.  Throughout April I was able to make a couple trips to the Lake Erie tributaries in search of steelhead, and fortunately most of the times the fish cooperated.  Due to high and fast water, and me being unable to cross the stream in most spots, the first steelhead I hooked on the new setup took me into the backing! The reel, line, and backing all held up nicely and I was able to land the fish.  That day, as well as the next trip, I was able to hook into a bunch of steelhead.  Most of them were older fish that have been in the creeks a while, but I did hook into some fresher ones that gave the drag a good exercise.

As the steelhead season came to a close, the carp season was just beginning.  They are the next hardest fighting fish you'll find anywhere and can also easily take you into your backing if you let them.  So far this spring and summer I was able to catch a handful of drag busting carp, and again the Ichthus performed flawlessly.  

Currently I have the Ichthus paired up with a Cabela's Three Forks 8wt fly rod.  I didn't want to spend a whole lot on the rod because I fish with my 3, 5, and 6wts a lot more, but I went with a good reel because you NEED a reel with a good drag system if you are fishing for steelhead and carp.  The reel balances the rod perfectly and I love the entire outfit.

Here's the details on the reel...

Precision machine cut from pure aerospace aluminum bar stock and stainless steel for maximum strength and corrosion protection
Large diameter Cork/FXB polymer disc drag delivers ultra smooth, low start-up inertia
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

Ichthus 3/4 1:1 2+1 1.65 2.87 1.06 4.33 4.06
Ichthus 5/6 1:1 2+1 2.00 3.50 1.06 5.00 6.17
Ichthus 7/8 1:1 2+1 2.36 3.74 1.30 6.29 7.76
Ichthus 9/10 1:1 2+1 2.00 3.74 1.30 7.32 7.76

Overall in my opnion this is one of the best reels you can find in the $100 range. It has a very smooth and sensitive drag, and it is very well constructed.  The only downside is it does not have a sealed drag system, but for me that is not a big issue.  If you're fishing in temps below freezing you just have to make sure you don't dunk the reel in water so it doesn't freeze up.  At first the handle on the reel was a little stiff which was a little annoying at first, but after a couple of outings and fish it was perfectly fine.  I recommend this reel to anyone.  Currently there is a sale on all Risen Fly products, which ends on June 14th. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spring 2013(so far)

Yeah, spring isn't over yet, but will be coming to a close so I thought I'd give a little review of our spring so far. Plus it's been a while since I made a post.

Compared to last spring and winter which was crazy warm, this spring has been much colder.  There were a bunch of days in March where we had to deal with ice on the guides.  Last year in March we were wearing t-shirts!  April's been weird too.  We had a couple days where it was in the 80's, then 2 days later we were fishing while it was snowing pretty hard! The fishing has been really good though, so we can't complain too much.

Our stocked trout fishing in March started off slow because of the cold temps, but fish were caught, and the fishing just kept getting better as the temps increased.  Bows, browns, and brooks in NW PA and NE Ohio.  Didn't get out for wild trout yet. 


We also got out and fished for pike and walleye a handful of times this spring.  Gotta love fish with teeth! Even caught my biggest walleye fly fishing!


Fished for steelhead a couple times in the Rocky, Chagrin, and Grand River watersheds and wasn't disappointed.  Didn't make it to the PA tribs this spring, but the fishing's mostly better there in the fall anyways.

Sometimes the fish don't want their picture taken haha

Panfishing's been good.  Crappie, gills, and some white bass.  We hit the white bass run on a local river and caught a few fish each time, but nothing great. It's not over though.  Also got our first big hybrid of the year!

So far our spring is going pretty good.  Just need to add some wild trout to the mix, as well as some carp, bowfin, and more smallmouths(got a couple so far) and we're all set!


Friday, February 22, 2013

2012 Year in Review

2012 was a fantastic fishing year for us.  There were times when we caught 50 fish in just a few hours, and there also were times when we fished all day for only a couple or no fish. There were a bunch of firsts, we fished new water, and above all we just enjoyed being out in the outdoors as always. We caught everything from tiny wild trout to muskies, and everything in between.  Fly and spin. Here's some highlights....

This year was our first year fishing for stocked trout in lakes and actually being successful. We fished 3 different times on two lakes and caught fish each time.  Rainbows and brookies.  Here's the first fish of 2012 caught during a blizzard on a half frozen lake.

During the spring, and a little in the fall, we had fun as always fishing for stocked trout. 

We tend to fish for stocked trout more because of where we live, but we got out a lot for wild trout too.  Even got to fish some streams in central PA for the first time(Spring Creek, etc..) along with all our usual streams. There's just something special about fishing those cold, clear mountain streams for wild brookies, browns, or rainbows. 

A lot of the high number days we had were because of panfish. Yeah, they're small, but they can be a blast to catch and the action is often non-stop.  We got out perch fishing on Lake Erie, fished a bunch of lakes for crappie and sunfish, and even caught a good amount of white perch on LaDue Reservoir and the Cuyahoga River.  Bluegills, pumpkinseeds, green sunfish, warmouths, yellow perch, white perch, white bass, crappie, they're all fun.  They also taste pretty good too!!  We released most of them, but not all ;)

We hit the white bass run on a local-ish creek this spring, and also caught them and HYBRIDS(!!) on some other rivers throughout the spring and summer.  They definitely fight hard for their size, and you can't beat those drag busting runs the hybrids make! 

In July I had the chance to fish out in Colorado, and that was an awesome trip!  The scenery was breathtaking, and the fishing was just as good!  It took a couple streams, but I caught the CO wild trout slam one of the days.  A brookie, brown, rainbow, and my first couple cutthroats. 

2012 was the first year we started getting serious about carp on the fly.  It's a blast, but sight fishing to spooky fish can be challenging.  We got a lot spinfishing also, but they're so much funner on the fly rod.

The smallmouth bass kept us busy all summer too.  And some largemouths. Caught a bunch of  walleyes too, even some on the fly.  And I can't forget about catfish, they're always fun in the summer and often provide consistant action.

 One of our most interesting fishing days was the day we caught fish in three different states, OH, WV, and PA all in a couple hours!  Here's a freshwater drum from the Ohio River.

Our first ever two muskies landed happened in 2012, and it was also a great year for northern pike on a bunch of different waterways close to home.  I love catching fish with teeth, even if you need some bandages every once in a while!!

 And last but not least........steelhead!  The conditions were bad most of the times we got out, but we stuck with it and caught fish.  From Rocky River on the west side of Cleveland, to Walnut Creek near Erie, PA, and a few other places in between.  They are definitely one of my favorite fish to catch. 

 2012 was an awesome year and hopefully 2013 will be just as good, if not better!  -Nick