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Underground Fly Gear Review: The Redington RS4 Fly Rod/Rise Fly Reel Combo

Posted by Tom Chandler 7/6/2009 10 minutes

The Redington line of fly fishing gear is what a marketer would call a "value" brand - fly fishing rods, reels and gear that don't compete at the very high end of the price range, but (theoretically) offer more "value" than premier brands. In the past, "value" was often synonymous with half-assed gear, which is why - when Redington offered up a fly rod and reel for review - I was a little hesitant. Early Redington fly rods (prior to the company's purchase by the same corp that owns Sage and Rio) had a reputation for wildness; one taper would be brilliant, yet another would be awful. That was a decade ago, but the downside to testing gear is that you should actually use it (at least, some of us prefer it that way). That can be a joy, but other times you're stuck on the river, fishing a piece of crap and wondering why you're bothering. Happily, this test turned out largely crap-free.

First Look: The Redington RS4/Rise Reel Combo
redington rs4 fly rod and rise fly reel First things first; I'm happy to note the RS4 fly rod and Rise fly reel combo came fully rigged - the backing, Rio Mainstream line and leader were already knotted and on the spool. Thank dog. (Underground pet peeve: Fly rod/reel combo sets that require a novice fly fisherman to learn four arcane knots before they start casting.) Because Singlebarbed and I were jointly testing this combo (and I've got a thing for 6wt fly rods), we tumbled for the Redington RS4/Rise Reel combo in a 9' 6wt (4-pc). That way, I could abuse it with streamers, fish with it dries, try it on the Rogue (where steelies are always a possibility), and maybe fling some sinking lines - while Singlebarbed could fish it on his beloved brownlines. So what happened?

The RS4 Fly Rod
Modern fly rods tend towards speed, a basic truth which means I often fish older rods. And while I was expecting more of the same from the Redington RS4, I was pleasantly surprised. Redington RS4 Fly Rod After fishing it for a half-dozen trips (my first couple trips with it saw me flinging streamers, dry flies and yes - the dreaded split shot rig), my reaction was "This is nice. This is OK." It is relatively fast, but lacks the pool cue demeanor that has marred so many other modern fly rods. After using it a while, I was tempted to simply declare it "a nice fly rod," but after catching fish on everything from dries to streamers on the thing, I realized it only qualified as "nice" by the loftiest of standards. In other words, this is a very fishable rod - one that surprised even the Tupperware-averse, bamboo-loving Dave Roberts into saying "I'm impressed. It's a good rod. It feels pretty nice when you cast." Wayne Eng (another frequent Underground Lab Rat tester) found it wholly fishable on several fronts, and Wayne fishes more different fly rods than just about anyone I know). "This is pretty sweet" he said (in his typically aw-shucks, laid-back Wayne demeanor, like he was the first Chinese person to grow up in Mayberry). In truth, it wouldn't be too many years ago that the RS4 would be considered a high-end rod; it was strong, yet progressive enough that it retained a lot of "feel." I fished it with sinking lines and big flies, and never ran headlong into that messy zone you used to hit with fast-tapered fly rods, where the tip is too light to handle the stresses, but the butt's too stiff to allow a little feedback to make its way to your casting hand. The RS4 kind of sneaks up on you - you're just fishing and the right things happen, and you realize it's a better rod than you thought it would be for the money ($250 MSRP). Here's the Redington pitch on the RS4:

More RS4 Details:

    • Moss-colored blank made with high-end 51- million modulus Toray graphite

    • AAA grade Portuguese cork handle

    • Pac Bay Aluminum Oxide stripping guides

    • Laser engraved machined aluminum with moss colored graphite insert (Handle A) and laser engraved anodized machined aluminum on saltwater models (Handle B)

    • Alignment dots with length and line designations labeled on each section above ferrule

    • Three spey rod models are available with a 15" fore-grip

    • 2-piece and 4-piece outfits come with the new Moss RISE reel, prespooled with backing, knotless leader and RIO Mainstream fly line in a durable black carrying case.

    • Lifetime Warranty



It also does what a reasonable 6wt should - it doesn't fold up when you do something horrifying, yet you really can fish a #20 BWO with it without fear of gifting flies to fish on the hook set. The reel seat and guides are strictly middle-of-the-road; the by-now-standard woven carbon fiber reel seat and reverse Western grip (which wasn't too skinny for a change) are reliable, proven stuff. The rod itself is an attractive olive color (we're happy the fly rod manufacturers finally discovered color), and the whole shebang comes in a black cordura case with a bulged end (the reel can stay on the rod).

The Rise Fly Reel
If the Redington RS4 rod sneaks up on you, the Rise fly reel stands up and makes a statement right away. Redington Rise Fly Reel It's one of the current crop of impressively high-tech machined fly reels that runs smooth and quiet. Again, this isn't the whiz-bang high-end stuff, but it's still way more than we need to get the job done. Here's Redington's description of the reel:

This fully machined 6061 T6 aluminum Mid-arbor construction reel features a cork on Teflon center drag design, a Koyo one-way clutch and ceramic coated bearings for smoothness and durability.

Redington is running ads describing the Rise as "Rod Candy" and that could be an accurate description. The burnt orange reel is - if the L&&T's reaction to the picture is any indicator - going to sell real well, and the "moss" reel that come with the set we tested looks, well, great. In truth, there's not a lot to say about the reel, except that's impressively built, extremely smooth, and yes - good looking. Unlike so many reels, the handle was big enough to grip (though I'm always up for something a teensy bit bigger). And while it's a part of a combo, if I had to choose between the RS4 rod and the Rise reel, I'd probably pick the Rise as the more interesting of the two (though that's colored by the fact I already own a lot of nice 6wt rods, but I am looking for a 6wt reel). Wayne Eng fishes it on a coldy, rainy winter day In fact, when I pressed the rod/reel/case combo into Singlebarbed's beefy paws, I told him not to dissolve the reel in any of that toxic sludge he fishes; I might want to buy it. Whether I do or not depends largely on my mood. The MSRP of the Rise is $159, which puts it in the same range as the impressively engineered Lamson Konic reel and a host of other competitors. We could argue endlessly about which represents the better value (the machined, stylish Redington Rise or the wonderfully engineered drag of the less-sexy Konic), but it might be best to simply say you don't have to buy a $500 fly reel to get something that works really, really well.

The Other Goodies
The case the combo comes in is nothing special; the cut-out vinyl window actually sinks to the level of cheesy, though it's hardly a showstopper. The Rio Mainstream fly line is the one questionable component of this kit, though it's likely a good choice for a less-experienced angler. It's one of those front-loaded lines designed to make modern graphite rods and clunky split shot rigs easier to cast (it does a passable job on big flies), but like most front-loaded lines, it's less fun when you're trying to carry a lot of line and the last of the belly slides out past the tip. Still, it's part of the combo, and I sure as hell wouldn't not buy the whole shooting match because of the line. It works. And yes, it floats and picks up nicely (as all new lines do).

The Final Word
It's likely the Redington RS4/Rise Reel combo will find its way into a pair of distinct markets. First is the novice fly fishermen who is morally opposed to buying a starter kit of any kind. Second would be a more experienced fly fishermen looking for a backup combo or even a 6wt to rely on when it's too windy to fish the 4wt. Redington Fly rod and reel Either way, the combo is a steal for the money $410 MSRP (I found it on the Internet for well under $400), and the 4-pc 9' 6wt rod lists for $250 - making it a good choice for the thrifty angler, and a nice travel-sized backup when you're heading off into the places where a broken rod means you beg your friends to use their spare (not recommended). Because the rod came to me in the winter - and I've been fishing more small streams than 6wt-sized water - I can't comment on the durability of the kit (outside of the fact that you can apparently smack it against a tree, hold your breath, and not break it). And yes, it still features Redington's lifetime warranty - a fact much appreciated by clumsy, forgetful and drunken hard-fishing anglers. I'm not going to pretend - even for a second - that Redington's RS4/Rise combo is something that you absolutely have to buy. Instead, I'm inclined to view it as either a really solid value right smack in the middle of the industry, or a sign that fly fishing gear has come a long ways in the past ten years - to the point that the difference between the great stuff and the "value" stuff isn't nearly as dramatic as the price would indicate. See you on the river, Tom Chandler.


Read More The Underground Picks the Dozen Best Fly Rods of All Time Period
Fishing Waters
The Sacramento River is the principal river of Northern California in the United States, and is the largest river in California. Rising in the Klamath Mountains, near Mount Shasta ... more(in Siskiyou county), the river flows south for 445 miles, through the northern section (Sacramento Valley) of the Central Valley, before reaching the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta and San Francisco Bay. It forms a common delta with the San Joaquin River before entering Suisun Bay, the northern arm of San Francisco Bay. The river drains about 27,500 square miles, with an average annual runoff of 22 million acre-feet, in 19 California counties, mostly within a region bounded by the Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada known as the Sacramento Valley, but also extending as far as the volcanic plateaus of Northeastern California.
Trips
$
450
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
8 hours
Destination:
Fly Fishing the Trinity River can be tough and extremely challenging, however, having a professional and knowledgeable Trinity River Fly Fishing Guide, will not only make for an enjoyable ... moreday on the river, but also an unforgettable journey down one of the best steelhead rivers in the state.

The Trinity River is the longest tributary of the Klamath River system at 120+ miles, stretching from Lewiston Dam down to the confluence with the Klamath at Weitchpec. It’s also one of the of the most pristine and scenic river systems in California, and is world famous for its large steelhead runs. Our Trinity River Fly Fishing Guides guide on the upper stretches of the Trinity River, starting at the dam in the Fly Only water down to Burnt Ranch. Our Trinity River Fly Fishing Guides have many access points along the river and have many float options depending on where the fish are and what techniques we may be using. 

If you are looking to fly fish for Steelhead, Salmon or huge Brown Trout, the Trinity River is the place. Our Trinity River Fly Fishing Guides not only know where the fish are, but they know how to get that tight line using all facets of fly fishing. Whether chasing them with traditional methods like swinging with two handed rods or indicator fishing with single handed rods, our guides have the knowledge and experience to teach on the water and put you on the fish, or just row you down and let you do your thing.

The steelhead season on most Northern California Rivers, start early September and same goes for the Trinity River. Our Trinity River Fly Fishing Guides are on the river as early as August, and guide/fish it on through till April. The Trinity River is known for 3 runs of heart pounding steelhead action, 1) Late Summer/Early Fall, 2) Late Fall/Early Winter and 3) Late Winter/Spring.

Late Summer/Early Fall- August-October starts out with some early season unbelievable numbers of 12-20” chrome bright half pounders with an occasional adult up to 10lbs. This is a great time of year for those just starting out, or those wanting to really put a bend in those light weight rods, as there is a lot of rod bending action. It’s also a great time to dust off those small 2 handed Switch/Spey rods and try out some surface/sub-surface swinging techniques, and to get ready for the up and coming steelhead season. Booking in advance is highly recommended.

Late Fall/Early Winter- October-December starts out with the change of fall colors and then too many more bent rods. With and extremely large number of steelhead averaging 5-8lbs being well distributed throughout the river system, this is definitely the time to be on the Trinity. These fish are very receptive to a variety of fly fishing methods, however, personally I think this is the best time of year to swing up some sweet fish. So bring your medium sized 2 handed rods and be ready. Dont forget about the Egg Bite, end of October to mid November can be epic on this river when the salmon are spawning. This is our most desired and most popular time before the press of winter, so we strongly advise booking in advance.

Late Winter/Spring- December-April this is a very sensitive time of year due to the weather, fishing it is really all up to Mother Nature. However, when the Trinity is not blown out, it can be outrageous, with some of the largest steelhead of the season, some up 15lbs. It is steelhead fishing at its finest and it’s full on steelhead weather, snow, rain, wind, cold temps, cold water and big fish, nothing better than that. Later in the season (Feb, Mar, April) you can catch Steelhead and Brown Trout on dry flies, yes I said dry flies. Mid-day hatches get these fish in a sipping frenzy and will leave the most experience steelheader in awe.

If the conditions are not favorable, we will reschedule. Advanced booking is a great idea.

It doesn’t get any better than that folks. Whether its summer, fall, winter or spring, our Trinity River Fly Fishing Guides, know what it takes to not only find the fish, what flies to use, where to go, but what techniques can be used to make your rods have a bend in them all day long. Come join us on one of the finest steelhead rivers in the state, and enjoy some of the best steelheading on the west coast.

-Brian-
$
325
-
$
450
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
4 hours - 8 hours
If you have ever driven over the Lower Sacramento River or even fished it, you know that due to its shear size and abundance of water, this makes it extremely intimidating. That's ... morewhy having a knowledgable Lower Sacramento River Fly Fishing Guide is so important. A great guide will not only put you on the fish, but will also show you the fishy spots accessable by land, the put ins and pull outs for boats, as well as the bug life, the flies to use and when you go on your own, how to put all that t ogether to be successful. The Lower Sacramento River is a big tailwater fishery and California's biggest trout river, and its rainbows are just as big and powerful as the river they live in. If you want big fish and year-round fishing, this is the river for you. With more food than your local all you can eat buffets (2,500 insects per square foot of river), the average fish grows to a healthy and hard-fighting 16-18", and pigs pushing two feet are not out of the question, so bring some big guns. The fishing season is year-round, and water temperatures remain fairly constant too, as the river comes out of the bottom of Shasta Lake.

This river consists of long, indescribable, spring creek like stretches that are broken up by islands, deep pools, long riffles, gravel bars and undulating shelf’s, many of which are more pronounced during lower flows.

If having one of the best trout fisheries in the state isn’t enough, the Lower Sac also hosts some great runs of Steelhead and Chinook salmon too. It also hosts a variety of other fish, such as, shad, squawfish, stripers, largemouth and smallmouth bass, these populations of fish become higher the farther you get away from Shasta Lake. The highest flows are during the summer months, when snow melt is at its greatest, so a drift boat is highly recommended.

You can walk and wade during the higher flows if you so desire, but staying near the bank will be your safest bet. The best time to walk and wade the Lower Sac is going to be during fall, winter and early spring, there is very little snow melt, and the rain that falls goes to filling up the lake, so the river is low and great for walk and wading. This is the time to get out there and really learn the river's bottom and fish those slots that only come out in lower flows, either way “PLEASE WADE WITH CAUTION”. But due to the river’s size and the amount of private property along its banks, those that prefer to wade have two options. One is to fish from public parks and access points along the 16 miles or river between Redding and Anderson, or, from your boat, getting out at the riffles and fishy slots to make some casts.

Public access is fairly easy though on the Lower Sac, there are 6 boat launches, and many public parks and access points along the river that flows almost parallel with interstate 5.

-Brian
$
325
-
$
450
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
4 hours - 8 hours
 (1)
Destination:
Our guides pride themselves in their vast knowledge of the Feather River, and having a great Feather River Fly Fishing Guide will not only make for a fantastic outting, but it will ... morealso increase your tight lines.

The Feather River is one of California's best kept secrets, and is misunderstood by many anglers. The Feather River is an awesome steelhead fishery, and has one of the largest steelhead runs in the valley. This tailwater fishery begins in the town of Oroville below Oroville Dam and continues flowing south until it meets up with the mighty Sacramento River at Verona.

The Feather River holds plentiful amounts of both hatchery and wild fish year round, and one that produces four runs of steelhead, three big runs being Spring, Fall and Winter, with a small run of half pounders in the summer. For those that has fished for these mighty steelhead, you definitely get a sense of their power and greatly appreciates the fight of these Feather River fish. The Springers, March-May, this run is full of hot wild fish that will give your drag a worthy work out, and to me act more like large trout eating normal nymphs and drys. The Summer run is just that, and are a smaller version of the spring run fish. The Fall run, Sept-Nov follow the salmon up the river, and gorge themselves on eggs, eggs and more eggs, this is the infamous "EGG BITE". These fish are extremely healthy, and will make you sweat for every inch. The winter fish, Dec-Feb, are big, brutes that will have you screaming for more, and with most fishing the other valley rivers, you can usually have the river to yourself. Whats nice about the Feather River is no matter the time of year, you can find steelhead scattered throughout the river.

No wonder why we love this river so much, its a year round steelhead fishery. The New Year opens up the low flow section above the hwy 70 bridge, getting a boat in there is pretty tough, but this is where a knowledgeable guide comes into play, whether a drift trip or walk and wade, he can put you in key locations throughout this area and get you into fish. No matter what you are fishing for, the Feather River has it all, from salmon to steelhead, to stripers and shad, it is an all around, year round fishery. Come join me on one of the largest steelhead runs in the Sac Valley, and be ready for a fish that will make you earn your photo finish.

-Brian 
Outfitters
 (12)
We are a team of friendly and knowledgeable fly fishing guides, with a combined 40 years of fly fishing experience, dedicated to making your adventure on the water with us as enjoyable ... moreand informative as possible. We want you to succeed in all of your fishy endeavors, and we will take the time with you to make sure that you have all the techniques and skills necessary to catch fish wherever you go. Float or Walk and wade with us on one of Northern California's finest rivers and streams and we will accommodate our guiding style to meet your needs and abilities. With our extensive fly fishing knowledge and experience on waters all over Northern California, we will guide you on a fly fishing trip you will not soon forget.

NCFG practices catch and release on all boats. We respect the sport of fishing and wish to give all anglers the opportunity to experience the gratification we strive to give each of our clients.

AuthorPicture

Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

If you enjoyed the rod on the Juan, that's saying something!
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Philip: too bad the reel comes with the handle on the wrong side. that's the correct side for me.
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The 8.5' 5wt is a great length/weight fly rod for younger folks (some of us older folks prefer it too). Great feel in the hand.
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I just purchased the RS4/Rise combo 5 wt 8.5' for my son. He just turned 15 and I felt he needed a quality set-up without spending a small fortune. We fished the San Juan River for 6 straight days. Wow! I was really impressed with the quality and feel of the rod.
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I'm looking at the this rod/reel combo , in order to have a lighter 5 wt trout oufit to go with my 9 ft 7-wt single hander I use for small stream steelhead. I'm hoping to get one RISE reel for both the 5 and 7 wt rods - which would work best? I'm inclined to go with the 5/6 as I've read it runs heavy BUT want to make sure a 7 wt line will work on it when I use it with the heavier rod. Any suggestions ... more greatly appreciated!
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[...] TC’s test of the same rod offers additional insight. [...]
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too bad the reel comes with the handle on the wrong side.
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