December 6, 2016

Tenkara Tanuki 275 -- another wonderful small stream rod

I have a Tanuki 375, which I really like. I use it all the time on on many of my streams. I mainly use it when I plan on fishing beadhead nymphs (mostly winter). It's a great rod and is built wonderfully. It has become one of my "go to" rods.

This last year, Luong Tam, founder of Tenkara Tanuki, released the Tanuki 275. I had the opportunity to fish a prototype at the Tenkara Guides Oni School, fishing the rod on the lower Provo. I really liked the rod. But unfortunately I broke it on a 16 inch brown that I couldn't keep out of some heavy, fast current. I was pretty bummed, but Luong was very kind and didn't bat an eye when I brought it back to him in pieces.

Luong Tam, in the orange. I'm right behind him, in the brown.

Luong got input from many other anglers from around the country regarding the rod and then released a version of the rod for the Appalachian Tenkara Anglers group. Here's what Luong says about its development: "Most credit for the 275 should go to Appalachian Tenkara Anglers and many Facebook members. They have given me a lot of feedback during the development.
275 is a very first rod I designed with input directly for fishers not from a pro. It is a work of community." This special edition of the rod was produced in a limited run, had a yellow handle, and was very well received. Well, now the Tanuki 275 has been released for general purchase.

The rod is very beautiful and is somewhat akin to my Black Beauty Tanuki 375. The fit and finish are flawless. The handle is EVA foam on a two tone black/orange design. The finish of the rod is glossy black, and there are a few gold ring accents on the tip of the lower segments. On the tips of the 2nd and 3rd segments (from the tip) are some bright orange accents as well.

The lillian is red and is glued directly to the tip section. The glue joint is well done and the rod can be full disassembled for drying and cleaning.

The tip plug is plastic and gold anodized metal. It has the Tanuki motif on the top and a loop of extra lillian material attached to it. It fits snugly into the handle section and will not spontaneously fall out. The butt cap is gold anodized metal. It is knurled and has a coin slot to aid in removal. There is no air hole.

The rod is very lightweight and perfectly balanced. I feel that it's action is mid-flex. The action is smooth and rich, and the rod casts a #2-2.5 level line beautifully. There is no oscillation or overshoot of the casting action.

Because the rod is mid-flex, hook sets are not quite as sharp as a more tip flex rod. To set the hook you have to move your forearm a little more than some other 270 cm rods. This may be an issue, as it was for me, on heavily canopied small streams. On these streams a short movement, sharp hook set tends to be better in that you don't hit as many branches setting the hook. With a mid-flex rod, the rod absorbs much of the motion of the set, and you have to move your arm more to engage the hook deeply. This is not an issue on a more open canopied stream.

I also found this rod to cast unweighted flies better than weighted ones. Don't get me wrong, this rod will cast weighted flies well -- after all, it was a tungsten beadhead that took that big brown on the Provo.  But the Tanuki 275 really excels casting lightweight flies. If you fish more dries than beadheads, then this rod would be your rod.

Here are some measurements of the rod I was loaned:

Fully nested: 58 cm
Fully extended: 270 cm
Weight (without tip plug): 42 g
CCS: 15 pennies
RFI: 5.6

RFI comparison chart

Conclusion: this is a beautiful rod, both in aesthetics and function. It is perfectly balanced, lightweight, and casts a light level line wonderfully. I found it better at casting lightweight flies than heavier flies, but it did well all the way around. Due to it's flex profile it takes more arm movement to set the hook, but this is only an issue on certain, very tight streams and creeks. I'm not much into the orange coloration, but that's just me. Luong wears orange when he fishes and he catches a lot of fish. All in all, this is a fantastic rod and Luong should be given kudos for its design and manufacturing. Well done, Luong!

You can get one from Tenkara Tanuki or Three Rivers Tenkara.

Disclaimer: My opinion regarding this rod is just that, my opinion. Your opinion may differ.  Also, your rod may not have the same length, issues, or functionality as my rod. There are variations between rods, even in the same production run. No description can fully tell you how a rod feels or fishes. For this, you must personally hold, cast, and fish the rod then make up your own mind. 
I receive advertising revenue from Tenkara Tanuki, but this does not imply a favorable review of their products. I was loaned the rod for review and it was returned to Luong Tam.

December 3, 2016

Suntech GM Seikei Keiryu Special 27 -- on the water

In my last post I mentioned that I didn't want to fish with the GM27, since it was on loan from Chris. However, shortly after posting that comment, Chris contacted me and said it was OK to fish with it. So, with his permission, I took the GM27 to a nearby small stream to test it out.

The conditions were less than perfect, mainly that the temperatures have dropped over the past week and the water temperature of smaller streams is getting to the point that affects trout activity. The air was 25° F and the water was down to 36° F. Still, I caught a few browns and rainbows.

The rod casts really nicely with a a #2.5-3 line. I used a 7 foot line with 2.5 feet of tippet. Standard overhead casts, as well as side arm casts were easily executed. Specialty casts like air roll cast, slingshot cast and steeple casts also were done easily, even with a weighted fly. Just a flick of the wrist was all that was needed to get the fly to it's intended target.

The 8 inch trout that I hooked didn't tax the rod in any way, and I was able to easily keep them out of the numerous underwater snags of the creek I fished.  Hook sets were quick and sharp.

I love this rod! For my streams, and the type of fishing I do in them, if I needed a 270 cm rod, I'd buy this one. What a great little rod!

November 29, 2016

Two New Suntech Rods from TenkaraBum -- rod #1

I really like the GM Suikei Kieryu Special rods from Suntech. I bought my first one in April of 2013, just after they were brought to the US by TenkaraBum. It was the GM39 and I have found that rod to be the best "all-arounder" for the streams I fish and the fish I catch. It casts a light line really well, but it doesn't bat an eye at a tungsten beadhead nymph. If I'm fishing new water that's fast flowing, or has the rumor of larger trout, I take the GM39.

Because I like the GM39 so much, a few years later I purchased a GM44. It too is a triple zoom rod like the GM39, but it starts at 360 cm, then to 400 cm, and finally finishes at 440 cm. I have found it to be just as versatile as the GM39, albeit a little heavier. I have also found that once a rod goes over 400 cm I pretty much have to use two hands to cast it (unless its crazy light and balanced like the Gamakatsu Ryokei 45 or Dawia Sagiri 45MC). With the GM44 I can cast the rod nicely at 440 cm, but I much prefer the shorter lengths. I really like this rod for wide open rivers that have faster current.

One of my favorite streams in Oregon, where I always use the GM44.

Now, TenkaraBum has the new Suntech GM Suikei Keiryu Special 27! Yes, that's right, a 270 cm rod in the same family. However, unlike it's longer siblings, the GM27 is a fixed length rod. I would die and go to heaven if Suntech released a zoom rod for small streams, like 240-270-300 cm, but I don't think that would ever happen. That rod is not part of their marketing strategy. But the good news is that the GM27 is a really excellent rod!

I'm not going to give a detailed description of the GM27 because it looks very similar to its sibling rods. That said, it is a sharp looking rod, like all of Suntech's rods. The butt cap is smaller and does not have a zoom post and the tip plug is just that, a plug -- not a Fuji FTC-12 universal cap.

Tip plug (left) and butt cap (right)

The rod is very lightweight, coming in at 28.4 g without the tip plug. It is perfectly balanced and casts a light level line, oh, so wonderfully. Because the rod is on loan I did not fish with it (as a don't want to damage my trust with Chris) but I did cast the rod for quite some time in the front yard. I used a #2 level fluorocarbon line and the rod fairly flicks the fly to its destination. It's a very nice casting rod!

Fully nested, the rod is 54 cm. Fully extended it's 274 cm. I measure it at 13.5 pennies, giving it an RFI of 4.9. That's pretty close to perfect, if not dead on!  It's a gem of a small rod and would be really a great choice if your small streams don't have really fast currents or 14+ inch fishing them.

So there you go. Another outstanding rod option for those of you (like me) who relish small streams and the fish that inhabit them.  You can get a Suntech GM Suikei Keiryu Special 27 from Chris at TenkaraBum. Hurry, I bet they'll go fast!

Addendum: Chris wrote and gave me permission to fish the rod, so I'll see if I can get it on the water soon. It has snowed recently and a lot of my smaller streams may be hard to get to now. But I'll give it a go and keep you updated.

Disclaimer: My opinion regarding this rod is just that, my opinion. Your opinion may differ.  Also, your rod may not have the same length, issues, or functionality as my rod. There are variations between rods, even in the same production run. No description can fully tell you how a rod feels or fishes. For this, you must personally hold, cast, and fish the rod then make up your own mind. 
I receive advertising revenue from TenkaraBum, but this does not imply a favorable review of their products. I was loaned the rod for review and it was returned to Chris.

November 24, 2016

Small Stream Rainbows

Recently, before the snow started to fly, I fished a small stream that I find very challenging. It runs near a campground, so I don't go there in the summer, when it is frequented by campers.

I usually start my fishing near an irrigation diversion and work my way upstream. This stream is very fun in the spring, and it usually has more water than than it does this time of year. The water is very clear and the trout can be seen in the shallower reaches, making site fishing possible. This time I even caught a rainbow with just my net, as I snuck up on him and scooped him up!

I used the modified Zen Suzume with a 6 foot line and 2.5 feet of tippet. This makes for some very close fishing, so stealth is of prime importance. This is my favorite type of fishing.

I don't know if anyone else fishes this stream but I find it very productive, if I can get all the things right -- right stealth, rod length, line length, tippet length and fly. Also, if the light is low it is better as well.

Here is the video of my trip, with some of the fish. The largest is a little longer than 13 inches. That's really nice for this size of stream!

Happy Thanksgiving!