Crafting Lines for the Gamakatsu Multiflex Suimu EX

Line boxes from AliExpress and eBay, 6 and 8 spool are perfect for organization.

Considerations for designing a line for the Suimu EX

What makes you choose a line for your rod? Experience or curiosity? Do you choose from preconceived configurations, or do you create your own idea?

Tenkara embraces simplicity and promotion of skill.

A clear line forces learning in detection.

Understanding fish behavior, casting ability and strike detection are paramount to my choices.

I’m not looking for someone else’s idea, I want to create a line that promotes performance utilizing my desire to learn strike detection with the simplest system available.

The idea is to enhance strike detection (tactility of the system) over strike indication.

That is the key to my success, it’s opposite for me. I want my system to promote my skill in catching fish with minimal equipment. Replacing a strike indicator with my skill in strike indication or how the system acts and promoting feel. I am moving the needle towards how the system feels, this is what I want to promote in advancing my craft.

Like many new sports, companies will use their own perspective for marketing. But I'm not a company, I don't make a profit from what you buy, I'm not concerned about your choices.

This is about me and what I do and my only intent is to share with you, how I am pushing my own boundaries.

As far as I know, there are only a few people that own this rod in the United States. But now this is changing, many more people are finding this rod and buying it.

Dr. Tom and I have similar thoughts on a properly designed line, this is another reason why I'm writing more on the specifics. He and I have the Suimu quiver and I'm sharing my notes with anyone that is interested in how I craft lines for tenkara.

The Suimu are premium tenkara rods.

I'm going to be using them for my best experiences in tenkara whether it be backpacking into headwaters, fishing quality drive up and hike streams or packrafting the famous western rivers such as the San Juan or the Colorado river.

I'm going to choose a line that provides stealth and promotes all the advantages that this rod quiver will provide.

From my experience using all kinds of lines, creating custom lines from my experiences, I am firmly in the level line camp. I enjoy all the attributes that a level line provides, ease of use, stealth and simple and easy known techniques in rigging.

I have been using Seaguar InvizX for many years. I found out about it from John Vetterli. I made a Hiromichi Fuji type line furling machine that Eiji Yamakawa describes. John got his machine from Eiji san and I asked John what line he used when I was making my machine. John suggested the InvizX and I made many furled lines from it. 

I had fishing experience and handling this line and thought to myself that it would make a great level line and I rigged a few and yes, it worked very well.

I started to configure knotted tapered lines with it and the performance was amazing. I configure a taper on my lines to promote turn over and to loosen up the fly for tightline yet a natural drift. I'm finding that there is only one situation where a knotted taper line is not needed and that is deep water trout in a river or stream with a lot of vegetation. I don't want the salad hanging up on multiple knots so I simply use a straight mainline to tippet ring and tie the tippet to that.

The InvizX promotes invisibility.

I am designing this line for stealth. In ultra-clear rivers, line color often will distract trout and the last thing I want is to blow the presentation with the trout looking up at my line instead of gulping my hook.

There are times I want a color line for visibility. It's opposite day for choosing color on a small stream. At the river, the line disappears about halfway to the trout, in smaller streams, I can often see the fly on or in the water however the lighting conditions and the speed of the small fish combine to create a condition where I need to stack all the odds in my favor to produce a reaction time that is successful in catching lightning-fast fish.

I like color lines, the above is one that my friend Go Ishii suggested. I like the color and the way that it handles. Masami Sakakibara markets a great line available from Nissin. His pink Oni line is probably the line that I've caught the most fish on. I have purchased dozens and dozens of spools and the Oni line does exactly what it says it will do, the color promotes visibility and the way the line handles provides a nice casting line.

Using a color line has helped me get rid of indicators. Clear lines have helped me learn how to indicate strikes on my own without color/movement. 

I want a line that promotes the skill in detecting strikes without compromising stealth. 

I don't want a line that does it for me.

I use a clear line when I can get away with it. 

I use a color line when I can't.

If the Suimu is the rod you are using to travel for your adventures possibly catching the fish of a lifetime, you probably think quite a bit about all the different aspects of your gear. Or you are a rich guy that buys a rod for status? I don't know, that's not for me to decide on you. The Suimu are expensive and not so easy to obtain. You will spend some money obtaining one so...

Why would you use anything less that premium tippet?

Tippet is the STRENGTH and the WEAKNESS in your system. Tenkara rods are simple in theory yet very complex fishing rods when approaching large fish. Telescoping in design, if your tippet is too strong, you end up pointing the rod at your fish and straightening your hook, jamming the sections tight and or breaking the rod. All of that is unacceptable and caused by your choices. The right tippet will protect the rod and allow you to bring to hand, fish that are hard to catch.

Use only up to the strongest tippet your rod manufacture calls for, never go stronger.

I choose the tippet size for fishing, the strongest the fish will allow. I work up in strength only due to the size of fish I am catching. I rarely use the largest tippet the manufacture calls for as I design my line system to catch fish within the suggested tippet size. I use at least a plus 1 meter line length for honryu and for keiryu or genryu to give myself enough room to fight fish and protect the tip sections of the rod. Using the strongest tippet strength is rarely a consideration as the Suimu are quality made rods that will handle fish sizes in that environment on light tippets. That's what makes them premium rods, the ability to pressure a light tippet and to be able to feel just how much pressure you can apply to the fish without breaking the tippet.

The Suimu EX 450 and 500 will protect 7x tippets.

The largest fish I have ever caught on a tenkara rod was on the 500 EX and I used .4 or the equivalent of 7x. The Suimu is a tactile rod, it allows you to feel the tippet strength and promotes the ability to pressure a tippet up to its breaking strength very well. I break off a few times when fishing light tippets like 7x however I could not catch big fish on heavier or larger size tippets. This is the beauty of the Suimu, quality tenkara rods that allow me to fight big fish on light tippets.

Here is how I do it.

For honryu, I start with .6mm and move up or down depending on the percentage of tippet break I am experiencing. If I am targeting large fish that are tippet shy, premium tippet is stealthy and I will go down to .6. The Suimu is very tactile and will help you recognize the tippet pressure and breaking point quite easily. Once you break off a couple of large fish, you begin to recognize just how much pressure you can apply to the system in order to pressure it to net.

A premium tippet is meant to break once it exceeds the indicated strength. 

That's what you want, you want the tippet to break if you are using the strongest tippet your Suimu calls for.

I find it rare to catch selective fish in clear rivers that demand more than .8 which for Trouthunter or Seaguar GrandMax FX is 1.45 kilogram or 3.19 pound breaking strength. When using premium tippet, the word "about" becomes quite important. You want the tippet to break first before you pressure the rod so much that it fails.

I've already written quite a bit about tippet rings, you can follow the link above to read more.

If you use tippet rings, you will be checking their hold and the way that I do that is with a tippet ring tool. I use a sewing machine needle that has a groove. I thread the tippet ring over the needle, the line rides in the goove and I tug on the tippet ring that I just tied on the line and used Knot Sense to lock it in. This way, the ring is already "tested" and I know it will hold.

Tippet rings do a couple of things, they retain the integrity of the line length and they provide a surface where the tippet can break in a consistent manner. The tippet ring is easy to thread tippet through and use the same knot that you use to tye on your kebari or fly.

It is important to choose a tippet ring that has a smooth surface. I use STONFO as they are consistent in manufacture. There is no joint in the ring to provide abrasion or a weak point.

The 400 and 450 is adjustable for 3 lengths, the 500 has 2.

Line Design Concepts for the Gamakatsu Suimu

The design of the Suimu is to cover all tenkara environments and in that, the engineers and designing fishermen and women have done an excellent job. From the highest headwaters to the largest mainstreams and rivers, the Suimu offers great performance, ease of use, aesthetics and durability. One line will not cover all my choices in tenkara. 

The Suimu are a combination of zoom or multi-length rods. The 400 and 450 EX are bi-zoom for three lengths and the 500 EX is a single zoom rod for two lengths.

I will configure the lines for the shortest length using the longer length choices for reach and playing fish. When I design a line, I use the longest line I am comfortable with for the fish I expect to catch. I like a +1 to 2m longer than the rod length line. For shorter lengths, shorter plus length, the longer rod gets longer lengths. 

Big fish need room to move. 

A tenkara rod tip is the weak point in the system, fighting a big fish, especially when you are at the end of the fight, hand lining in, the tip sections are the most vulnerable. That's where I want room to move. Stuffing the sections if I have lengthened the rod at the end of the fight helps me reach the line a little easier and it gives a little more room if I have to early release the line or the fish surges still hooked. I want to protect that tip section so I use a little longer line. In addition to that, longer lines are stealthy, usable for casting around or over obsticals, line length is an attribute.

Zoom rods being multi-length, I design for the length I will cast most first, then for usability at all lengths. The Suimu is an excellent design, the shortest rod at 3m will cover tight quarters casting up to larger streams with it's 4m longest length. Moving up from there, the other two rods cover a wide range of water types. 

The Suimu requires some thought in line design and the thoughts here are about what I do.

I'll close my thoughts on crafting a line for the Suimu with a link to the same type of article. Crafting custom lines for a particular rod is not new to me. It's a part of the skill in creating a tenkara system.

Suimu 400 EX

This is my genryu or headwaters rod down through the mountain valley forested streams. At 3m, the rod is easily operable in this environment. Often the light is low, lots of shadows but rarely wind is a consideration. Visibility is so I will choose a color for my line. In my area, our stream side is often rock or exposed dirt, I choose an orange line. I have also had much success with pink and soft green colors as well. For my own vision and reaction to indicated takes, an orange line is excellent. 

The Suimu loads well with a #3.5 Designed on the faster end of the spectrum, this line size does not limit my ability to cast with authority over the kebari. 

For most of my small stream level lines, I create a tapered tip with the following formula: 

Mainline: 3.3m of #3.5
Clear Tip:  70cm of #3 Seaguar JR clear fluorocarbon.
Total Line Length: 4m

Terminate the clear tip with tippet ring made by STONFO.

Tippet length 75cm 

Total line length, lillian to kebari: 4m approximately, depending on how many times I have tied on new kebari.

Knots: I use a slip knot to attach to the un-knotted lillian. A double surgeon knot to attach the mainline to the clear tip, a 5 twist un-improved clinch knot to attach the tippet ring.

Knot Sense is used on all knots to lock knots and to reduce hang up of vegetation. 

I have started using clear lines in the forest. I make my clear lines a little different than the color lines. I choose the big spool of Seaguar InvizX in .330mm with a total mainline length of 3.25m. Same slip knot for lillian attachment and a tippet ring. Knots coated with knot sense.

The 400 EX is a 3m nested length rod. That's the length I primarily use stretching the rod longer for reach and or casting advantage. At 4m full length, the 4m line is the same length as the rod. 

I design the line for the shortest nested length and usability at the two longer lengths.

The most important aspect of my line design is to promote the tippet length the shortest I can get away with. Short tippets promote tactility or feel in a line. They also promote control over the kebari. The kebari has a more direct connection with the line/rod/fisher which is what I want in tenkara.

Suimu 450 EX

At 3.5m nested, this is the rod choice for keiryu or the mountain valley stream down to the mainstream. It is a versatile rod capable of managing a variety of trout sizes and can be used for honryu.

Mainline: 4.5m of #3.5 size in Clear or Color.
Clear Tip: 70cm #3 Seaguar JR clear fluorocarbon tip.
Total Line Length: 5 - 5.2m

Terminate the clear tip with tippet ring made by STONFO.

I have begun to design lines for this rod in pure clear soft fluorocarbon. I use Seaguar InvizX in size .330mm for the full length of my mainline and terminated the line with a tippet ring.

My line recipe is as follows: 4.25m mainline length terminated with a tippet ring, .75cm tippet for a total line length of 5m.

Suimu 500 EX

Big rod, big fish...

I choose this rod for pure honryu duties. I fish it primarily in the long position but am starting to cast it in the shorter 4.2m length. I design two configurations of line for this rod in a couple of different lengths.

Mainline: 6 - 10m
Clear Tip: None or 1m depending on river vegetation
Total Line Length: 7 - 11m

If the water has a lot of salad (vegetation) I won’t use a step down tip to reduce knot(s) that the salad hangs up on that can indicate un-natural movement.

I use Seaguar InvizX in .330mm for the mainline at 7m for a general overall line for the 500 EX. This is my go to line that I use most of the time. During a full day of fishing, I am seeing the line to the water about 40% of the time. When I can see the line, I look at the lillian and really focus on the feel of the rod. I catch a lot of fish without even seeing the line, I feel the little midge bouncing along on the bottom of the river in flow, I look at the lillian and often, I see the lillian dip down or lift up and the accompanying increased or decreased pressure in the rod lets me know it is time to set the hook.

Not being able to see the line forces me to concentrate more on feel and how the rod acts. When I connect with a fish, this "detection" is rewarded and I am shifting my learning towards feel.

I don't need to catch every fish, typically, I'm catching enough fish that I feel like this clear line lesson is working. When comparing my catch rate to tenkara anglers using a color line, I sometimes catch more, but never less than others. The system is working for me and I'll stick with it until it does not. I do not see that happening. I do know color lines do not work well in some situations. Using a clear line skips that decision. 

I've been using clear lines now for three seasons. Fall and winter are my typical honryu season with some trips throughout the year. Clear line usage does not seem to matter what time of the year I am fishing. They just work and I will continue to use them knowing my sense of tactility is being reinforced and rewarded.

The Suimu 500 EX is one of my all time favorite tenkara rods as I have caught the most and largest fish on it when I take it out to use. If I am choosing this rod, I know that there is a distinct possibility that I will be catching the largest tenkara caught fish that I've ever caught and the Suimu has been there with me along the way. Pairing a InvizX line has been a lesson in successful big water, big fish adventure. I'll be using the two long into the future.


  1. Excellent, Adam! This is a very thorough tutorial on lines in general, but especially on honryu lines. Thank you!

  2. Very interesting Adam. I'm going to have to figure a way to get out West and fish with you.

    1. Or we meet at the San Juan, weekend before Thanksgiving…

  3. 19th and 20th of November? Let me think about that.

    1. This is an informal tenkara takeover. Dr. Worthing has a soft commitment to be there, John Vetterli and about 25 people responded positively. I will reserve a group camp site soon and start blabbing about it. But that's it in a nutshell. BTW, it is quite an honor for you to say you want to meet me to go fishing. I will work towards that.

  4. My wife has a friend in Albuquerque so this just might work out. Thanks.