Gamakatsu and Tenkara
Gamakatsu offers rods but I could not find much about them 12 years ago when I was researching the Japanese market. I did find out about all the other major brands and started importing rods, buying them for myself to use and find out on my own. I found out that Gamakatsu rods are expensive! I was buying a lot of rods and I wasn't interested in spending double for a premium rod to find out I didn't like it.
|The "Flower of Life" sticker are mine and to remind me of the importance of the fish's life.
Sometimes, Dr. Tom Davis and I work together for information on equipment (the 360 Karasu in this case) and he offered to send his to me to try. I had helped him get his Sakura Seki Rei. As a matter of fact, I helped a lot of fishers get their first Japanese rod and Dr. Tom is kind in his trust with me for fishing his rods. He had written about the Suimu EX and I asked if I could check it out and he sent the Karasu and the 4m Suimu for me to try before I decided to buy one.
I bought the Karasu.
But I really liked the Suimu EX 400.
I like the longest rod I can fish given any situation. Tenkara is a fixed length line however the zoom feature can adjust my casting distance, rod length for stream conditions, whether it be for a tight stream an open casting situation or fighting a fish, even for reaching over obstacles and currents. I've learned that a zoom is an attribute for "extra reach" as in adaptability. I use a zoom rod primarily for the effects it has on casting position rather than only for extra reach.
For many seasons I went through a realization that a zoom rod can be rendered handicapped by a broken o-ring. I had just broken an o-ring on another premium $500 zoom rod and yes, I could cast it without the o-ring but no, I didn't want too. The sections were so loose! So I passed on buying another zoom rod and I'm glad.
Let me explain.
As I got into Honryu, all the 4.5m class rods were just too soft or I didn't like the way they cast. I had a couple that were ok but the fact of my search was that each rod was a compromise to what "I" wanted in a rod. Let me be clear, I don't think my skills are better than a Japanese team of engineers with decades of experience, no, not even close. I just wanted what I wanted in a rod and what was available for Honryu wasn't pleasing to me.
I had always wanted the longest single hand tenkara rod that I could find and the Suimu EX 500 filled that niche by its lonesome, so I ordered one. When it arrived, whoa, what a beast. A 5m single hand rod has all the physics working against it. The 500 EX did make the experience as pleasant as possible but still, what an incredibly long rod. I'm not a muscular person, my arms are of average or smaller than average from a career of cardiovascular technology, I used my brain more than my arm muscles. I had flown hang gliders for many years but a performance hang glider, much like any fine tool is not a mechanism that demands strength, it demands thinking.
Casting for me started at a 6m line and I worked up to 12m and back down to 7, up to 10 and the 7m seemed the sweet spot for an all-around line. If I needed to go long, I could step up to an 8, 9 or 10m line no problem.
Casting has never been a problem for me because I practice for many years and I understand the dynamics. There is nothing tricky about casting the Suimu. It can handle me being tired at the end of the day when my timing isn't always spot on. I can still pinpoint cast it and that shows in the design, the materials that make up the Suimu series and the fit and finish is still a thing to behold in the bright sunlight of an emerald, green river bottom.
That 500 EX is where I started my love affair for the Suimu.
I bought the Suimu EX 400 next and began fishing it in the streams of the Mogollon Rim and at 3m nested length, I began to realize that this is the first rod that I really enjoyed fishing at it's shortest length. I usually just open up a zoom rod and fish it long and fold it up at the end of the day. If I come upon a section that needs a shorter rod length, I'll fold it up a little and work from there.
The zoom nesting butt cap is simple, it has plenty of hold and no moving parts. The nesting portion of the zoom proved to me that I could forget about failure and concentrate on performance.
In my practice of tenkara, I don't want a bunch of rods, that is an undesirable condition for me. I want as few rods as possible and right now, I have 7 but it's really like I have less than that. The three Suimu makes up my tenkara quiver for headwaters, the mountain stream all the way to the biggest river fish I can tackle. No, I would not go for the biggest Alaskan fish with the 500, that's a two handed rod for me. I don't do something just because I can, I want to do it in good style... I have only three rods for tenkara. I have two petite and tiny rods for opportunistic tenkara fishing. I carry them every day but they are chosen for their compact length first and most of the time, they are carried rather than used. I really have only three rods that I use for my world of planned tenkara trips.
As I write this, my Suimu line up is complete. I just received the EX 450 and it is sweet. It is another Honryu rod or for big streams and big fish. I consider it a light honryu rod to back up my EX 500. The EX 400 is my tenkara rod in the keiryu environment.
If you are a tenkara angler that wants the best tenkara rod you can buy, this is the rod for you. Choose the Suimu size based on what you are going to do with it. The EX 400 should be your first choice. Bigger streams and bigger fish? Go for the 450, want to catch the largest fish in your river? Choose the 500.
I line mine with soft, premium clear fluorocarbon with a size rating of #3.5. I sometimes custom make lines for it but it's really not necessary.
I enjoy the faster tip action of the Suimu, they are in the 6:4 to 7:3 flex profile with lots of fluorocarbon in the matrix so you have a particularly faster rod than say a full flexing Nissin. The faster action suits my chosen casting style over a Nissin 4.5m Sakakibara designed Zerosum which is one of the rods in my minimal quiver. I do use that rod extensively but not in the environment that I use the Suimu.
If you want more detailed information on how it casts, check out Dr. Tom's look at his quiver. His writing is far more detailed in this genre which I'm not interested in writing about. I'm more about chosen methods and why I choose a particular rod.
|Suimu EX 400 - 450 - 500
|Siumu EX 500 caught Colorado River Rainbow in Glen Canyon