March 29, 2016

Five Mini Rod Reviews - the reviews are mini, not the rods!

I have a lot of rods. I've cut back my purchasing lately, as I've tried almost every company's rods out there. There are a few exceptions, but I've covered most of them. I've gravitated to rods that fit my style of fishing and those that have the type of action that works for me, and as of this moment I don't plan on buying any new rods unless they have something more to offer than "Bob's Chinese me-too tenkara rod".

Although I've tried to bring you reviews on most of my rods, there are a few that I use quite often that I never did get around to writing a review. Today I want to clear the list and do some mini reviews of those rods.

Daiwa Enshou LL36SF

This rod is a premium rod from Daiwa. It is in the Enshou series and until recently has been the top of the line tenkara rods from Daiwa. Daiwa has since released the Expert Tenkara L series as their top line rods. I don't have one of the Expert L rods, and I'm not sure I'll buy one as I'm not convinced they have more to offer me than the Enshou rods.

The Enshou LL36SF is a subtly beautiful rod. Unlike many tenkara rods, there are no fancy ornamentations. It has an austere beauty. This seems to match the simple nature of tenkara perfectly.

The action of this rod is rich and slow. Although I have favored stiffer rods in the past I have come to really enjoy the relaxed casting action of full-flex rods. The LL36SF is one of those rods. It throws a #3 line without any issues, and although I have fished bead heads with it I mainly use it on small creeks with unweighted flies.

This rod can be hard to find in the market, but it's worth it. It's a true joy to fish.

Weight (all without tip plug): 70.5 g
Length: 360 cm
CCS: 15 pennies
RFI: 4.2

Daiwa Sagiri 39MC and 45MC

I love these rods. I got the 39MC in 2012 and it has become my favorite rod for creeks with smaller fish. I've caught trout in the mid-teens with the rod, and it handles them just fine, but a few of the creeks where I live have many small (interpreted as 8 inches) rainbows and this rod is perfect for them. I use TroutHunter 5.5X fluorocarbon tippet when using either of these rods and I've not had any worry about breaking them.

The rods are beautiful. I think they are some of the most aesthetically beautiful rods that I have used. Though technically seiryu rods, they both function perfectly as tenkara rods and are used as such by some anglers even in Japan.

The actions are rich and full. They are also full-flex rods. With the combination of the 39MC and the 45MC I have effective rod lengths from 340 to 450 cm covered. I sold my Oni Type III because I like the action of the 39MC better and it was somewhat redundant to keep both.

Again, both of these rods can be hard to find in the market, but they are still around. If you have the chance to get one, jump at it!

Weight: (39MC) 56 g, (45MC) 65.5 g
Length: (39MC) 340, 390 cm. (45MC) 400, 450 cm.
CCS:(39MC) 13, 15. (45MC) 14, 14.
RFI: (39MC) 3.8, 3.8. (45MC) 3.5, 3.1,

Suntech GM Suikei Keiryu Special 44

I bought this rod to compliment my Suikei 39. I've formally reviewed the Suikei 39 and most all the features it has the 44 has as well. The 44 is just a little more robust and longer, as you would expect.

This rod works great and is my main larger stream nymphing rod. I have a few streams I use it on, where I mainly fish in the 400 cm length. I use the 440 cm length when I need to reach just a little farther or when I'm landing a fish. This rod can be fished in the 360, 400, and 440 cm lengths.

The Suikei 44 is a keiryu rod, and therefore has no cork on the handle. The handle is a little larger than the Suikei 39 and as such is easier to hold when full extended. The action is more mid-flex that the previous rods I've talked about in this post, so this rod also can handle larger, heavier flies and control larger fish in faster water. When I travel I take the this rod and the Suikei 39. With these two rods I'm covered from small creeks (320 cm with the Suikei 39) all the way up to open rivers (440 cm with the Suikei 44).

The rod is slightly tip heavy at 440 cm, but really not too bad. At 400 cm it's not tip heavy at all. The rod is still quite light at 74.3 g and it throws modestly weighed flies really well. Although the recommended tippet for this rod is 6X, I personally use 5X and have not had any concerns about the rod breaking. You can get one from Chris.

Weight: 74.3 g
Length: 360, 400, 440 cm
CCS: 18.5, 20, 21
RFI: 5.2, 5, 4.8

Gamakatsu Ryokei 44

I have a love affair with the Gamakatsu Ryokei line of seiryu rods. Years ago, Chris Stewart sent me the 360 to try and I bought it on the spot. I then got a 390 and use it all the time.  It is my favorite rod in the 390 cm class. It's so light, so responsive, and so beautiful that unless you've fished with one I dare say you can't relate to what I say about it. The closest thing would be the feel of an Oni rod.

The Ryokei 44 is nearly the same as the Ryokei 39, just longer and a little softer. When it comes to rods over 400 cm I'm a little sensitive to tip heaviness. Some say that I'm too sensitive and not fair enough to other longer rods. But I have fished with rods like the Ryokei 44 and the Sagiri 45MC and therefore have reset my expectations for 400+ cm single handed rods. I'm sorry, but that's the way it is. These rods blow away everything else that I've fished in the 420 to 450 cm length, as far as weight and rod inertia. They are light, have no tip heaviness at all, and although not meant to handle trout larger than 14-15 inches, they can hold their own against most other longer tenkara rods for trout this size -- as long as the water current is not too fast. Remember, it's not just the size the trout that matters to a rod or tippet, but also the speed of the current.

The action is full-flex. It is smooth, without oscillation, making the rod a very accurate rod for it's length. Because it weighs only 55 g and has a rotational moment of only 5.4 it has very little inertia, making it quite easy to cast. I use a #3 level line, which works perfectly. I like this rod a lot but not quite as much as the 390 cm version. The Ryokei 44 is not a rod to be used when there's wind.

The rod is expensive, at least compared to most fix line offerings. It's hard to get one but may be obtained from one of the Japanese rod retailers, like Plat or Tenkara-Ya.

Weight: 55 g
Length: 440 cm
CCS: 13.5 pennies
RFI: 3.1

There, I'm almost up to date. I've got one more rod that I haven't reviewed, but it will have to wait. I hope to see some new, innovative rods in the future, by both US and Japanese companies. If something comes out that I feel is different enough I'll likely buy it, try it and let you know what I think. Until then, I'll fish the rods that I have.

Disclaimer: My opinion regarding these rods 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. 


  1. "Bob" will probably be disappointed his rods won't be reviewed.
    As for the ones you cranked out, really dig that Enshou.
    Need to fish one one of these days.

  2. I recently bought the Sagiri 39MC from Keiichi. It's fantastic. Light, sensitive, ability to fish two of what probably are the most versatile lengths, easily casts a light level line and it's strong. I landed an 18" catfish with it but I wasn't intending to actually catch one as I was fishing for bass and panfish. It just so happened to get fooled into taking and overhand worm!


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