October 1, 2012

Big Fish Zoom

Are you tired of reviews yet? If you are, sorry, because here is another!!

I have always liked the idea of zoom rods -- two rods in one, what's there not to like? Zoom rods seem to be the best option for fishing waters that have different obstacles and challenges, and what waters don't have varying challenges? But zoom rods in theory are not always like zoom rods in real life. I have owned three zoom rods to date and they are all different.

Recently I had the opportunity to test a new, to me at least, zoom rod. This rod holds the unimaginable promise of being lightweight, big fish friendly, similar casting actions in both configurations, and economical. Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it. Well, bare with me and I'll see if I can convince you.

Chris Stewart of Tenkara Bum sent me the rod to try after I had emailed him regarding disappointments I had in one of my 13' rods (not one of his). He had fished the rod a few times and thought it was a promising rod for larger waters and larger fish. I happened to received it on a morning that I was heading out to my favorite cutthroat river so I figured it was a good time to check it out.

Daiwa 43M-F along side my Tenkara USA Iwana-12

Rod designation

The rod is a Daiwa Kiyose 43M-F (have this page translated for some laughs). It is a cousin to the Kiyose S-F rods that Chris already carries, but unlike them this rod is a zoom from 380 cm (12' 5.5") to 430 cm (14' 1").  It is a significantly stout rod that is beautifully finished in a deep metallic blue. Even though the rod is substantial, it is remarkably lightweight -- coming in at only 83.2 g! A 14 foot rod that weighs only 83 grams; holy cow! That is remarkable, but I have come to expect this in Daiwa rods. Now that I have fished them for a while I have become very sensitive to the weight of a rod; Daiwa rods have spoiled me! Lightweight rods is one of the things that attracted me to tenkara. I still love my Tenkara USA Iwana-12 since it is so lightweight.

My rod came in a plastic carton as is usual with Japanese rods. I did not take a picture of the carton, sorry. The rod does come with a rod sleeve. My rod also came with a tip protector. The handle is corkless and the butt cap is plastic. There is rubber on the inside of the butt cap so there is no clicking when the rod is collapsed.

Daiwa tip protector

butt cap -- there is a drainage hole, you just can't see it in this image

As I stated, the rod is a zoom rod. It easily extends from 380 cm to 430 cm with just a pull of the second segment. When collapsed, the second segment is held tightly in place.

The first and second segments. Its not much to grab but it works well.

So what about on-the-water performance?  Well, the other day I fished with this rod as well as my Sagiri 39MC so I can, at least, compare the two. The 43M-F is a much more substantial rod than my Daiwa Sagiri 39MC (also a zoom rod). Casting it in 380 cm mode has an easy flow with the rod tip moving through the air without effort. The action feels stiffer than the Sagiri but about like the Daiwa LT36SF. Extend the 43M-F to 430 cm mode and it is a big, long rod! It still casts well but as you would expect with all that carbon fiber moving through the air it does feel different. It is noticeably stiffer than was my Tenkara USA Ito in either of its two configurations. I'd guess the 43M-F rod is likely a 7:3-6:4 in its respective 38-43 lengths. I did not do any tip deflections tests, I'll let Chris do that.

I used a 13.5' #3.5 line with 24 inches of 4X tippet and two flies in a traditional (not New Zealand) dropper configuration. The rod casts nice tight loops, but not too tight to handle two flies. Hooking fish was easy since this rod is definitely not a 5:5 rod. And fighting power? Oh yes, this rod has power! The largest fish I took were both 14 inches. That's not very large I know, but they were in full stream current and both ran downstream over some plunging cascades. Yet despite their best attempts to escape, I easily turned them and brought them to the net. Not at any time did I feel the need to chase them.

I am sure this rod could handle a larger fish without much issue. Chris thought maybe the 43M-F was comparable to a Yamame and Amago in one convenient rod.  I have never fished a Yamame so I don't know. I have fished an Amago and I bet this rod could keep up with it on fish size. So maybe it is a Yamame-Amago rod all in one -- if so, that is quite a compliment because those rods have an excellent reputation!

My two flies: #10 UKB (0X dropper) and a #10 JuJuKebari (4X end fly)
A 14 inch native Bonneville cutthroat

A 14 inch rainbow

The rod is fun with smaller fish too. I caught many fish in the 8-12 inch range. The rod never felt too over gunned for these guys since the tip has excellent sensitivity.

A smaller cutthroat

After fishing the 43M-F for a few hours I can say that I liked it better in the 380 cm configuration, but it sure was nice to be able to reach out at 14 feet and hit a few more pockets without having to move. It handles well (cantilever effect) for such a long rod. Its weight is excellent. Its collapsed length is good, and it is very pretty!

When I got home I sent an email to Chris giving my impressions. I then asked him if I could buy the rod! He kindly said yes and now I can add it to my collection. He stated that he plans on ordering more, so if you are interested in this rod send him an email. He can give you all the particulars of price and availability.

Daiwa Kiyose 43M-F Overview (* poor, ***** excellent)

Ease of purchase                       *****
Quality of materials                   *****
Fit and Finish                            *****
Physical Characteristics            ****'
Fishability                                 ****'
Overall                                       ****' (4.8 out of 5 stars)


  1. you might want to replace the iwana's metal butt cap with a plasticc one and re-compare weights.

  2. you may want to re-compare weight of Iwana with the metal butt cap replaced with a plastic one.