January 11, 2013

Suntech Field Master 39 -- review

I like zoom rods. I have quite a few, but all the ones I have zoom from just one length to another. When I got an email from Chris Stewart of Tenkara Bum that he had bi-zoom rod from Japan I knew that I just had to try it! Many of the streams that I fish are pretty heavily treed but can have more open areas as well as some tighter areas. I thought that this rod might answer in these varying situations.

A winters day fishing

Suntech Field Master 39

The river today

The temperature was nicer than it looks

The Suntech Field Master 39 is a very lightweight, carbon fiber keiryu rod that has three functional lengths: 320 cm, 360 cm, and 390 cm. It weighs an amazing 69 g, yet it can be classified as a 390 cm rod.  I don't know of any other rod in that category. Fully collapsed the rod is 53 cm.

The rod is dark charcoal or black with a beautiful, slightly metallic flecked finish. The handle is corkless but has an effective non-slip coating with the Suntech monogram 2/3rd the way through. This does not make the non-slip handle coating less effective; it works well both dry and wet.  The lilian is red and is attached with a micro-swivel. The rod comes with a Fuji universal tip protection cap.

The handle with the Suntech monogram

The tip cap

The designation

The zoom sections. You can see the friction tape where the sections meet.

The rods action is likely a 7:3. The Common Cents Scale for each of the three lengths is 320 cm = 24; 360 cm = 26, and 390 cm = 28 pennies. So it is a little stiffer than a Tenkara USA Iwana 360 cm. Chris Stewart did the flexion profiles for this rod and it matches some "true" tenkara rods (see Tenkara Bum.com for these). Throw some cork or a contoured foam handle on this rod, replace the "keiryu" with "tenkara" and this rod would be accepted by even the most ardent tenkara purist as a tenkara rod. It is even made in Japan, not China!

The bi-zoom feature works well. Today I mainly fished the rod at 360cm -- which is my preferred length. I did on a few occasions need to shorten up to the 320 cm, and also occasionally lengthen to 390 cm. I was nice to be able to do so easily. I mostly used the 390 cm length to bring a fish into the net, but still the rod casts well at 390 cm as well as the other lengths. The un-zoomed sections are held in place by a post with O-rings in the butt cap and some friction tape, where the sections meet, to keep them them tight. This is a similar mechanism (the butt cap post, not the tape) as with the Tenkara USA Ito, but different than my Daiwa zoom rods. The butt cap is black "plastic" and does not have a drainage hole, but I think it needs one -- not for drainage but for air to move in or out when the sections are being extended or collapsed. I will drill my own on my drill press.

O-rings on butt cap post

Casting a #3.5 12 foot line was no problem. Control was excellent. The rod would probably load better with a #4-4.5 level or furled line but the light #3.5 line was just fine. Hook ups are fast since the rod is a 7:3 and fighting the fish is no problem because this rod has backbone! My largest fish today's was an 18 inch Mountain Whitefish that was taken in a pretty quick current. The rod handled it without any complaint. My largest trout today was a 16 inch Brown and it too was no issue on this rod.

Here are some of the fish from today:

The 16 inch Brown

The 18 inch Whitefish

Conclusion: I really like this rod.  That said, I of course need to fish it more but it seems to have nice features of being lightweight yet with good fish fighting power, three very usable lengths without being too out of balance when casting (I think it is at its best when in the 360 cm length), a nice flex action, and a respectable collapsed length. I wish its action was just a little softer, but maybe that is nit picking.

I'll add it to my collection and see if it stands the test of time. I bet it will.

Thar be icebergs!

The Field Master in action


  1. Tom - great to see you like the rod. Mine should have been delivered yesterday but USPS hasn't showed up yet with the package.

    1. Hi Karel,

      I'm looking forward to your review of this rod. BTW, my USPS delivery was 3 days later than the tracking said.


  2. Good review. Those are some beautiful browns! I am amazed you have gotten out on the water and done so well too in this weather. We have been virtually snowed in for two days, and it was amazingly cold before that. --- cabin fever is a epidemic here.

    I am wondering if you would say what flies you were using? Thanks! Cindy

    1. Hi Cindy,

      I used my old standbys of a #14 beadhead Prince nymph and a #8 Utah Killer Bug. You can find me mention those flies many times throughout the blog and in this post: http://tetontenkara.blogspot.com/2012/09/best-flies-over-past-6-months.html


    2. Thanks. I thought that the UKB was probably one. It almost looked like one of the fish had a dry fly in its mouth.

      Hate to bother you more but...... The other thing that I was wondering about is how the cold will effect the thin light Tenkara rods. Do they become more susceptible to breakage? I am a bit nervous about fishing with my new Diawa Sagiri 39 in this weather. Next week doesn't look like it will have too much wind, but the temp will still be in the 10-15 degree range.

      Was it warmer on the creek you were on? BTW did you catch any cutts there?
      Thanks again. I have learned a lot from your very informative blog.

    3. You have a Sagiri! You lucky gal! That is probably my most favorite rod. I think you'll love it. It should be fine in the 15 degree temps but I'd be cautious if the air temps are any lower.

      No cutts that day; so sad :(


    4. What is this Sagiri I keep reading about??

      I'm so hosed I'm trying to break into Tenkara and the rod options went from TUSA/Tenkara rod co. To daiwa's/suntech's/Nissin's etc...and what went from an easy selection to one that has become nigh impossible.

    5. The Daiwa Sagiri is a seiryu rod. It is very delicate but a great casting rod. it is currently out of production but may be found occasionally on eBay. It is mainly for smaller fish.

  3. Those were great pictures! It looks super warm outside ;)

    1. It was actually quite warm at 40 degrees F, just before a cold front came in and plunged the temps to their current 3 degrees F.


  4. just got one from Chris. your review makes it look good, but it is even better than the high praise you gave it. high quality. great finish. perfect balance. I love the action, bend profile, and casting control. yet to fish it, but if it is as good as I hope it to be from the "backyard" trial, will surely be a favourite.

  5. Tom,

    Any upcoming review on the Suntech Suikei 39? A little softer action than the Field Master.

  6. Any plans to review the Suntech Suikei 39, the stiffer version of the Field Master 39? I'm debating which of these rods to purchase.