May 29, 2014

Fujino Soft Tenkara 3.3 line -- review

In general, I use a level fluorocarbon line for my tenkara. I have found this type of line to be very functional and cost effective. But occasionally I like to try out other options. I will therefore periodically try a furled line or in this case a manufactured tapered monofilament line.

I have tried a manufactured tapered monofilament line previously; the Tenkara Midi line. I found it to be very good at laying down a soft presentation, but it was more difficult to cast and control if there was any breeze. It was 3.5 m long. Today I'll review a similar line, the Fujino Soft Tenkara 3.3 tapered tenkara line. I chose the 3.3 m so I could use it on some of the smaller streams I've been fishing. Recently Jason Klass of Tenkara Talk review this line, but in the 4 m length.  My review will compliment his in that Jason and I fish tenkara differently and thus we each have a different experience with the line. He prefers to fish downstream, while I prefer to fish upstream. This is important since tenkara lines may not work the same depending on the presentation.

The line with its short white loop attached.

The Fujino Soft Tenkara 3.3 tenkara line is a tapered monofilament line which comes in bright orange. As Jason stated in his review, this line is bright! I found it very easy to see under all conditions -- against foliage, against water reflections, in shadows, etc. It comes with a small white Dacron loop for use to attach the line to the lilian with a girth hitch knot. I found this loop to be too small for convenient use in forming the girth hitch. I feel this loop needs to be longer. I took my loop off and replaced it with one of my own making; it was longer.

My replaced Dacron loop

The line feels smooth between your fingers, but it feels softer than fluorocarbon. This may impact the robustness of the line. It may be easier to notch and/or scratch than a fluorocarbon line. This could affect its strength and wear characteristics.

The line uncoils easily and straightens with just a slight pull. The line starts at 0.019 inch (0.48 mm) but tapers down to a fine 0.012 inch (0.3 mm). There is no loop on the terminal end of the line. I connected my line to a few inches of mono with a tippet ring attached.

To cast the line, I used a Nissin ZeroSum 360 7:3 rod. Although this rod is advertised as a 7:3 it acts and casts more like a slow 6:4. I chose this rod over a 5:5, like my Sagiri 39MC, to see how the line would act with a slightly faster rod.

The line casts very well. It unrolls perfectly in the air and like the Midi line, lands very softly. It presents an unweighted kebari very delicately, without much splash. It did excellently in still air, pretty well in a very light breeze, but poorly in air movement over 5 mph. Clearly, this is a line for calm conditions. A #4 or even a #3.5 fluorocarbon line casts and controls better in a breeze than the Soft Tenkara 3.3.

One theoretical advantage of monofilament over fluorocarbon is that it weighs less and has a lower density. This means it floats and possibly could make it sag or belly less, thus making it easier to keep of the water. Of course, a shorter line, like the 3.3 m will be easier to keep of the water than a longer line, say a 3.9 or 4.5 m, but I noticed that my 3.3 m line still had quite a bit a sag.

I mentioned above that the same line used in different presentations may act differently. I stand by my observations regarding this. Here is an example. If you cast and fish with an upstream presentation, like I mostly do, the fly and line will immediately begin to move towards you as soon as it touches down. This will make the line want to sag immediately, unless of course, you constantly adjust the elevation and angle of the rod tip in relation to the water surface. However, a line that bellies or sags will still tend to do this more with an upstream presentation.

Fishing upstream

If you present the line downstream, like Jason mostly does, the fly and line will immediately begin to move away from you as soon as it touches down. Gravity will still want to make the line to sag, but the constant resistance of the water on the fly will cause the line to tighten, pulling it straight, thus counteracting the effect of gravity on the line's sag.

Fishing downstream

This of course is for tenkara on faster moving water. If you fish still waters or slow moving water none of what I just said will be of any concern.

Jason thought that the Soft Tenkara line was easy (maybe easier) to keep of the water. I didn't really see that in my line, rather it felt that it was about like a #4 fluorocarbon line in sag formation. But bear in mind, I fish upstream, whereas Jason fishes downstream -- that is maybe where the difference in observed line sag lies. Anyway, I decided to test the line for sag compared to a #4 and a #3 fluorocarbon level line of comparable lengths. I used 3 feet of 6X tippet on each line with the same hookless casting-practice fly. Since tenkara lines are hard to record on video, I positioned the sun behind me so that it would shine through the lines. I then positioned myself so that the lines would be seen against a dark tree in my backyard. I tried to keep the rod tip at the angle I usually cast.

What I found was although the Soft Tenkara 3.3 line is made of monofilament it formed more sag than a #4 or #3 fluorocarbon level line. This is what I saw on the stream as well.

Soft Tenkara 3.3 line -- a lot of sag

#4 10.5 foot fluorocarbon level line -- less sag, but still quite a bit.

#3 10.5 foot fluorocarbon level line -- much less sag; a straighter line = better control.

Conclusion: This is a nice line that is really visible in all streamside situations. It also presents a fly very delicately. Since it is monofilament it floats better than fluorocarbon. But it doesn't cast well in even a slight breeze. Also, it is heavy and does sag quite a bit when fished upstream. This can be compensated for by dynamically adjusting the rod tip, however.  I'll likely use mine in calm air when I want to present either a dry fly or an unweighted kebari very delicately, such as in low, clear water situations.

Here is a 2:30 minute video of my line sag test. It's best viewed in HD so you can see the lines better, especially the #3.

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