July 13, 2015

Shimano Honryu 44 NP -- dry review

I recently received a new but rare rod designed by Dr. Hisao Ishagaki in collaboration with Shimano tenkara. I say rare because it is my understanding that of the first run, only a few were made and they have all been sold. This rod I have may be the only one in the US, I'm not sure.

The 44 NP is designed to be a large stream or river rod, hence the term honryu, which interpreted is mainstream. Because of this it is a very long one handed rod.

The rod comes in a typical Japanese plastic carton and has a sparkly knit rod sock included. The rod is glossy black and without any accents. The fit and finish are perfect, as with all Shimano rods. It is a high carbon content rod with advertised carbon content of 97.3%.  Here is the Shimano page for the 44 NP.

The handle is similar to the Shimano 34-38 ZL, that is, black EVA foam in a gourd or camel shape. The rod end of the handle is cork, however. The word "Tenkara" is formed into the foam portion of the handle. The handle is 30.1 cm in length.

The tip plug is wood. It fits snugly into the tip end of the handle section. The butt cap is gold anodized metal. It has a coin slot for removal but no knurling. There is a rubber bumper and a small air hole.

The lilian is dark brown and is attached directly to the tip section with a perfectly executed glue joint. The tip section can be retracted through the second section for complete disassembly for drying and cleaning.

Here are some specs:

Fully collapsed: 100.5 cm
Fully extended: 436 cm
Number of sections: 5
Weight without tip plug: 84 g
CCS/RFI: 16.5 pennies/3.9
Rotational Moment: 7.9

I will disclose at this point that I did not fish with the 44 NP. That's why I call this a dry review (as opposed to a wet review where I fish the rod). I did this because as soon as I picked it up and extended it I knew that I would not want to keep it. This is mainly do to the tip heaviness of the rod. It's rotational moment is 7.9. This is high enough that it has noticeable tip heaviness. I have had extensor tendonitis in my right arm before and I can not risk developing it again. Like many, my hands are my livelihood and a tendon injury is not what I want. Therefore, I try not to fish with any rod that has a rotational moment higher that 7-7.1. Since I knew I wasn't going to keep the rod I only cast it on my front lawn.

The rod casts very smoothly. It has a slow, exact action that most would agree is in the 5:5 flex action range. Because it is a long rod it takes deliberate casting action to get it to move through the air.  I compared it to my Nissin Royal Stage 400 7:3 and the 44 NP requires more energy to move. The Nissin is 410 cm long and one would not think the 26 cm more length would make that much difference, but it does. FYI, the Royal Stage 400 7:3 has a rotational moment of 6.9. It is much less tip heavy.

I cast the 44 NP with a #3 and #3.5 lines, each 14 feet long. These lines seem a good match for this rod.

Conclusion: I almost liked this rod.  I can tell it has been designed well, but it is too tip heavy for my liking. I'm sure someone with stronger forearms will like this rod but it's not for me. The action is rich and slow and the materials are second to none. I guess I could keep the rod as a collectors item, but then it doesn't serve its purpose, so with that, I'll sell it (and it has been sold). So, if I want to go longer than 410 cm I think I'll need to stick to two handed rods. I have just began to explore these rods.

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