November 9, 2015

Suntech Suikei TenkaraBum 36 -- review, part I

As most of you are aware, Chris Stewart of TenkaraBum recently released a new rod to the international market. It is a collaboration between Chris and Suntech, a Japanese rod company known for fixed-line rods of high quality. Suntech has mainly made and marketed rods for keiryu fishing, but they have some seiryu rods as well. Many of us have been using their keiryu rods for tenkara for some time now. A couple favorites of mine have been the GM Suikei Keiryu Special 39 and 44, and the Kurenai rods.

The new rod is called the Suikei TenkaraBum 36. Chris wrote to me in an email that "the goal for the TenkaraBum 36 was to make a rod that fits the way American tenkara anglers fish: dries, wets and tungsten bead head nymphs." It's made in Japan by a highly respected rod company and will be sold both by Chris, in the US, and Suntech, in Japan.

Here are my impressions:

The TenkaraBum 36 (TB36) comes in a standard plastic rod carton with a rod sock. The coloration is dark charcoal, which is finished with a glossy coating sprinkled with prismatic-silver metallic flecks. It looks similar to the finish on my GM Suikei Keiryu Special 39 -- although the Special 39's is more subtle with finer speckle size. The finish is perfectly done and the rod is aesthetically beautiful. There are subtle silver accents rings at the tip of each section, excepting the tip three section sections.

Dark charcoal with metallic flecks. Glossy finish.

The handle is EVA foam, black, and is an aggressive camel or gourd shape. It is 24 cm long and is  well proportioned allowing multiple different hand hold positions. The tip-ward part of the handle is 2.5 cm wide, the waist is 2 cm wide and the butt bulb is 3 cm wide. The winding check is nickel stainless and fits tightly to the handle.

The tip plug is black plastic and fits snugly into the handle section. The butt cap is nickel stainless metal. It is knurled for easy removal and there is a rubber bumper to quite the rattling of the collapsed segments. A small air hole is also present. However, there is not an o-ring to aid in prevention of the butt cap from working itself loose during fishing.

The lilian is red and is attached to the 1st section (tip section) with a micro-swivel. The glue joint is perfectly executed and the 1st section can be withdrawn completely through the second, allowing full disassemble of the rod for drying and cleaning.

Here are some specs:

Fully extended: 363 cm
Nested: 50.5 cm
Weight (without tip plug): 64.5 g
CCS: 18.5 pennies (my measurements match Chris')
RFI: 5.1

RFI comparison chart

As far as action, the rod is sweet. It is very similar to the Nissin Zerosum 360 7:3, if you have one of those. It has a little more flexibility through the mid sections than the GM Suikei Keiryu Special 39, when in the 360 cm length. The casting arc is smooth. There is no over shoot or tip oscillation; the rod dampens perfectly. The rod really sings with a #3.5 fluorocarbon level line. Chris uses a #2.5 or 3, but I prefer a #3.5. I didn't use a furled line with this rod, as I normally don't fish furled lines.

The handle is a little too aggressive in curves for my liking; I think the waist is too narrow. But as you would expect in a rod coming from Chris and Suntech, this rod is very comfortable to hold, easy to cast, and functionally perfect for a moderate-fast tenkara rod -- it is aesthetically beautiful as well! With a #3.5 line you can feel the rod load and unload without it griping and casting accuracy is very precise. It easily passes the tuna can test.

Coming take on the rod after fishing with it on a typical mountain stream.

1 comment:

  1. Great! Looking forward to your thoughts after using it on the water.