The Air Stage Fujiryu tenkara rods are well known in Japan, and rightly so; they are amazing rods! I've written about how much I like the 360 5:5 version, and consider it one of the best tenkara rods I've used. I also have the 330 5:5 version, a rod I prefer over the Oni type III or Oni Itoshiro, and that's saying something (because both of those rods are wonderful)! The Fujiryu line of rods as just plain excellent!
The Air Stage Fujiryu rods were designed by a true tenkara master, Hiromichi Fuji. With his decades of tenkara experience, Uzaki-Nisshin (Nissin) created rods that are both beautiful and functional. They are perfectly balanced, blending a graceful full flex casting motion with surprising fish control.
But in addition to the truly divine 5:5 flex versions, Fuji-san also designed 6:4 versions, for those situations when a faster action rod is needed. In this review I'll outline my thoughts on the 360 6:4 rod.
The rod comes in a plastic carton and with a simple rod sock. In other words, it's packaged like most Japanese tenkara rods. There's no rod tube, so don't expect one.
The Air Stage Fujiryu 360 6:4 looks exactly like the 360 5:5 version (see image above). Nested length, extended length, handle shape and contour, and cosmetics are exactly the same. Here are some of my descriptions of that rod that apply to the 360 6:4 version: "The coloration is a dark red wine color that really shows up in the sun. Most of the sections also have terra cotta colored accents that are tastefully done. The handle is made from cypress (some sources say cedar), and is unfinished. It has a slightly tapered shape and is relativity short at 18 cm. Despite this, it is very comfortable to hold, especially if you use a light grip. The winding check is stainless [metal] and fits tightly against the handle. The tip cap is a Fuji KTC-16 universal cap, which I prefer over the tip plug type. The butt cap is stainless metal, is aggressively knurled, has a rubber bumper on the inside, and a very adequate air hole. The lilian is red and is attached to the tip section with a perfectly executed glue joint. Section 1 (the tip section) can be removed through the second section for complete disassembly of the rod."
Casting the rod is different from casting the 360 5:5. Whereas the 5:5 version is full flex, with a rich, effortless casting stroke, the 360 6:4 is quick, responsive and more energetic. Because the rod flexes more near the tip, your casting stroke is quicker and more deliberate than with a full flex rod. But that's the point, isn't it. There's more fish controlling backbone with the 6:4 than with the 5:5. The further you go away from the tip, the stiffer the section are.
The 6:4 rod will throw a #3 fluorocarbon level line nicely, but a #3.5 line seems to hit the sweet spot. I'm sure a #4 level line or even a furled line would store even more potential energy in the rod, but since a don't use furled lines I can't comment. As for flies, the rod handles unweighted kebari as well as tungsten bead head competition nymphs. Here is a video of me fishing the 360 6:4 with unweighted kebari on one of my favorite mountain streams:
I use the Air Stage Fujiryu 360 6:4 on high gradient streams where the fish are larger, and where I need more control due to aggressive currents. This rod has a fast, decisive hook set, and plenty of power to work fish through and around heavy currents. But that said, no love is lost on a 6 inch trout. They are still fun.
Another time I prefer the 360 6:4 is for euro or contact nymphing. The rod is long enough for a good reach and line control, but not too long as to fatigue your arm. Since it has a faster action, it can handle heavier nymphs, or multiple nymphs without issues. It also sets the hook well in deeper water, as the tip reacts more quickly than a softer action rod. It's an excellent contact nymphing rod! Here are a couple of videos of me using the rod for contact nymphing:
Conclusion: I really like this rod. I've had this rod for a few years now, and it has never let me down. Its longer than a standard 360 cm rod, giving excellent reach and line control. Its nested length is short enough to easily travel in a backpack or bag, let a lone a car. It's a little stiffer overall than the Shimano 36NR (Dr. Ishigaki's stiffer tenkara rod with an RFI of 5.4 versus the 360 6:4's RFI of 5.9), but it's not too stiff to be not enjoyable. The 360 6:4 is still a tenkara rod, not a tenkara rod designed for western fly fishers who are transitioning to tenkara, and it's not overly stiff like a 5 weight fly rod. It's the real deal. It's the real McCoy, not a wannabe toy! Combine the 6:4 with the 5:5 and you'll have the best combination of tenkara rods there is!
If you would like one, TenkaraBum can get one for you.
Disclaimer: My opinion regarding this rod is just that, my
opinion. Your opinion may differ. Also, your rod may not have the
same length, issues, or functionality as my rod. There are variations
between rods, even in the same production run. No description can fully
tell you how a rod feels or fishes. For this, you must personally hold,
cast, and fish the rod then make up your own mind.
I received no incentive or compensation from Uzaki-Nisshin. I purchased the rod at full retail price.