As I have mentioned in my fishing journal vlog, I'm really not a big fish guy. "Big" for me is 16 inches, as I like fishing small streams, and these usually don't have "big" trout in them. But every once in a while I'll fish a river where 20+ inch trout are common place.
Tenkara, Japanese tenkara that is, has traditionally not been a big fish venture. I have been told (repeatedly) that native salmonids in Japan just don't get very large. In fact, the legendary cherry trout (Yamame) called Shaku Yamame comes in at about 12 inches (30 cm). Fish of that size are highly sought after but an angler may never catch one in their lifetime. But trout over 12 inches are common place in the USA (and elsewhere in the world), so from the very beginning of tenkara's introduction to the US, tenkara rods capable of handling large trout have been desired by tenkara anglers.
Nowadays, there are quite a few choices for those pursuing large trout with fixed line rods in the USA. These companies/rods include, but are not limited to, Tenkara USA (Amago), DRAGONtail (Hellbender, Nirvana 400), TAO (Wisco 2), Tenkara Rod Co. (a number of rods), Wasatch Tenkara Rods (Daikyu T-Hunter), and Zen Tenkara (pretty much their whole lineup).
But for Japanese designed and manufactured large fish tenkara rods, there are but a few. Daiwa LT series, Nissin Oni Honryu rods, Shimano BG Tenkara 48NV, and the Gamakatsu Multiflex Suimu lineup. The only one of these I haven't seen is the big Shimano rod, but all the rest are wonderful large trout honryu rods that would be the pride and joy of any angler's quiver.
However, today I want to the spotlight the Gamakatsu MultiFlex Suimu 5.0 EX. This is a 5 meter tenkara rod designed for mainstream rivers (honryu), large and powerful trout, that is engineered for tippet up to 2X.
I've had a Gamakatsu MultiFlex Suimu 4.0 for a number of year now, but the 5.0 EX rod is a recent acquisition. I was first introduced to this large and capable rod by Adam Trahan, of Tenkara-Fisher. I had sent my Suimu 4.0 to Adam for him to test out, but he felt that he needed a rod longer than 4 meters to adequately fish the challenging water of the Colorado River below Lees Ferry. So, to aid in this endeavor, he purchased the 5.0 EX. Adam knows rods, and he prefers Japanese tenkara rods for their action, manufacturing quality, refinement, and overall performance. He really likes the 5.0 EX for pursuing the very leader shy bruisers that swim in the crystal clear water of that Colorado tailwater.
I was physically introduced to the rod by Brent Auger, of DRAGONtail. He had purchased one of the rods and let me borrow it. I was amazed! I immediately loved its action and balance, and therefore bought one of my own!
The Gamakatsu MultiFlex Suimu 5.0 EX is a large rod that comes in a standard plastic carton along with a rod sleeve. The rod has an overall beautiful appearance. Like most other Japanese tenkara rods that I have used, the Suimu 5.0 EX is perfect in aesthetics, design and execution. The overall coloration is black or a very dark charcoal with a glossy finish. There are terra cotta accents on all but the tip section. The rod designation area on the butt segment has prismatic sparkle brown coloration. There is some [brown and green] wrapping near the winding check on the lower segment as well. All of this makes a very handsome rod. Unlike the Suimu 4.0 EX, which is a double zoom rod (three fishable lengths), the 5.0 EX is a single zoom (two fishable lengths). The Suimu 5.0 EX can be fished at 420 and 500 cm lengths.
The handle is high quality cork and has a subtle double-hump shape. It is 36 cm (14") in length.
The tip cap is a rubber friction fit cap. It slides very snugly over the ends of the lower two segments securing them in place and protecting the tip. The butt cap screws into the base of the handle easily. It is black plastic and has equally spaced grooves around its circumference to aid in its removal. Like the butt cap of the Suimu 4.0, the 5.0 EX zoom post is unusual as well. Instead of O-rings to hold the zoom section in place, the post is short and tapered. This achieves the same goal as the O-ring design and is very effective. There is a small air decompression hole in the center of the butt cap.
The lillian is red and thicker than most tenkara rods. It is attached to the tip segment via a perfectly executed micro-swivel (yeh I know, a micro-swivel, but this is a Gamakatsu swivel - the best in the world!). The tip segment can be removed through the second segment allowing for complete disassembly of the rod for complete drying and cleaning. The tip segment is hollow, rather than solid as in most tenkara rods. This makes the tip segment a little stiffer, allowing commanding hook sets and line control.
Here are my measurements:
Fully nested: 86 cm (33.8").
Fully extended: 426.5 and 501.5 cm (14' and 16.4', respectively).
Weight (without tip cap): 107.4 g (3.8 oz).
CCS: 26 and 23.5 pennies, respectively.
RFI: 6.1 and 4.7, respectively.
Rotational Moment: 8.5 and 12, respectively.
Casting this rod can be accomplished with either one or two hands. Casting at the 420 cm length is easily done with one hand, and although the rotational moment is 8.5, it's really not too tip heavy for that big of a rod. I can also cast the rod one handed at the 500 cm length, but I have to put my forearm against the handle for stability and give more force to the rod. I prefer to use two hands when the rod is fully extended to 5 meters. Since I cast with my right hand, I use my left hand to anchor the rod butt and use it as the pivot point. I then use my right hand to create the casting arc. This seems to work well for me and I can cast a long line quite accurately.
The action of the 5.0 EX is much different than my Suimu 4.0. The RFI for the fully extended Suimu 4.0 EX is 7.5, while the fully extended 5.0 EX is only 4.7. What that means is that the 5.0 EX is not just a Suimu 4.0 EX with extra segments. The 5.0 EX is a totally different rod, even though they are sibling rods (the MultiFelx Suimu EX family include the 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0 EX tenkara rods). The Suimu 4.0 is a very fast power rod that is great for furled or heavier lines, but the 5.0 EX is more flexible and can throw level line beautifully.
I've followed Adam Trahan's lead and made my own modified level lines for use on larger rivers. I can easily cast a 7-8 meter line who's length is made of 60% #3.5 fluorocarbon level line and 40% of #3. The Suimu 5.0 EX casts this line beautifully and with quite a bit of accuracy. On the waters that I fish, I don't think I'll need to go longer than 8 meters, although the rod would handle a much longer line.
One thing to be aware of is the air resistance on the rod. Long rods have more wind load; it's just a fact. But even though this rod is 107 grams, it doesn't feel as heavy as some rods I've used and it cuts through the air with acceptable grace.
Conclusion: I really like this rod! I love the cork handle (I like cork better than foam). I really like the flex profile, the overall balance and the aesthetics. I also love the fact that I can cast it either one handed or two. Given that the rod is so long, it really is quite easy to cast. No, it's not as easy as a 360 cm rod, and not even as easy as a 400 cm rod. But it is surprisingly well balanced and has a pleasing action that casting isn't too labored. Will it completely supplant my collection of 400 cm rods that I normally use on larger waters? Probably not, as they are easier to cast all day. But this rod will be a useful tool when I need to throw a long line in anticipation of 20+ inch trout. I bought my Suimu 5.0 EX from PLAT. They are easy to work with and shipping is prompt. They also package the rod well (in a PVC tube), so I never have to worry about shipping damage.
So, if you are in the market for a premium Japanese large trout, large river tenkara rod, that is engineered for up to 2X tippet, then consider the Gamakatsu MultiFlex Suimu 5.0 EX. It's the king of tenkara rods. Long live the king!