AllFishingBuy Tenkara Kasugo 4509
by Timothy Nitz
In between lines and entering a fishless period, so figured I may as well write this up now and ammend it later as needed.
Shortly after receiving my Unagi 4505, I contacted AllFishingBuy to inquire about the tip segment of the Kasugo rods. Receiving confirmation that it was a solid tip (like the Wakata, or Tenkara USA rods) I placed an order. Most of the details pertaining to the Unagi apply to this rod as well, so I will refrain from repeating them where possible.
Appearance and Construction:
Weighs 3.75 oz on my cheap postal scale and extends to 14'8" (measured alongside extended Unagi). Closed, it is advertised as 2.2 ft. Blank is painted matte black with blood red rings and gold tips. Lettering is in gold, much like the Unagi series. It is a nice looking, subtle rod. Details of blank finishing are just like Unagi, except that this has a solid, smooth tip section.
It is rated 6:4 and it's action is very reminiscent of my 11' Tenkara USA Iwana. The cork grip is identical to Unagi and readers might want to see my comments on this grip in the Unagi 4505 review. The butt cap is also identical and the same size. For those curious, the silver metal threads are actually a t-nut that is epoxied to the butt of the grip segment. Mine was not glued well and so I could examine details. I was tempted to leave it off so I could completely replace the cork grip, but decided that there was enough cork on the grip as supplied to reconfigure it later as desired. The lillian on my rod was glued on and painted gold at the butt.
While I wasn't about to do destructive testing of the tip, I admit that the first thing I did when I received it was to flex the tip. I bent it well over 90 degrees (the entire tip, not just a short section of it) and found nothing to suggest that it was going to snap. I've since been as careful/sloppy as I typically am with my tenkara rods (Unagi excepted) and experienced nothing that concerned me.
Accessories and Packaging:
Lacking the clear plastic case associated with other AllFishingBuy rods, the Kasugo came with a cloth sack and rod tube. The rod sack has the rod name and specs printed in gold. The sack itself is similar to those used for katana storage, simply a sack longer than needed. In use the excess is folded over and secured with the attached cord.
The rod tube makes me laugh when I look at it. It mimics the butt section of a tenkara rod, sans cork. The tip has a wooden plug (with foam core) and the butt is a metal ring with rubbery disk, just like the rods themselves. The first time you use it, you will realize the ingeniousness of the clever design. The folded rod sack is bulky and will only go into the rod tube in one direction - folded end first. It has to come out the same way, folded end first. Otherwise it all hangs up inside. The way I do it is to put the rod in the sack butt first, secure the excess and place the entire package inside the tube from the butt end (that way the tip is protected by foam core of tip plug). To remove it, I remove the tip plug and pull it out that direction. That's why two different looking ends are needed. I really have come to like the tube. The tube itself is some kind of plastic, maybe carbon, I don't know.
The overall package is VERY nice in appearance and would make a great gift.
I'm between lines and so did limited testing. The same TenkaraBum Artificial Horsehair line I liked for the Unagi performed the best on this rod. 4.5 Fluorocarbon level line also worked, but seemed a little light. I also used No. 4 TenkaraBum flourocarbon line successfully, but this, again, was on the light side for me. The 13' Tenkara USA furled line worked fine. Soon, I will have the chance to try No. 5 level line and a hand-tied line from TenkaraBum and will report back - in the meantime Chris has a pretty good idea of what will work well with this rod. However, the artificial horsehair line I had was such a perfect match that I didn't use the other lines all that much.
Application and Use:
In terms of the kinds of water I would use this rod for, it matches the Unagi exactly. There is much less spine to this rod (as expected) but three 12" rainbows in rapid succession suggested that this rod is a much better match for more typical stream and small river use for trout than the Unagi and there was a lot of reserve power left. A 1 1/2" trout (my favorite for testing) did cause tip response, so the tip is plenty sensitive and responsive for my needs and the sensitivity reminded me much of my 11' Iwana. 4-5" trout provided enough rod flex to be fun, and 12" trout were at the lower end of becoming interesting (for some comparison, while the Ayu seems perfectly capable of handling larger fish, at 12" it begins to take on a life of its own and I am not in complete control of it - the Kasugo remains well under control at that point which also makes it easier for me to quickly grab the line when needed).
Having recently gone back and watched the DVD and looked through older posts, it dawned on me that much of what others are calling mountain streams or smaller rivers, are actually pretty big to me! I am typically on much smaller and brushier water. If I were fishing the kinds of water I see in pictures and videos, I would probably be using the rod. The extra length provides better line handling and current negotiation and the angle of the line to the water is better (as opposed to, say, a longer line on a shorter rod). I cannot comment on how it would perform in wind, but the longer rod length, in and of itself, should create some faster line speed that would help. But I haven't experienced that yet.
With the exception of the cork grip (see Unagi 4505 review), I like this rod a lot. It's a nice package and comfortable to fish. Casting is relaxed and the flex allows for proper form and use of lighter lines. It's a tenkara rod, for sure and the tip will be familiar to many. Anyone who uses a "v" or "power" grip will probably like the grip, and anyone else able to adapt to the grip or change it, will find a solid rod in this package.
Kasugo vs Unagi:
Having received and fished these two rods with nearly the same lines, same water conditions, and same fishing conditions, I have some definite opinions about what they are and are not. It's also refined my own personal understanding and definition of tenkara. For me, the Unagi is in its own class of rod, and I liken it more to a "loop" rod and that tradition, than tenkara. It works well for types of fishing, lines, and approaches outside tenkara and for which tenkara gear typically does not do well. The Kasugo, on the other hand, is clearly in the tenkara tradition. Simply put, I don't believe I will be using the Unagi for my tenkara angling, and I don't think I will be using the Kasugo for non-tenkara angling. Both fit different worlds of fixed line length angling on larger water.