Ayu Rod Review
Ayu Rod Review: The Ayu is the softest and one of the longest rods offered by Tenkara USA. The 5:5 rod will cast an extremely light line very well. It is soft enough to make catching a small fish fun, but as the photo of Daryl Martin's bull trout shows, it has enough backbone to handle larger fish. I'm sure there is a point where you'd be better off with an Amago or a
but I'm not sure just where that point is. Most of the fish I catch are pretty small.
|Daryl Martens catches a huge bull trout
Early on, I felt that the rod choice should be based on the size of fish you catch most of the time. I now believe it is better to match the rod to the stream rather than the fish.
The Ayu was the fourth Tenkara USA rod I got, and when I fished it for the first time I wasn't sure that I liked it. It felt quite a bit softer than my Ebisu, which is its closest cousin in the Tenkara USA lineup. I found this quite surprising, considering that my Ayu is a 6:4 and my Ebisu is a 5:5. (The Ayu is now offered only in 5:5 action.)
The more I fished the rod, though, the more it grew on me (or maybe just the more I got used to the slow, smooth casting and the deep bend that even a modest fish puts in the rod). I got to the point where I would reach for the Ayu first - that is until I got a
which has an identical action at 13', but also zooms to 11.5' and weighs considerably less.
For the longest time I'd say I didn't have a favorite rod. I fished different rods based on conditions I faced. In general, though, whenever there is room for a longer rod, I'm going to fish a longer rod. When I got my first tenkara rod, it took me a while to get used to the length. On the streams I usually fish, most guys use 7 or 7 1/2 foot rods. With my 12 foot rod, I put my rod tip or fly in the overhead branches with disturbing regularity.
That gradually changed, and I got to the point where I would miss the extra length when I went down to an 11 foot rod, and then after a while I missed the extra foot when I fished a 12' rod compared to a 13' rod. The one foot difference between the 11 and 12 foot rods, and between the 12 and 13 foot rods is quite noticeable both in the reach while casting and in the ability to keep more line off the water while fishing. Of course, each foot is extremely noticeable when the stream is tight and brushy too. If the stream is open enough, longer is better. Of course, lighter is better, too.
Ayu tenkara rod
My Ayu rod review would not be complete without a discussion of tenkara lines. The most noticeable difference between the Ayu and all the stiffer rods is the silky smooth cast of the Ayu. I used to feel that it would cast a lighter line than the other rods, but I gradually learned how to cast light lines with the stiffer rods. The difference, though, is that this rod is ideally suited for a very light line, and it will easily handle the
described by Charles Cotton in The Compleat Angler that are so light that most anglers believe Cotton couldn't cast them. On the other hand, lines that cast fine with the Yamame and the Hane seem too heavy for the Ayu. At the least, they are much heavier than necessary.
For example, in my opinion size 4.5 and 5 level lines are too heavy for the Ayu. Even the size 4 Hi-Vis fluorocarbon line seems a bit heavy to me. (Although I should say that some anglers prefer the heavier lines, and you should fish with the line you like, not necessarily the line I like.) My preference is for the Size 3 TenkaraBum
I really prefer a level line with this rod, and feel that all the furled tapered lines I've tried with it were a bit too heavy - or at least, heavier than necessary. That is even more the case now that Tenkara USA has replaced its original nylon furled line with a newer one made from kevlar. I suspect people asked for a line that is easier to cast, and a heavier line is easier to cast. It does not take long at all to learn how to cast a light line, though, particularly with a 5:5 rod. The advantage a light line provides in fishing so clearly overshadows any advantage a heavy line provides in casting that it will definitely be worth the little bit of time required to become proficient with a light level line.
For me, the bottom line is this: if I have enough room to fish a long, soft rod with a light line, that is how I will fish. For the longest time, that meant the Ayu. Now it means the
If you have any questions about the Ayu rod review, or how the Ayu compares to the Sgiri, please go to the
Cameron Mortenson's Arkansas River brown trout
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