The Daiwa Kiyose is sold in Japan as a rod to keep in a travel bag or daypack for fishing mountain streams, lakes or even the ocean. It is particularly well suited for people who want a light weight, compact rod for backpacking.
Not long after tenkara was introduced into the US it became pretty clear that tenkara and backpacking would go together very well. Tenkara rods are light weight, they collapse to a manageable length, and best of all, they do away with the reel - the heaviest and bulkiest part of a backpacker's fishing kit. It should have been no surprise that Backpacking Light and Tenkara USA joined forces to develop the Backpacking Light Hane, which was the first, last, and only tenkara rod designed specifically for backpackers.
Unfortunately for ultralight backpackers, for whom a meal of fresh fish on the trail provides not only needed calories and protein but also a welcome relief from freeze-dried food, Backpacking Light discontinued the Hane.
Backpackers have had to settle for tenkara rods that might be closer to what a hard-core tenkara angler would want, but might not be what a hard-core backpacker would want.
Are you a backpacker who fishes or a fisherman who backpacks? The rods of choice are not necessarily the same.
The Daiwa Kiyose 30SF fills the niche left empty when Backpacking Light discontinued the Hane. It is a very light, very compact rod that is perfect for the backpacker.
In many respects, it is a better rod for backpackers than the Hane was.
Both the Hane and the Kiyose 30SF are 3 meter rods (essentially 10') but the Kiyose weighs 2.1 ounces (58.7 grams, to be precise) compared to the Hane's 2.7 ounces. It collapses to 15.5 inches compared to the Hane's 16.5 inches. Without the width of a cork grip, it will slide into narrower spots in your pack. What I like best about it compared to the Hane, though, is the action. Both are stiff rods, but I always felt the Hane was just a bit too stiff.
The photo below shows how much the Daiwa Kiyose 30SF and the Hane bend under the weight of 10 pennies - 25 grams - my standard weight in all my rod bend tests.
As you can see, the Hane barely bends.
The Kiyose is stiff, but the tip is quite a bit more responsive. That tip flex is very important in casting (and may be part of the reason I had a fairly hard time finding a line I was happy with when reviewing the Hane).
Even though both rods are relatively stiff, the softer tip makes the Kiyose feel much more responsive when casting and when catching modest fish.
The softer tip is also important if you happen to hook a larger than expected trout when fishing a light tippet. The 26 inch brown trout below was caught with a Kiyose 33SF using 6X tippet. The Daiwa designers did a masterful job in creating a rod that not only has the backbone to handle larger fish, but also the ability to do it while still protecting a light tippet.
With a relatively short line, you can dance a CDC & Elk across the pockets of a headwaters stream, drift an Adams alongside an undercut bank or twitch a sakasa kebari through a plunge pool. You can fish it just the same way you would fish any tenkara rod. Considering its light weight, compact size, effectiveness and modest cost, you'll have a hard time finding a rod better suited for backpacking.
Take a look at the Kiyose Gallery to see where other anglers have taken their Kiyose rods - and if you have one please send in a photo of where you've taken yours.
It's not just a backpacking rod, though. The rod really shines when you tie on a bulky hopper or a heavy beadhead nymph - things people want to do with tenkara rods, but tenkara rods don't do particularly well.
There has been a bit of a discussion recently about a tenkara rod as a tool and tenkara as a method. Tenkara rods and techniques evolved together over hundreds of years. Tenkara, the method, is fishing a single unweighted wet fly. Tenkara rods, the tools, are superb for that purpose. The further you get from a single unweighted wet fly, though, the less superb a tenkara rod becomes.
About the same time that American anglers decided tenkara rods would be great for backpacking, they also decided they would be great for Czech nymphing. After all, even though Czech nymphing is done with a rod and reel, the reel is only used to store all the line you don't need when Czech nymphing. On the surface, it would seem that a tenkara rod would be ideal. As it turns out, on the surface a tenkara rod really is ideal, but near the bottom, where you are fishing your Czech nymphs, not so much.
Just as a longer rod is a benefit in tenkara fishing, it is also a benefit in Euronymphing (any of the Czech, Polish, Spanish, French styles). Euronymphers now routinely use 10' rods.
There is more to a Euronymphing rod than 10' and a reel seat, though. I once asked Aaron Jasper, who has made a name for himself in Euronymphing and has a couple Euronymphing DVDs out, if he had ever tried a tenkara rod. He said he had but didn't like it for Euronymphing. It was too soft. I was not at all surprised by his answer, as I had already come to the same conclusion.
There are people who use tenkara rods for Czech nymphing (and Spanish and French etc.) and who claim they work very well. Certainly you can do it, but a couple heavy nymphs, particularly in strong current, are far enough away from a single wet fly fished just a few inches below the surface that a tenkara rod is no longer the best rod for the job.
The tenkara rod tip that is soft enough to cast an extremely light line is too soft to reliably hook fish two or three feet below the surface, particularly if there is much current. For that you need a stiffer rod - or you need an overly aggressive hookset - which has been known to break tenkara rods (even a Yamame). And the guys who advocate using tenkara rods for Czech nymphing? Ask them how many tenkara rods they've broken. You would be shocked.
Please understand that the above comment does not in any way imply that any particular tenkara rod is likely to break when it is used for the purpose for which it was designed. It was meant to imply - no, to directly state - that tenkara rods were not designed for fishing heavy flies, with or without heavy current.
Brown trout caught with the Daiwa Kiyose 30SF on a large, very heavily weighted fly.
The Daiwa Kiyose SF series of rods will give you the requisite stiffness, and still give you all the things you love about tenkara - all the simplicity, all the very direct connection to a hooked fish, all the light weight and portability.
The Daiwa Kiyose 30SF is stiffer than traditional tenkara rods and notably has a stiffer tip section. It is thus a better choice for fishing heavy nymphs.
The first thing you'll notice about the rod, even before how good looking it is in the sunlight, is that the grip is relatively narrow and has no cork. I have now fished with a lot of tenkara rods, most with cork grips, a couple with wooden grips. I do not find the lack of cork or the narrow diameter to be any problem at all. I also use a more open grip. The rod only weighs 2.1 ounces. It is so light that you don't need any cushioning and you don't have to hold it tightly. Plus it has a very effective non-skid coating.
Like the Daiwa high end tenkara rods, the Daiwa Kiyose 30SF has rings machined into the blank at the joints. The "V Joint" as Daiwa calls it, serves two functions. It produces a smoother curve over the length of the rod, reducing the hard spots where there are two layers of tubing at the joints. Perhaps more important, though, the V Joint significantly reduces the chances of getting a stuck section.
The Daiwa Kiyose 30SF grip cap has a rubber core so there is no annoying click-clack of the collapsed sections against the cap as you walk down the trial. It has a rubber "O" ring washer so it snugs down tight and does not loosen while you are on the stream. It also has a ventilation hole to allow the rod to dry out between trips.
The Daiwa Kiyose 30SF has a rubber tip plug. The Kiyose's tip plug does not have the fluting, but it also does not have an extremely snug fit so you can still insert the plug with a level line still attached. As with all tenkara rods, you will have to watch the tip plug to make sure it doesn't get lost. If by chance it does, however, replacements are available. For that matter, replacement parts are available for any piece that happens to get lost or broken.
All in all, the Daiwa Kiyose is a pretty unique and well thought out rod. Ultralight backpackers and nymph fishermen in particular will have a very hard time finding a rod better suited to their needs. And for an ultralight backpacker who primarily fishes heavy nymphs, there is no better rod.
The Daiwa Kiyose rods come in lengths ranging from 2.4 to 4.5 meters. I carry the rods from 2.7 to 4.2 meters, although not all are in stock at any given time. All Kiyose SF rods collapse to the same 15.5" length.Daiwa Kiyose 27SF - $125
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|I finally got out to test the Kiyose. I tied on a 13' heavy tapered leader you made for me, and about 3 feet of 5x tippet. Used a small (size 12) parahopper, and a dark size 16 caddis and was surprised at how easily the rod allowed me to get the two flies out onto the water. It is an unexpected combination, being stiff enough to throw two flies well, and yet being incredibly light.
I forgot my net (typical) and was worried that I'd have a hard time landing a fish, but the fears were unjustified. I caught a 15” and a 17” brown on the caddis, and an 18” rainbow on the hopper. All within 30 minutes. The rod worked flawlessly in fighting these larger fish.
Thanks for selling me this "non-tenkara" rod. It's a real gem.
Jim L, Colorado
|I just got back from Vermont and the rod was great. I was able to fish all the small pocket water for pure wild Vermont mountain creek brook trout and had a blast, I lost count of the amount fish I caught.
The rod is truly amazing.
Keith A, New York
|Can’t say enough about the 42SF ! I can definitely almost hook and heard small farm animals with that stick. What a joy to nymph with in larger rivers. Main advantage you have with this series, is the ability for hook sets confidently in runs over 3ft deep – which is a plus since some other Japanese rod Tenkara type models are softer in the upper 3 sections. This is fine for swinging and lighter nymphing – but when you have a cork indo – a split w/ tungsten – and a 3 fly rig on the Arkansas in Salida CO, the runs there are channelized, fast and can average 6 feet in some places.
Ray R, Colorado