Keiryu Starter Kit

For a while now I've offered a Small Stream Keiryu Starter Kit. It got pretty favorable comments from some keiryu anglers, but it was much more elaborate than my tenkara starter kits. The rods offered with the kit were not really starter rods.

Many people have told me that they'd like to try tenkara (or keiryu or microfishing) but they want to try it without spending a lot of money up front. That pretty much means a less expensive rod and a simpler starter kit.

With that in mind, I decided to completely redesign and radically simplify the kit. For the new Keiryu Starter Kit I've chosen the Nissin 2-Way 540ZX medium rod. It's a very capable rod that won't break the bank.

Some of the fish that have been caught with the shorter Nissin 450ZX medium are pretty impressive, like the rainbow below.  ERiK Ostrander of the Tenkara Guides in Salt Lake City considers it to be one of his go to rods.

I chose the 540ZX for the kit because for keiryu fishing you really do want the additional length. And in the end if you decide that you really prefer tenkara, the 540ZX medium does make a very nice big water rod for tenkara fishing.

The 540ZX soft, which will be in the Keiryu Starter Kit until the medium is back in stock is a nice rod in its own right. It wouldn't be my first choice for big fish, it is certainly capable of landing fish into the mid teens (inches, not pounds).

Rather than adding all the individual items I had put into the Small Stream Keiryu Starter Kit I decided to make it very simple and pair the rod with the Owner Keiryu Rigs.

The Keiru Rigs come with two complete keiryu lines, which include the upper portion of the line (tenjo), the lower portion of the line with markers already attached, and a snelled hook. Two extra snelled hooks and six split shot are included (I have replaced the lead shot that came in the package with lead-free Dinsmore's BB shot).

One of the things I particularly like about the Kieryu Rigs is that the upper portion of the line is hi-vis. The lines have markers that will signal a strike, but having the upper portion of the line being hi-vis makes it much easier to find the markers after you have made your cast. I've tried a number of different line systems now and I definitely prefer having a hi-vis tenjo line.

Attach the line to the rod using the same method shown on the bottom of my Level Line page. The arbor knot (sliding loop) is already tied in the end of the tenjo line.

Owner does not call them "Keiryu Rigs." They refer to the item as the Yamame Amago "shikake" (which Google translates as "widgets"). Somehow widgets isn't quite descriptive enough, so I am happier calling them keiru rigs.

As with the Tenkara Starter Kits, I've decided to include two line holders. The Nissin 2-Way 540ZX can be fished at two lengths, making it very reasonable to have lines of two lengths already prepared and easily accessible.

The card that the rigs come wound on could be used a line holder, but it is much more convenient to use a Tenkara Line Holder when moving from one spot to another. As with a tenkara rod, you can collapse the rod and leave the line still attached. The center hole of the Tenkara Line Holder is large enough to slide over the tip of the Nissin 2-Way 540ZX.

The lines come completely prepared (except for the split shot which you will have to affix yourself). However, I do think you might want to shorten one of the lines for fishing in a smaller stream with the rod at its shorter length. The package says the rigs are intended for a 4.5m rod, but the complete line is a full 4.7m long.

Most of the literature I have seen on keiryu fishing and keiryu lines suggests the total line length, rod tip to hook, is generally shorter than the rod length. For my own fishing I have certainly found that a line a bit shorter than the rod produces better drifts. I believe the rigs are definitely long enough for a 5.4m rod and are longer than I would want when the rod is at its shorter 4.9m length.

One thing I have decide to leave out of the Keiryu Starter Kit is a disgorger. The Stonfo Catch and Release is designed for that, but I really haven't found it to be necessary. If I keep a tight line and strike on the first indication of a take - just as I do with flies - I hook fish in the mouth - just as I do with flies. I'm sure your experience will be the same.

It seems everyone first starts fishing with bait, then moves to spinning gear and many then go on to flies. In a sense, the Keiryu Starter Kit brings people full circle.

A large measure of the popularity of tenkara is because it is simpler than fly fishing. Once you learn to set your markers to control your depth, Keiryu fishing is even simpler.

I find it to be a very pleasant and extremely effective way to fish. And just as I've found that I catch more fish with tenkara than I did with a fly rod and reel, I catch more with keiryu than I do with tenkara. I'm absolutely sure that only part of the reason for that is the use of bait rather than flies. I have become convinced that a keiryu rig with a weighted fly is more productive than a tenkara rig with a weighted fly. It produces better drifts and much better strike detection.

And while I am sure this kit will resurrect all the cane pole analogies, a modern carbon fiber rod that weighs just a few ounces, collapses to around 20" and will protect light tippets is about as far from a cane pole as a Bugatti is from a buggy.

Nissin 2-Way 540ZX medium
Length (extended) 16'3" - 17'6"
Length (collapsed) - 20.5"
Weight (without tip plug) 4.6 ounces
Recommended tippet - 9X-6X

Also included in the Keiryu Starter Kit:
Keiryu Rigs (2 rigged lines, 2 extra snelled hooks, 6 non-lead BB shot)
Tenkara Line Holders (2)

Keiryu Starter Kit - $180

If you wish, you may convert any other keiryu rod on into a Keiryu Starter Kit. The Starter Kit (rod extra) consists of the Owner Keiryu Rigs and a pair of Tenkara Line Holders.

Rods to consider are the Suntech GM Suikei Keiryu Special 39 or 44, Suntech FM-X Keiryu 53 ZPRO or the Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori 53 .

Choose the Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 450 for a Keiryu Starter Kit for kids. The rod is light enough for children to use as a two handed rod.

Keiryu Starter Kit (rod extra) - $15 when purchased with a keiryu rod.


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Tenkara has no strict rules. Enjoy tenkara in your own way.
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