The Suntech Fine Power is a keiryu rod. If I hadn't said that and if you picked one up, put a size 3 fluorocarbon level line on it, tied on a sakasa kebari and went fishing, you would swear it was the nicest big water tenkara rod you've ever seen. Suntech makes them in three lengths, the NP56, NP66 and NP76.
The Suntech Fine Power NP56 can be fished at 5.2m and 5.6m, giving you more reach than you would get with any tenkara rod. It has a penny rating of 25.5 pennies at 5.2m and 26 pennies at 5.6m. That's higher than most tenkara rods, and is about equal to the Nissin Air Stage Fujiryu 6:4 410, which is making a name for itself as a rod suitable for big western rivers and big western fish. With the same capability but greater length, the Fine Power is arguably a much better choice.
I think the name Fine Power is an apt description. The rod is rated for
tippets ranging from 10X (the Fine) up to 5X (the Power). That range of
tippets gives you quite a bit of versatility. If you fish
tailwaters where any fly larger than a 20 gets ignored completely, yet
the fish grow large, the Suntech Fine Power would be a perfect choice.
I should mention, though, the the rainbow pictured above was caught with a size 12 tungsten bead head black Killer Bugger. Just as the rod can handle a range of tippets, it can handle a range of flies!
The rod can handle a range of fish, too! I'll
borrow a phrase from Coach with respect to what size fish you can catch
with the rod: "Anything you can catch with 5X tippet." Landing trout into the mid twenty inch range should not be a problem. The fish shown above is 21" and did not max out the NP66. A word of caution: I recently got an inquiry about the rod and whether it would do for 20-25" striped bass. In my limited experience, a 20" striper pulls a lot harder than a 20" trout. I would not be afraid to hook a 24" trout with the rod. I think a striper of that size would break the rod!
Similar to the Suntech Grayce II, the Fine Power has Suntech's "Non
Paint" finish above the grip and zooming sections. The matte finish
prevents the rod flash that can give away your presence on a sunny day. I like the Non Paint finish a lot.
In addition to the versatility of the wide range of tippet strengths, the rod also provides the versatility of fishing at two lengths. The 5.2m length is a very nice length for relatively small stream keiryu fishing - and for relatively large stream tenkara fishing. At the 5.2m length you could cast the rod one handed (and I have when I've been too lazy to drop my wading staff and then pick it up again), but I think you'll find it more comfortable to cast two handed. At just 3.4 ounces for a 17 foot rod, though, it is an extremely light two hander. When fished at the 5.6m length (18'6"), the rod becomes an effective keiryu rod for wider streams and a very nice big water tenkara rod.
The Suntech Fine Power NP66 makes an even better big water tenkara rod. And to be blunt about it, a lot of the streams that people routinely fish with a 12' tenkara rod could be fished with the 21'7" Fine Power NP66. Just keep your back casts over the stream and fish almost directly upstream. If overhead tree branches do not reach all the way across, you can fish quite effectively.
The first time I fished with the Fine Power NP66 was on a stream running about 75-80 CFS (cubic feet per second). The water was low and clear. Standing back, keeping low and fishing 20' of size 2.5 tenkara line was very effective. Being able to keep the line off the water (thanks to the long rod) made it much more effective than it would have been with a 20' line and a 12' rod.
The Spring 2016 issue of the Japanese magazine "Headwaters" had an article that describing a long, two-handed tenkara rod that an angler made (or had made for him). That concept is a rarity in Japan but more and more people in the US are turning to two-handed keiryu rods for big water tenkara fishing. We have many, many prime trout waters in the US for which a rod longer than the longest tenkara rod would be ideal.
The photo above shows Dr. Ishigaki during his tenkara demonstration on the Willowemoc Creek in the Catskills in 2009. He was fishing with a 4.5m rod and a 7m line, and was casting to an eddy that was not all the way to the far bank. The Willowemoc is not a large river by any stretch of the imagination.
A longer, two handed rod would not have fit within his Introduction to Tenkara demonstration, but it would have allowed him to fish the full width of the stream. On the nearby Beaverkill, which is even wider, a longer rod would have provided an even greater advantage. The East Branch of the Delaware, into which the Beaverkill flows, is wider yet. The East Branch, in turn, flows into the Main Stem of the Delaware, which is a honryu by anyone's definition. Honryu tenkara rods are 4.5m. Honryu keiryu rods are 8m and up.
Tenkara anglers know all the advantages that a long tenkara rod gives them over a standard fly rod in a small stream. In a river, those same advantages over a tenkara rod - even a honryu tenkara rod, are achieved by fishing a longer keiryu rod. You'll get better presentations and you'll catch more fish. Other than the stiffer genryu (headwaters) rods, I've found that the longer keiryu rods cast tenkara lines quite well.
I am not saying you should abandon your tenkara rods. Far from it. For smaller streams they are the ideal way to fish. All I'm saying is that there is an awful lot of water in the US for which a longer, two handed rod would be a better choice. The Suntech Fine Power rods would be good choices for almost any of them.
Although all the above is about how nice the rod is for big water tenkara, which is how I expect most American buyers will use it, at its heart it's a keiryu rod. It bridges the gap between traditional keiryu fishing and "zero fishing" (which is fishing with extremely light lines, small hooks and rods with tips soft enough to protect 10X tippets and that yield so that fish do not feel tension on the line Still, the rods have sufficient backbone to then set the hook and subdue the fish).
The 5.2m length is nice for keiryu fishing in smaller streams and the 5.6m length is nice for medium sized streams. In addition to the 5.2-5.6 meter length, the Suntech Fine Power is available in 6.2-6.6m and 7.2-7.6m lengths, which would be better for larger streams and for rivers. The Fine Power NP66 is about as long a rod as I enjoy fishing with. For my own personal taste, a 7+m rod gets just a bit heavy to hold and has noticeable wind resistance (the rod itself does) when casting.
Suntech makes quite a few very nice keiryu rods. Of all of them, the Fine Power is the most versatile.
As with all other keiryu rods I've seen, the grip is just a very effective nonskid finish on the butt section of the rod. Because the rods are designed for two handed casting, it is really very easy to hold the rod with a light touch and there is no need for either the cork or the shaping that is found on tenkara rods.
Like all tenkara rods and most keiryu rods (and unlike the Suntech Grayce II), the Fine Power has a lillian. It is attached with Suntech's signature swivel, which easily passes though the second section.
The Suntech Fine Power NP56 comes with a Fuji KTC-16 rod cap, which provides a very secure attachment and is too large to lose easily. The Fine Power NP66 comes with a Fuji KTC-20 rod cap.
As with other Suntech zoom rods, the grip screw cap is plastic and knurled for easy removal or tightening and utilizes an O ring to hold the butt end of the zooming section securely. The Suntech Fine Power grip screw cap is equipped with a ventilation hole.
17'1" - 18'6"
10X - 5X
25.5 - 26
20'3" - 21'7"
10X - 5X
23'7" - 24'11"
10X - 5X
NP56 and NP66 length and weight from my own measurements. NP76 stats from Suntech data.
The Suntech Fine Power is one of the more versatile rods I've come across. To date, most of the rods I have described as versatile are ones that are suited to small streams and medium sized streams. The versatility of the Suntech Fine Power is that works nicely as a keiryu rod and a tenkara rod, it is suited to medium streams up to fair sized rivers, and it can fish the smallest flies on the smallest tippets, while also handling kebari or bead heads on 5X.
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