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Suntech Genryu Sawanobori

The Suntech Genryu Sawanobori and Keiryu Sawanobori rods were released a little while ago and I now wish I had gotten them as soon as they came out. Suntech makes very nice rods and these are no exception.

The two Sawanobori rods, the Genryu Sawanobori and the Keiryu Sawanobori are very different, but they are both very nice. This page is for the Genryu Sawanobori. The page on the Keiryu Sawanobori is here.

Genryu is the Japanese word for headwaters. Picture narrow canyons, high gradient streams, no roads and often, no room to cast. The fishing style is often lantern fishing, which is a very short line technique. The style is called lantern fishing because the long rod and very short line are reminiscent of the way lanterns were carried hundreds of years ago (the lantern was tied to a short line, which in turn was tied to the end of a long bamboo pole).

Rather than using a very short rod for casting in the tight quarters, which we generally do in the US, the Japanese use a long rod and short line, essentially lowering their bait or fly directly into eddies or current seams or using underhanded "pendulum" casts to get a bit more distance.

Genryu rods tend to be pretty stiff. The line is short enough in relation to the rod that when bringing in a hooked fish the angler has to collapse the rod at least partially in order to reach the fish. Anglers will often lift the fish out of the water and then collapse the rod. You can't do that with a whippy 5:5 rod!

I don't think that is something most anglers here would do, but the stiffness that allows lantern fishing rods to lift fish also makes them very effective for Czech Nymphing. Now that is something anglers here definitely do. With a stiff rod, all the little "ticks" as the fly bounces off rocks or "taps" as a fish takes the fly are transmitted to your hand rather than being absorbed by the rod. The ticks and taps generally feel different, but you do need a rod that will transmit rather than absorb that information.

The stiffness also means you can get positive hook sets even when fishing in deep water or fast current.

The Suntech Genryu Sawanobori comes in 4.5, 5.4 and 6.3 meter lengths. To date I have only seen the 4.5 meter rods, but I am very impressed with them. While in Colorado for the Tenkara Winter Series (where my presentation was on Long Rod, Short Line tenkara and covered lantern fishing), I used the Suntech Genryu Sawanobori in a smaller stream with a 6' line and 3' tippet to catch a number of fish in a fusion of Czech Nymphing and lantern fishing styles. I had absolutely no problem with hook sets. I didn't lift the fish out of the water, but I did have to collapse the rod a bit to be able to net them. I'll tell you, having a leaping 12" rainbow at the end of a 9' line is exciting!

I think the Suntech Genryu Sawanobori is an excellent rod for Czech nymphing. Most of the rods I've had in stock that I've describe as good Czech nymphing rods have been either 3.3 or 3.6m rods. The extra length of the 4.5m Genryu Sawanobori is very welcome indeed.

Although the 4.5 meter Genryu Sawanobori is considerably longer than the other rods, it is still light enough to use with one hand. I am sure the 5.4 meter rod would be more comfortable as a two handed rod and the 6.3 meter rod would pretty much require it. The 4.5m Genryu Sawanobori weighs only 2.8 ounces without the tip cap. That's less than many 3.6m rods, let alone 4.5m rods.

I have not yet caught large fish with the rod but I am sure the rod can handle them. You'd probably want to use a line a bit longer than 9', though, from rod tip to fly. To fight a larger fish, you have to keep a bend in the rod to tire the fish and to give a bit when it tries to run. To do that, you have to keep the rod tip up or to the side and the 9' of combined line plus tippet I had on was really to short to do that effectively.

Largemouth Bass caught bouncing a Bunny Sculpin along the bottom
Bunny Sculpin

The Suntech Genryu Sawanobori is an excellent choice for lobbing heavy nymphs (or heavy sculpin patterns) but not for fishing unweighted flies. It's just too stiff for a light (or even medium weight) line to load the rod. However, if the kind of fishing you want to do involves bouncing  heavy metal along the bottom, this rod will do it and do it very well. And if you want to feel it if a fish even looks at your fly, this rod is as sensitive as they come. By sensitive, I don't mean soft, I mean it will transmit the sensations of your fly hitting a rock or a fish hitting your fly. You'll be able to feel what's going on as well as see it.

If you do want to cast the rod rather than just lob nymphs, I would suggest the Nissin PALS SP Pro lines, either 4 or 4.5m, which are heavier than comparable level lines. If you will only be lobbing heavy nymphs, I would suggest a very light line, either size 3 tenkara line with 4X tippet, or perhaps 2X or 3X tippet as a Tenjo line (the upper portion of an ayu or keiryu line) followed by 4X tippet, with keiryu yarn markers. The markers will be mostly just to tell you where the line is as you'll be able to feel most takes. (Please note: you can use strong tippet material as the upper portion of your line, but you must have some tippet no stronger than 4X as the lower portion of your line to act as a weak link.)

Suntech Genryu Sawanobori Features

As with all keiryu rods I've seen, the grip is just a widened out section of the rod itself. It is coated with a smooth yet very effective non skid finish. "Sawanobori" is printed on the grip.

If you've only fished with cork gripped rods, you will be surprised at how much more you can feel with the corkless grip.

The grip diameter is considerably larger than on most keiryu rods. There'll be no need for tennis racquet grip on this rod - even for people with larger than average hands.

A feature I had not seen before on keiryu rods, but which makes a tremendous amount of sense, is a section of the same non skid finish at the front end of the grip section - where is where your upper hand would be when fishing two handed. Makes you wonder why all two handed rods aren't like that. The Suntech Genryu Sawanobori 45 is light enough to fish one handed, but the two longer models would be two handed rods. For smaller streams, or the tighter spots on larger streams, you can always fish the 45 two handed as well. With the butt end of the rod at your waist or side, rather than out in front of you, it effectively does shorten the rod.

The tip is a bit beefier than on most keiryu rods - and even on most of the genryu rods I've seen. The rod is rated for 4X tippet, which is stronger than most keiryu or genryu rods.

Unlike most Japanese tenkara rods, the Suntech Genryu Sawanobori rods are covered by a one-year warranty.

With the stiffness for greater sensitivity and constant contact with your flies, and the higher tippet rating for larger fish, the Suntech Genryu Sawanobori may be the best rod yet for "Japanese Nymphing."

Length extended
Length collapsed
Weight with tip cap
Weight without cap
Tip Diameter
Grip Diameter
Tippet rating 
% Carbon

G. Sawanobori 45
20 7/8"
3.3 oz
2.8 oz

G. Sawanobori 54
20 7/8"
4.6 oz

Suntech Genryu Sawanobori 45 - $245

Suntech Genryu Sawanobori 54 - $320
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Walk softly and carry a long stick. - Teddy Roosevelt (almost)

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

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin


Related Items

Nissin PALS SP Pro line

Varivas 4X Tippet

Keiryu Marker Yarn

The Sawanobori is working out really well for me. I'm casting some really big flies with it, ranging from conehead streamers to lightweight mice.

Today, I went to a lake about 30min from my house that is known for trophy bass. Caught a 17 inch largemouth on it. Don't know what it weighed. Apparently, it's not a trophy largemouth in KY until it's over 20 inches. All I can say is it was the biggest largemouth I have ever caught. Last time I was excited to fish for warm water species like that, I was in middle school. I'm getting a little excited again.

Rob W, Kentucky

What a stick!!! I fished streamers only on Monday. I got pics of the first 5 or 6 fish, one is pushing 19", handled her with no problem, I stopped counting but think I had about 12 to 15 fish. I will send you the pic's. I'm not able to send them on line from here.

Back to the rod though. That rod is a dream for streamers. I was using one of my fav's weighted on a 6 hook and had no problem sticking the fish. I'm going back out probably Friday and will fish nymphs if I can tear myself away from the streamers. That is a heck of a good rod for streamers!

Ken B, Montana