The Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori rods are excellent dual use (keiryu/tenkara) rods. They are available in three lengths: 5.3 meters, 6.3 meters and 7.2 meters.
The 5.3m rod is light enough to be fished one handed, which is really astounding for a 17' rod. I fish it one handed because my other hand is glued to my wading staff. I suspect many anglers will find it much more comfortable to fish as a two-handed rod, through. The 6.3m rod is a light two-hander. The 7.2m rod is a bit heavy (as you would expect for a rod of that length), but it gives you an unmatched ability to fish bank eddies on the other side of the river while keeping your line above the intervening current.
The first time I got a chance to fish with the Keiryu Sawanobori rods was when I was in Colorado for the Winter Series event last year. I was on the Poudre River and happened to see a trout rise in the middle of the large eddy on the far bank in the photo above. The trout was pretty far back in the eddy, on the other side of that very small rock just barely visible dead center in the eddy. I was standing by the big rock in the foreground. With the Keiryu Sawanobori 72 I was able to make a cast completely over the intervening current, over the rock and drop a CDC & Elk into the center of the eddy - and hold the line off the water's surface so there was no drag.
And here's the fish that rose in the middle of the eddy on the far bank just moments before.
It doesn't always work out quite so nicely, but sometimes it does. With a shorter rod the only way to have caught that fish would have been to wade halfway across the river. In some rivers you can do that. In some you can't.
My presentation at the Winter Series - the day before - had been on Long Rod, Short Line Tenkara. The above setting, cast and fish would have perfectly illustrated a point that I had tried to make in my presentation. A number of anglers are well known for "long line tenkara," but with a shorter rod there is no way you could have held enough line off the water's surface to fish the center of that eddy without drag pulling your fly. With a longer rod and shorter line you'll have less line in the water and you can get much better drifts than you can with a shorter rod and longer line.
Despite the advantages of the extremely long reach, the Keiryu Sawanobori 72 is just heavy enough that I'd have to say I prefer the 63, which is a very nice compromise between light weight and long length.
All that said, I really think it is going to be the 53 that gets the most raves. It is just so light for its length and it has the capability of handling some very impressive fish. It carries a higher penny rating (32) than the Daiwa Kiyose 43M, with which people have caught braggin' size rainbows and even pretty fair sized carp. It's just a penny shy of the Daiwa Enshou LT44SF, which has been discontinued but which I think is the best big water / big fish tenkara rod there is. With the longer length and smoother casting, the Sawanobori 53 would be my choice over any tenkara rod when fishing a large stream or small river.
One thing that definitely surprised me about all of the Suntech Keiryu
Sawanobori rods is that they will cast a light size 3 line quite
effectively. These are rods that you can use for fishing dries and unweighted wets yet they have enough
backbone to fish weighted nymphs well also.
For keiryu fishing, they'll go about as delicate as you could want - all the way down to 9X tippets. They're rated up to 5X, though, and with their length and mid flex action, 5X tippet will handle surprisingly large fish. They're sensitive enough that they are still fun with more modest fish, though. I really, really like these rods.
As more people get these rods and put them to the test, I am confident they will do as well as the Daiwa Kiyose 53M and 62M, which are also rated to 5X, and better than the Nissin 540 and 620ZX medium rods, which are rated only to 6X.
The Suntech rods, though, are much lighter than the Daiwas or the Nissins. The Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori 63 is 4.3 ounces, compared to the Daiwa Kiyose 62M at 5.9 ounces and the Nissin 620ZX at 6.2 ounces. The 17' Sawanobori 53 is just 3.2 ounces, lighter than some 12' tenkara rods!
I took a Keiryu Sawanobori 63 to Maine with me last year for smallmouth fishing. I didn't hook any trophy size fish, but the rod handles a nice smallmouth very well indeed. I am getting more and more questions regarding rods for smallmouth bass. The Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori would be a good choice for smallies in lakes or streams.
One of my customers took his to Sweden for a three week fishing trip, reporting that it is a great rod for large perch and small pike. (The other way around probably not so much, though.)
The Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori rods are a deep maroon color, with bright sparkles in the finish on the grip section. The sections above the grip have the same maroon color but without the sparkles.
The grip is a widened out section of the blank itself with smooth non-skid finish that is effective wet or dry. The grip has Sawanobori written on it but you need pretty good light to see it this clearly. It is subtle, not flashy. The grip is much wider than on some keiryu rods, so it is unlikely you will even think of putting tennis racquet grip wrap on it.
As with the Suntech Genryu Sawanobori, there is about 3" of the same non-skid finish on the front end of the grip section - just where you would put your forward hand when casting two handed. That is a wonderful idea that I had not seen on other keiryu rods.
As with other Suntech rods, the lillian is attached with a micro swivel that easily slides through the second section, allowing complete disassembly for drying and cleaning. The grip screw cap is knurled for easy removal and has a ventilation hole.
Unlike most Japanese tenkara rods, the Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori rods are covered by a one-year warranty (so keep the blue and white sheets that are in the back of the plastic retail display case).
All in all, this is a rod that I like a lot and that I am sure will please anyone looking for a 5+ or 6+ meter keiryu rod that will handle a wide range of tippet strengths (and a wide range of fish sizes). It seems to work equally well for tenkara and for keiryu fishing. If you've been looking for a longer rod, this is definitely one to consider.
Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori 53
Length extended – 16’ 10”
Length collapsed – 22”
Weight with tip cap – 3.7 oz
Weight without cap – 3.2 oz
Sections - 11
Tip Diameter – .75mm
Grip Diameter – 24.8mm
Tippet rating – 9X-5X
% Carbon – 99
Pennies - 32
Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori 63
Length extended – 20’ 3”
Length collapsed – 22”
Weight with tip cap – 4.9 oz
Weight without cap – 4.3 oz
Sections - 13
Tip Diameter – .75mm
Grip Diameter – 25mm
Tippet rating – 9X-5X
% Carbon – 99
Pennies - too long to measure
Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori 72 available by special order (if Suntech has any in stock).
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|I used a level line and tippet together = about 12" shorter than the length of the rod. Man was that wonderful. It was so easy to control the fly and line. It was like picking fish out of a barrel! The only real issue I found was bringing them in to the net. The line was almost too short. Superb control over the fly though!
Jason B, Oregon
|Took the rod out yesterday and loaded it with 18 feet of DT2 with 18" of Orange Sunset 15# line with 2 foot of 0X Maxima and 4 feet of 4X Mono. Very smooth and I was able to cast out very large floater's easily.
Caught some decent smallmouths but failed this time to catch a hog. I think they are on to me in that stretch of water.
This rod has a lot power but can really lay out a long line easily.
Roger H, West Virginia
|Just back from my first tenkara trip 3 weeks in Swedish mountain streams and lakes. I am hooked!
The Keiryu Sawanobori is also great, a 1 1/2 pound perch or a hammer handle pike makes it comes alive like there is no tomorrow, it bends and bends and groans and sighs and ...it makes catching a panfish an epic battle...just awesome.
Michel T, Netherlands
|I've fished it [the 63] on a few occasions and really enjoy it. It's casting action is smooth and unlabored. It throws a #3 fluorocarbon line really well and it will throw a dropper/point fly combo without any issues.
It's too long for a CCS penny measurement, so I can't give you a RFI rating. But to me it feels like it would be about 4-4.5. It's easy to cast but since it's 20 feet long it has a lot of inertia, so casts are slow -- rich -- full bodied. I know those words don't mean much, that's why a CCS penny rating and RFI are so helpful, but they are the best I can do for this rod.
I hooked into a really nice fish. The hook set was solid and the fish took off for some snags on the other side of the river. It didn't get far -- this rod easily turned him, even in the current.
Tom D, Idaho
Teton Tenkara blog
|I'm at the tail end of 2 back to back trips where I caught 18 inch fish in small streams in SE Idaho and now I'm in the southern Oregon Cascades catching 12 inch brook trout and rainbows in high alpine lakes and streams. All were caught using my new Suntech Sawanobori 53. Turns out it is incredibly versatile and it has been my go to rod except for the tightest streams.
Jonathan B, Oregon
|First fish on the Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori 63! Wow! What a smooth rod. I got it in the mail yesterday and just had to try it out. I have access to a private lake. It feels a bit like cheating. I caught 23 bass in 40 minutes.
I kept extending it and it got longer and longer! What amazes me is how balanced it is and casting it is silky smooth. I found by gripping the rod on the top of the bottom section and bracing the rod on my forearm I could make comfortable one arm casts. The two handed casts were almost effortless. I have a lot of spay casting experience. I can't wait until January to try it on the big rainbows that come up the South Fork of the Boise River.
Les A, Idaho
|The Sawanobori has me spoiled. It is the most intuitive (to me) rod that I have ever owned.
Les A, Idaho