by George Roberts
(East Bridgewater, MA)
I purchased the Daiwa Soyokaze 27SR to have a second 9-foot rod to fish for wild brook trout in the mountain streams of New England, some stretches of which can be fairly tight. On the strength of the reviews on this site, last fall I had purchased the 9-foot Wakata, and like it very much. I wanted a spare 9-footer so my wife could join me, or so I could share the game with a friend. Also, I was simply curious to see whether these tanago rods would function in the role of tenkara.
Tenkara Bum’s service was fast—I had my order in two days.
The weather in Massachusetts in the latter part of March has been exceptionally warm, and two days last week I was able to slip away for a few hours in the afternoons to a local pond to take the new rod for a test drive.
Chris was good enough to include a couple lengths of his level line in sizes 2 and 3. I’ve yet to fish with a level line, and have done all of my fishing to date with furled lines. I attached a 9-foot Hi-Viz Yellow furled tenkara line (purchased from streamsideleaders.com), 3 feet of 5X Frog Hair Tippet, and a simple yellow reverse-hackle fly dressed on an Owner Main Stream tenkara hook.
Given Chris’s description of these sticks as “minnow rods,” I wasn’t sure how it would cast, or if I would like it. Not that casting would be a major issue—12 feet of furled line and tippet total. In any case, I was confident I could lay it all out.
I don’t over-think rods. For me, they’re either on the fast side, on the slow side, or somewhere in between. The 9-foot Soyokaze feels to me on the fast side; I was able to deliver very crisp, accurate casts beneath overhanging branches. The rod does most of its bending in the top third, with much integrity in the lower sections. This becomes most evident when you hook a fish. Any fish you’re likely to hook with a size-12 fly will put a bend this rod, but you won’t feel under-gunned if you hang a fish of some size. In two afternoons of fishing I lost count of the bluegill, crappie, white perch, and yellow perch I landed. The largest of these fish, a 10-inch largemouth bass, put up more fight than any headwater brookie is likely to wage. And if there’s a chance you’ll hook a trout in the 12-inch range, I have no doubts this rod can handle it.
Would I have known this rod was not designed with tenkara in mind? Actually, I wouldn’t have—and I don’t think you would have, either. It performs as well in the role as I imagine any 9-foot rod could—at least as well, if not better, than my Wakata. There’s been a lot of talk on the internet as to whether you can fish tenkara with a rod that is not a dedicated tenkara rod. As far as I’m concerned, the 9-foot Soyokaze ends the discussion.
The Soyokaze is a no-frills affair. It comes with no cloth bag, nor even a cork grip. You can make a rod bag yourself, if you feel you need one. Otherwise you can store the rod in the trunk of your car without feeling slovenly. As for its lack of a cork grip, I doubt you’ll miss it. For those of you who were originally attracted by the simplicity of tenkara, the sparseness of this rod further simplifies your outfit. This is a modern fly rod reduced to its essence: a carbon stick and little else. With such lack of window dressing, even among tenkara junkies it’s unlikely to wow anyone but the angler who uses it.
I still have trouble thinking of a 9-foot rod as “small.” Before I began to fish Tenkara, my rod of choice for small-stream trout fishing was a 6-foot Diamondback Classic Trout rated for a 3- or 4-weight line. On the smallest streams, very often my casts would be no longer than the 7-foot leader and a foot or so of fly line outside the rod tip. I’m thinking I could do most of what I did with this outfit using the 6-foot, 6-inch Soyokaze 20SR. And before the season progresses very far, I may have to see for myself.
The 9-foot Soyokaze is priced at just over $70. I hesitate to call it a great rod for the money. As I mentioned at the outset, I bought it as a spare. It just may become my favorite.
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” - Benjamin Franklin
"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." -
Col. Robert Venables 1662
As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.
The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.
Beware of the Dogma
Currently processing orders that were received Mar 19.