Picking a Rod
by Les Albjerg
How do you pick a rod from this website with so many options? Chris gives great reviews, but I have not seen much on how people decide how they pick their rods. I would like to share my latest experience. Since the Steelhead run is so low this year, I canceled my hotel for next week. That freed up funds to fill the only real hole in my rod line up, a 5.2 to 5.6 meter rod for trout and smallmouth bass. So how do you pick? Chris has 18 rods in that length on the website!!
My first rod was a cheap Chinese rod from a different company because I didn't know any better. My second rod was a specialty rod because I wrote to Chris and shared where I was going to fish and the potential size of the fish (picture 2) I was going to be fishing for. I bought a Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori 63. For my third rod, I wanted to buy a more "all around rod." I bought the TenkaraBum Traveler 44 under its old name. It has proven to be a great rod.
When Chris mentioned the new Suntech Top Balance will be in a 54, I got all excited because I thought, "finally the perfect 54." It is the perfect 54 for its designed use. After a few emails, I determined that my Kyogi 18, the only 5 meter rod I have will do for me what the Top Balance is designed for. What I am saying is, you really need to think through the intended use of the rod!
I will give you two extreme examples. When I bought the Kyogi 21, I really wanted to get it on the water, but didn't have time to go very far. I headed down to Red Top pond. Catching 4-6 inch bluegills on that rod was very effective, but there was no thrill simply yarding them out of the water. When I got the Kurenai 30, I headed to Red Top Pond, and with some fear of catching a 3 pound plus largemouth bass, tested it anyway. I did catch my largest bluegill out of Red Top that day, an 8 incher. I maxed out the Kurenai 30 twice on that fish, and thrill turned into fear of breaking the rod. I was at the end of the fishing dock, so moving wasn't an option. So, in my opinion, THE FIRST THING is you need to be clear on the intended use of the rod.
Second, read carefully the reviews on this website. Chris fishes all of his rods before selling them. These are informative non-biased reviews. You can narrow down a choice from the reviews.
Third, what kind of fishing are your going to do? I am a Red Wiggler and wet fly fisherman primarily. I really like to fish zero weight worms. Knowing my fishing style, I am looking at a rod that needs to be at least rated for a 9x tippet. The size of the fish makes me want at least a rating of 6x on the other end. This narrowed down the rod choices to about six. I preferred a 10x - 5x rating as ideal. A friend offered to let me borrow his Suntech FMX Keiryu ZPRO 53. It is 10x-6x. However, wind and full flex don't really get along that well, so it moved far enough down my list, I didn't take him up on the offer.
Fourth, once I got the list down to three, I really thought about where I fish a lot. (see picture 3). Where I plan to fish. What kind of fish I am after, and does this rod met the balance of ethically landing the fish and providing the thrill of the fight?
Finally after months of mulling over the 5 meter rods, the Suntech FinePower NP 56 rose to the top of the list! Here are some of the reasons. Chris says in his review, "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." He is describing the tailwater below the Owyhee Dam where I fish a lot. It is a 10x rod, sensitive enough for ultralight worm fishing. It is also rated for 5x, and will handle the larger fish I run into. I have two other zoom rods, and this is a zoom rod. It will handle the wind.
The last thing I did was send Chris an email to confirm my thinking. He isn't shy with his opinion! I own all 4 of the Kyogi Rods (1st picture). I know he thought I was nuts to buy the Kyogi 12. If he saw the trees I fish in for carp using the Kyogi 12 his opinion would be confirmed! I bought the Kyogi 15 for a creek I fish that is full of carp. It is the perfect rod. I bought the 21 for Steelhead. I bought the 18 as a general carp rod. So Chris will sell you what you want. However, why not tap into his wisdom. I am sure I am not the only one that sends him feedback on some of the rods.
Enjoy the process. Picking additional rods should be a fun time. I know I have enjoyed it. Every rod I have got from TenkaraBum has met or exceeded my expectations. I am sure the Suntech FinePower NP 56 is going to as well.
Don't feel overwhelmed. It is nice to have so many choices. Chris could make his life a whole lot easier by limiting his offerings. He doesn't so we all have great choices to meet our fishing needs and wants. I hope this helps as you try to figure out which rod or rods will work best for you.
“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