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by Herb S.
(Southwest Michigan)

Having been busy teaching a friend to fly fish, today I finally got a chance to test the FMX Stiff 45 with fluorocarbon clear line as threatened in my first review of this marvelous rod. I wanted to see how bite sensitive it is with practically invisible line, and chose 11'of 8# Spider Wire EZ Clear Fluorocarbon with about 2.5' of 5X Power Pro tippet. YES! It's VERY sensitive and the line casts very well, too. The only time the line was visible was when in direct sun and then only barely, so I think it was a fair test. Could I have missed bites? Maybe, but there was plenty of action today. The smallest fish was a 6" river chub. The 3 flies used were all #8 olive Beadhead Woolly Buggers.

Three flies? Well, 2 of them were kept by 2 BIG smallmouth bass. One ran into the brush and the other dove into a mid-stream weed bed to bust the tippet. I did land a 16" largemouth which also put up quite a nice scrap. All the bass made the line sing! A 10+" bluegill, several 9-inchers and quite a few smaller 'gills and rock bass rounded out the day...a great day!

Maybe an explanation is in order of why I wanted to test how this rod (and eventually my other fixed line rods) will detect bites without the use of colored line, strike indicators, markers, bobbers, etc. Many years ago my best friend, Merrill, who earned his PhD at Penn State introduced me to Joe Humphreys, who was the Fly Fishing Professor at that university. I had read Joe's first book and was delighted to fish with Merrill and Joe in Pennsylvania and here in Michigan for several years. Joe taught me his method of high stick nymphing which disdains the use of any "d.... bobber". He is the absolute master, and although I'm a rank amateur compared to Joe, I used it for years fishing local rivers for bass. It takes concentration and it works!

It can also cause frozen shoulder syndrome, especially when tuck casting big weighted bass steamers upstream and raising the rod high while stripping the line to keep in touch with the fly or flies. I did this two to four times a week all season long for years and eventually had to quit all fly casting for a year to let the shoulder heal and gave up high stick upstream nymphing completely.

Enter keriyu with long rods! You can "high stick nymph" without strain because the "stick" is already "high". Keeping in touch with your flies on a fairly tight line is much easier and a lot more comfortable with a long rod than conventional fly fishing. Long keiryu rods work in all depths and speeds of water in any direction. Just ask Chris. Anyhow, it's a challenge to just feel bites and I'm back in business having almost too much fun.

Happy fishing,


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Jul 25, 2017
by: Dave

Wonderful review!!

Jul 25, 2017
Great Report!
by: Les A.

I have read several of Joe's books. I also had the opportunity to fish with him too many years ago to think about! Don't discount the Keiryu Yarn Markers. They don't act like a "bobber." They really do help you see where your line is. I am not a fan of strike (bobber) indicators either. However, the sighters that Chris has developed and yarn indicators don't act like a bobber or float. They just make sense, and for aging eyes really help keep track of the line. I have fished without indicators of any kind and I find using sighters and (or) Yarn Markers make it a much more pleasurable fishing. You ought to give them a try. Most of my lines are clear fluorocarbon. I really like them. I do have some of the colored lines from Japan as well.

Jul 25, 2017
up or down
by: ClydeO

I've fly fished for 25+ years, most of it upstream and as you noted having to take line in to keep the slack out. Chris has mentioned a few times watching some zen masters fishing downstream and as such managing the fly 'on the dangle' as the spey-casters describe. A much more enjoyable way to fish it seems to me. How much did you fish down rather than up and your thoughts.

Jul 25, 2017
by: Herb S.

Thanks, gentlemen, for your kind remarks, opinions and questions.

Les, I also fish with colored lines (#3.5 tenkara line and 6# Stren Gold) as in my first report on this rod. In doing so, and in my few years experience with fixed line rods, I've often felt bites before the line gave any indication. My first rod from T-bum was a Daiwa Kiyose 39SF which I used with #4 tenkara line, and I was amazed at how sensitive it is, feeling bites when the line gave no indication.

Last year I bought some marker yarn from Chris and because of familial tremors I couldn't tie the markers on the thin, wobbly line. Since then I've gotten to a neurologist, am much better and can tie knots almost as well as before the tremors began. So I still plan to try markers at some point, and will be using the very light line/tippet that Chris recommends.

I like to experiment, on the other hand, and kind of prefer fishing by feel. It's a challenge. And besides aging eyes, mine are afflicted with another genetic bummer, alternating exotropia - I use one at a time and therefore lack binocular vision, so maybe preferring the tactile sense is partly born of that. But stay tuned for my next shocking experiment with this rod!

ClydeO, I too prefer fishing down, across and down & across. It is much more pleasant and gives better control in my opinion, kind of like dangling a puppet on a sting from a stick. It depends on the stream. Some streams, especially the smaller ones, require fishing up to avoid spooking fish or because the banks are too brushy to navigate. The river I was fishing in both reports for this rod is fairly wide with large weed beds. A deeper channel runs along the right bank and many, but not all, of the fish were there, often right up against the bank, so I fished across and across & down. At this time of year many fish will come down from a lake to burrow down in pockets in the weeds in mid-stream. Fishing straight or nearly straight down stream enables keeping a tight line and "lowering" the fly down while keeping it near the surface above the weeds. I also agree that fixed line fishing is very Zen-like. And it's great fun!

Happy fishing,

Jul 25, 2017
by: Dean Price

Thanks for your review Herb. Fly fishing with keiryu rods is breaking new ground, that is for sure.

Jul 26, 2017
by: Les A.

Herb, Thanks for the detailed reply. You are an inspiration. Thank you for being so candid about your physical challenges. It is motivational to me to see you out there enjoying the stream and overcoming your challenges.

I was looking through my fishing log, and realized that most of my fish have been detected by feel rather than sight. After almost all of my fishing sessions I make a summary report in my diary to log the experience as well as lessons learned or things to try next time out. That is the amazing reality of these rods, they transmit what is going on at the other end of the line more effectively than any other type of fishing I have ever done. I love fishing the longer rods. If you don't have a rod over 4 meters, you owe it to yourself to at least consider the benefits of the the longer rods.

One thing that can't be overcome are the thunderheads in the sky this morning. So no fishing for me today.

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“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.

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