The Suntech Keiryu Special 53 has been discontinued. There is a new rod that is very similar: three position zoom, 46-50-54 lengths, 5X or 6X tippet (depending on the model) and a very similar price. I just received one of each for evaluation and have not yet had a chance to get them outdoors. Watch this space.
The Suntech Keiryu Special 53 is indeed special. They "Suntech GM Suikei Keiryu Special" had been discontinued by the time I was first introduced to Suntech. I was able to purchase some of the last few Keiryu Special 39 rods and immediately fell in love with them. They were just exactly what I was looking for. Although they are keiryu rods, I thought their action made them excellent for tenkara fishing. They have a nice progressive bend profile and a slightly faster action than most tenkara rods. The tip sections are a bit softer than most tenkara rods, while their midsection is just a bit firmer.
Their light weight, three position zoom function and
the ability to fish bead head nymphs better than most tenkara rods makes
them perhaps the most versatile rods in the US for tenkara fishing.
slowly building a close working relationship with Suntech, I was able
to convince them to bring back the Keiryu Special 39. The following
year, they offered to bring back the Keiru Special 44 for me.
I then asked them to bring back the Keiryu Special 53 and they agreed. They
also agreed to make a new rod, the GM Suikei Keiryu Special 27.
There was then a whole family of Suntech GM Suikei Keiryu Special rods, ranging
from the Keiryu Special 27 for small overgrown streams to the Keiryu Special 53 for large open
rivers. The 27, 39 and 44 have since been replaced by the TenkaraBum Traveler rods.
Two factors prompted me to ask Suntech to bring the Keiryu Special 53 back into production. Interest in two handed rods had picked up, and Suntech discontinued the Suikei ZPRO 54. The Suikei ZPRO 54 was a three position zoom rod, with essentially the same three lengths as the Keiryu Special 53. It was wonderfully light and I liked the rod a lot, but its maximum tippet recommendation was 8x, which many people felt was just too light.
The Keiryu Special 53 is rated for 6X, which will be adequate for the size fish most people catch.
The Keiryu Special 53 pretty effectively bridges the gap between one-handed and two-handed rods. At the shortest length, 4.5m, it is a nice one-handed rod that is not as tip heavy as the Tenkara USA Ito, while being substantially more capable (26 pennies compared to 15).
Somewhat surprisingly, it is still a very reasonable one-hander at the 4.9m middle length. That pretty much blows away all the 4.5m honryu tenkara rods. Some people will cast it one handed even at the full 5.3m length but I think most will prefer to use two hands.
With longer rods, the rod's own inertia loads the rod, so they can cast lighter lines than you would expect. The Suntech Keiryu Special 53 casts a size 2.5 line nicely, and I really don't think you need to go over size 3, even if you are new to two handed rods.
I haven't caught any really large fish with the Keiryu Special 53 yet, but
given the penny ratings, it should handle fish over 20 inches. I think the
only limitation will be the 6X tippet strength.
Although I have mostly used my own Suntech Keiryu Special 53 for tenkara fishing - with a light tenkara line and an unweighted or lightly weighted fly, Suntech designed to rod for keiryu fishing. The three lengths make it just about the ideal keiryu rod for small streams. The rod is rated for tippets down to 9X, so you can go just about as fine as you would want. With a light keiryu line, small split shot and red wiggler, you will be surprised how many fish there actually are in the small streams!
If you don't fish with red wigglers, but do fish with bead head nymphs, I would still suggest the light keiryu line and yarn markers. Your casting may not be as accurate, but your drifts and strike detection should more than make up for it.
As with all other keiryu rods I know of, the grip is a widened section of the rod blank. The grips on some keiryu rods are fairly thin but the Keiryu Special 53 fills the hand nicely.
The grip screw cap has been redesigned since Tom Davis posted his review of the GM Suikei Keiryu Special 39. It is now a one-piece plastic cap. The two O rings hold the zooming sections firmly - so firmly in fact that you probably will have to twist each zooming section to make sure it is fully seated, and again to release it.
Suntech also upgraded the "Suntech" rod sock from cloth to a stretchy knit. I like the stretchy knit rod socks much better than the cloth ones where you have to fold over a flap and tie down the drawstring.
Rather than a tip plug, which can fall out and is remarkably easy to lose, the Suntech Keiryu Special 53 comes with a KTC-16 rod cap. It really is a much more secure solution.
As with all of the other Suntech rods, the lillian is attached by a swivel that is thin enough to easily pass through the second section.
Suntech GM Suikei Keiryu Special 53
Length (extended) - 14'10", 16'1", 17'2"
Length (collapsed) - 21 1/4"
Weight (with Fuji cap) - 4.0 oz
Weight (without Fuji cap) - 3.5 oz
Sections - 12
Tip Diameter - .6mm
Butt Diameter - 22.5 mm
Tippet recommendation - 9X - 6X
Pennies 26, 26.5, 26.5
Let me make a bold statement. In my opinion, the Suntech GM Suikei Keiryu Special line of rods is the most complete rod line of high quality, multi-functional rods currently available. They are aesthetically beautiful, fit and finish are perfect, and functionally they are amazing. They can cast a lightweight level line with unweighted flies and yet also handle tungsten bead head nymphs. They are available in short lengths for headwaters (GM27), standard length of 310-360-390 cm (GM39) for most streams, and for larger waters there is the GM44 (360-400-440 cm). Now there is the GM53!
Tom D, Idaho
|I was very impressed with the Suikei's ability to cast both a weighted and unweighted fly, truly a great all-rounder. Thanks Chris
Mark B, Washington
|It is an awesome rod.
Jim G, Pennsylvania
|I had my uncle try casting the Suikei last night... A few casts in the backyard later and he said, "How do I get one of these?"
Just spoke to my friend Jim, he laughed when I told him about my uncle, because he's in a similar situation after his dad tried his Suikei.
Mark D, Pennsylvania
|What I like most about it is the overall versatility of being a 2 way zoom rod.
Karel L, Colorado
|Well, I fished Boulder Creek this AM. The one I landed was 18-20".
Adam K, New York
|Caught with my new Suntech GM Suikei 44. That rod is the ticket! I love my Sato don't get me wrong but for deep water nymphing this rod is where it's at!
Kyle Q. North Carolina
I have an used once Sato, it looks like new and I would like to sell it because I prefer my Suikei 39.
Roger H, W. Virginia
|I had my new Suikei 39 out today for the first time — the most fish I’ve caught in a day. I stopped counting at 6 and probably got into the high 20’s if not higher, and a lot where 12-inchers. I love the rod.
Jayson S, N. Carolina
|I just keep getting pulled back to the versatility of the suikei.
Adam K, New York
|I think my Suikei 44 is a pretty solid contender for fish in the 10-18" range.
Scott C, Alaska
|This thing seriously makes some other zoom rods I've used feel like Fisher-Price toys...
Glenn G, Oregon
|I really, really liked the Suntech GM Suikei Keiryu Special 39... there’s a good chance it’ll become my go-to rod for many situations.
Marginal Tenkara blog
|Kyle Q: I'm currently slaying plate sized Bluegill with the GM 44!
Chris S: Salad plate or dinner plate?
Kyle Q: Dinner! Love those rods!
Kyle Q, North Carolina
I was amazingly impressed with the rod's capabilities yesterday. I caught about 5 rainbows over 22 in all the way up to 3.5-4 lbs on 6x and netted them all.
Amazingly capable rod in the right hands with the right skill set.
And on 6x tippet!
Biggest was about 26 in.
Colin S, North Carolina
|This [Keiryu Special 44] is definitely my favorite rod.
Lloyd W, Maryland
|The rod hit my mailbox just before noon and I was on the water by 2:00...landed a nice 10" brookie that put up a good fight. The rod casts great and I'm a happy customer. Thanks for everything.
Mike K, Virginia
| I set the hook and up rose a large trout, which had taken my fly. It was larger than any fish I had ever taken or even seen in this stream.
It shot around the log jam and into the current. I was able to steer it out of the current into an area of slower water, then quickly get it into my net. The fish barely fit in my 30 cm net. It's head was in but the body and tail were hanging out. The Suntech Suikei 39 with 5X tippet had worked perfectly helping me control this fish despite the heavy water flow.
It was a beautiful cutthroat, 22 inches long, full bodied and very healthy. I left it in the water, took a few pictures, then watched it swim vigorously away. What a beautiful fish.
Tom D, Idaho
|Fished my GM Suikei 44 for the first time today and it is perfect for the streams I fish! I was using a short line/leader due to overhead cover and it worked great. The line/leader was only 9 feet, 6 feet of 5x and 3 feet of 8x, with a #10 David Southall style Killer Bug with a pink underbody. Used 1 marker on the line with 3/4" tags. Strike detection was fantastic, both visual and by feel.
Caught 20+ fish in about 2 hours, with 6 of those being 10-12".
Bryan T, North Carolina
|The rod is splendid.
Rob R, Texas
| I love the Suntech GM Suikei Keiryu Special 39 you sold me at the Jam, it is my favorite rod.
Ben G, Georgia
It was a pleasure meeting you at the Jam. You helped my son, William, choose his first Tenkara rod, a GM Suikei Keiryu Special 39, and I wanted to let you see his first Tenkara catch. He caught it on a size 14 killer kebari. He used that same fly the rest of the day and caught about a dozen more. He absolutely loves that rod. Needless to say, he's hooked (pun intended)!
Henry P, Georgia
| The new 44 Suntech is a joy.
Bill H, Georgia
|The Suntech GM Suikei Keiryu Special 39 is now the rod I'd recommend to anyone who's just getting into tenkara and keiryu fishing. It has enough sensitivity to cast a light line, plenty of backbone to land a good-sized fish, enough length to handle most situations, and ample refinement to please the pickiest consumer. Suntech put the lessons learned from other rods and incorporated them into the GM Special. Easy-to-cast, fun with even small fish, and light in the hand--what more could you want?
John E, Texas
I spent 3 hours making pin point casts to areas the size of a quarter and battling 9-17 inch Brookies. I haven't had that much fun in longer than I can remember. I thought I was such a great caster, but my son picked it up in about 15 minutes and he was making great accurate casts as well, and catching fish. I couldn't get the Keiryu Special back from him. And WOW do those Keeper Kebari work well.
Les A, Idaho