Suntech Keiryu Special 53

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.

After 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 The 27, 39 and 44 have since been replaced by the TenkaraBum Traveler rods.

Keiryu Special written on side of rod

Suntech Keiryu Special 53

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.

Angler holding rainbow trout in net at water's surface.The Keiryu Special 53 can handle nice fish.

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.

Nice smallmouth bass on boat deck, along with Keiryu Special 53.

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.

Suntech Keiryu Special 53 Features

Keiryu Special 53 grip

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.

Keiryu Special 53 grip screw cap

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.

Keiryu Special 53 with Fuji KTC-16 rod cap

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.

Lillian attached with a built in swivel.

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

TenkaraBum Home > Tenkara Rods > Suntech GM Suikei Keiryu Special  (medium)

“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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Suntech logo on side of rod

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

Teton Tenkara

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

Brown trout alongside Keiryu Special 53

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

Angler holding nice rainbow trout

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 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

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

This [Keiryu Special 44] is definitely my favorite rod.

Lloyd W, Maryland