The Suntech PROSPEC RC rods are a new series of three-position zoom keiryu rods. The RC stands for Range Change - highlighting the ability to adjust the rod length for different stream widths.
The rods come in three versions, soft (中硬), medium (硬中硬), and stiff (硬調). The soft is really quite reminiscent of the discontinued Suikei ZPRO, the medium is somewhat similar to the Keiryu Special 53 (also discontinued) or the Field Master 53. The stiff is stiffer than the Field Master.
In addition to coming in different stiffnesses, the Suntech PROSPEC RC rods come in different lengths. The soft comes in 52, 62 and 72 versions. The medium and the stiff each come in 54 and 63 versions. The lengths given above are the lengths at full extension. Each one of the rods can be fished at three lengths. For example, the soft 52 can be fished at 44, 48 and 52 lengths (equivalent to 14'5", 15'9" and 16'11").
The recommended tippet strength for the PROSPEC RC soft is 8X or less. I am well aware that most anglers would not even think of fishing with 8X tippet, but with a long soft rod, which the PROSPEC RC soft clearly is, 8X is plenty strong enough for fish that are up to 12" or so. Most of the trout that most anglers catch are under 12", so even the softest of the three rods is sufficient for most fish that most people actually catch.
I loved my Suikei ZPRO 54, and for years I regretted selling it after Suntech discontinued the model. Most of the places I fish hold stocked trout that generally run 9-10", wild trout that are typically 5-9" or bluegills that range from 4" to 8". A typical tenkara or keiryu rod with 5X tippet is way more rod than I need for 10" fish.
A lighter, softer rod with 8X tippet, a size 18 fly or a small red wiggler on a size 20 hook yields the same "Holy expletive deleted, am I going to be able to land that one?" that you get with a fish three times that size on a normal rod.
Regular readers should know by now that I am obsessed with ultralight, or ultra- ultralight fishing. I think 8X tippet is just fine. I am also obsessed with fishing horsehair lines, and a rod light enough to protect 8X tippet should do very nicely protecting a horsehair line tapered down to two hairs, ending in a tippet consisting of a single hair!
With the very light line, a small split shot, small hook and small bait (or small bead head nymph), you can achieve the most natural drift possible. That is the whole premise behind the Suntech PROSPEC RC soft rods.
The grip section and the two zooming sections are white. The upper sections are black, with narrow white bands at the end of each section.
If 8X tippet is too extreme, and I understand that most anglers will think it is, the Suntech PROSPEC RC 54 medium carries a much more
reasonable 6X tippet limitation. That puts it at the same level as the
Suikei Keiryu Special 53. The Suntech PROSPEC
RC 54 medium is quite a bit stiffer than the Keiryu Special 53 but not as stiff as the Field Master 53. The PROSPEC RC 54 medium also has a slightly different bend profile, with a firmer
midsection and more tip flex than the Keiryu Special 53 or Field Master 53.
For a keiryu rod, that is
not a bad thing. It doesn't give you the flex you would want for tenkara
fishing, though. At full extension, the greater inertia you get yields
a bend profile that would work for casting flies. At the shorter two
lengths, though, the rod feels a bit stiff. For keiryu fishing or dead drifting weighted nymphs (which are essentially the same even though they use different lines), the bend profile of the medium rod would be just fine.
The Suntech PROSPEC RC stiff is rated for 5X tippets and is noticeably stiffer than the medium version. It is definitely a tip flex rod, which gives you all the backbone you would want for getting hook sets when fishing deep in the water column, but has enough flex in the tip that you'll have a chance to detect the strike and set the hook before the fish is so alarmed by the line tension that it spits out your bait or fly.
If you want a rod for tight line nymphing, especially one that is adjustable for length (either 4.6, 5.0 and 5.4m for the 5.4m version, or 5.5, 5.9 and 6.3m for the 6.3m version) this is definitely one worth considering. It is as light as the Genryu Sawanobori 54 while having the versatility of the Field Master 53 and the penny rating of the Suntech FMX Keiryu Stiff 54.
It is a stiff rod, and is much more of a tip flex rod than either the Field Master 53 or the FMX Keiryu Stiff 54. It is well suited to keiryu fishing or fishing heavy nymphs, but it would not be my choice for fishing unweighted or even lightly weighted flies.
The Suntech PROSPEC RC rods are intended to be two handed rods. As with all keiryu rods I have seen, the "grip" is just a non-skid covering on the blank itself.
Rather than tip plugs, the Suntech PROSPEC RC rods have Fuji rod caps.
The photo above shows that the rods are painted in bright colors. The colors are only on the grip and the two zooming sections. The upper sections of the rods are black.
The direct connection does make the rod a bit more sensitive, in that the lillian introduces about an inch of slack. It's obviously not a huge difference, though. Having a direct connection is no disadvantage if you are using a light keiryu line (and these are keiryu rods, after all). I have used light tenkara lines without a problem, but be aware that there may be a chance for a heavy tenkara line to slide off.