Early this Spring I got a chance to talk to David Giddings of Keiryu Rod Co. and talked in length about the differences between Keiryu fly fishing and Tenkara fishing. First off with Keiryu fishing you have the ability to use several fishing methods that are popular in Japan which are fly fishing, lure fishing and the ability to use live bait. Now I am a traditional fly fisherman and like to use handmade flys that are typically artificial and I am in no way a baiter. But this rod intrigued me. As David says in his main tagline on his website, ” The simplicity of Tenkara, The effectiveness of bait.” The Rod is made of high-quality IM8 and IM7 carbon and comes with a 10-year warranty. Now with its whopping 17.7 foot stature once fully opened, this rod is highly effective with perfect presentation. And when used with a weighted bait line, the Keiryu line exhibits a vertical “drop” into the water vs. “laying” on it. The best is, the result is virtually no drag and an irresistible presentation to trout. I paired up the owner rig which comes in the “complete kit” allowing me to pop on live bait which you really could find anywhere around you while out hiking. I happened to put on a live grasshopper that had wandered to close. Once in the water, my line was instantly tight with PA mountain wild Brook trout attacking the live bait. If you’re not the live baiting kind of person, then you can easily nymph as well as use dry and wet flys. You really can reach out with this rod. It is well balanced, medium action, and is spec’d to an RFI (Rod Flex Index) value of 5.7 designed for American waters. Now a little bit about Keiryu and what it means exactly.
KEIRYU is Japanese. Translated, it means “Mountain Stream”. Keiryu is a traditional and highly popular Japanese style of fishing that uses a long telescopic pole, a line, and a hook. While it is very similar to Tenkara, Keiryu uses a longer rod that is typically paired with a light line and live bait. It can also be used very effectively with flies and nymphs like mentioned earlier.
RODS: Keiryu rods are quite long. While Keiryu rods can range anywhere from 8 to 25 feet in length, the most common Keiryu rods are 17-20 feet. For comparison, Tenkara rods are generally around 12 ft (with some models extending to 14.5 ft.). So, in general, Keiryu rods are quite a bit longer. They are also stiffer than Tenkara rods, making them well suited for drifting live bait that is weighted (using split shot) to get underwater.
ROD ACTION: As stated above, Keiryu rods tend to be stiffer than Tenkara rods. Generally, Keiryu rods have stiffer mid and lower sections and more flexible tips, making them more of a fast action rod. As a result, Keiryu rods (in general) are better suited for setting hooks on fish striking bait or nymphs in deeper water. The flexible tip allows the fish to take the bait without feeling resistance, while the stiff mid-section allows you, the angler, to quickly pull the line up and set the hook. Because they are larger and stiffer, Keiryu rods can handle larger fish and are less prone to breakage.
RIGGING: Japanese stream and river anglers predominately used live bait and that is what their Keiryu rods are typically fished within Japan. Think mayflies, caddisflies, midges, or worms. In its purest form, anglers use what they find at the fishing spot. Effective? Amazingly so, but and this is extremely important to note, Keiryu rods also excel when fished with wet or dry flies on typical Tenkara lines. Nymphs, in particular, work very well with Keiryu because the stiffer/fast action translates into a faster hook set.
Keiryu Rod Specs:
5.4 meters = 17.7 feet.
29.5 inches closed.
Weight: rod weighs 6.2 oz (5.6 oz without plug).
Medium action, stiffness, and flex.
Overall this is a pretty great rod. A bit heavier then I am used to compared to a tradtional Tenkara rod but very effctive in the right setting. Stop on by Davids site and check out the rod for yourself. David also has something new in the works so give him a follow on Instagram as well as checking by the site when you can. Cheers!