Fishing The Suntech HM 33 Rod Update
I apologize that it has taken so long for me to get back to you on how well this rod fishes, but I believe I have a good excuse for not doing it sooner: Trout season just opened yesterday where I fish.
Conditions: This is the first stream I fish every year. Not because its the kind of stream where you can catch lots of good size fish easily, but because it is the first stream where the flows will be low enough to have a chance of catching something this early in the year. Normally there will be 3 to 4 foot deep snowdrifts on the stream?s banks on the first day of trout season, but there was no snow at all there this year. The water I fish is only about 5/8ths of a mile long, running through a narrow meadow parallel to a heavily used paved road. The stream fishes best early in the season when its flows are higher and the meadow grass is just beginning to grow. In high summer the water is much lower and the grass can be from knee to waist high and overhanging, complicating your presentations vastly. In many places you can easily step over this creak. Its the kind of place most fishermen would not bother to fish because they wouldn?t think it could support a trout population. This is a very challenging little creek to fish in at the best of times, and it takes a very high degree of casting accuracy just to place your fly on the water, so I figured it would be a good place to test out a new rod. And the breezes that were blowing through the meadow didn't make the casting problems any easier.
The second creek is close by and was chosen in case the first creek?s brown trout had all died out last summer after the worst snow year we had in 100 years. It is a considerably larger stream that would not normally be in fishing condition at this time. It runs through granite bedrock country instead of meadows, with a more typical riffle, run and pool structure of a freestone stream that's just big enough you have to wet wade and cross back and forth to fish it properly. The reason I am going into so much detail in describing these 2 streams is to give you the best picture I can on how well the Suntech 33 Rod performed under two different sets of tough angling conditions. I had a pretty strong headwind to deal with, so even though the accuracy casting challenges were fewer the second creek had its own set of tough angling conditions.
Line Notes: This was the first time I have fished T-Bum?s #3 Level HiVis Orange Fluorocarbon line, which I really like. It is so much easier to see than the clear FC lines I have used before. All the streams I fish have Gin clear water, where you need more separation between the HiVis line and the fly than the tippet alone can comfortably provide. So I added a one-foot length of 8 Lb. test clear FC line to the 10 Lb. test length of HiVis Orange, then 6 inches each of 6 and 4 Lb. test clear FC Line, to which was looped on a 4 foot length of 6X Orvis Mirage 3.6 Lb. test tippet. The HiVis line made it much easier to tell where I was with the line and how much line I was holding off of the water.
On the first creek the tippet was too long to give the accuracy I needed in a breeze, but with loosing a few flies and making some fly changes the tippet was performing nicely by the time I started fishing the second creek. But by the time I lost a few more flies and tied on some new ones, the line was slapping the flies on the water with too much force at a tippet length of 2 feet.
Flies fished And Their Effectneness: I fished only dry flies, stating out with the Pink Butt in size 15 until I lost it in a tree after releasing 5 browns, then finishing out on the first stream with a size 16, Two-toned X-rated Ant pattern for 2 more fish. On the second creek I started out with the ant pattern because it was still on my line, eventually losing it to another tree after releasing 11 browns. Then I changed back to the Pink Butt until I lost that pattern after catching 6 browns. Then I changed to a size 13 Green Butt and finished out the day with it on the second creek releasing 4 more fish. The Butt Series Patterns are down wing caddis and stonefly type dry flies that are easy to cast. The ant pattern is made of foam and has Madame?X style rubber legs, which is considerably harder to cast especially in the wind. But the rod and line cast all of these flies quite well, once the tippet length was adjusted for the wind resistant characteristics of the fly being cast.
The Suntech HM 33 Rod?s Performance: The 33 was an absolute delight to fish. At 1.1 ounces in weight, it felt like a fairy wand in hand. And yet it was powerful enough to cast 10 feet of size #3 level HiVis line plus the transition section and 4 feet of tippet with a wind resistant fly pattern under fairly windy conditions. It cast in an easy and relaxed way with good accuracy. The rod had no feeling of being tip-heavy, and it was not the least bit tiresome to use. The 11-foot length was long enough to allow me to make exceptionally long drag free drifts easily with dry flies on the far side of the larger pools and runs on the bigger stream, while I was holding all of line up and off of the water.
The slender cork-less grip was comfortable and much more sensitive to what was going on with the line and the fish than a cork griped rod could be. The secret to fishing with these slender grips effectively is to not to try to take death grip on the rod but use only your fingertips and let the grip rest lightly against the palm of your hand where it wants to go.
The HM 33 rod didn't over power the small fish you usually catch in these little streams, but the extremely fine tip had enough power to launch couple of sub 4 inch sized trout into the air on the hook set, so the tip section has a good deal more power than it looks like it could have. A 10-inch fish would really get your attention and put a deep bend in the rod in strong current. But I feel 12-inch and bigger trout are easily doable. The flex pattern really spreads the load of a big fish out over the entire rod, so I feel the breaking strength of the tippet is the limiting factor more than the lack of rod power. Chris recommends using 7X tippet but I felt confident and comfortable in using 6X tippet. I am completely satisfied with my purchase of this rod and my 12-foot Iwana rod is going to be gathering dust after seeing what it is like to fish small streams with the HM 33 Rod. And thank you Chris for making such great Japanese products available to we American Tenkara anglers.
My Fly Pattern Information And Some Important Tenkara Angling Considerations In Using Terrestrial Fly Patterns: All the streams I fish are of the "No Hatch To Match Type", so I don't try to imitate any specific aquatic insects. The butts on these Butt Series Patterns are made out of Uni-Stretch Nylon Thread, in Fl-orange, or Fl-chartreuse, or Fl-pink, and Fl-red for the 4 different patterns. The Butts imitate the egg cluster that egg laying caddis and stoneflies carry, and they also serve as a Hot Spot of Fluorescent color for the fish to target that is located at the business end of the hook. The wings on these patterns are made out of Polypropylene Yarn that is tied in Elk Hair Caddis style, which is lighter than water and provides all the flotation needed with out any hackle needed to float the fly, and they give a more realistic profile on the water than hackle caddis patterns do. The bodies are made of natural and different colors of dyed peacock herl. Floatant is applied only to the wing because you want the body and the butt to ride right down in and under the water, which gives the fish great confidence in rising to take these flies. The color of the fly pattern chosen to be fished is determined by the wing color that is most visible to the angler under the lighting and water conditions present.
On terrestrial fly patterns, aquatic insects make up only 5% of the total insect species found on earth, the other 95% of the insect kingdom is made up of land based insects. On small streams terrestrial insects make up the majority of what small stream trout eat. Wind is the principle reason most terrestrial insects end up in the water. The large areas of overhanging trees and bushes found along most small streams compared to the water area is another reason why so many land based bugs fall into streams, which does not go unnoticed by the fish. These happy accidents for the fish tend to happen most often in the warmest and windiest parts of the day. Although fishing terrestrial dry fly patterns is not generally considered to be a pure form of Tenkara fly-fishing, especially with the "Traditionalists", fixed line rods are the best tools yet devised for presenting terrestrial fly patterns to small stream trout, and this is one place where slapping a fly on the water better imitates the landing of terrestrial insects than does a gentle presentation, so remember to shorten your tippets when fishing terrestrials....Golden.