9 Foot Soyokaze Rod Review
Well I have had and fished My 27 SR Soyokaze rod long enough now and in enough that I feel I can make a few comments on the rod and its performance, so here it goes.
Soyokaze Rod Over View:
This is a nominal 9 foot long Tanago (minnow sized fishing rod) that has enough backbone to be put to good use in small, brushy stream trout fly fishing applications as a Tenkara style fly fishing rod. Chris - Tenkarabum - sent 3 complementary, 10 foot long, 10, 12, & 14 pound test Hi-Vis nylon mono lines to me with the rod that I did not ask for, at no additional charge, thanks Chris, which the rod cast beautifully in my back yard. These rods are incredibly light in weight, the 9 foot model comes in at less than 1.7 Ozs with out the rod plug that holds everything in place when the rod is taken down. The rods come in a clear plastic envelope, there is no rod sock or hard protective rod tube included to protect these rods in transporting them to fishing locations. But for all of 72.00 dollars, you are getting more than what you paid for in my view with these rods. Diawa's V-notch technology is included to make take down easier and prevent segment sticking on these very reasonably priced rods. I would rate the cosmetic appearance of these rods second to none from a practical point of view for the price. Appearance does not catch fish, so let us turn our attentions to getting the rod ready to fish it.
Setting The Rod Up To Fish:
In setting the rod up to fish with it, I added two sets of EZ-Keepers to the rod to carry the line on in between fishing spots while the rod is retracted for going through thick brush. The grip on these rods is an expanded section of the rod blank, with a sandpaper-like rough texture applied to the hand grip area. The large o-rings the EZ-Keepers come with work just fine on the Soyokaze's different than traditional Tenkara rod shape for holding the EZ-Keepers in place on the rod butt section. But the small o-ring proved to be too big to act as a hook keeper on the skinny end of the taken down rod, so I solved that problem by buying a 29 cent 1/16ths inch D X 5/16ths ID o-ring from a hard wear store. While there, I also bought a 3/4 hole diameter black rubber foot for an additional 59 cents to go on the cap end of the rod to protect the end cap from rock abrasion and serve a much more stable base for setting the rod down and leaning it up against things. I did not glue the protective rubber cap in place because that would have blocked the offset drain holes in the rod's end cap. The friction fit connection allows for ventilation when needed by removing the rubber cap but still gives a secure hold on the rod to keep the protective rubber cap in place. The rubber end cap also provides a comfortable end swell to the rod's grip that helps securely position your hand on the 3/4 inch diameter cork-less grip, which I found to be exceedingly comfortable and super sensitive in my fishing, plus the added weight of the rubber leg foot counter balances the weight of the rod sticking out in front of your rod hand to some extent. With this rod set up this way, I could feel the weight difference when the fly had picked up some slime as I lifted the fly off of the water to make a cast in the first stream that I fished with it. And I could not catch a fish small enough not to put a healthy bend in the rod, but the rod has enough backbone to handle any small stream trout that you are likely to catch where a 9 foot long rod could be appropriately used.
Line Choice Options And Casting Capabilities:
In fishing the rod over several different sized streams and a bass and bluegill pond, I have not as yet settled on a specific line choice or configuration as being best. I have fished it with two different length and configuration braided leader butts, one 5 foot long and the other 8' 8" long braided leader butts, plus tippet for different length fly lines. The first one felt weak in the bow-and-arrow cast, as did a hand tied fluorocarbon tapered line beginning with 10 pound test FC. A level 10 pound FC line cast like a rocket but a 12 pound test level FC line gave a much more relaxed casting tempo and better wind fighting abilities. Both level lines did not present flies as gently as the braided butt and tapered FC lines did, so it is, in my eyes, largely a matter of matching the proper casting qualities desired to the fishing conditions you are encountering. The Soyokaze 9 foot rod is a lot more adaptable to line choice and length than you would think. On the bass pond I fished the longer braided butt leader, transition section, and tippet that was 1 & 1/2 times the rod's length, which required hand-over-hand line handling to land the fish, which I am not crazy about but I am getting better at through practice. Who knows, perhaps, eventually I will get used to landing fish in that way and it will become second nature. The soft tips on these rods, even though the power, such as it is, builds very rapidly in the rod blanks, is a little weaker than what I am used to using in my 12 and 13.5 foot long T-rods for doing bow-and-arrow casts, which I use a lot in small brushy stream fishing and alpine lake fly fishing as well. But it is probably more than adequate when matched with the proper line choice and length for the tight conditions that a 9 foot long Tenkara rod is best suited for.
The Soyokaze Fun Factor:
The fun factor and enjoyment goes off of the chart in fishing with the Soyokaze rods in my view. Catching any sized fish puts a big smile on my face with this rod. The first two streams I fished could have been fished with a 12 foot rod and a lot of trickery but, a lot of water would have to have been passed on because a 12 foot rod was just too long to handle that water. On many of these streams, by the time the water you want to cast to comes into view, you are already too close to that water to fish it with an 11 or a 12 foot long rod. And if you back up to where you are far enough away to fish the water you want to fish, you will lose sight of the water you want to cast to, so using a shorter rod opens up possibilities that a longer rod automatically shuts off to you. On the other hand the shorter rod made catching fish out of the more open and longer pools more difficult but it could still be done. On balance, I felt that I gained more water than I was loosing with the short rod on the small brushy streams I like to fish. On the stream that I bought this rod to fish, there is no way to fish a 12 foot long rod at all. As a matter of fact the last rod that I bought to fish that stream with was a 5 foot, 8 inch long 4-piece glass fly rod that I had Scott Rod Co make up for me out of a 7 foot long 5-piece backpacking glass rod for a 4 weight line they used to sell, which I over loaded with a 5 weight line and a leader a little shorter than the rod was long to get it to work in the tight spots. And even with that rod there were still places I still could not get into to fish. There will always be places you have to pass on with any rod. The question is: What rod length will make the most fishing water available to you? Pick the right rod length for the stream you are fishing and you will be a happy fisherman, and longer isn't always better even in Tenkara fly fishing. Matching your rod and line to the stream size and fishing conditions you encounter will provide you the most fun and success you can have.
Realizing Successful Results:
Now I know this is going to run contrary to traditional Tenkara fly fishing practices in many peoples eyes but I find the most successful fly patterns to fish on small streams to be dry fly patterns, period. The visibility factor for both the fish and the angler puts dry flies way a head of nymphs and or wet flies. In my small stream fishing it is 90% spot and stalk fishing. You move very slowly, searching for fish in the water a head of you so that you see them before they see you. If the fish spot you first, the game is over. All you can do is move on and try to do a better job the next time you get a chance. But there are usually so many fish in these little streams compared to the volume of water being fished that a missed opportunity, or a dozed missed opportunities, here or there is not the end of the world. You can still have a very satisfactory day, catching wise, if you only succeed on 50% of the trout you encounter. Traditional Tenkara anglers often fish with only a single fly pattern, which validates the fact that small stream fish are not generally very selective feeders. I fish many different fly patterns in a day, changing patterns after a pattern has caught its 10 fish limit, which makes it real easy to keep track of how many fish you have caught. In small streams land based insects (ants, beetles, hoppers, spiders and such) make up more than 50% of the insect food that is available to the fish in the middle of the day, when most of us fish our small streams. Down wings (caddis and stoneflies) provide the bulk of the early morning and late evening trout food on little creeks, with up-wings (mayflies) putting in much less frequent appearances on high gradient, nutrient poor swift flowing waters. So a highly visible down wing pattern is a good searching fly and is hard to beat early in the day, and changing to terrestrial insect patterns as the air temperature and the breezes come up later on in the day will keep your winning streak going. Twenty to 50, or more, fish days are not uncommon on little creeks that most fly fishermen would not even consider trying because the streams are so small and their standard fly fishing tackle is just too big and clunky to fish on such small waters. The Soyokaze rods go small (6' 6") and big enough (10' 2") to pretty well cover the whole range of super small stream Tenkara Fly Fishing possibilities. I would not trade my 9 foot, 27 SR Soyokaze rod for any other Tenkara rod at any price, that's how much I like my rod....Golden.