Suntech 33 Rod First Impressions
My Suntech 33 Rod showed up yesterday afternoon (10/13/12) VIA US Priority Mail, and oh what a beautiful piece of work it is. Eleven feet 3 inches long, and 1.1 ounces in weight before I put a 5/8ths inch hole diameter black rubber stool foot and EZ-Keepers on it, which required picking up some 5/16 X 7/16 X 1/16 inch O-rings for fly keepers and line storage because the rod blank is too slender that the standard O-rings that come with the EZ-Keepers to work as fly keepers. The big O-ring will work fine for holding the above the grip EZ-Keeper in place. The upper EZ-Keeper will be more secure if the smaller O-Ring is used. Whether I lost the O-ring on the butt cap or the rod did not come with it I do not know, but the other small EZ-Keeper O-ring fits the butt cap grove tight enough that it can not get lost. The friction fitt rubber butt foot provides protection and a solid footing for the rod, protection for the butt cap, and some counter ballance for the tip weight. The swell of the rubber foot provides a nice place to rest the heel of your hand against while casting and a knob similar to the Amago's grip butt configuration when casting with the rod as far forward in your casting hand as you can get it.
The take down length is 23.5 inches, and the rod came with a nice tie in place blue with black trim nylon rod sock. The rod fits in the rod sock just fine with the rubber foot in place on it. The 33 is about an inch longer than the Guide Model Ebira rod quiver is deep but the rod in its sock fits in the rod quiver just fine, eliminating any possibility of loosing the tip plug in transit when the rod is carried in its rod sock in the rod quiver. This also opens up the possibility of taking two rods, either a shorter one for even brushier creeks with over head tree limb problems or a longer, stiffer rod for lake Tenkara fly fishing. There is no flute milled into the tip plug for an attached line to pass through and the plug fits the rod blank very tightly. However there is a saw cut slot for the width of the plug diameter that could be aligned with the line for clearance.
The pictures on Tenkarabum sight do not rally do the rod justice, the red paint job is more of a non fish scaring dark maroon color than a bright red to my eyes. The grip is a hair finer in diameter and considerably longer than the grip on my 9 foot Soyokaze rod is, and this rod makes the 27SR Daiwa rod feel heavy by comparison. The grip has a convex curve running from the grip diameter down to the rod blank diameter that is most comfortable and natural for the index finger forward Tenkara hand casting position, which is also a noticeable improvement over the 27SR's grip design. The line swivel looks kind of clunky in the pictures on Chris's sight but is unbelievably tiny in person, on the rod. Chris sent 12 feet of #3, FL-Green HiVis Level FC Line with the rod at no charge to me (thanks ever so much Chris!), and the rod cast the line so well I couldn't believe it. I also cast it with a 6 foot long hand-tied 10 Lb. butt, tapered line in my back yard, and a 10 foot long 12 Lb. butt tapered line as well and the rod cast all of them very well even in a pretty good wind. It handles bow-and-arrow-casts a lot better than the Soyokaze 27SR rod does, and I would classify it as a 6:4 action rod, although I will give Chris the final say on that perception. All of these stated line casting lengths do not include the preferred tippet length of your choice.
What really sold me on getting the Suntech 33 rod was Chris's description of it being a good rod for people who enjoy fishing the fine blue line streams pictured on topographic maps, which is a perfect description of most of the stream fishing that I do. For sure this is not a big fish rod but it will handle most anything we are likely to catch in a little creek, and make playing even the smallest fish a lot of fun. The rod does not have any feeling of tip heaviness or noticeable oscillations at the end of the cast. The Suntech 33 is a pure joy to cast. Clearly, this Japanese designed and manufactured rod is a piece of high quality work. I have not had a chance to fish with the rod yet. Trout season is closed here until the end of next April, which can not get here fast enough for me this year....Golden.
Last edited by Golden; 01-09-2013 at 12:33 PM.
Reason: Additional information added.
Excellent review, Karl. Tell us more when fishing-time returns to your neck of the woods. ~pfa
The rod model name is Kurenai, which means "crimson" in Japanese.
Originally Posted by Golden
Can you fish for bluegills year 'round? Or non-game species like chubs and shiners? If it has fins and swims it's worth fishing for in my book. A good sized golden shiner would put a bend in that rod and they're in your area. I've taken them on flies.
Glad you like the rod. I was pretty sure you would.
Chris, WoW! That's the biggest golden shiner I have ever seen. Around my neck of the woods golden shiners are commercially sold as bait, which are not legal to use as bait in the National Forests as bait fishermen tend to dump the unused bait into lakes where the shiners compete with and out reproduce the trout, requiring the lakes this happens in to be chemically treated from time to time to eliminate the rough fish populations, which also kills all the trout as well. We are having a series of storms come through right now, and after the poorest winter in a hundred years a lot of our ponds dried up last summer, so the bluegill fishing has also suffered. Hopefully, it will become ski season shortly. But I do plan on getting the rod out if I can find some fish to fish for.
I have edited my above rod review to add some additional information and impressions as well. Chris, you seem to have a real gift for anticipating and filling Tenkara angler's needs and desires. Please, keep up the excellent work that you do so well....Golden.
Suntech 33 Rod Update: Casting the Suntech 33 is so much fun that I would compare casting it to driving a sports car like the Subaru BRZ. I compared the 33 to the Daiwa Soyokaze first because it is the only other T-rod that I own that comes even close to being sports car like in its casting performance compared to the 33 rod. The 12 foot Iwana rod, by comparison, would be more like driving a Ford F-150 pick up truck than it is a sports car type of casting experience, with its weight and feeling of tip heaviness making it not comparable at all to the Suntech 33 rod in any way. I did Chris's 10 penny test on all of my T-rods the other day, and the 9 foot Soyokaze has a lot more backbone to it than the 11 foot 3 inch Suntech 33 rod has. No one could call the tip on the 33 rod stiff, but it is considerably stiffer in relation to the power contained in the mid and butt sections of the 33 than the near noodle-soft tip action on the Soyokaze rod is stiff. The soft tip on the Soyokaze works great on that rod, but it does not give the tactile feedback and the tight, precise casting loops that the 33 rod does. If I had to describe the 33 rod in a single word, that word would be "Refined". This is the most refined fly rod that I have ever owned.
My son gave me a spool of #3 HiVis Orange FC Sunline for X-mass, so I made up and cast a 7 foot and a 10 foot level lines, in addition to casting with the 12 foot long level line line that Chris sent with the rod, adding a foot long transition section made up of 4 inches each of 8, 6 and 4 Lb, test FC line on the shorter lines, to which I will loop on about a 3 foot long tippet of 3.6 Lb. test FC tippet material. The 33 cast them all wonderfully well, as it also did with an 8 foot 4 inch long AirFlow Braided Leader Butt, with 3 feet of 5X FC. and 2 more feet of 6X FC. used as a tippet extender, and also equally well with a 6 foot long Hand-Tied Tapered FC. line. The braided line I like for fishing streams late in the season, when the pools look like tiny ponds because there is not enough water left in the streams to make current in the pools in the low water conditions that late in the year. This is not a good line to use in any kind of breeze but it is more of a glider than it is a rocket-quick line in casting like the level FC. lines are, making it much easier to make gentle non-fish spooking presentations under the low water conditions found on the streams that late in the season.
I believe I will seldom use my 12 foot long Iwana rod again for small stream fishing in the future. The 9 foot Soyokaze rod will cover all the smaller brushy creeks, and the 11 foot 3 inch Suntech 33 rod will adequately handle the more open, slightly larger small streams that I fish to perfection, while still having enough backbone to muscle in the occasional 12 to 14 inch trout that I may catch in these little creeks. I feel that I am now all set in my rod requirements for the present and into the future....Golden.
Some anglers here may question the effectiveness of fishing with such a short light weight rod. For sure these rods are rather special tools for fishing special places. Here is a link to an article Chris (Tenkarabum) wrote that it explains it all a lot better than I can: http://www.tenkarabum.com/rethinking...-III-many.html
And here is another one: http://www.tenkarabum.com/picking-pockets.html
Last edited by Golden; 01-30-2013 at 11:35 PM.
Thanks for this update, and for the follow up. I had a chance to check out the Suntech Kurenai HM30 and HM33 this past November, and again (just the HM33) this past week at the Fly Fishing Show. I was impressed too by how refined (as you nicely put it) they are, and I'll add the word "elegant" in what it feels like to cast these rods. My only complaint is they are spendy. If I was made of money (or, heck, if I had just a little more money!), I would likely add these rods to my collection. But for now the Soyokaze series, for however long they will be available, are a great value (let's call them "the poor man's Kurenai"! ).
The issue of what constitutes a "Tenkara rod" shows up in the links you provided, and it's a horse that just won't die, I know, but I think it's time to start calling rods like the HM33 what they are - seiryu 清流 "clear stream" rods. Similarly, rods such as the Daiwa Kiyose HM43 should be called keiryu 渓流 "mountain stream" rods. We know these rods can be fished in many cases more efficiently and elegantly than rods labeled "Tenkara" テンカラ. To my mind, perhaps yours, and many others it isn't an issue whether they can be used to fish the tenkara method. So calling them by name/type/class allows us to better differentiate the pros and cons of these rods that can be used to fish the same method. The growing number of "Tenkara curious" out there remain focused on rods with a cork handle and a company on the west coast that sells them (albeit, increasingly through other dealers), but if the testimonial videos circling the Interwebs are any indication that they are blown away with what you can do with these lightweight cork-handled rods, how much more so will they be blown away to learn they can hit those pockets on small streams previously inaccessible to them even with their cork-handled rods, but with an even lighter weight, shorter and refined casting seiryu rod? Having some clear differentiation is a good thing if this activity is actually going to mature beyond "trendy" or "fad" status.
My 2 cents. End rant. Sorry to hijack your thread. I've apparently reached my proposed dose of caffeine for the day.