Daiwa 43 MF Rod First Impressions
Big Rod Blues: I recently received a 43 MF Zoom rod from Chris, and I have to say I can not get as enthusistic or excited about this class of rods as I am excited by the Super Light Weight Tenkara rods. This is through no fault of the 43 MF or the Amago rods in and of themselves, but rather that lake Tenkara fly fishing (out of necessity) requires a more utilitarian set of rod functions than the super light stream rods do. For lakes you need a long rod to better cover the larger waters you will be fishing, with a faster action and more backbone to cast bigger flies than are commonly used in stream fishing, and for handling the often times strong winds found blowing across the wide open lakes, and to handle the bigger fish the lakes are known to produce compared to streams. All of which means more rod weight, and a more tip heavy feeling rod when casting. In the Suntech 33 rod review I likened the 33 to a Subaru BRZ sports car, compared to a Ford F150 pick up truck type of 12 foot Iwana rod comparison. This class of rods is more comparable to the Ford F250 pick up truck, with the Zoom feature giving the 43 MF truck a little sportier feel. Tom Davis said that he prefered fishing the 43 MF in its 12' 5" mode; I liked casting it better in its 14' 1" mode, which just goes to show how pwesonal these things can be. I already have an Amago rod, so a logical question to ask here is was investing in a 43 MF rod worth what it cost me to buy it? The answer to that question is Yes, and No.
The 43 MF's Cosmetic Appearance: The 43 MF is a handsome rod. The dark blue paint job is sufficiently dark that I do not believe the rod will spook fish. In clear water blue is the first color to fade out for the fish, so I don't think the blue paint job will be a problem. The rest of the rod is in a semigloss finish instead of being a high gloss finish, so I believe I can live with the rod as it is. If there are fish scaring problems, a paste wax can be applied to the rod and not buffed out to dull the rod finish, or the shine can be reduced by buffing the rod with 000 steal wool to remove the shine. This rod comes with a Universal Rod Cap instead of a tip plug, so the top rod sections are within about an 1/8th of an inch of the top of the butt section. Tying a knot in the lillian or gluing a braided loop on to it will cause the lillian to stick up above the rod blanks for an easy and safe line connection if you do not pull the tip above the other supporting rod segments. I hollowed out a depression in the open celled foam that fills the top of the tip cap for the lillian to go up inside of to relieve tension on the rod tip if the cap is shoved down on the rod as far as it will go. In carrying a line on the EZ-Keepers, the lillian or loop will be bent over sideways to exit the tip cap in a U-turn going to the EZ-Keepers. The grip area is finished with a dark charcoal colored sandpaper-like finish that provides a great grip, wet or dry.
Setting The Rod Up To Fish With: The largest section of the friction coated grip measures 15/16ths of an inch in diameter, so a 7/8ths inch hole diameter black rubber stool foot provides a secure friction fit for a butt cap protector on the rod, and provides a flair to rest the heal of your casting hand against in casting. The protective rubber foot cap also counter balances the tip weight of the rod to some extent, and lengthens the over all length of the rod just slightly, while forming a palm filling knob to rest in the palm of your casting hand while trying to gain maximum rod length that's similar to the rear grip swell on the Amago rod grip, which I really like. I bought two extra O-rings that were about half way between the big and small O-rings in size, which comes with the EZ-Keepers, to use for the hook keepers on the rod. The big O-rings will securely hold the EZ-Keepers in place on the rod butt, but getting the O-rings in their keeper notches is challenging on a rod butt this big in diameter.
Casting The 43 MF And The Amago Rods Back to Back: I have to qualify this by telling you that my first season in fishing Tenkara was conducted with the 12 foot Iwana rod, which is a 6:4 action rod that is so complementary to the casting characteristics of the slightly faster 6:4 action Amago rod that every cast you make with the Iwana rod can be considered to be a practice cast for using the Amago rod. I do not enjoy fishing with the Amago rod nearly as much as I like fishing with the Iwana rod, primarily because of the added weight and tip heavy feeling that the Amago rod has over the Iwana rod. Last season I had 33 lake and pond fishing experiences with the Amago rod. I can not tell you haw many casts I have made with the Amago rod but they must number in the thousands, so I have developed a strong automatic muscle memory with the Amago rod that allows me to cast that rod in a very intuitive way. The casting action of the 43 MF, although very similar to the Amago's casting action, is just enough faster that I did not have the same subconscious casting ability with the 43 MF that I have with the Amago rod. However, I believe with similar casting time put in I will easily develop similar ease of casting with the 43 MF rod that I now have with the Amago rod. I would classify the 43 MF as a 7:3 rod in its 12' 5" length and as a 6:4 action rod in its 14' 1" length, with the transition between the zoom functions of the different rod lengths being about as seamless as it can be.
The 43 MF vs The Amago Rod In Casting Level Lines: Chris kindly sent a 15' length of #4 Hivis FC line with the rod for me to use, to which I added a 12" length of #3 Hivis FC and 6" each of FC 8 & 6 Lb. test FC lines as a transition section, to finish the line off with a 5X FC tippet section of the desired length. Both rods cast this line equally well. The Amago will cast just about any line you care to try on it, and the 43 MF is equally versatile. One would expect these rods to cast the heavier lines well but they will also cast light weight #3 weight lines surprisingly well. I cast 7', 10' & 12' level FC #3 lines well with both rods. I also cast an 8' long FC level #3.5 line effectively with both rods. I do not have any #4.5 level line to try, but I did cast a 10' long length of a #5 line and it did not tax either rod, but I felt that a 20 Lb. test line is just too heavy for my fishing purposes. I also cast the 12' long, Rigs Level Floating Tenkara Line that I use for fishing lakes with dry flies and under windy conditions with both rods, again both rods handled that line equally well.
The 43 MF vs The Amago Rod In Casting Tapered Lines: The first tapered line I tried on these two rods was TUSA's 10.5' Traditional Kevlar line, which they both handled very well, again in both rod lengths for the 43 MF rod. Since both rods handled the #3 level lines well I decided to test a 10 Lb butt hand-tied FC tapered line in a 6' foot length, a 12 Lb. butt hand-tied FC tapered line in a 10' length, and 10.5' length of 15 Lb test hand-tied tapered FC line as well, all of which both of rods cast very well, in both lengths for the 43 MF rod.
The 43 MF vs The Amago Rod Conclusions: I believe Chris really nailed it when he stated that the 43 MF rod is a better Yammame rod than the Yammame is in the 43's 12' 5" length, and that the 43 MF in its 14' 1" length is an equivalent big fish, big water rod to the Amago rod. Both of these rods are extreemly capable. The mat finish on the Amago rod gives it an edge in stealth. Both rods handle similar lines similarly and with equivalent authority. But 7 inches more rod length with a half ounce less rod weight and a much lighter tip feel are significant factors in my book for giving the 43 MF an edge, not necessarily in fishing ability but definately in the fishing enjoyment department. Whether that is important enough for you to buy another rod when you already own an Amago rod you will have to decide for yourself. But if you are looking to buy a big fish big water rod, and you are having trouble deciding between a Yammame and an Amago rod, just like Chris said, I also believe that you would be better off getting the 43 MF rod in stead of either of those rods unless you just have to have a cork grip. Personally, I believe the corkless grip is equally comfortable and more sensitive...Golden.
Last edited by Golden; 01-01-2013 at 10:42 PM.