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Ajing Rods, Mebaru Rods

Ajing Rods

"Ajing" is fishing for Aji, or Horse Mackerel, which are a common Japanese salt water fish that are generally about 8-10". The Japanese often fish for them at night with very light jigs, using very fast action, very sensitive ultralight spinning rods, and very light lines to be able to feel the strikes. Not only do anglers have to feel when a fish takes the jig and stops or turns, they have to feel when a fish takes the jig and continues swimming towards them. They have to be able to feel the weight and resistance of the jig - and when they no longer feel it, set the hook. However, they are fishing with jigs that may weigh less than a gram (1/32 oz) and have sharply pointed heads - which produce almost no resistance on the retrieve.

The rods feel stiff - surprisingly stiff for a rod rated for no more than 3 lb test line. They have to be relatively stiff to transmit the slightest tic of a bite - or even the sudden lack of the minimal resistance the jig causes coming through the water. A softer rod will absorb rather than transmit that delicate sensory information.

With an Ajing rod you can feel very light hits!With an Ajing rod you can feel very light hits!

It is a bit surprising at how sensitive they really are. You can clearly feel the strike of a three inch smallmouth bass hitting your jig.

With a somewhat larger fish on the line, though, they bend and they protect the light line!

They are truly amazing rods.

Shimano Soare CI4+ Ajing S408UL-SShimano Soare CI4+ Ajing S408UL-S

One of the more amazing ajing rods is the Shimano Soare CI4+ Ajing S408UL-S. Most ajing rods are long, well over 6 feet. The Shimano Soare CI4+ Ajing S408UL-S is just 4'8". That's stream-rod length, and actually the rod makes a nice little trout rod for small streams. The most surprising thing, to me, is that a stiff rod - and the rod does feel surprisingly stiff - can cast a light lure so well. This rod could cast a .4g Daiwa Vega spoon better than Daiwa's XXUL area rods. There is just enough flex in the rod tip to propel the light lure well. A heavier lure, like a 2.5g Daiwa Crusader spoon, just goes like a bullet. I can almost guarantee that your first cast will be in the trees on the far bank. Do be careful when you take the rod out for the first time.

I carried the rod for a while and then dropped it when the last one sold. I brought it back following a discussion on one of the on-line forums in which one of the participants said that of all the rods he's ever fished, this one is the best at casting truly ultralight lures. I'd have to agree. Sales were slow, though, so I no longer have the rod in stock. If you wish, I can order one for you.

Despite being a small, light rod, you can catch impressive fish with it.Despite being a small, light rod, you can catch impressive fish with it.

Shimano Soare BB Ajing S610LSShimano Soare SS Ajing S610LS

The first Shimano Ajing rods I imported were their Soare BB rods, which are  their entry level rods. Entry level does not mean low quality, though, and I had thought that the most noticeable difference between the BB series  and the next level up (the SS series) was that the BB rods weigh a fraction of an ounce more. I could not have been more wrong.  The Shimano Soare SS Ajing S610LS is a much nicer rod. The first one I got in was a special order, but I do not expect to go back to the BB rods.

Shimano Soare SS Ajing S610LS with smallmouth bass - Charles C photoShimano Soare SS Ajing S610LS with smallmouth bass - Charles C photo

This is what Charles C, who had ordered the rod, had to say about it: "I was spooled with 2.5# Night Blue Ester with a 5X leader. I fished spoons today and again, I can’t say enough about the feedback this rod gives when fishing a spoon. It is easy to tell you’re getting good wobble in any situation. The real killer today was the Ring Kick Tail on a 1g jig! That’s what I caught the big smallie on. Fishing slow with a soft plastic with a tight line is deadly with this rod and line set up (one of the main reasons I got the rod).

The versatility of this rod, especially handling bigger fish while still still fishing a light line is exceptional."

I do believe a word of caution is in order, though. Ajing rods were designed to catch 8-10" fish. Although we don't have aji in the US, the rods are fine for snapper blues or sunfish. However, the transition between the fast tip and the firmer upper mid section is abrupt. That concentrates the force in a very small arc. High sticking with a larger fish can break the rod. Mebaru rods are more mid flex and do not concentrate the force in as small an arc as the ajing rods. If you expect to catch fish larger than sunfish, I would suggest either a mebaru rod or a "light game" rod like the Tenryu Lunakia LK6102S-MLT.

Tenryu Lunakia LK6102S-MLT (top) and LK632S-LMLS (bottom)Tenryu Lunakia LK6102S-MLT (top) and LK632S-LMLS (bottom)

Going another level up from the Shimano, Tenryu recently released the Lunakia rods. They are light, sensitive rods that will register the slightest tap from a fish taking your lure. The LK632S-LMLS is a "light medium light" solid tipped rod for lines up to 3 lb and lures up to 3 grams (about 1/10 oz). The LK6102S-MLT is a "medium light" tubular tipped rod for lines up to 4 lb and lures up to 5 grams.

Interestingly, Tenryu does not label these rods as being specifically ajing or mebaru rods. They list them as rods for the "Rockfish game" or "Light game" and indicate they are for both aji and mebaru. The solid tipped LK632S-LMLS and LK582S-LS have the very fast, tip action one would expect of an ajing rod, while the tubular tipped LK6102S-MLT has the mid flex action one would expect of a mebaru rod.

Tenryu Lunakia LK6102S-MLT grip showing the Nishijin weave.Tenryu Lunakia LK6102S-MLT grip showing the Nishijin weave.

The Lunakia's Nishijin Weave carbon fiber reel seat is unique to Tenryu. It looks great and provides a nonskid finish.

Mebaru Rods

You will see these rods referred to as Mebaru, Mebaring, Meval and Light Rock Fishing.

Mebaru is a type of salt water fish (actually, three different species of the genus sebastes). Mebaring is fishing for mebaru, just like Ajing is fishing for aji. Meval is a common Google translation of メバル, which is how mebaru is written in Japanese. Light Rock Fishing is a British term for the type of fishing that would cover mebaru fishing.

Shimano Soare BB S700SULS Mebaru RodShimano Soare BB S700SULS Mebaru Rod

In contrast to Ajing rods, which are very fast, tip action rods, Mebaru rods are more mid flex and tend to be softer rods. I note that one American panfish angler who has a number of Ajing and Mebaru rods writes that "Mebaru rods are excellent for crappie and gills. Ajing rods are great for gills but probably really too fast for crappie."

Mebaru rods make excellent bluegill rods.Mebaru rods make excellent bluegill rods.

He catches more crappies than I do, so I can't disagree with him regarding aging rods and crappies, but I will definitely agree with him that mebaru rods make excellent bluegill rods. The Shimano Soare BB S700SULS is a sweet rod, with enough backbone to get good hook sets, but a soft enough flex profile that it is just a lot of fun with modest sized bluegills.

Bright orange windings.Bright orange windings.

Even though the rod is plenty sensitive enough to feel the slightest tap, it has a feature that I really like. The windings for the tip-top and next four guides are painted bright orange. Mebaru fishing is often done at night, but even when fishing for bluegills in the daytime, the bright windings make it very easy to see the rod tip bend even a little from the lightest bite.

Mebaru rods would also be great for trout if someone wanted a longer rod. JDM "area" trout rods range from roughly 5'6" to 6'6" while mebaru rods are generally from 7' up to 8'6".

Not long ago, a guy on the Tackle Tour Ultralight Fishing forum asked for a recommendation for an 8' light or ultralight moderate action spinning rod to fish night crawlers, without split shot, on trout streams. Perhaps he had read my Ultralight Worm Fishing article. The Shimano Soare BB mebaru rod might be just about what he was looking for. It would have the length required to keep much of his line off the water's surface and would have a light enough action to transmit the tap of the bite without alerting the fish. The bright orange windings, combined with a hi-vis line like the Sunline Troutist Area Meister or Troutist Wild would make strike detection easy.

If you want a 7' rod for crappies, this might be the ideal set up: Shimano Soare BB S700SULS rod, Shimano Soare CI4+ 500S reel, Troutist Area Meister 2lb line, Shimano Soare Skiphead or Draghead jigheads and Shimano Soare Momoaji plastics.

Mebaru rods can handle modest bass.Mebaru rods can handle modest bass.

It is still a sensitive rod, but you will feel comfortable hooking modest bass as well as crappies.

Shop for Ajing and Mebaru rods.


The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.