Please note: I will be away the first week of June. If you think you might want something then please order well in advance so I can ship it before I go.
Suntech Keiryu Rods are light for their length and are very well made. Suntech is a small Japanese company that makes all of its own rods. Unlike Daiwa or Shimano, Suntech makes all of its rods in Japan. They are not widely available outside of Japan.
They make quite a few different models, but I have chosen to list only a few of the ones that best fit the theme of finesse fishing. Although they do make some quite stiff rods for a slightly different style of fishing, those I have listed here are light, sensitive rods that are well suited for fishing small baits on light tippets.
The Suntech Fine Power is a very nice and also very versatile rod. One of the nice features is that the blank above the grip section has what Suntech calls its "Non Paint" finish. It is a matte finish so you will not have to worry about rod flash scaring the fish on a sunny day. The section ends are painted, and have minute gold flakes in the finish, reminiscent of fine Japanese lacquers. Rods don't have to be plain!
The versatility comes from being able to fish the rod at two lengths. The first section above the grip section can be extended or left within the grip section. When not fully extended, the "zooming" section is held securely and will not rattle. The Fine Power 56NP can be fished with the rod at either 5.2 or 5.6 meters, the Fine Power 66NP at either 6.2 or 6.6 meters and the 76NP at either 7.2 or 7.6 meters. Additionally, the rod has a quite wide range for recommended tippet strengths, all the way from 5X down to a Japanese line size .1, which is thinner than Varivas 10X tippet.
Although 10X tippet may seem unreasonably light, there is a niche style of keiryu fishing called "zero" which attempts to add as little as possible (as close to zero) to the natural bait so that it can achieve as close to a purely natural drift as possible. Thus, zero fishing uses a very small, light wire hook and a very thin tippet. The rods need to have very thin, flexible tips, partially to protect such a light tippet, but also so a fish feels no resistance when it takes the bait. Trout will indeed spit out natural bait if they feel resistance on the line (I have proven that to myself on more than one occasion).
When I have fished with extremely light tippet, I did indeed fool lots of fish. Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately) the fish here are often bigger than the fish in Japan. I have been able to land smaller fish with no problem on 10X tippets, but fish over about 10" will break it. Personally, I would recommend 9X tippet rather than 10X. Still, if you wanted the ultimate in finesse, this rod is indeed designed for fishing with tippets down to 10X. If you will be fishing for larger fish, the rod can also handle 5X tippets.
The Suntech Aoi ZPRO rods are extremely light weight. The 5.3m rod, at 17'3", weighs less than 3 ounces, and is light enough to cast and fish with one hand. Casting it with one hand is not a problem but I would highly recommend holding it with two hands while fishing. You can hold it with one hand, you can't hold it steady enough. The length of the rod magnifies the slightest shake in your hand. If your hand moves the rod tip moves even more. Your line moves and that makes your markers move. If your hand is shaking, you will not be able to tell if a subtle twitch in your marker is caused by you or by a fish.
The Aoi ZPRO is also a light action rod. It is a tip flex rod, as are most Suntech rods (and most keiryu rods, for that matter), but it is flexible enough to use extremely light lines. The rod is rated for tippets of 10X to 6X. The rod will protect 10X tippets for fish up to 10 or 12", above which 10X just isn't enough to hold them no matter what rod you are using.
With the 6X tippet, though, the rod is capable of tiring very nice fish, as the 19" rainbow above found out.
The Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori rods do not have the Fine Power's versatility, at least not quite. They are rated for tippets down to 9X rather than 10X, but for my own fishing, I have decided that 9X is a light as I want to use anyway. The rods are not "zoom" rods, and can be fished at only one length. I usually fish my keiryu rods at full extension anyway. So it doesn't have the 10X capability and it doesn't have the zoom capability. What does it have? It has a price tag more than $100 lower than the Fine Power! And for the price, it is a mighty fine rod!
It is a bit more mid flex than many keiryu rods, but the progressive bend allows you to subdue larger than expected fish. Also, although the main thrust of finesse-fishing.com will be trout fishing, if you did want to do a bit of bass fishing, you could do a lot worse than choosing the Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori. It is sensitive enough to be fun with small fish, but it has the capability to land much larger ones.
The Suntech FMX Keiryu ZPRO shares the ZPRO designation with the Aoi ZPRO, and is one of is one of Suntech's entries in the "zero" niche within Japanese keiryu fishing. As with the Aoi ZPRO, it is rated for tippets ranging from 10X to 6X.
The biggest differences between the FMX Keiryu ZPRO and the Aoi ZPRO are that the FMX Keiyru ZPRO is softer and more of a mid flex rod. It is also a bit heavier (and a lot less expensive - with respect to Japanese keiryu rods, lighter rods are more expensive). The FMX Keiryu ZPRO is not that much heavier, with the 5.3m rod weighing 3 ounces compared to 2.8 ounces, but it is quite a bit more mid flex.
I have had very good luck using this rod with a size 2.5 tenkara line and no split shot when fishing in relatively shallow streams. The tenkara line povides sufficient weight to make the cast, so no added weight is required in shallow water. In slightly deeper water, one or two size 10 shot is sufficient to get the bait down to the fish. The FMX Keiryu ZPRO is soft enough that a red wiggler does not get torn off the hook when casting (as long as your casting stroke is smooth). The fishing style is a blend of keiryu and tenkara and it is extremely effective in shallow streams.
Even light tenkara line will have some line sag. The slack caused by line sag allows the fish to take the bait without feeling any tension at all. A strike is registered instantly by the hi-vis line. The line will stop or move to the side or even shoot upstream a bit when a fish takes. Using the light tenkara line rather than a much thinner keiryu line and split shot, you can fish further away, which is a definite benefit when the water is low and clear.
Of course, the FMX Keiryu ZPRO can be fished like any other keiryu rod, with the very thin line, markers and split shot. The soft, smooth casting action with a light tenkara line, though, adds another dimension, which is particularly valuable in shallow streams where the split shot of a standard rig will often get hung up on the rocks.
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The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.