G, I fish a Nissin SP 390 Seriyu rod from time to time. It weighs 1.5 ounces and is an 8 penny rod and has a lot of the flex vocabulary you have spoken about, but most of it gets used up pretty quickly in certain situations. It does not handle a lot of wind well, or cast heavy flies well. On a deep fished fly, the hook set is very weak - you apply a brisk lift and the rod mostly just bends, with out the hook deeply penetrating a fish’s mouth. For doing gentle presentations with dry or wet flies, it is a very hard rod to beat and an absolute joy to cast. None the less, I have caught some surprisingly big fish on it. But not without a fair amount of fear for its well being. But so far it has held up just fine, better in fact than some supposedly much better quality rods costing considerably more money. Its carbon fiber content isn’t the highest by any means, but it fishes quite well just the same.
I used it to fish a little headwaters brook trout stream last fall. Most of the fish run 4 to 7 inches, with a 9 inch brook trout entering the trophy class on this stream. I was fishing it with a 7 foot long #3 level FC line, plus 2 feet of 6X tippet tippet, which was too short for the low water conditions as there were places where the water level was 4 or more feet below the ground level I was standing on. There were spawning brook trout in the 12 to 13 inch size range to be caught that I usually never get to even see, and I caught more than few of them.
Trying to lift those fish straight up out of the water was nearly impossible and the rod bent into a half circle, putting the line way out of my reach. I had to pull the fish as close as I could to the bank, and then lay the rod flat on the ground and walk up it to grasp the line to raise and unhook the fish by hand. It all worked out OK, but it wasn’t much fun. For sure this is a rod that fish are not apt to break off from rod rigidity. And there is a lot more fish control than it sounds like there would be with a rod this light, but I believe it is a rod that should be, more or less, totally devoted to fishing small fish waters.
In my Western fly fishing days, I always set the drag just tight enough to prevent reel spool over-spin that would result in line loop tangles, using hand pressure on the exposed spool rim to control fish when needed. I preferred Scot G Series rods over the others I tried, which were soft tipped rods, with a moderate mid sections and substantial fish fighting butt sections, and capable of casting just a leader with no fly line outside of the guides.
2010 was a high point in my fly fishing life to that point: I fished 22 hike into high country lakes that I had never fished before that year, releasing a total of 1,339 fish over 31 angling days or portions there of, testing 20 different fly patterns, i.e. 650 trout were released on 4 different Sheeps Creek fly patterns; 241 fish were released on 5 different Chironomid Pupa patterns; 92 fish were released on two different midge emerger patterns; and 5 trout were released on a wet damsel fly nymph pattern. Fish released on dry flies (including both lakes and streams) came to 452 fish, and 431 of those fish were caught on terrestrial fly patterns: The Two-Toned Beetle pattern - 10, the Foam Spider pattern - 55, the Pink Butt - 55, Green Butt - 4, plus 20 trout on a Floating Damsel Nymph Pattern. At that point I felt I had taken my fly fishing just about as far as I could and I was ready for a new and different challenge - enter Tenkara Fly Fishing.
I came to Tenkara some what reluctantly (at that point I had 10 different fly rods and 5 fly reels, with all the different floating and different sink-rate lines and extra spools and Shooting Heads it took to support my stillwater fly fishing) and it took about two years of trying Tenkara fishing off and on before Tenkara took hold for me. Tenkara’s distance casting limitations on lakes are what made me reluctant to commit 100% to it in the beginning. But with time and more experience, I found that I could catch just as many or more fish with Tenkara tackle than I had been able to catch on Western stillwater fishing tackle. Now fixed line fly fishing is all that I care to do. One of the things I enjoy most about Tenkara style fishing is the intimate feelings you experienced in the playing of fish, which I find to be much more intimate than Western fly fishing is that I have used in the past.
When I came to Tenkara, having worked as hard and long as I had done on the fly patterns I had developed, I had no desire to throw all that effort away to fish with Kebari Fly Patterns. I already instinctively knew that they would catch fish just fine, there were a lot of similarities between Kebari fly patterns and my Sheeps Creek series of fly patterns. I tried traditional Tapered Lines first, moving on to hand tied tapered Fluorocarbon tapered lines, and eventually settled on Level FC. Lines for all of my stream fishing, using mostly dry flies on running waters. On the lakes and ponds, after trying all the lines I tried on streams, I went back to using Floating PVC coated Fly Line style Tenkara lines for Stillwaters, with nylon/ FC. Level Tenkara Line constructed tapered leaders. The PVC line handles wind and floating flies on lakes better than the more traditional Tenkara Lines do. For really windy conditions, I use a Titanium Tenkara Fly Line. I have given you this not so brief personal history to demonstrate how much time and effort I have invested in my Tenkara fly fishing to date. I am a new member to this board but, I have been at it for a considerable length of time now. Am I opinionated? Definitely, but those opinions are based on doing a lot more testing and research than most anglers do, both Tenkara and Western fishing…Karl.