My son and I made a quick half day run down to Bennett Spring State Park to test out my new Daiwa Seiryu X-45 and X-64 rods from TenkaraBum. Since this is the winter catch and release fly only season at the park, we couldn't TRULY keiryu, but we did manage to catch a few fish on flies.
We started at the spring pool, where a group of scuba divers were diving to the bottom of the spring, which is apparently 80 feet down! I started with the X-64 rigged keiryu style with a size 16 Frenchie, and immediately caught the largest sculpin I've ever seen. My son, fishing the X-45 tenkara style with a size 14 tungsten bead head Utah Killer Bug, caught a sculpin right after I released mine.
The trout remained unimpressed with normal sized flies, so I switched us to my go-to winter fly, the size 26 micro egg. This is nothing more than a little Senyo Laser Yarn on a Gamakatsu C12-BM with a 1.5 mm tungsten bead. I used a single tin BB shot as weight. I quickly caught two average sized rainbows. The rod handled them easily in the near still water of the spring pool.
Wanting to see how the rod performed with a fish in some current, we moved downstream to a run right below a rock dam. I hooked a chunky 14" rainbow here, and while it put a nice bend in the rod, the Seiryu X-64 had no problem bringing it to the net.
With that accomplished, it was time to move on to teaching someone how to fish keiryu style. My son has a lot of experience warm water tenkara fishing, but he's never fished keiryu.
The casting proved no problem for him and with a little coaching on where to cast and how to follow the drift using the markers he quickly caught a 10" rainbow on the micro egg. A few casts later he hooked and landed another. All of these fish were caught without wading, as I wanted to see how effective a long keiryu rod could be for strictly bank fishing.
If you go to Bennett Spring State Park, you'll notice that people just wade halfway across the river before making a single cast. Both of my son's fish were caught within 20 feet of the bank in less than 3 feet of water. We also witnessed an example of dubious wading safety. In addition, two oblivious fly fishermen entered the river RIGHT IN FRONT OF US while we were fishing. I sincerely hope these guys don't go somewhere where people will assault you for such actions. Yes, it happens, just google "Salmon River fishing fist fight."
A few other notes. I made tenkara lines for both rods, and used Nissin Oni 3.5 level line for both. While the lines cast beautifully, with that much line out even a 3.5 level line sags quite a bit. I think these rods will want 2.5 or 3 level lines for best performance.
Verdict: I was very impressed with the X-64 as a keiryu rod. Set up with 4' of 1.5 tenjo line, 10' of 4x tippet as the main line and 1-2' of 6x terminal tippet with a single BB shot for weight it cast very well and quite accurately considering the "aimed lob" casting style of keiryu fishing.
As soon as the regular season opens in March we will be back WITH BAIT. Bennett Spring has a bait only zone, and I can't wait to drift some red wigglers there!