Keiryu. A Japanese Tradition
KEIRYU is Japanese.
Translated, it means "Mountain Stream".
Keiryu is a traditional and highly popular Japanese style of fishing that uses along telescopic pole, a line, and a hook. While it is very similar to Tenkara, Keiryu uses a longer rod that is typically paired with a light line and live bait. It can also be used very effectively with flies and nymphs.
Keiryu rods are quite long. While Keiryu rods can range anywhere from 8 to 25 feet in length, the most common Keiryu rods are 17-20 feet. For comparison, Tenkara rods are generally around 12 ft (with some models extending to 14.5 ft.). So, in general, Keiryu rods are quite a bit longer. They are also stiffer than Tenkara rods, making them well suited for drifting live bait that is weighted (using split shot) to get under water.
As stated above, Keiryu rods tend to be stiffer than Tenkara rods. Generally, Keiryu rods have stiffer mid and lower sections and more flexible tips, making them more of a fast action rod. As a result, Keiryu rods (in general) are better suited for setting hooks on fish striking bait or nymphs in deeper water. The flexible tip allows the fish to take the bait without feeling resistance, while the stiff mid section allows you, the angler, to quickly pull the line up and set the hook. Because they are larger and stiffer, Keiryu rods can handle larger fish and are less prone to breakage.
Japanese stream and river anglers predominately used live bait and that is what their Keiryu rods are typically fished with in Japan. Think mayflies, caddisflies, midges, or worms. In its purest form, anglers use what they find at the fishing spot. Effective? Amazingly. But, and this is extremely important to note, Keiryu rods also excel when fished with wet or dry flies on typical Tenkara lines. Nymphs, in particular, work very well with Keiryu because the stiffer/fast action translates into a faster hook set.
American Keiryu. Let the Journey Begin.
After trying Keiryu fishing for the first time I was blown away by it. I may have been biased to begin with, since the concept held tremendous appeal to me - an avid and very early adopter of Tenkara*, I was draw to the idea of using live bait paired with the simplicity and elegance of Tenkara. Like most of you, I have fished with worms since childhood and had the instinctive, gut believe that live bait if presented naturally will outperform anything else. My first try with Keiryu confirmed this, literally within seconds of putting the bait in the water. The remainder of the day was one of bewilderment and excitement.
Now, if Keiryu was just limited to bait fishing, I might not be writing this. But the fact this, Keiryu can do it all. If the water runs deep, or I spot deeper fishing holes, I will use the bait rig either with bait or a weighted fly (increasingly, I am Euro style nymphing, using heavy jig nymphs). With dry flies, the Keiryu lets me reach out further and works great with furled lines. On a lake, I am better able to fish from shore. On a boat, I can lower my bait down to 16 feet and gently raise it, finding the right depth to get strikes (at this point I would switch to the float indicator rigs).
.After my experiences with Keiryu, I had to wonder why is it not more well known? The answer could be as simple as the fact that the branding/marketing critical mass required to drive awareness and adoption have not materialized for Keiryu as they have for Tenkara. But the reality remains, in this country we have big rivers, big fish, boundless lakes and fishing holes. We are prime for Keiryu.
*I have to thank Craig Mathews, co-author of Simple Fly Fishing and owner of the Blue Ribbon Flies shop in West Yellowstone for the introduction to Tenkara. On the day I fished with my son, he was outfitted with traditional fly fishing gear, while I was outfitted with Tenkara. The results? Lets just say Dad got really lucky that day but the real win was spending a day fishing with him, of course.
Introduce Keiryu to the U.S. angler, with products that are designed, developed and engineered for American fishing conditions. This to be followed by evolution/innovation. I fully expect that American ingenuity and creativity will evolve Keiryu, we want to enable that. Lastly, we want to be fun, approachable, and simple.
In keeping with our philosophy, our first product, the T100 is a our all purpose, baseline trout rod. It was designed to offer great performance at a reasonable price. It is designed to catch all sizes of trout, under many different conditions and was specifically spec'd to have a Rod Flex Index (RFI) of 5.7, which translates into a medium action, stiffness, and flex rod.