Should I be reviewing a lure fishing rod that to the best of my knowledge is only available in the UK if you are prepared to buy it from Japan or make a special order through Mr. Fish over in Jersey? Well there are arguments for and against I am sure, but at the end of the day I have used the rod and I wanted to tell you about it. Why? Because it's insanely good - but if you know Tenryu via the red rods that come via Ultimate Fishing in France, well this Japanese Tenryu Swat 9'7'' ML 8-35g lure rod is nothing remotely like any of the red Tenryu rods that I have used. Seriously, it's chalk and cheese.
The first "proper" lure fishing rod I used was the Tenryu Red Dragon Express, and it blew me away. Coming from carp rods and floppier UK style salmon spinning rods, it was a complete revelation, and even if I am increasingly finding that the much stiffer, more powerful French style lure rods are not ideally suited to how I am tending to lure fish from the shore these days, there's no denying how good those red Tenryu lure rods are. Up until I picked this Tenryu Swat 9'7'' ML rod up I had never seen a Japanese Tenryu though.
Steve had this Tenryu Swat rod on the recent Ireland trip I did, and although you can't help but notice how ridiculously light the thing is (161g), it didn't feel anything that special from simply waggling it around. Casting it though was a different matter, and over the course of the week I had a few chucks and then used the rod for the last session we fished over there. When I say light, it's not light as in wow it doesn't weigh much for a 9'7'' long lure rod - nope, it's almost stupidly light for any length, and the balance of the thing obviously makes it feel even lighter in the hand. Seriously, I really think the lightness is a big part of how easy the thing is to fish with. I am not exactly drawn to lure rods of this length, but then I have started to mess around with a few and I recognise that it's horses for courses out there.
As I said, a few waggles tells you very little. I remember thinking that it might be a bit soft for me in fact, but strap a reel to it, wind it up and now it comes to life. It's almost silly how effortless the thing is. By virtue of the conditions we got in Ireland, we were fishing a lot of weighted soft plastics in current (Black Minnows, Savage Gear Sandeels etc.), and the few casts I had in the week were based around this until Steve and I swapped rods and reels (he fishes cack-handed) for that last session when he caught that 9lb bass. The rod's a dream for bumping weighted soft plastics down the current and also fishing a kind of shallow sink and draw with them, but I wanted to wind the thing up with shallow diving minnows, surface lures and weightless soft plastics and see if I could trip it up.
Which I couldn't. I have almost run out of words that I can use to describe how lure rods fish, but from my (limited?) experience, a lure rod this comparatively long just has no right to be so effortless to fish with and so deft of touch. A "long" rod needs to feel shorter in the hand for me to be drawn to it, and this Tenryu thing doesn't feel an inch over 9' long if you ask me, and I really like that. As I always say, rods are very personal things though.
Working an IMA Salt Skimmer or that long-casting Tackle House Vulture is just so easy and efficient it's like getting whatever benefits you might feel you are getting from a longer rod but with the true feel of something shorter - and yes, I hear all the arguments for 9'6'' plus lure rods putting lures out further, but I am not entirely convinced that a good 9' rod together with a good casting style is losing out. At the end of the day it's not as if I am catching most of my bass at range anyway, but hey ho, who really cares anyway? Use what you like and get on with it. Why anglers get all uppity about their rods is beyond me, but there must be some correlation between certain appendages and worrying about the length of one's lure fishing rod.
The trick with a rod like this longer Tenryu Swat is not to try and overpower it and lash into the cast too quickly. Ease off, wind it up with a smooth casting style that does not revolve around a really hard kind of "whip" finish and it just bends so effortlessly to put lures out there a country mile. Surface lures, sub-surface minnows, (heavier) weightless soft plastics, weighted plastics etc., this rod I reckon does the lot, and you know all about my obsession with lure rods that I believe can fish all the methods I might fish with the single tool so to speak. I said earlier that it's nothing like a red Tenryu, as in it's not massively stiff, yet the recovery on it is just extraordinary. Yes it bends, but no, it's not soft. No, it's not poker-stiff, but yes, it's fast. How? Beats me, but good carbons and a lot of technological knowhow must count for something I guess.
I hear that Ultimate Fishing in France are developing some kind of French version of this Swat rod, most likely to be called the Seducer - where do they get these rod names from? I have no idea what might be done to the rod to make it more European, save for covering it in red paint perhaps, but I will be interested to see how this potential Seducer might turn out when the Swat if you ask me is about as good as a 9'7'' lure rod can get. I suppose I must ask the question - why mess with what is already one hell of a lure fishing rod?