Around 2020, Wasatch Tenkara Rods (WTR) hit the US tenkara market with rods that quickly became known for being robust and heavy duty. They developed a clientele of creative fixed-line anglers who have chased everything from large trout, steelhead, salmon, bass, pike and even musky. These hardy folks wanted rods to match their unconventional quarry, and Wasatch Tenkara Rods has delivered.
I’ve fished with and reviewed a few of their rods, including their T-Hunter, Middle Fork 7:3, and Sharpshooter. And while I have found their rods overbuilt for my style of Japanese tenkara, I have come to appreciate their passion in trying to make rods that will stand up to any fish or situation encountered. The rod reviewed today is no exception.
After reviewing the Wasatch Tenkara Hankyu Middle Fork 7:3 (MF7:3), and finding it too stiff for my style, Ruben Garza contacted me to say that he had a 6:4 version of the Hankyu Middle Fork in the works. Fast forward one and a half years later, I now have one in my hands.
As far as appearances go, the MF6:4 looks just like its twin, the MF7:3. So if you’re interested, I’ll refer you to that post to check out the description of its cosmetics, tip and butt caps, and lilian. And like the MF7:3, the MF6:4 is a double “zoom” rod, meaning, it has two sections that can be extended when needed allowing the rod to be fished in three different lengths. These are advertised as 9’, 10’ 6”, and 12’.
In this review, I’ll mainly focus on my measurements and overall rod performance on an average trout stream.
|Fully Extended Lengths||282.5 cm / 9 ft 3 in.|
326 cm / 10 ft 8 in.
367 cm / 12 ft.
|Nested Length (w/cap)||57 cm / 22.5 in.|
|Weight (w/o cap)||98.7 g / 3.5 oz.|
|Handle Length||23 cm / 9 in.|
|RFI||8.8 / 8:2 Very Fast Minimal Flex|
8 / 7:3 Fast Tip Flex
7.1 / Fast Tip Flex
|Rotational Moment (fully extended)||7.7|
Casting the MF6:4 is similar to the MF7:3, in that it takes some concentration and effort. The rod is heavy and so it has some noticeable start-up inertia. This isn’t a criticism, it’s just the reality of a heavy, robust rod. I’d bet that if a person hadn’t ever seen or fished with a Japanese tenkara rod, then they wouldn’t notice or care about the rod’s weight or start-up inertia.
The rod has energy robbing tip oscillation at the end of the cast. This takes some practice overcoming to get delicately placed presentations. I used the MF6:4 with my standard #3 fluorocarbon level line, and I felt that this line was much too underweight for the rod. I found myself frequently overpowering the cast and I had to consciously think about my casting technique. I’ll admit that I didn’t fish the rod with heavier level lines or furled lines, but I’m betting that the rod would answer to these better than the light #3 level line.
I found the weight of the fly made a difference too. When I fished standard unweighted kebari, I felt that my presentations were suboptimal. I could get the fly where I wanted it to go (mostly), but I had to concentrate. However, when I changed over to larger, heavier flies, the rod felt much better. I fought the casts less and my presentations improved. It really is true that the weight of your fly affects how your rod casts.
As a practitioner of Japanese tenkara, I like to manipulate the line and kebari after the cast. Due to the weight of the rod and its relatively high rotational moment (for its length), I found this difficult to do with any degree of finesse. Dead drifts and cross current swinging were no problem, but sasoi was difficult.
Hooking fish and landing them were no problem. In fact, I found the MF6:4 to be just what I needed with a few fish that shot out into the fast current of the stream. If I had been using one of my Japanese tenkara rods, I would have been praying for the tippet to break, but with the MF6:4 I just hauled the fish up through the current with no concern of breaking the rod.
I found the Wasatch Tenkara Rods Hankyu Middle Fork 6:4 to have a stiffer action than a true 6:4 tenkara rod, heavier than most rods of its length, and not conducive to Japanese kebari manipulations. But does that mean you should avoid this rod? Not in the least. What it means is that the rod does exactly what WTR designed it to do and it excels at those goals.
The MF6:4, like the MF7:3, is designed to give a person the tenkara experience without the worry of breaking or damaging the rod. Anyone who is concerned about the fragility of common tenkara rods, anyone who fishes waters where they may hook into a large, powerful fish, and anyone who wants a rod that is design to be robust under all circumstances should take a look at the MF6:4. As for me, I can see myself using this rod when I’m targeting larger fish with larger flies in heavy, fast flowing water. I can rest assured that the WTR Hankyu Middle Fork 6:4 will come through for me!
Disclaimer: My opinion regarding this rod is just that, my opinion. Your opinion may differ. Also, your rod may not have the same length, issues, or functionality as my rod. There are variations between rods, even in the same production run. No description can fully tell you how a rod feels or fishes. For this, you must personally hold, cast, and fish the rod then make up your own mind. I was sent the rod from Wasatch Tenkara Rods. I have no formal affiliation with Wasatch Tenkara Rods and there was no expectation of a positive review.
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