Genten Rod and Watake Bamboo

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SideChannel
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Genten Rod and Watake Bamboo

#1

Post by SideChannel »

One of the most memorable/interesting rods that have have cast is the 8' 2/2 for a 4wt by Masaki Ishizeki of Genten-Rod. I believe he was a student of Akimaru. I met Masa and cast his rods at the Henry's Fork gathering several years ago. For me, this rod is remarkable because of its combination of action, weight, and workmanship. After a year wait, I received one of my own this summer.

The action is, no doubt, unique compared to most American rods because of the high grade Watake bamboo that Masa uses (vs. Tonkin or Madake). For me, it is a true 4wt and has great feel during the cast, more like a medium action rod, but it throws very tight loops and is comfortable casting to longer distances. At a scant 3oz with a wood reel seat, it has a super light swing weight; quite surprising when one first picks it up. I hope the pictures help support Masa's fine workmanship. The model I have is called the Claymore X.

I was wondering if any others have had experience fishing Watake or Madake bamboo?

Note: I have edited to correctly indicate that Masa uses Watake bamboo (thank you Adrien)

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Last edited by SideChannel on 12/07/15 09:21, edited 2 times in total.

Carpenter Bros Rods
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Re: Genten Rod and Madake Bamboo

#2

Post by Carpenter Bros Rods »

I love my Claymore X. I plan on fishing it for many years to come.

Cris

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cdmoore
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Re: Genten Rod and Madake Bamboo

#3

Post by cdmoore »

Cast it. Wish I had one. Very fine on the grass. I watched Masa make some beautiful casts and tame some very nice fish with it on the Ranch. Nice guy, too. Funny and sincere.

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Re: Genten Rod and Madake Bamboo

#4

Post by 16pmd »

I've fished madake bamboo rods by Yukihiro Yoshida and Masa Akaike. They have all been light in weight, hollowbuilt and outstanding casters. I think madake is especially suited to lighter line rods and makes excellent trout rods in the 3-6 line weights. As in any material, the taper is the key and those two makers (and I'm sure others) have developed some excellent tapers for madake. Though it has been a generally unfamiliar material, madake bamboo from Japan can be used to make wonderful rods and is slowly becoming recognized as a fine material for fly rods. I wouldn't hesitate to buy a rod made of madake.

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Re: Genten Rod and Madake Bamboo

#5

Post by adrien schnee »

Hi Greg, nice to see some more details of Masa's rod. As you know it is a taper highly acclaimed by many who cast it at the HF events over the years, and some of it's unique characteristics are almost certainly due to the type of bamboo Masa utilizes.

Looking back over some of my exchanges with him, he made an effort a couple of times to differentiate the type of cane he uses from the more commonly used Madake that most builders use and stressed that the Watake he utilizes comes from only from one district of one province. There must be some characteristics about it which are superior to him. As Tim Anderson has noted in some of his posts after building a Madake rod of his own, Masa feels his Watake bamboo is a quicker recovering and lighter material than Tonkin, which is more powerful when comparing the same taper in the two materials. Though Masa notes that the taper can be adjusted in Watake to create an equally powerful rod to a rod made in Tonkin.

I remember Per made a rod in Madake that appeared in Crossroad's first auction, the culm might have come from Akimaru, as I think Tim's did.

I called up a post on the Taper Exchange board about this subject to that might in interesting for you to read.

Best
Adrien

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SideChannel
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Re: Genten Rod and Watake Bamboo

#6

Post by SideChannel »

Thank you all for the great comments.

Adrien, thank you for quickly pointing out my embarrassing mistake about the Watake bamboo. I have edited my original post to avoid further confusion, even changing the subject line.

Masa really seems to be an innovator using Watake bamboo with his own tapers and finishes. He is also experimenting with composite ferrules and 4 piece rods. Neat stuff!

Thanks again Adrien.

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Re: Genten Rod and Watake Bamboo

#7

Post by adrien schnee »

Hi Greg, no need for any embarrassment whatsoever in referring to Masa's cane as Madake. He mentioned in a note once that Watake is Madake according to science, by which I believe he means it is a type of Madake. I wish I knew more about this subject, but I think you are correct still in calling Masa's bamboo Madake, just that he (and I think Akimaru also) specifically use the Watake from Kyushu. And perhaps this particular bamboo variety from this region has some qualities which he is able to utilize to advantages that he is unable to derive from Madake of other types or from other regions. Masa did say that he feels Watake is much stronger than many imagine, and while perhaps less "powerful" than Tonkin generally, still has the ability to play large fish very well in light line rods.

This is a very interesting thread to me, as there has been relatively little discussed on the Forum about Madake / Watake bamboo. I hope we get to hear from some more owners and or builders of these rods.

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cdmoore
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Re: Genten Rod and Watake Bamboo

#8

Post by cdmoore »

I've been a fan of Madake for a little over 10 years. I've written a bit before, so please forgive me for the repetition. From my discussions with Japanese friends, rodmakers and visitors, something like 20% of all Western style fly fishing for freshwater salmonids is focused on adult Cherry Salmon (Oncorhynchus masou) -- so-called because they make their spawning runs from the salt in May when the cherry trees are in blossom. Most anglers use a 7wt or 8wt rod from 8ft to 10ft for this type of fishing. The other 80% targets Amago and Yamame (juvenile subspecies of Cherry Salmon) as well as Iwana (Salvelinus leucomaenis, from the same genus as the brook trout). These fish are usually small and found in small to medium freestone streams. Occasionally one runs into a larger specimen. For this type of fishing nearly all of the rods used are 7' to 7.5' for a 3wt or 4wt. Think brook trout fishing in the lower 48. Many Japanese rodmakers, but certainly not all, offer rods made from Madake to these specs. The tapers are as wide and varied as one finds here in the States.

My first Madake rod came from Yukihiro Yoshida, a 703-2 with a moderate swelled butt and fine tips. An excellent small stream dry fly rod. Yoshida maintained a table at the Somerset Show back in the early 2000s. Carmine Lisella used to represent his rods, too. Not sure of current status on either of these points. 16pmd and I enjoyed some very positive off-board discussions of his Yoshida rods, some very interesting rods that are both progressive and ultra-traditional at the same time. I believe he has described them here in years past. My own experience has been positive as well.

Lest anyone think an 8.5' 5wt is not available, think again. Plenty of rods in the 7.5'+ range. However, it is my understanding that these are generally rods made for fishermen traveling to destinations outside of Japan. Although Madake can be and has been used for these rods, including a 904-3 hb with special bamboo ferrules, it seems that most Japanese bamboo rodmakers transition to Tonkin for the big guns, or just out and out favor the qualities of Tonkin. Takemoto for example currently uses Tonkin only as far as I could understand when I was talking with him in the Catskills in September. And Japanese makers are no more immune to market forces than American makers: more long and light rods for stalking wary fish with dry flies are available than ever, especially in the 7'9" to 8'3" range. It's a matter of personal preference and design objectives.

In addition to owning several rods over the years made from Madake and Watake, I've had the chance to examine it and discuss its characteristics with a few makers on both sides of the big pond. The first thing you would likely notice is how beautiful this bamboo is. Under the enamel Madake is gorgeous, very tight and fine fibered, nearly uniform in color. Some builders might prefer the heavier "grain" of Tonkin, but the Madake adds another look to the artist's palette. I was able to see Per's small supply of Madake that he obtained from Yoshida and it was very nice. The Watake that Akimaru and Masa use is just unbelievably clean with stunning color uniformity. I should mention that Akimaru has visited with his supplier in person in the bamboo grove many times in order to obtain the very best stuff. The grove is very well kept for this purpose. The culms are also treated in some way, though I'm still learning just what that is. Translation issues. The cross section of the Watake culms I have seen are also quite large, about 4-5 inches across, but relatively thin-walled compared to a Tonkin culm of that size (if you could find one). In cross section, Madake looks a bit like Tonkin with shallow power fibers, however the power fibers in Madake are generally much smaller, more uniform and very densely packed near the enamel. For this reason, it lends itself very well to hollow building if desired (think EC Powell). On the other hand, there is not as much fiber depth and the pith is also a bit different from Tonkin; solid built rods in the shorter lengths are very light in hand and well-damped, very well suited for short, light line rods, IMHO. Still, Japanese rodmakers have explained to me that, just like Tonkin, the taper is the thing. Yet, it is a little lighter, a little more delicate, and a little smoother (slightly different dampening characteristics). Rods made to the same taper would generally be 1 line weight lighter and the action at that lower line weight a hair softer overall, if that makes sense. I don't have the equipment to study Madake in any sort of scientific way, but I suspect the MOE would be slightly different from Tonkin, all else being equal. One other thing to note is that the nodes are generally taller but shorter in length and don't tend to have that pre-nodal dip that Tonkin often has--at least in the select culms that I have held in my hands. All users that I have spoken with report that Tonkin is easier to straighten overall.

I should mention also that other indigenous bamboos are also used by Japanese rodmakers, including Hachiku (used by well-known maker Kakuhiro) and another one, I forget the Japanese name, that translates to something like mottled bamboo. I believe we have seen the latter from our own member paramiyuki.

I believe Tim Anderson made at least one rod from Watake. If memory serves, the rod Per made was a 702-2 quad. I think it was solid built, but not sure about that. I was able to cast it at the Henry's Fork Bamboo Days, but it was SO windy that day I had to give up on forming any opinion. Sure did look good though. I think Per auctioned it off at a fundraiser perhaps. I don't recall for sure. Perhaps he or Tim will chime in. I have a Watake culm waiting for me in my shop and look forward to using it. I should be able to get at least two short rods from it. I think it is great to have viable alternatives. Now we just need to catch up on cultivation.

Hope this adds to the conversation. I have a cross section chart of different bamboos somewhere. If I can find it, I'll scan it and post it.

Cheers

Chris

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Re: Genten Rod and Watake Bamboo

#9

Post by Tim Anderson »

Chris asked me to chime in, so here I am. I made one rod from Watake (very generously provided by Akimaru) and still have enough left for a second rod. Chris' description of the appearance is, in my view, 100% correct. I built an 8' taper that in Tonkin is a 5 weight and ended up being, for me, a 4 weight in Watake. My usual building: hollow out through the tip with Winston-style fluting, 4-piece, and with my carbon-fiber sleeve-spigot ferrules. The resultant rod is very pleasant to cast and I have the impression that, although there is the drop in line weight, the recovery is a tad faster than Tonkin.

Why haven't I made the second rod yet? I found working with the Watake more difficult than with Tonkin. Press the nodes and they pop right back up like volcanoes if you heat straighten the strip at any time after nod pressing. It is very easy to break off the edges of the strips. Then there was my real mistake: not being absolutely sure there was no twist in the blank before the glue set up. I have never been able to get that slight twist out. Most embarrassing.

The Watake taught me to be more careful in many of my processes no matter what cane I use and I intend to make another rod out of that remaining cane some day!

Tim

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Tom Smithwick
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Re: Genten Rod and Watake Bamboo

#10

Post by Tom Smithwick »

The Madake I used also was selected by Yukihiro Yoshida. The taper I used was that of a Garrison 202E, basically because I had build several, including a penta and a spiral hex rod, so I knew what to expect, and could make a fair comparison. The tonkin versions were all solid 4 weights, with the penta edging toward a 5. The Madake version is a definite 3 weight, but because of the lighter weight of the cane, it felt just right. The rod is great within normal fishing distance, but will not distance cast with a tonkin rod.
I found it user friendly to work with, but my process is a bit different than Tim's. I bend out the dips and twists at the nodes with an alcohol lamp, and file off little bit of nodal ridge sticking up. There is a learning curve to doing it that way, but my nodes are short and straight, and there is nothing to pop up, since I never crush anything down. I did find that there is often a swell in the pith thickness at the nodes, and I plane that off before I straighten the strips. I heat treated the same as tonkin and that seemed to work fine, too.
Chris - The other cane you are thinking of may be Moso. Last year, I cast a similar rod of Japanese manufacture that was apparently made out of it. The appearance of it was darker than madake, with more color variation in the grain. I found it to cast similar to the madake. Less powerful than tonkin, but a pleasant, soft caster.

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