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You Get What You Pay For?

Posted by on June 15, 2012

The Beetle Kebari Fools 'Em Again

What's Missing?

I’ve been exclusively a tenkara fisherman for a year now, and up until yesterday, my experience has been completley using the TenkaraUSA 12′ Iwana rod with a 4.5 or equivalent level line.  This combination has proven extremely satisfactory for the type of small stream angling that I do.  My only gripes: one I lost the end plug (my fault), and twice I lost the butt screw (design flaw), although once it was replaced free of charge.  Oh, yeah, once I jammed two segments of the rod trying to undo a snag and had to send the rod back to TenkaraUSA for repair, which only cost me shipping.  Not bad for a rod that gets a lot of use.

When my friend G.T. and my brother Mark expressed an interest in tenkara, I decided to buy a second rod as a backup and loaner.  I chose the Fountainhead Caddis 360, because it is inexpensive, but I had read positive comments about it on the blogs.  Also at 12′, it seemed the most comparable of the Fountainhead rods to my Iwana.

Before I describe my experience with the Caddis 360, let’s compare them according to the manufactures’  specs:

TenkaraUSA describes the 12″ Iwana as being 20.5″ long collapsed, nine segments, weighing 2.7 oz.  The website is a little vague, but the rod seems to be made of 100% carbon fiber and has what I would describe as a semigloss multihued brown finish.  The Iwana is provided with a rod sack and a very nice plastic rod tube.  The action is rated as 6:4, meaning the 60% of the rod starting at the butt is relatively stiff and the 40% tip section is more flexible.  The rod is fully warranted for its lifetime, and repairs are made for just the cost of shipping (currently $17).  The 12″ Iwana sells at present for $157.50.

The Fountainhed Caddis 360 is also 12′ long, weighs 3.3 oz, has nine segments, has a 6:4 action, and is 21″ “folded.”  Composed of 75% carbon fiber, the remaining 25% I believe is fiberglass.  The rod is a pleasant deep royal blue with a high gloss finish.  No rod tube is supplied, but the Caddis 360 comes in a nice cloth bag.  All repairs to the rod are $25, which includes shipping.  Currently the Caddis 360 sells for $50.

The morning dawned clear and cool.  As is my custom, I brewed coffee in the  aluminum percolator on the old two-burner Coleman.  Sipping the finished product, I stood on the bank and observed the usual morning hatch of “little white flies” (forgive the Latin).  Soon trout were smutting everywhere.  Time to don the waders!  I attached the Tenka aUSA 4.5 level line to the Caddis 360 and attached five feet of 6X tippet.  The segments of the Caddis snugged pleasantly.  I tied on a #24 parachute made with a white thread body, white Antron post, and the lightest hackle I can find.  Casting this rod seemed very comparable to my Iwana.  Casts were crisp and precise.  I could sense, I think, that the Caddis was a bit heavier but not significantly so.  Also, the grip felt a bit awkward, but, then again, I have been fishing the Iwana exclusively for the past year.

It didn’t take long to start catching a few rainbows.  At some point interest in the parachute waned, and I tied on  the beetle kebari.  Immediately the action picked up again; then, two hours into fishing with my new Caddis 360 another trout inhaled the fly and put a good bend into the rod.  Then, pop, and the fish was gone, as was my fly, my tippet, my line, and my LILLIAN!  I made a couple futile grabs at the red lillian, but then it was gone.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7xUm-hSAzU

I’m returning the rod to Fountainhead for repair or replacement, so I’m going to resperve judgment on the Caddis 360 until I get an opportunity to try it again.  I’ll keep you posted…

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