The Daiwa Expert Tenkara rods replace their excellent Enshou LL36SF and LL41SF rods. Daiwa has done it again. These are seriously nice rods!
The most notable difference right out of the box (actually, even before you take them out of the box) is that they have a longer collapsed length than most tenkara rods. At 28 1/4" collapsed, they are longer than the average tenkara rod (21-23"), but they are about the same length as the Shimano Keiryu Tenkara 34-38 ZL and they are quite a bit shorter than the Shimano Honryu Tenkara 44 NP or the Nissin Air Stage Honryu 380 and 450. As with any of the rods with longer collapsed length, if you are not backpacking or trying to get them to fit in your suitcase, the additional length shouldn't be much of an issue.
Besides the longer collapsed length, which does seem to make the casts smoother, there are other changes from the Enshou rods. Both the Daiwa Expert Tenkara L LL36 and the Expert Tenkara L LL45M have noticeably better damping than the Enshou rods they replaced. I once called a soft, full flex rod "crisp" because of its excellent damping and got called on it by someone who said it was soft and smooth, but to him that did not equate to crisp. For the new Daiwas, let me say the damping is much better than on the Enshou rods and let it go at that.
For the Enshou LL41SF upgrade, the biggest difference is that the Expert Tenkara L LL45M is a multilength rod (what most Americans call a zoom rod). It can be fished at 4 meters or 4.5 meters. The design to hold the zooming section tightly when the rod is at the shorter length is the best I have seen from any manufacturer.
There was a recent blog post by a very highly respected Japanese master saying that zoom rods did not cast as accurately as single length rods. The zooming section for the Daiwa Expert Tenkara L LL45M is held very snugly. I am confident no one with less experience and ability than that master would be able to notice it. I am no master, but I do not notice any loss of accuracy.
The new Daiwa Expert Tenkara rods have slightly lower penny ratings than the Enshou rods they replace. I suspect that may be caused in part by the smaller number of sections. At every junction, the two rod sections overlap. In addition, there is extra reinforcement at the section ends. Every section causes a hard spot that interrupts the smooth curve of the rod under load. The Daiwa "V Joint" seeks to minimize that hard spot (and also greatly reduces the chance of a stuck section) but it can't eliminate it. Fewer sections means fewer hard spots.
Beyond that, the layup is different. I don't know the details, but the improved damping definitely means either the graphite or the weave or the resin (or all three) have been changed. In any event, the Daiwa Expert L Tenkara LL36 is a 14 penny rod and the Enshou LL36SF was a 15 penny rod. The Expert L LL45M is a 14.5 penny rod at both lengths, while the Enshou LL41SF was a 16.5 penny rod.
The fact that the Expert L LL45M has the same penny rating at both lengths, and they are only 1/2 penny above the LL36 means that you can cover three different lengths, 3.6, 4.0 and 4.5 meters with rods that are going to feel very, very similar to each other.
Basic physics will prevent the 4.5m rod from feeling exactly like the 3.6m rod. It will be heavier and have more inertia. The LL45M will feel heavier and more tip heavy at 4.5m than it does at 4m (a fact of life that can't be overcome). The multilength function does allow you to fish the rod at 4m and extend it to 4.5 to aid in netting a fish, or to fish the rod at 4.5m only when the stream is so wide that you want the additional length. Thus, you are never burdened with the added inertia and moment of a 4.5m rod except for when you really want the added length.
The grip shape is the familiar "camel" two humped grip that it seems most tenkara rods now feature. The grips on the Daiwa Expert Tenkara rods are longer than most, though, providing a wide range of gripping locations. Holding the rod at the extreme front end of the grip, with your index finger up on the blank, or holding the rod with the extreme back end of the grip cradled in your palm gives the rod a very different feel and also changes the effective length of the rod by almost a foot.
The Enshou rods were almost spartan in their appearance. The new Daiwa Expert Tenkara rods still have very little "bling" but the winding check and logo are a nice touch without losing the understated elegance.
The model name is printed where the clear coat shows the graphite weave.
A little further up the blank, the clear coat fades to black.
The grip screw cap for both rods is metal with a coin slot for removal or tightening. The screw cap for the LL45M has a ventilation hole. The LL36 screw cap does not. For either rod, I would still recommend complete disassembly between uses to allow the rod to dry thoroughly.
The lillian is surprisingly short (perhaps to discourage the tying of a knot that is unnecessary for the level lines). It is attached with a swivel that will easily slide through the #2 section. The tips are hollow, which gives you the ability to throw tighter loops, but they are less forgiving (and more expensive) than solid tips. If you are careful putting on and taking off the line, and careful around low tree branches, you should experience only the benefits.
Weight (w/o plug)
13'2" - 14'9.5"
14.5 - 14.5
Rods made in Thailand.
Domestic shipping is $10 via USPS Priority Mail (2-3 day delivery).
International shipping is also via USPS Priority Mail because the package is too long to send via First Class Mail. I will send a PayPal invoice for the additional shipping (roughly $20 additional to Canada, and $30 additional to other countries). Please monitor the email address associated with your PayPal account! If you do not respond to the PayPal invoice, the rod will not be shipped.
Payment is processed by PayPal but you do not need a PayPal account. You can use your credit card.