The Daiwa LL41SF is the first Daiwa tenkara rod I bought. I liked it so much that I've bought a lot of other Daiwa rods and subsequently decided to import them. When I bought it, I just wanted to see what else was out there. The stats looked good so I decided to take a chance on it. That is one leap into the unknown that I'm glad I took. In a nutshell, the Daiwa LL41SF has the length of an Amago, weighs just a little more than a 12' Iwana and has a full flex action similar to the original Ayu or the Ito (but not nearly as whippy). I really love this rod.
Rod stats are pretty dry (unless you're the kind of guy who grew up memorizing baseball stats, I guess). It's one thing to read that a rod is 411cm long (59.6cm collapsed) and weighs only 85 grams (my own measurements were 13'6" extended, 24 1/16" collapsed, and 2.8 ounces). It's another thing to pick it up and wiggle it, and another thing entirely to put a size 3 level line on it and cast to that eddy along the far bank. It's the difference between "Hmmm," "Oh, that's nice," and "WOW!"
This is a "WOW" rod.
The Daiwa LL41SF finish looks black, but has minute blue flecks
If you haven't already read the page on the
Daiwa SF Tenkara Rods
read it first and then come back here. Some of the features that make the Daiwa LL41SF a real standout among tenkara rods are highlighted on that page.
The Daiwa LL41SF is a 5:5 full flex rod, and with a large enough fish I'm sure it would flex all the way down to the cork. It is not nearly as soft a rod as the Ayu I or Ito, though. Also the bend is much more of a gradual curve. Part of that can be explained by the rod's hollow tip rather than solid tip, but by far, most of the difference is just that it is a somewhat stiffer rod. The rod doesn't feel too soft, and it doesn
t feel too stiff. It just feels precise when you cast.
Daiwa LL41SF and three popular tenkara rods
What is the most amazing thing about casting the rod is that you can so easily feel the rod loading as you make the cast. The stiffer tip sections transmit the feel of the cast that much better. The line itself is light enough that nearly all of what you feel is the inertia of the rod itself. You definitely feel it, though, and you can very quickly get a sense of the right amount of loading to make your cast. It is a bit hard to put into words but it is very easy to feel. And as I had aleady mentioned in the Shimano rod reviews, the slightly stiffer tip makes it much easier to make precise tight loop casts even with a light level or hand tied line. Did I say I really love this rod?
Because the rod is stiffer than the Ayu, it will not bend nearly as much with a 5 or 6" fish on the line. Hook a 10 incher, though, and you will definitely get a deep bend in your rod. I haven't yet caught any really sizeable fish with the rod, but I am pretty sure that there is enough backbone to handle anything you are likely to hook. I wouldn't go looking for steelhead or carp with the rod, but for your average trout stream I think you'd be fine.
This 10 or 11 incher put a bend in the rod!
When I fish a new rod I generally try a whole series of different lines. I have to admit that each time I've been out with this rod I tied on a size 3 level line and left it the whole time. The rod works so well with the light line that I can't imagine wanting to use a heavier one. I suppose at some point I'll try a light horsehair line. I've had enough comments from people who love a size 4 line on the Ayu though, and this rod has more backbone than the Ayu, so I'm sure a size 3.5 or 4 level line would be fine. I would not go so far as a 4.5, though.
Actually, I can only think of one feature of the rod with which some anglers will find fault. And even then, it really isn't a problem, it's just different than what they are used to. The lillian of the Daiwa LL41SF (and also the Daiwa LL36SF) is much shorter that they will have seen on other tenkara rods. However, even though they are shorter, they are still long enough to attach a level or hand tied line with the knot that Dr. Ishigaki showed us at his 2009 demonstration in the Catskills.
The lillian on Daiwa LL41SF is shorter than you're used to.
For that matter, if you are fishing a level line (and after all, that is what the rod was designed for) you do not even need a knot in the end of the lillian. If I recall, Dr. Ishigaki does not have a knot in the end of the lillian on his rods. I've stopped using one on the rods I fish with level lines.
Using the attachment method that Dr. Ishigaki first demonstrated in his 2009 Catskills presentation, and which is illustrated near the bottom of my
page, the line grips the lillian so securely that it never slides down to the end of the lillian anyway. The lillian is plenty long enough to use Dr. Ishigaki's method of attaching a level line.
Trying to tie a knot in the end of the short, fairly thick lillian that comes on the Daiwa LL41SF is also a slightly risky endeavor in that you run the risk of breaking the tip when attempting it. The hollow tip section of these rods is significantly less forgiving than a solid tip. You really do have to take care that you don't put any sideways pressure on the tip when tying on or taking off the line. Replacement tips are available, but they are not inexpensive.
The lillian is easily long enough to go through the noose in the end of the line twice,
which results in a positive attachment that won't slip. The lillian is attached to a clever swivel (arrow) that reduces line twist.
Although the rods in the SF series are Daiwa's mid-priced rods, they're not cheap. The Daiwa LL41SF is $335. Is the tenkara market here ready for a $335 tenkara rod? You know, I think it is. And this is one really sweet rod. If you have ever considered upgrading to a longer rod or to a long rod that isn't too whippy, this is definitely a rod to consider.
Daiwa LL41SF - $335
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