Daiwa LT36SF

The Daiwa LT36SF surprised me almost as much as the first Daiwa rod I bought. That first one, the Daiwa LL41SF, is long, light and a 5:5, all three of which I knew I would like. This rod, though, is a 7:3 and almost all of the 7:3 rods I had fished up until then had been much too stiff for my liking. I've written more than a few times that the 5:5, 6:4, 7:3 ratings are a measure of where the rod bends, not necessarily how stiff the rod is. I'm not sure how many people believed me, though, because nearly all the 7:3 rods that were available were very stiff rods.

This rod will make a believer out of them, though. It has lots of backbone, but it doesn't feel stiff when you are casting it. There is a very smooth transition from the softer tip sections to the stiffer middle and butt sections. It gives you all the precision you want in casting, all the ability to handle a wide range of lines and flies, all the backbone you'd want to keep a fish out of the current or away from the bushpiles, but none of the feeling that you're fishing with a pool cue. Daiwa got it right.

There are six rods in the Daiwa Enshou series. Two are designed for level lines, the LL36SF and the LL41SF and four are rods designed for level or tapered lines, the LT33SF, LT36SF, LT39SF and LT44SF. This page is about the Daiwa LT36SF, which is a 3.6 meter rod (11'10" by actual measurement).

The finish on the Daiwa Enshou tenkara rods looks black, but has minute blue flecks. The photo shows the LL41SF, but the finish is the same on all the rods in the Ensou series.

The finish is almost black but in the right light you can see minute blue specks in it. There's not much ornamentation, with a stylized "D" near the winding check, narrow gold bands at the end of the segments, and the stylized Daiwa logo at the end of the grip section.

The cork isn't bad, although some might say that for this price it should be better. I'm not a rod maker and don't know what grade it is, but I would love these rods if the grip was wood or foam or even electrical tape. The grip is 11 3/4" long and I do like the shape. There are two very comfortable places to grip the rod. The very end of the grip is shaped to fit your hand nicely.

There are a few other very clever details. The Enshou series has what Daiwa calls a "V Joint." The end of each section where it snugs up inside of the next larger one has rings machined into it. This does two things. First, it allows the joint to flex more, minimizing the "dead spots" of the rod curve at the joints where two sections overlap. The second thing the machined rings do is make it much less likely that you will ever get a stuck section. The sections seat easily when extending the rod. When it comes time to collapse the rod, they give way just as easily.

Daiwa Tenkara Rods' "V Joint" up close

The screw cap at the end of the Daiwa LT36SF grip section screws into a metal fitting, but the flange tightens against the cork grip, which produces the same result as a rubber washer would. It snugs up and stays put. To tighten or loosen the screw, there is a slot into which a quarter fits nicely. In the unlikely event that the cap is loose, you can hear the rattle of the loose threads so you have a warning to tighten it before it is lost. (And if by chance you do happen to lose it or the wooden plug, replacements are available.) The inside end of the screw has a rubber insert so there isn't the annoying clicking sound of rod sections hitting the screw when the rod is collapsed.

The wooden plug at the other end of the grip section has a very snug fit. There is very little chance that it would accidentally fall out and be lost. One of the very nice design features of the rod is the fluting in the rubber part of the plug that is inserted into the rod (left photo).

This fluting is easily large enough to accommodate your line if you wanted to insert the plug when the rod is collapsed with the line still attached.

The photo to the right shows size 3 line attached to the lillian and running out one of the fluting channels. This provides a little extra security for the rod tip when you are moving to a different spot and using EZ Keepers or a round tenkara line holder. I know of at least one tenkara rod, carried on a backpack, which was broken when branches snagged line that was wrapped around EZ Keepers. That would be very unlikely to happen with the wooden plug holding the tip inside the rod.

The lillian on a Daiwa Enshou Tenkara Rods is attached by a two piece sleeve so it can twist. Photo shows lillian on the LL rod series. The Daiwa LT36SF has a thinner lillian.

The photo above also illustrates another distinct feature of the Daiwa tenkara rods. The little metal sleeve that attaches the lillian to the rod is made up of two parts. The small arrow points to the junction between them. The two parts of the sleeve are actually a very small, cleverly designed swivel. The swivel allows the lillian to rotate, and that will greatly reduce the problem of line twist and the resulting tangles when wrapping your line around a line holder.

The features outlined above are nice, but they are details. What really impresses me most about the rods are the action, the light weight and the "feel" - which unfortunately is very hard to put into words.

The Daiwa LT36SF will easily handle a range of lines. I generally use a size 4 level line, but the rod does nicely with  most furled lines, twisted fluorocarbon lines or horsehair lines.

The Daiwa LT36SF is a classed by Daiwa as a 7:3 rod, but it illustrates what I've said all along: the rating is a measure of where the rod bends, not a measure of how stiff the rod is. The LT36SF is not as stiff as the Yamame or Hane, which are the only 7:3 rods most American tenkara anglers are familiar with.

A few people have suggested that I shouldn't show a photo comparing the Daiwa LT36S to the Tenkara USA Yamame, but the Yamame is the only 7:3 rod most people know. I think it is important to show that a 7:3 rod can have a very smooth transition from the softer tip to the stiffer butt. That smooth transition makes for smooth casting. The difference between how the two rods feel when casting is truly dramatic.

And then, I got a question from a potential buyer who wanted to see how the rod compares to his 12' Iwana. The Daiwa LT36SF has significantly more backbone (stiffer butt and mid sections) and the transition to the softer tip sections comes about one section further up the rod, which is just about what you might expect for a 7:3 rod compared to a 6:4. You will definitely notice the difference when casting, particularly with a weighted or wind resistant fly or on a breezy day. You'll also notice the difference when you have a nice fish on the line. The Daiwa will give you more control in both situations.

If you prefer the crisper, more precise feel of a 7:3 rod and are ready to upgrade from a mid-level rod to a premium rod, the Daiwa LT36SF deserves serious consideration.

Model Extended Sections Collapsed Weight Recommended Carbon
Number Length Length (ounces) Line Percent
LT36SF 11.8' 10 18" 3.00 Level or Tapered 98

Daiwa LT36SF - $310

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