Daiwa currently has two series of tenkara rods, the NEO series, which are their lower priced entry level rods and the Enshou series, which are their premium rods. This page covers the Enshou series. I have a separate page for the
NEO tenkara rods.
I have now fished with all of the Enshou rods, and I have to say I really like them. There are other brands that I haven't fished with yet but the Daiwa tenkara rods are the nicest ones I've come across. Dr. Ishigaki once told me that Shimano and Daiwa are seen in Japan as the two top rod companies.
There are six rods in the Enshou series. Two are designed for level lines, the LL41SF (410cm, about 13.5') and the LL36SF (360cm, about 12'). In addition to the level line "LL" rods, there are four rods designed for level or tapered lines, the "LT" rods (LT33SF, LT36SF, LT39SF and LT44SF). In time I'll have separate reviews for each rod.
The finish on the Enshou Daiwa tenkara rods looks black, but has minute blue flecks
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 tenkara rod's 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
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 and the surprisingly light weight.
The Level Line rods are rated 5:5 and the Level/Tapered Line rods are 7:3. However, they're really not like the 5:5 and 7:3 rods you may be used to. The 5:5 rods are definitely full flex rods, but they are not nearly as soft as the 5:5 rods currently available. Additionally, the tip section of the Level Line rods is hollow, which makes it stiffer. The slightly stiffer rod and the stiffer tip makes casting a light level line just as precise as casting a heavier line on a stiffer, solid tipped rod. Tight loop casts are much easier to achieve even with light line.
Daiwa Enshou rods for level lines
Daiwa LL41SF and Tenkara USA Ayu I
The Daiwa 5:5 rods are full flex rods but they are not nearly as soft as the 5:5 rods most people outside of Japan have ever seen. You still get the silky smooth casts, but your silky smooth casts are now more precise. Your loops are tighter. You can still cast a size 3 line without even thinking about it, but you can move up to a 4 if there is a bit of a breeze or even a heavy Hand Tied line if there is a bit more of a breeze or if you want to switch from a Sakasa Kebari to a Stimulator. The rod won't bend nearly as much with a 6" fish, but you'll have much more control over a 16" fish.
A 10-12" fish will put a deep bend in the rod.
Some time ago on one of the forums, a significant number of people expressed the wish for a slightly stiffer Ito. The Daiwa LL41SF isn't as long as the Ito, but it is a bit stiffer and significantly lighter. It might be just about the rod they were wishing for. I have written a separate review of the
which was the first Daiwa tenkara rod I purchased, and is still the one I like the best.
Daiwa LL41SF and Tenkara USA Ito (fully extended)
The 7:3 rods are a bit stiffer than the 5:5s, but they really illustrate 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 7:3 Daiwa tenkara rods are not as stiff as the 7:3 rods that have been available in the US to date. With a very gradual transition from the softer tip sections to the stiffer mid and butt sections, the casting stroke is remarkably smooth. They're tip action rods, not stiff action rods. Also, the tips on the 7:3 rods are solid, making them a bit more flexible.
In looking at the two photos, understand that all the rods were held at the same angle. The LL rods appear to be at a shallower angle because the middle sections of the rods (out of the photo) bend more than those of the LT rods.
Daiwa Enshou rods for level or tapered lines
Daiwa LT36SF has a smoother bend profile than the Tenkara USA Yamame
Daiwa LT39SF has a similar bend profile to the Tenkara USA Amago
The Daiwa 7:3 rods have a very smooth and gradual transition from the softer tip section to the stiffer mid and butt sections.
The LT33SF is a unique little rod that doesn't have a close competitor available in the US. It is about the same length as the Tenkara USA 11' Iwana and the Fountainhead Stone Fly and Caddis Fly 330 models, but has more backbone and a crisper action. It is a good choice for people who what a crisp, precise rod for use on streams that are just a bit narrow or brushy for the 12 footers.
The LT36SF is just a joy to fish with. It gives you all the precision in casting you could want, sufficient backbone to handle larger fish in smaller quarters, and is both lighter and smoother casting than the Tenkara USA Yamame. The picture of the bend profiles really is worth 1000 words.
The LT39SF has been the most popular so far, and it seems most buyers choose it to replace their Amago. Relative to the Amago, it is a bit shorter but is also noticeably lighter in the hand and feels much lighter when casting. The LT39SF is very slightly softer in the butt section but stiffer in the tip section. The slightly stiffer tip would help when casting wind resistant flies or when fishing weighted nymphs.
The Daiwa Enshou LT39SF is without doubt one of the best rods to consider if you expect to catch larger fish. The following video, shot by the Tenkara Guides in Salt Lake City, shows what the rod is capable of. Caught by Rob Worthing, shot by Erik Ostrander.
I have the LT44SF and also a couple of 7:3 and 8:2 long rods (the Bow River is big and I find I need a longer line - 6.5 to 8.0 meters). The LT44SF rod is the best of the lot, easily casts longer and heavier furled lines, easily casts bead head soft hackles. Just remember to slow down your casting. Lots of power to land 16" plus fish but very smooth in the hand and bouncy enough to protect 6x tippet. Definitely one of the better rods I have in my stable.
James B, Alberta
The LT44SF is longer, stiffer, has significantly more backbone and is clearly a big water / big fish rod. To be honest, it is a bit bigger than I care for, but the people who have bought them are extremely pleased with their rods.
Whether you prefer a full flex rod or a tip action rod, the action on these rods will surprise you. Casting is very smooth and very precise.
As with the Shimanos, the Daiwa tenkara rods do not come with a hard rod case. They also come with a limited warranty. There is a one year warranty, which will replace a broken part for a payment of 2,000 yen (about $22 at the current exchange rate). Unfortunately, the broken part has to be shipped back to Japan.
Replacement parts are easily purchased, though, and the packaging and shipping cost to send a broken part back, plus the the warranty payment, would come close to the cost of just buying a replacement tip. If you happened to break one of the segments in the middle or lower part of the rod, which are more expensive to replace, then a warranty claim would make more sense. Breakage rates on tenkara rods in the US are low enough that I do not think this should be a major concern. With a bit of care, there seems to be little chance you would break the rod anyway. You do need to be particularly careful of the hollow tips, though, which are not as flexible or forgiving as the solid tips that most tenkara anglers in the US are familiar with.
Please note: I will provide replacement parts and warranty claim service for rods purchased from TenkaraBum.com. If you buy from a discounter, you'll just have to hope the discounter can get replacement parts and provide warranty service. That or just be very, very careful. Also, be sure any replacement parts offered are genuine Daiwa parts.
I like the Daiwa tenkara rods so much that I have decided to import the Enshou rods and offer them for sale. I have worked out an arrangement with a shop in Japan, and am able to offer them for only a little more than the dollar equivalent of the manufacturer's suggested retail price (after all, there are shipping charges and excise taxes that must be paid).
At first glance the prices may surprise you, given the prices of the tenkara rods that have been available in the US to date. You should be aware that most tenkara rods sold in Japan are much more expensive than the ones sold here. These are truly premium rods, and they carry a premium price.
Level or Tapered
Level or Tapered
Level or Tapered
Level or Tapered
Recommended lines: For the LT33-39 rods, I would recommend the size 4 Hi-Vis level line. For the LT44SF, size 4.5 level line. For both LL rods, the size 3 Hi-Vis level line.
The weights given above are the official weights from Daiwa. Across the board, they are heavier than the weights I get on my postal scale. I weighed rods without the tip plug because the plug is not in the rod when fishing.
The weights I get on my scale are as follows:
LT33SF - 2.6
LT36SF - 2.8
LT39SF - 3.0
LT44SF - 3.4
LL36SF - 2.6
LL41SF - 2.9
Daiwa SF Tenkara Rods
Daiwa LT36SF - $310
Daiwa LT39SF - $320
Daiwa LL36SF - $300
Daiwa LL41SF - $335
Daiwa LT44SF (used) - $340
Additional postage required for international shipments. Please see "Shipping" below.
Rods made in China.
$10 from every sale will go to fisheries conservation.
Payment is through Paypal but you don't need to have a Paypal account. You can use your credit card. PayPal payments will be made to chris at tenkarabum dot com. Credit card statements will read CM Stewart.
Domestic shipping is $12 via priority mail (2-3 day delivery). A signature will be required for delivery. A second rod can be shipped with the first one at no additional charge (domestic only.)
International shipping via express mail only (required for delivery confirmation). Please request a quote before ordering.