Ebisu Rod Review
Ebisu Rod Review: For a long time I felt the Ebisu was the "all around" tenkara rod. The one rod to buy if you're buying only one. Well, the Ebisu has met it's match. Or more accurately, I've finally met its match. Now that I've fished the 12' Iwana a few times, I'd have to say the "all around" title properly belongs to the 12' Iwana. Of course, that was before I'd fished with the Daiwa LT36SF. Now there's an all around rod!
However, this is the Ebisu rod review, so let me concentrate on it. At 12' the Ebisu is right in the middle of the Tenkara USA line-up of tenkara rods ranging from 11' to 13' 6". It is long enough to give you good reach, yet it is not so long that you cannot use it on small streams. It collapses down to less than 21 inches, and weighs just 3.4 ounces so it is easy to pack for a day on the stream or a week in the back country.
The most distinctive feature of the Ebisu is the red pine grip. Many anglers prefer the pine grip, saying it is better than cork for transmitting the slightest "tick" as your nymph hits a rock or a fish hits your nymph. The grip really is handsome, and is easy to care for. (I almost hate to admit that I prefer cork, which to me is a bit more comfortable and seems to be just a bit more "non-skid.") You may prefer the pine - many do.
Ebisu tenkara rod
The Ebisu is rated as a 5:5 and the casting feel is slow and smooth - not so much so as the 13' Ayu, but much more so than the 6:4 Iwana rods. In Japan, 5:5 rods are generally considered to be "level line" rods, and the Ebisu does very nicely with a level line. Of the TenkaraBum Hi-Vis level lines, I really prefer the size 3 with the Ebisu. It will handle the size 4 and feels a little overburdoned with the size 5. I would definitely consider the size 3 the "go to" line, with the size 4 reserved for breezy days or more wind resistant flies.
The Ebisu will also cast tapered lines, though, as long as they aren't too heavy. Unfortunately, most are too heavy, and I suspect they were designed for 6:4 or even 7:3 rods. If you prefer tapered lines, the medium weight TenkaraBum Hi-Vis Fluorocarbon
Hand Tied Line
is as heavy as I would want to go with this rod. It will give you the delicate presentation of a tapered line and also has both the density and the hi-vis qualities that I think are so important. It will not twist and tangle when you have to break off a snag.
Personally, I would suggest getting both the size 3 and size 4 TenkaraBum
level lines, both for the visibility and the versatility of having lines that are well matched to a range of flies and wind conditions. And even if you fish with only one fly, perhaps an
being able to fish in a range of wind conditions is worth it in my view.
|Aaron Laing's "medium sized" tenkara rainbow trout
Ebisu vs. Iwana vs. Yamame
In choosing a rod, particularly for stream fishing, I think the most important factor is the length of the rod. I used to think that the next most important was the size of the fish you expect to catch and finally the action you prefer.
However, since I first wrote the Ebisu rod review, there have been some surprisingly large fish caught on some of the softer tenkara rods. I now think that the choice of action is the second factor to consider. Any of the rods will probably handle the fish you will be catching with a tenkara rod.
The Ebisu, Yamame and 12' Iwana are all the same length, which is a good compromise length in my view. Their actions are quite different, though.
Comparing the Ebisu and the Yamame reveals the biggest difference. The Yamame is substantially stiffer. The Ebisu, being much softer, will cast a lighter line more easily. On the other hand, the Ebisu would not be quite as good at fishing heavily weighted nymphs or large, wind resistant flies. I think the Ebisu would be more fun if you are catching smaller fish, but it does not have the backbone of the Yamame. If most of the fish you will be catching are over about 16", the Yamame would be marginally better at keeping a trout out of the fast current or a bass out of a brushpile.
For fish smaller than that, the choice between the Ebisu and 12' Iwana comes down to which action you prefer. The Ebisu is softer than the 12' Iwana. You can really tell that the Ebisu is a 5:5 and the Iwana is a 6:4 (even though stiffness and the Action Index are not exactly the same). Although the two rods will pretty much cast the same lines, the casting stroke required is a bit different. At one point, I rigged both rods with the same line and cast them one after another on alternate casts. The Ebisu needs a slower, smoother casting stroke, while the 12' Iwana does better with a quicker, crisper stroke. For that matter, the Yamame casts the same line as well, it just requires a casting stroke even a bit quicker and crisper than the Iwana.
I think the 12' Iwana, being a bit stiffer, would do marginally better with a heavier line, and a heavier line would be better for fishing on a breezy day, or for fishing flies like hoppers or panfish poppers. That is why I felt like I had to edit the Ebisu rod review and somewhat reluctantly take away the Ebisu's "all around" status.
That said, hoppers, poppers and buggers really aren't traditional tenkara flies. With a Sakasa Kebari, the
Ebisu does just fine. Just fine indeed.
The main factor in the choice of Ebisu, Iwana or Yamame really comes down to what action you prefer - soft, medium or stiff. The Ebisu is the softest and does a little bit better with the lighter lines. (I really like lighter lines.)
If you have any questions about the Ebisu rod review, or how the Ebisu compares to the other rods, please go to the
Return from Ebisu Rod Review to Tenkara Rods
Return from Ebisu Rod Review to TenkaraBum Home
Follow me on Twitter