Hane Rod Review
Hane Rod Review: Backpacking Light has discontinued the Hane. A used rod may become available from time to time, though, so I will leave this review in place.
The first time I fished with the Hane was on the North St. Vrain above Lyons, CO and it is the perfect size stream for the Hane. It is willow-lined in spots and narrow enough to fish the full width of the stream without wading.
If a stream is wide enough, or doesn't have low overhanging branches, I generally like a longer rod, but for pinpoint casts to small pockets in tiny streams, the Hane is just fine. When I was first exploring tenkara-style fishing, one of the first rods I tried was a 10' panfish pole. A panfish pole is not a good substitute for a tenkara rod, but there are a number of fairly tight lies on my favorite streams that I could easily cast to with that 10' pole that I can't fish nearly as well now that I fish with longer tenkara rods. For a very small stream, the shorter rod really comes into its own.
The official specifications for the Backpacking Light Hane list its length at 9' 10". For some reason, mine measures over 10 feet. Then again, my 11' Iwana from Tenkara USA measures under 11 feet. Based on the rods I have, the length difference between the two is only about 7" not the 14" that the specs on each rod would suggest. On the neighborhood Post Office scale, the Hane weighed 2.7 ounces, while the 11' Iwana measured 2.4 ounces.
Backpacking Light Hane tenkara rod
Although from a length and weight standpoint, the rods are pretty similar, they are very different rods indeed. The Hane is a stiff 7:3, while the Iwana is a soft 6:4. If you are going to be fishing big bushy dry flies like an Ausable Wulff, or a hopper/dropper combination, or a heavy nymph, the Hane might be a better choice. Similarly, if you will be fishing waters where you may run into 18" or 20" fish, you'd be much better off with the Hane. Ryan Jordan of Backpacking Light says that in Montana they regularly run into fish bigger than that and the Hane is the perfect rod for big fish in tight streams. On a multi-day backpacking trip, you might encounter everything from little streams with little fish to bigger rivers with much bigger fish. You'll want one rod that will handle both.
There was just a breeze coming down the canyon when I was fishing, and I had a hard time finding a line I thought was well matched to the Hane. I started with the standard line supplied with the rod. It casts well enough and turns over perfectly, but I kept wishing it was heavier. Furled mono turns over beautifully when you aren't casting into a breeze. When you are, though, it just doesn't have the required density.
Surprisingly, I wasn't that happy with a line made from the old pink 15# level line either (possibly because it was a bit too short, so it straightened out just as the rod tip was rebounding, causing the line to rebound as well). I ended up spending most of the afternoon fishing with a tying thread furled line from Custom Furles in the UK and an
line - both of which I had felt were a bit too heavy for my other rods.
On subsequent fishing trips (and without the downstream wind) I found that the size 4
line works pretty nicely . The size 3 Hi-Vis line requires a very quick, snappy cast to cast it well. The size 5 is just a bit heavier than necessary and hard to keep off the water's surface, although it does cast better in a breeze. In Japan, the rods designed specifically for level line tenkara are generally 5:5, so the 7:3 Hane may really want a tapered line.
I've seen one reference to the taper of the horsehair lines early tenkara anglers used in Japan. I made a horsehair line based on the specifications given, and it really is a nice match to the relative stiffness of the Hane. The early bamboo rods used by commerical fishermen in Japan were probably quite a bit stiffer than our modern graphite rods. If you would like a
very similar to those used hundreds of years ago in Japan, I'd be happy to make one for you.
As much as I like horsehair, though, I've really come to appreciate the ease of seeing strikes with the hi-vis fluorocarbon line. The heavy weight
hand tied line
works very nicely with either unweighted wets or beadhead nymphs, and will be my go-to line for this rod. The progressively smaller line diameters create a nice taper that turns over beautifully, and the knots are actually an advantage, giving you easy to see reference points for detecting the subtle hesitations or twitches that could be all the indication you get of a strike.
My first trout caught with the Backpacking Light Hane and an Ishigaki Kebari
Even with frequent line changes, I had a very pleasant afternoon. Only one fish came to hand, but a feisty 9" brown was enough to see that the rod isn't so stiff that it takes the fun out of a modest fish.
|Amago did not fit entirely in pack - Hane did|
I am not a backpacker, and I confess that I wondered whether the 16 1/2" collapsed length of the Hane was such a big deal. Let me say I'm a believer now. On my way back to the car I had to push through a maze of willows. I had fished with the Tenkara USA Amago that morning, and it was in my backpack. It didn't quite fit completely inside the pack, so about 4" was sticking out the top.
Well, apparently that was enough to catch on one of the willows. The pressure on the rod effectively unzipped that section of the pack. The Amago fell out of the pack but I didn't realize it was gone until I got back to the car. I'm just lucky it happened at the end of the day, and I was able to retrace my steps far enough to find the Amago.
The Backpacking Light Hane fit completely inside the pack. I'm convinced that the shorter collapsed length is a great feature for backpackers.
When I first started fishing with a tenkara rod a few years ago, I thought it would be perfect for Czech nymphing. It's got the length required and there's really no need for a reel (not to mention 30 yards of line and a couple hundred yards of backing). I've since decided that the soft tip sections that allow a tenkara rod to cast an incredibly light line are really a bit too soft to effectively fish a team of heavily weighted nymphs, especially in any current.
However, the Hane is not your average tenkara rod. It is quite a bit stiffer than other tenkara rods I've fished. The stiffer tip, in particular, makes it a bit more difficult to cast the lightest of lines. The silver lining is that the additional stiffness enables good hooksets when fishing beadhead or other weighted nymphs. It's also got the backbone to handle the larger fish that lurk down among the boulders. I can't tell you how much I wish I'd had this rod instead of that cheap 10' panfish pole when I hooked the biggest trout of my life on a tungsten beadhead caddis pupa. Rodbreaker fish, I know where you live. And now I've got just the rod for you.
Now just to be clear about things, I do not consider fishing beadhead or lead wrapped nymphs with a tenkara rod to be "tenkara" - which is a method of fishing not just a type of rod or just fishing without a reel. Along the same lines, if you took a rod designed for Czech nymphing (yes, they do exist) and fished a single unweighted wet fly (or a dry fly), you wouldn't be "Czech nymphing." But then again, it doesn't really matter what you call it, does it? I wouldn't call it tenkara, but I would call it a fun and very effective way to fish. And I'll be doing more of it.
If you have any questions about the Hane rod review, or how the Hane compares to the other rods, please go to the
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