Sakura Seki Rei
The Sakura Seki Rei is a very nice (and nicely finished) 6:4 tenkara rod available in 11' (330 cm) and 12' (360 cm) lengths. It is made by the same company as the
tenkara rods, and while I was not a fan of the Kongo rods I tried, I liked the 11' Seki Rei quite a lot.
The 11' Seki Rei I borrowed is just a bit stiffer than the 11' Tenkara USA Iwana. Although the difference is readily noticeable, the rod didn't really feel stiff when casting. I think "crisp" would be a better term. Probably because of that I felt that a size 4
line seemed to be a better match to the rod than the size 3 I usually fish with the 11' Iwana. (Even though I spent more time fishing the Seki Rei with a size 3 line just because I like the way the lighter line fishes, I do suspect most people would prefer the heavier line or possibly even Sakura's much heavier Masterline.)
As with its Kongo cousins, the fit and finish of the Sakura Seki Rei is really very nice indeed. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the light green color may not be your cup of tea, but the care and detail that went into the finish is remarkable. As with the Kongo Betuatsurae, the rod is painted with fine striations that match the fibers in some plant stems. I'm not sure if young bamboo has those striations, but that is the mental image I get when looking at the Seki Rei.
The Sakura Seki Rei has a straight, cylindrical wooden grip, fashioned out of paulownia. Paulownia has an open grain that provides a truly excellent non-skid grip. Although I'd have to say I am not a fan of wooden grips, I definitely prefer paulownia to the red pine used on the Tenkara USA Ebisu.
With the crisp feel, the extreme detail in the paint job and the very nice nonskid paulownia grip, one would probably expect to pay a pretty penny for the rod. One would be right. This is not an inexpensive rod.
Given the volatile nature of the yen/dollar exchange rate, prices may change from week to week. When this was written, the website of
the importer or possibly US agent for Sakura, gave the price for the 11' model at $316 and for the 12' model at $331, which includes shipping and handling to your door.
Because the rod I reviewed was borrowed (and I would like to thank Adam Trahan for letting me borrow his rod), I am not exactly sure what the rod comes with. I do not believe it comes with a hard rod case like the Tenkara USA rods. I do not know of any Japanese tenkara rods that do.
When I initially wrote this review, I was concerned over the availablity of replacement parts and was not at all reassured by Sakura's comment that "our rods don't break." Since then, I know of one Sakura rod that has broken, and a replacement piece was available. I find that much more reassuring.
If you like slightly stiffer rods you might really like the Sakura Seki Rei.
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