Suntech TenkaraBum 33

The TenkaraBum 33 shares a design philosophy with the TenkaraBum 36 but it is not just the 36 with one less section. It is a different rod constructed on a different blank with a slightly different design goal. The goal for the TenkaraBum 36 was for an all-around rod for how American tenkara anglers fish (with weighted nymphs and with dry flies in addition to the unweighted wets used in Japan).

The goal for the TenkaraBum 33 was a rod for streams that are a bit too small for the TenkaraBum 36 and for fish that are a bit too large for the Suntech Kurenai HM33R.

It is still a very sensitive rod and you will feel every head shake from a 6" brookie (or a 4" creek chub). That said, the rod was designed with slightly larger fish in mind.

It is always a bit surprising to see Tom Davis catching 13-14" fish in  narrow, overgrown mountain streams. That may be more common in the west, but it is not unheard of elsewhere. I have caught 17" trout in the New York City suburbs in streams for which the TenkaraBum 33 would be the ideal length.

If your small streams hold 17If your small streams hold 17" rainbows, you need a TenkaraBum 33!

On a recent weekend I caught a fat 17" rainbow with the TenkaraBum 33 prototype in a stream where I had to watch my casts so I wouldn't snag branches on the far side. Thinking back, nearly all the larger fish I have taken in smaller streams were holding under a low tree branch. Even with a slingshot cast, a longer rod would be a bit too long.

As with the TenkaraBum 36, the Suntech TenkaraBum 33 is a rod for anglers who want to fish nymphs and dries as well as unweighted wet flies. I have often recommended the Daiwa Kiyose 33SF for nymphing, but it is a bit stiff for fishing dries and unweighted wets. The TenkaraBum 33 is stiff enough in the midsection to get good hook sets with nymphs, but the tip sections are softer than those on the Kiyose, so it will cast dries on a size 3 line just fine. The different bend profile  makes the TenkaraBum 33 a better nymphing rod than the TenkaraBum 36.

Aside from the 33, the graphics are the same as on the TenkaraBum 36.

My initial thought (preconceived notion, actually) was that the TenkaraBum 33 would be stiff enough to need a heavier line. After fishing with the rod a bit with a size 3 line, I thought what it needed was just a snappier forward cast. Once your line straightens out behind you as you pause after your back cast, accelerate just a bit more than you may be used to on the forward cast, still stopping the cast with the rod high. That was before the Oni School, at which Tenkara no Oni said my forward cast was too snappy. He instructed that I should slow the stroke and let the rod do the work.

Following Oni's advice, I find myself closer to Tom Davis' view. Tom Davis prefers a size 3.5 or 4 level line with the TenkaraBum 33. In his words "I find that the TB33 answers best to a heavier level line, like a #3.5 - 4. Small waters don't require lighter lines, because it's easy to keep a shorter line off the water, even a #4 line." Personally, I think I would use the 3.5 rather than the 4, though.

Suntech TenkaraBum 33 Features

The grip, grip screw cap, and tip plug are the same for both the TenkaraBum 33 and the TenkaraBum 36. The blank is different, so neither the tip nor any of the other sections are interchangeable with the  TenkaraBum 36 sections.

The grip is hard EVA foam, which provides an excellent nonskid grip (and is less expensive than cork, allowing the money to go toward a higher quality blank). The grip screw cap is knurled for easy tightening and removal, and rounded for comfort. The tip plug fits quite snugly and will not fall out when you least expect it. Because of the tight fit, do not insert the tip plug when the line is attached. The tip section has Suntech's signature "Lillian Spin" swivel, which does help to reduce line twist and which easily passes through the second section.

Length extended - 10'11"
Length collapsed - 22.5"
Weight without tip plug - 2.3 oz
Grip - Shaped EVA foam
Sections - 7
Tip Diameter - .7mm
Recommended tippet - 6x-4x
Pennies - 22

Suntech TenkaraBum 33 - $215


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“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin

"Study to be quiet." - Izaak Walton 1653

"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." Col. Robert Venables 1662


The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.

Beware of the Dogma

Currently processing orders that were received Mar. 17.

The TB33 is a very capable rod for smaller streams. It has the ability to finesse cast a tight loop into those well protected spots (tightly protected under willow branches) so common in smaller streams, and yet it also has the stiffness and power to initiate a quick hook set and power the fish out away from the snags. This is exactly what is needed for my smaller streams.

Tom D, Idaho
Teton Tenkara