The Tenkara Starter Kits have been very popular ever since I first introduced them. They are an easy way for someone new to tenkara to get what they need to start out. The kits contain a rod, a matching line and a pair of line holders. Initially, I packaged flies and tippet with the kits, but most of the buyers had been fly fishing for years and already had both tippet and flies. The kits now have what you need to go from fly fishing to tenkara fishing. If you have never fly fished before, flies, tippet and streamside tools are also available to go with the kits.
The original Tenkara Starter Kit comes with a Shimotsuke Tenkara 3.3 or 3.6 rod. The rod is a very economical "all-around" rod and allows the complete kit to be priced at only $134 for a kit with the 3.3 meter rod or $144 for a kit with the 3.6 meter rod. Renamed the Shimotsuke Starter Kit, it remains the most popular kit.
The Daiwa Starter Kit offers two very different rods from Daiwa's NEO Tenkara series: the LL32SC, which is a soft, smooth casting 5:5 rod designed for level lines, and the LT33SC, a relatively stiff 7:3 rod designed for level or tapered lines that I believe to be the best true tenkara rod for fishing weighted nymphs - regardless of the price.
As with the other starter kits, the Daiwa Starter Kit comes with two tenkara line holders, allowing you to cut lines of different length for use on different sized streams, plus a spool of Sunline fluorescent orange fluorocarbon level line appropriate for the rod (size 3 for the LL rod and size 4 for the LT rod).
The Daiwa Starter Kit, with your choice of rod, is $209.
Last summer, several customers had asked me for a starter kit that contained a high quality rod. Until I ran out of the rods I carried a Shimano Starter Kit, which was built around the Shimano LLS33 NB rod. The LLS33 NB and LLS36 NB are Shimano's entry level rods, but they are really very nice rods. If you get one, you may later want a rod of a different length, or perhaps a specialty rod for bigger fish or for heavy nymphs, but you'll never have to upgrade from the rod that comes in the kit.
Sadly, the rods are again out of stock and I am not currently able to offer the Shimano Starter Kit. The prices are a bit higher than the basic kit at $205 or $215 depending on rod length, but you'll an get excellent rod.
The Nissin Starter Kit is built around the Nissin Pro Square rods. More and more people are asking me for rods that are made in Japan. Other than some of the rods carried here on TenkaraBum.com, nearly all the rods available in the US are made in China. Even the newest, fanciest models do not match the Japanese rods - particularly with respect to weight (but also action). The Japanese rod makers have been making tenkara rods for decades - and it shows. The Nissin rods chosen for the kit are very light, very sensitive, and capable of casting a very light line. To me, fishing with the lightest line I can get away with and keeping nearly all the line off the water's surface is the essence of tenkara. The Nissin Starter Kits start at just $187. Rod, line, and line holders all made in Japan.
The Small Stream Tenkara Starter Kit has what you need to start tenkara fishing in small streams. You don't need much, but for small brushy or overgrown streams you really do need a short rod.
It has been quite a while now since I wrote Rethinking Rod Choice - Many. Some things haven't changed - a short rod really does make a lot of sense if you want to fish small streams; and some things have changed - the outfit that insisted tenkara rods were 11' or longer now sells a 9' rod.
I was reminded of the value of short rods when Dave Hughes sent me a
copy of his Trout from Small Streams, second edition. He included a
tenkara, and in it wrote some very interesting things about what he
calls "downsized tenkara" - tenkara fishing with downsized rods for
really small streams.
The Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 270 that the Small Stream Starter Kit is built around is a very nice rod for fishing small streams. It's light, sensitive, capable of keeping fish out of snags, and inexpensive.