The Tenryu Furaibo TF39 Becchou is a special order limited edition tenkara rod that blends Japanese culture (tenkara) and Japanese technique (Nishijin weaving).
Tenryu has been making fishing rods for over 50 years and is grounded in tradition. Nishijin weaving dates back to the Heian period (794 to 1185). The Heian period was named for the capital city, Heian-kyo (modern day Kyoto). Nishijin is a section of Kyoto that is known for the traditional textiles produced there. Production of Nishijin textile was designated a National Traditional Craft in 1976.
Traditionally, the elaborately woven Nishijin silk textiles were use for making kimonos. Tenryu has partnered with Nishijin weavers to make a tenkara rod with carbon fabric that features an intricate Nishjin weave. The pattern of the weave is absolutely beautiful, but it is difficult to form the Nishijin carbon cloth into the tubular shape of a fishing rod.
The Nishijin weave is carried through the entire rod, other than the solid carbon tip section. The grip is also Nishijin weave carbon rather than cork or wood or foam. The unsanded weave provides an excellent nonskid finish.
As with the Tenryu Furaibo TF39 on which it is based, the TF39 Becchou is a 3.9 meter 8 section rod. It collapses to the same 23.5 inch length. The Becchou version is 12 grams (.4 ounce) heavier.
The first time I fished with a TF39 was in the spring of 2014. The rod was a special order for a customer who graciously told me to fish with the rod before sending it on to him. The rod surprised me. Before then I had barely heard of it, and yet I felt it was a much nicer rod than my then-current favorite, the Daiwa Enshou LL41SF. I thought it was more accurate, had better damping and was easier to cast.
The only negative thing I have ever heard about the Tenryu TF39 was from a few people who did not like the bright color.The TF39 Becchou is a matte gray. You can't complain about that. Beauty and stealth at the same time.
The TF39 Becchou is a bit heavier and a bit stiffer than the TF39. In a Tenryu company blog post, the designer said he kept the overall 7:3 tone of the rod and adjusted the elastic modulus of the carbon. I would have said the original TF39 was a 6:4, so perhaps that is the difference - but remember, there is no standard for 7:3, 6:4, etc and people have different perceptions.
The TF39 Becchou will take a heavier line than the TF39. I have only fished mine once, and used a horsehair line (keeping as traditional as possible). For a fluorocarbon line, I suspect a size 4 would suit the rod well.
Because of the additional hand labor required to make the rods, and the small number of craftsmen who have the required skills, each rod takes much longer to make than a Tenryu Furaibo TF39. For that reason, the rod was a limited edition, and was available only by reservation (pre-order).
Although the rod was most expensive tenkara rod in the world other than a custom made bamboo rod, it was no more expensive than a premium fly rod and you didn't have to spend money for a reel. Plus, it is a unique rod, blending traditional Japanese culture with traditional Japanese craft.
The rod is undeniably unique. Replacement parts are available, and the rod was meant to be fished (just as elaborate kimonos were meant to be worn), but I wonder if the rod will become a collector's item. After all, they aren't making any more of them.