The Tenryu Furaibo TF39 Betchou 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. I expect the textured grip will have excellent nonskid qualities.
As with the Tenryu Furaibo TF39 on which it is based, the TF39 Betchou is a 3.9 meter 8 section rod. It collapses to the same 23.5 inch length. The Betchou 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. From the photos, it looks like the TF39 Betchou will be a matte gray. You can't complain about that. Beauty and stealth at the same time.
I have not handled one of the new rods. I heard one second-hand report that the action of the new rod is different than that of the TF39. The new rod is a bit heavier, so perhaps the different weave pattern of the fabric affected the wall thickness. 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.
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 rods is a limited edition, and was available only by reservation (pre-order).
One last thing, the rod is $785 at the current exchange rate. That would make it the most expensive tenkara rod in the world other than a custom made bamboo rod. It is no more expensive than a premium fly rod, though, and you don't have to spend money for a reel. Plus, it is a unique rod, blending traditional Japanese culture with traditional Japanese craft.
Tenryu has now ceased taking reservations and will make the rods in one
limited production run. I expect to receive them in late March or the first week of April.
I have received a $200 deposit from people to reserve a rod. Tenryu has confirmed that they will have a rod for everyone who has already paid a deposit.
A second payment of $200 is now due.
The remaining balance, plus shipping, will be due when the rod arrives from Japan and is ready to ship to the lucky buyer.Tenryu Furaibo TF39 Betchou, second payment - $200