Wakata Rod Review
The Wakata is AllFishingBuy's line of 6:4 tenkara rods. I was able to fish with a 9' Wakata a little while ago, and I would very much like to thank Randy Knapp for letting me borrow his rod. Although I try to fish with a rod several times before writing a review, I wanted to get his rod back to him so I only fished with it for one day. I went to a local stream that's just small enough that the 9' length wouldn't be a significant limitation. The rods are also available in 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14' lengths.
I brought my 9' All Fishing Buy Motsugo to get a side by side comparison of the two rods. I had tied two identical Hi-Vis Mono
Hand Tied lines
so I'd have the same line with each rod and could cast first with one and then with the other without having to rerig the rods. (The lines worked very nicely with both rods, by the way).
At first, I couldn't tell any difference between the 6:4 Wakata and the 5:5 Motsugo. By way of comparison, the difference between the Tenkara USA 6:4 12' Iwana and 5:5 Ebisu is immediately apparent.
|The rod and one of the trout|
The more I fished with the two rods, though, the more I noticed they weren't quite the same. As the day wore on I could definitely feel a difference when casting. Actually, a day doesn't "wear on" if you're catching fish - it goes by pretty quickly.
I caught enough fish with both rods that the day did go pretty quickly (a
will do that for you if the stream has a good scud population) but not enough, of enough different sizes, to notice a difference in how the rods handled fish. Both rods are soft enough that a fish of any size will bend the rod well into the "stiffer" sections.
What's a bit strange, though, is that although I could tell there was a difference in the rods, I couldn't put my finger on just what it was. The difference is subtle, but it's definitely there. And unfortunately (for me, at least) I'd have to say I liked Randy's Wakata better than my Motsugo.
It wasn't until after I'd gotten home and spent some time doing an analysis of both rods that I figured out what the difference is.
First, the rod ratings are definitely correct. The Motsugo is a 5:5 and the Wakata is clearly a 6:4, with the transition from stiffer lower segments to softer upper segments very clear - not to the point of being abrupt - but when you wiggle the rod you can really see the difference between the stiffer segments and the softer segments. With the Motsugo, which is more of a full flex rod, as you would expect with a 5:5, the transition was much more gradual.
I had noted in my
that my Motsugo did not bend in a smooth curve. At the time I had thought that it did not affect the way the rod cast. I was subsequently told by someone with experience in rod design that it definitely would make a difference. I now suspect that is part of what I noticed but couldn't really describe when fishing the two rods side by side.
The Wakata bends in a very nice curve. It doesn't take much to bend one, either. I do a Common Cents analysis of all the tenkara rods I review, although I don't generally publish the figures. The reason I don't publish is that my analysis is more of a "back of the envelope" variety and because in some ways the results are misleading. The Common Cents system was developed to compare fly rods, and tenkara rods are nearly off the charts.
To get back to the Wakata, though, by the Common Cents method it is the softest rod I've measured. Previously, the Tenkara USA Ayu was the softest, requiring 13 1/2 cents (hung from the rod tip) to bend it by an amount equal to 1/3 of it's length when the rod is held horizontally by it's grip. The Wakata required only 12 cents to bend by 1/3 of it's length. The Motsugo required 14 1/2 cents. No, I don't have a ha'penny, but 14 cents didn't bend it far enough and 15 cents bent it too far. By way of comparison, the Hane, which is another short rod one might consider for the smallest streams, is at the other end of the spectrum, requiring 46 cents, almost four times as much weight, to bend it by 1/3 of it's length.
Where all this comes out is that the top two sections of the 9' Wakata are very soft in relation to it's lower segments. It is a very responsive rod, but still has some backbone. And if you are aware of what you are feeling, you can feel the backbone while casting. Like it's Motsugo cousin, I wouldn't call it a big fish rod, but for a 9' rod intended for the smallest of streams, you wouldn't expect it to be.
Unlike the Motsugo, though, I did not get the sense that an unexpectedly large fish would permanently jam the tip section or potentially break the rod. The finish is a still a bit rough, and is not the equal of the Tenkara USA rods or the Fountainhead Stone Fly rods, but I would say that it is a bit nicer than on the Motsugo. As with the Motsugo, it comes with a rod sock but not the kind of protective rod case you'd want to take into the field. That said, "you get what you pay for" still applies and these are relatively inexpensive rods.
The Wakata is a nice little rod and fun to fish with. It is a little rod, though, and I would fish a longer rod on any stream that was wide enough or open enough to allow it. I should say also that this review is specifically for the 9' model. I cannot tell whether the longer Wakata rods are comparable without having fished them.
For readers' views of the Wakata, see
Wakata 9' 6:4 Rod Initial Impressions
by Tim Nitz and
9 foot Wakata
by Randy Knapp.
If you are looking for a 9' rod, the Wakata is a reasonable choice although I'd have to say I find the 9'
a bit more fun to fish with. It has a soft tip like the Wakata but has more backbone should you hook a slightly larger fish than you had expected.
If you have any questions about the 9' Wakata and how it compares to the 9' Soyokaze, please go to the
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