a tenkara rod journey

by joe leal
(novato calif)

In early 2010 when I decided to buy a Tenkara rod for my trout fishing, I chose the TUSA Iwana. One year later, I purchased an Amago, another 6:4 rod, but the Iwana was my main trout rod. Another year passed, and then I bought an Ito, a “softer” 6:4 rod. The Ito showed me what a level flouro or horsehair line could do with a softer rod. I decided to buy a 5:5 rod, going against my fly rod preferences for a faster rod. I’m glad I did.

After reading many rod reviews, I decided on a DAIWA ENSHOU LL36SF and a LL41SF from Chris. What a revelation!! The slower, more full flex rods readjusted my outlook and casting expertise. The 5:5 rods really shine w/ flouro and horsehair lines of any length. Accuracy is much improved, effort is reduced in casting, and pure fly rod enjoyment started to take over. That was March 2013.

About 2 months later I purchased an ONI rod. I was on the path to slower, softer rods, enjoying it more each day.

I have a large backyard, with grass, trees, bushes, etc. I practice a lot with my rods and lines. It is imperative that any rod/line combo allows me to cast a straight, full length delivery of the fly of choice to a chosen target. These softer, full flex rods enabled me to use lighter lines as effectively as any heavier or furled line. I was able to use my standard line lengths, just lighter.

After the ONI rod, I started counting pennies. Let’s see:
July/2013 - Nissin Airstage 390-12p
See a pattern here?
Sept/2013 - Zerosum 360-14p
Dec/2013 - NISSIN PRO-SPEC 2way 6:4-11p (Christmas present to myself)

With the Pro-Spec I’m done. I don’t see any need for a shorter or less penny rod for my fishing. With practice and experimenting, I’m learning about and enjoying the “softer” rods more each day. I’ll have to keep the rod’s capabilities in mind as to where I use them, but I’ve always preferred medium-small streams anyway, so these rods will be perfect. I still have my heavier rods for larger waters.

My “journey” to softer Tenkara rods has taken a while. Wish I started much earlier, but my fly rod preferences clouded my thinking. I’m finding that my delivery and presentation is more accurate, more relaxing overall, and I’m casting the same distances as before, just softer and I’m using lighter lines, flouro and horsehair. You do the math.

All of my new rods, except the ONI, were purchased from Chris Stewart, of course. I would like to thank Chris for providing quality rods at a reasonable price, along with excellent service and advice. Tenkara in the US owes him big time.

I’ll write a report in a month or so with my rod/line combo’s that work the best for me. We nerds can compare notes.

Tight lines everyone.

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

"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

As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.


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