The Daiwa Expert Tenkara rods are well named. You don't have to be an expert to use one, but if you are an expert tenkara angler you will very definitely notice and appreciate the quality of the design and the quality of the workmanship. These are seriously nice rods!
Daiwa Expert rods are made in two styles, one designed specifically for
level lines (LL) and one designed for either level or tapered lines (LT).
For the Daiwa Expert Tenkara L LL rods, I believe the first L stands for "long" because when they are collapsed the rods are about 4" longer than most tenkara rods. That extra collapsed length makes the rods too long to fit in a carry-on bag, but they will fit in a full sized suitcase. Longer sections means fewer joints and also produces a smoother bend profile. The 28 1/4" collapsed length is a pretty good compromise. You don't give up much in convenience and portability, but you get a lot in improved casting feel.
The "M" in the Expert L LL45M stands for "multi" because the rod is a multi-length (zoom) rod that can be fished at 4m or 4.5m. The 4m length is very nice for slightly larger streams, and the 4.5m length gets into honryu tenkara territory.
Besides the longer collapsed length, I suspect the the layup is different as well. The damping was improved from the Enshou rods, which the Expert series replaced. That suggests to me that the graphite or the weave or the resin (or all three) have been changed.
The Daiwa Expert Tenkara LL rods have hollow tips, which makes the casting the rod feel just a little bit different. Hollow tips are not quite as flexible as solid tips. They don't bend quite as much while you are making your back cast and forward cast. They can give you an effortless tight loop cast. Once you get used to the feel of casting a hollow tipped rod, you might never want to go back to fishing a rod with a solid tip.
At just 13 pennies, the Daiwa Expert L LL36 is one of the softest 3.6m tenkara rods. It has the same penny rating as Daiwa's Sagiri 39 and Rinfu 35 seiryu rods. With the cork grip and solid tip, the feel is completely different than a seiryu rod, though. The rod can handle nice fish but it is seriously fun with even modest fish.
If you don't often fish very narrow streams, for which you would want a very short rod, and if you don't backpack into your fishing spots, for which you would want a rod that collapses to a shorter length, the combination of the Daiwa Expert Tenkara L LL36 and the Daiwa Expert L LL45M could cover just about everywhere you would want to fish.
These are rods designed for tenkara as practiced in Japan. They absolutely excel at fishing unweighted wet flies on level lines. The L LL36 is ideal for the keiryu, the small, high gradient mountain streams where accurate casting and keeping the line off the water and out of the conflicting currents is crucial. The L LL45M is ideal for the honryu, the larger streams that are too deep and too fast to safely wade far into the stream, where a longer rod casting a much longer line is used to fish the bank eddies on the far side.
You are going to want both. You are.
The Daiwa Expert LT rods were designed for use with either level or tapered lines.
For level lines, I would choose a 3.5 or 4 most of the time. Particularly wind resistant flies or particularly windy days will require heavier lines. The rods will easily handle size 4.5 lines for those conditions. At the Oni School a couple years ago, when the gusty winds were so strong that even Oni himself went to a size 4.5 line, I didn't have the Daiwa Expert LT 39 with me, but it would have been the perfect rod. Long enough for the Provo River, and beefy enough to cast a 4.5 line in the wind.
The Daiwa Expert LT39 is quite capable and in my opinion, now that Daiwa has discontinued the Expert LT H44, it is the best tenkara rod for bass fishing. Most people will probably use it for trout, and it is a great rod for big trout.
Robert L, who fishes almost exclusively for smallmouth bass in rivers, says the Daiwa Expert LT rods are "exceptional." He says (and he speaks from experience) that most people who fish for smallies in rivers are doing it wrong. Of course, they can fish any way they want, but if they want to actually catch smallmouth bass they are doing it wrong. He has taken a lot of people fishing, and nearly all start out fishing for smallies as if they were trout - casting upstream, trying for a drag-free dead drift. Smallmouth bass are not trout!
Robert fishes downstream and presents them with a MEAL, not just an hors d'oeuvre! He catches lots and lots and lots of very nice smallies. He needs a big beefy rod and the Daiwa Expert Tenkara LT 39 does the trick.
The Daiwa designers did not have smallmouth bass in mind when they designed the Expert LT rods, but they designed a rod that an expert smallmouth bass angler uses, and swears by. If you want a tenkara rod for bass, you will not find a better one anywhere
Regular readers know that I am a level line guy first and foremost, but I recognize that many people like furled lines. If you prefer furled lines or even just a size 4 fluorocarbon, the Daiwa Expert Tenkara LT 39 will spoil you. Whatever rods you fished before will either gather dust or go on eBay.
Honryu Tenkara is tenkara fishing in rivers, as opposed to mountain streams. "Honryu" means main stream. It is largely a game of fishing long (to very long) lines with long rods, using the long line to reach bank eddies on the far side and using the long rod to hold the line off the surface, above the flow. The Daiwa Expert LT 39 was designed to cast long lines and to catch the big fish that live in rivers.
The grip shape is the familiar "camel" two humped grip that most tenkara rods now feature. The grips on the Daiwa Expert Tenkara rods are longer than most, though, providing a wide range of gripping locations. Holding the rod at the extreme front end of the grip, with your index finger up on the blank, or holding the rod with the extreme back end of the grip cradled in your palm gives the rod a very different feel and also changes the effective length of the rod by almost a foot.
The Enshou rods were almost spartan in their appearance. The new Daiwa Expert Tenkara rods still have very little "bling" but the winding check and logo are a nice touch without losing the understated elegance.
A little further up the blank, the clear coat fades to black. The X45 is a 45 degree weave in the layup, which reduces twisting and produces more accurate casts.
The grip screw cap is metal, with a coin slot for removal or tightening. The screw cap for the L LL45M has a ventilation hole. The screw caps for the LL36 and the LT rods do not. For any of the rods, I would still recommend complete disassembly between uses to allow the rod to dry thoroughly.
The lillian is surprisingly short but it is long enough to tie a knot in it if you wish. The lillian is attached with a swivel that will easily slide through the #2 section. The tips of the LL rods are hollow, which gives you the ability to throw tighter loops, but they are less forgiving than solid tips (and more expensive to replace). If you are careful putting on and taking off the line, and careful around low tree branches, you should experience only the benefits.
International buyers please note: the length of the package requires that these rods get mailed via Priority Mail International, which is substantially more expensive than First Class International. The shipping charge will be calculated at checkout.
Weight (w/o plug)
13'2" - 14'9.5"
14.5 - 14.5
Domestic shipping is via USPS Priority Mail (2-3 day delivery). Rates will vary with package weight and destination. Most rates will be between $14.50 and $20.50. You can see the rate in the checkout process before the purchase is finalized.
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TenkaraBum.com no longer ships to Russia.
TenkaraBum.com no longer ships to the UK. The new VAT regulations are too onerous for a one-man shop that rarely ships anything to the UK anyway. I apologize.