Shimano LLS36NB and

The Shimano LLS36 NB and LLS33 NB are Shimano's entry level tenkara rods. When I asked Dr. Ishigaki about the rods before I purchased one, he explained that the main difference between these rods and the now discontinued Shimano LLS36 NX was in the cosmetics.

Bright flecks in the deep brown finish.Bright flecks in the deep brown finish

There are two other differences that to my mind are a little more important. The grip has a slightly different shape, with the forward half of the grip on the Shimano LLS36 NB and LLS33 NB rods tapering gradually. In contrast, the grip on the NX rods had the two distinct gripping areas (the "humps" that led to it's "camel grip" nickname).

Shimano LLS 33NB grip

The other difference is that the Shimano LLS36 NB and LLS33 NB are 7% glass while the NX is 1.2% glass. The larger percentage of glass explains the weight difference, with the NB weighing 2.6 ounces compared to 2.5 for the NX (for the 3.6m-length rods). Still, they are light rods. By way of comparison, the Tenkara USA 12' Iwana weighs 2.7 ounces.

The most relevant difference, though, is that Shimano has discontinued the LLS36NX and LLS33NX rods. The NB rods are still available.

Shimano LLS 33NB logo on rod

When fishing, though, the two Shimano rods really feel pretty similar. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo comparing the bends of the two Shimano rods. In any event, it may be more relevant to US anglers to compare the NB to the Tenkara USA Iwana, which is the rod with which they are much more likely to be familiar.

Shimano does not label their rods by the 5:5, 6:4, 7:3 convention. The NX model came in a soft "S" or hard "H" action. The NB only comes in the soft action. I would say the LLS36 NB and LLS33 NB rods are both 6:4.

Bend profiles of three rods

Comparing the Shimano with the Iwana, the main difference between the bend characteristics, and the main difference that you can feel when fishing, is that the Shimano has a stiffer tip section. The reason it is a bit stiffer is that it is hollow. All the Shimano tenkara rods have hollow tips. Similarly, all the Daiwa rods that are designed for level lines have hollow tips. In fact, the "LL" in the name is the designation for level line. The solid tip, used in all the rods from every other manufacturer I can think of, is designed for rods intended for use with both level and tapered lines.

Difference between solid (Iwana) and hollow (LLS36 NB) tips.Difference between solid (Iwana) and hollow (LLS36 NB) tips

One practical effect of the hollow tip is that you can cast a much tighter loop, or rather, it is much easier to make a precise, tight loop cast. I have not fished a tapered line on the Shimano LLS36NB. I did on the NX and found that I greatly preferred a size 4 level line with that rod. I generally fish a size 3 line on the NB, but only because the lighter line is a bit easier to hold off the water's surface and that is the line I usually fish. I suspect the 3.5 might be a better match.

The difference between the solid tip and the slightly stiffer hollow tip seems like it should be noticeable in the feel of very delicate strikes, but I really don't recall feeling a difference because I react to visual clues for a strike and most are never felt anyway. In playing a fish, the feel is different for only the smallest of fish.

Similarly, the slightly stiffer tip seems like it might be a bit better for fishing deep nymphs since there is a little less "give" when trying to set the hook. The rods are pretty clearly designed for fishing unweighted flies, though. With a sakasa kebari, the rod just feels "right." With a beadhead nymph, it just doesn't. I don't know why it doesn't, but it doesn't. In any event, if I was going to concentrate on nymph fishing, there are other rods that are much better suited to it than these.

A modest fish puts a nice bend in the rod.A modest fish puts a nice bend in the rod

When playing a fish of this size, you won't be thinking of the hollow vs. solid tip and you won't feel the difference.

I like the Shimano NB rods. Either the 33 or 36 would be a very nice choice for someone who wants a light tenkara rod with a crisper feel and slightly more precise casting. Even as Shimano's entry level rod, it would be a nice upgrade from the rods that are more widely available here in the US.

Length extended - 10' 6.5"
Length collapsed - 19.5"
Weight with tip cap 2.3 oz, without tip cap 2.2 oz
Sections - 8
Pennies - 21

Length extended - 11' 10"
Length collapsed - 19.5"
Weight with tip cap 2.7 oz, without tip cap 2.6 oz
Sections - 9
Pennies - 22

Rods made in Indonesia.

Rods available by special order.


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TenkaraBum Home > Tenkara Rods > Shimano LLS36 NB

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Col. Robert Venables 1662

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I finally got out with my Tenkara rod for 15 minutes on a small section of the Norwalk river. I am very happy to report that I was rewarded by a 12" rainbow after 4 casts. Very fun!! I am now officially addicted. Thanks for introducing me to a new way of fly fishing.

B L, Connecticut