If you have been thinking about getting a TenkaraBum 40, do not wait too long. There are a few in stock now, but when they are gone they may be out of stock for a long time. I do not know if I can get more before the end of 2021 and Suntech makes only Ayu rods from January through June.
The TenkaraBum 40, also known as the TenBum 40 or just TB40, was created in response to people who had (and loved) the TenkaraBum 36 and asked for a longer rod. It has been extremely well received.
This is what Tom Davis says of the TB40 (and I should note that Tom, who writes the Teton Tenkara blog, has fished with and reviewed more tenkara rods than anyone):
The TenkaraBum 40 is not just the TenkaraBum 36 with one more section. It is built on a different blank, optimized to give performance as close as possible to the TenkaraBum 36 while minimizing any tendency for tip heaviness. The 40 has a slightly longer collapsed length, allowing Suntech to make a longer rod with the same number of sections. That improves the bend profile and also keeps down the weight. The penny measurement is exactly the same as the TenkaraBum 36.
For the TenkaraBum 40 to have the exact same penny rating as the TenkaraBum 36 is a tribute to the skill of the Suntech engineers. I told them I wanted the rod to feel like the TenkaraBum 36 and then let them go. I don't have years and years of experience working with different tapers, wall thicknesses, resins and prepregs (pre-impregnated carbon cloths). They do. They were able to make a rod that is longer but feels almost the same - exactly what I wanted and what was wanted by the people who shortly after getting a TenkaraBum 36 asked me for a TenkaraBum 40.
The TenkaraBum 40 is just a bit faster than most tenkara rods. The tip sections are a bit softer and the middle sections are a bit firmer. Having slightly softer tip sections yields two benefits: the rod will cast a very light line very easily, and the rod tip will still dance when you have a small fish on the line. You can feel the fight of a warpaint shiner, like the one above caught in North Carolina when I was there for the Tenkara Jam. If you want to fish small flies on a light line, the TenkaraBum 40 is an excellent choice.
Having slightly firmer middle sections also yields two benefits: you can get good hook sets when fishing weighted nymphs and you have a bit more control, making it a bit easier to guide good sized fish out of the current and into quieter water.
The TenkaraBum 40 was not designed with bass in mind, but the firmer midsection gives you the muscle you need to cast larger flies and to tire larger fish.
Of course, if you fish for bass with flies, you will catch sunfish also. With the softer tip sections, the Tenkarabum 40 is not overkill for sunnies. You might even find yourself fishing for sunnies. If the nearest trout stream is three states away, there are few better ways to spend a summer afternoon.
If you are one of the many tenkara anglers who really like the TenkaraBum 36 but have wished there was longer model, now there is. Even if you have never fished with a TenkaraBum 36, if you've wanted a light weight, very responsive rod of about 13' that is fun with smaller fish and has the ability to handle larger fish, the Suntech TenkaraBum 40 may be just the rod you've been looking for. That is especially true if you want to fish weighted nymphs as well as unweighted wets and dries.
I have now fished the Suntech TenkaraBum 40 with everything from a 2.5 to a 4.5 level line, and with the 3.6m and 4m Fujino White lines. So far, my favorites have been a size 3 level line or the 3.6m Fujino White line (the Fujino White lines seem to be just a little longer than the length shown on the package)
The 2018 Oni School in Utah was very instructive. I had thought that Tenkara no Oni always fished with very light lines and I did not bring any heavy line to the school. The three days of the school were very windy (with winds the final day gusting to 40 mph). Oni fished a size 4.5 line most of the time, and of course, his casting appeared effortless.
He spends some time fishing with each student. When he was with me I was fishing a relatively soft full flex rod with size 3.5 line. I could not control the line in the wind, even after switching to a 4.5 line that Oni gave me. The soft rod could not generate enough line speed to push through the wind. I then switched to the TenkaraBum 40, and was able to cast effectively. The same firmer midsection that allows you to get good hook sets when fishing heavier flies allows you to get good casts when fishing heavier lines. I had never thought of the rod as a heavy line rod or a wind rod, but it is.
Although I have known for some time that in experienced hands the TenkaraBum 40 can land very nice fish, I hadn't heard a review quite like the one that Alex M just sent in:
Last week on Thanksgiving day, I had the chance to get out on one of the bigger mountain sections of the Redacted River here in Utah. I decided to use the TB40 for some czech nymphing on 6x tippet. Maybe four casts into the day I hooked and landed a 19.3" brown (my PB)! The rod handled the fish with relative ease, but that fish fought it for quite some time. At that point I was so happy that I thought maybe I'd just call it a day... I decided I'd take a few more casts. The very next cast I landed a beautiful 16.5" cutthroat (another record for me). Again the rod performed perfectly. A few cast later a 15" cutthroat. I then proceeded to a section about a mile up from where I had been, I caught a 17" brown, a 12" cuttie, and another 19" brown!
It was an amazing and humbling day! I have had many rods that I don't think could have handled those fish. Thank you for your awesome input that you gave to the guys at Suntech to make such an awesome rod! I have been loving it!
Alex M, Utah
The Tactical Nymphing that a number of us
have been working on, most notably Rob Worthing of the Tenkara Guides,
but also Erik Ostrander (also of Tenkara Guides), Jeff Lomino of
Riverworks and Chris Hendriks (a tenkara guide in Norway) in addition to myself, has basic
principles rather than rigid rules. One of those principles is using a
rod that can cast modestly weighted nymphs on a light line, yet still
have sufficient backbone to yield good hook sets and to maneuver hooked
fish into quiet water.
The TenkaraBum 40 is one such rod, and of the various rods that are well suited to Tactical Nymphing, it is the most "all-around" in that it is also very well suited to fishing delicate dries or standard unweighted kebari. More and more people are telling me it is now their "go to" rod.
Tactical Nymphing often involves fishing with a pair of modestly weighted nymphs. The reason for two flies is not to catch two fish at once, although that will happen occasionally. Instead, it allows fishing with two different patterns or at two different depths (or both). Fishing with two weighted flies requires a rod that has sufficient backbone to handle the weight, but also has the ability to handle the light line and light tippet that is a key element in Tactical Nymphing.
For Tactical Nymphing line, I occasionally use 0X Varivas fluorocarbon tippet
as my casting line and a TenkaraBum Tactical Nymphing Sighter. A clear line and white
sighter is about as stealthy as you can get, yet the combination still registers strikes
very well. The only disadvantage with the clear fluoro tippet is that
it is a bit shiny. On a very bright sunny day, the Sanyo Valcan size 2.5 line might be a bit better. It is a bit thinner (equivalent to 1X) and
isn't at all shiny.
There are tenkara anglers in the US and Japan who will adamantly maintain that tenkara is only for trout and only for mountain streams. Tactical Nymphing does not have such rigid restrictions. It works quite well on big water. It works quite well for grayling. If you switched from a small nymph to a hellgrammite immitation, it would work quite well for smallmouth bass.
The TenkaraBum 40 is equally at home on a big river as on a mountain stream. I know for a fact it works quite nicely fishing for bass from a boat. Trout, bass, grayling, sunnies, shiners - perhaps you shouldn't call it a tenkara rod. Just call it a TenkaraBum 40. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's in a class by itself, but it is unique.
And speaking of "not tenkara," I recently received an email from a very satisfied customer who said I should add a paragraph about fishing the fly rod spoons with the TenkaraBum 40. He said of all his rods (and I think he has a closet full!) the TB40 is his favorite for fishing the fly rod spoons "for pure enjoyment of fishing, easy to cast and awesome battles." He said that on a recent cold morning he couldn't get fish to move for a kebari. He put on a Daiwa Vega .4g spoon and caught six in less than a half hour, with one of them moving over 12 feet across the pool to nail the spoon.
The Japanese masters might be horrified at the very thought of fishing a spoon with a tenkara rod - but it is fun and can be surprisingly effective. (And as long as you don't call it tenkara you can get away with it, at least in the US. I wouldn't do it at the Itoshiro Fishers' Holiday in Japan.)
Although the Suntech TenkaraBum 40 blank is different than the TenkaraBum 36 blank, the grip, grip screw cap and tip plug are the same for both rods.
The grip is hard EVA foam, which provides an excellent nonskid grip (and is less expensive than cork, allowing the money to go toward a higher quality blank). The grip screw cap is knurled for easy tightening and removal, and rounded for comfort. The tip plug fits quite snugly and will not fall out when you least expect it. Because of the tight fit, do not insert the tip plug when the line is attached. The tip section has Suntech's signature "Lillian Spin" swivel, which does help to reduce line twist and which easily passes through the second section.
The TenkaraBum 40 when collapsed is too long to fit in any of the Ebira rod quivers. It will fit (just barely) in the medium rod case.
Length extended - 13' 1 1/2"
Length collapsed - 23 5/8"
Weight without tip plug - 2.6 oz
Grip - Shaped EVA foam
Sections - 8
Tip Diameter - .65mm
Recommended tippet* - 6x-5x
Pennies - 18.5
Rod made in Japan.
*Tenkara rods are used in Japan to catch fish that are rarely larger
than 9-10". Japanese anglers do not break rods on 10" fish, so I am
convinced that tippet ratings are no more than a rough guide, explaining
what anglers generally use with the rod. I do not believe they are
meant to state the strength of tippet that will break before the rod
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