Tenkara rods did not get to be the way they are by accident. Over hundreds of years they have evolved from simple bamboo poles to the modern ultralight high-tech carbon fiber telescopic rods we use today. They are designed specifically for fishing unweighted wet flies in small streams.

Because the line is tied to the rod tip, the rods have no guides and no reel seats. People might think cane pole or crappie rod but tenkara rods can cast an unweighted fly with a very light line and protect a very light tippet, something neither a cane pole nor a crappie rod could do. And if that wasn't enough, they weigh just a few ounces and most collapse to a very compact length.

Similarly, they are on a completely different level than the telescopic crappie poles that they vaguely resemble. Before I could buy a real tenkara rod (back in 2007), I bought quite a few crappie poles trying to find a good substitute. They just aren't the same. The action is different, and the quality is in another league.

Actually, they are quite a bit different from fly rods as well. Beyond the lack of guides and reel seat, the most obvious difference is that the rods are telescopic rather than having ferrules like a fly rod. This allows the rod to collapse down to a very convenient length. The small size and light weight makes them a great choice for backpackers, for whom every ounce counts.

More significant, though, is that tenkara rods are designed to cast a much lighter line than fly rods, and most tenkara rods are longer than fly rods. The longer rod and lighter line allow tenkara anglers to keep their line off the surface, minimizing drag, and to manipulate their flies in ways that are difficult with a shorter rod and heavier line stuck in the water's grip.

A Tenkara Rod or ...

There has been an ongoing controversy in the US - ever since I imported the first Soyokaze - about what exactly is a tenkara rod. Personally, I think that is the wrong question to ask. Rather than ask what is a tenkara rod, a better question is what rod is best suited to the type of fishing you want to do. It might very well be a tenkara rod, but then again, depending on the type of fishing you do either a seiryu rod or a keiryu rod might be a better choice.

Seiryu rods are designed for smaller fish in streams with modest current. The Japanese use them for chubs and dace. Most Americans use them for smaller trout - and they are wonderful light, sensitive rods for fishing smaller streams.

Keiryu rods are designed for fishing with weight - split shot and bait in Japan, but generally bead head flies in the US. Most keiryu rods have firmer midsections than tenkara rods, allowing them to get good hook sets with fishing deeper in the water column. Most have very flexible tips, though, which allows fish taking the bait to pull the line enough for you to see the bite before they feel significant tension on the line - which really will cause trout to spit out live bait. Most keiryu rods are also quite a bit longer than tenkara rods. however, for fishing in the irrigation ditches in Japan, some are really quite short. In general, most keiryu rods are better than most tenkara rods at fishing weighted nymphs.

Carp rods, not surprisingly, are designed for catching carp. People have used tenkara rods for carp. Carp have broken tenkara rods. I would urge people who want to target larger fish, whether carp, channel cats, or schoolie stripers to use rods actually designed for larger fish. And for really big fish, there are salmon rods rated for   40 pound tippets!

Go to the Source

Since tenkara was introduced into the US a lot of small companies have sprung up, offering tenkara rods made in China. Initially, a few differentt companies offered the very same rod with a different name and paint job. Over the last few years, the companies that survived offered rods of their own design, intended specifically for how and where American anglers fish.

Some I've fished with and some I haven't, but I can assure you that there is a big difference between a rod designed and built by a Japanese company with a long history of making tenkara rods and a rod made in China by a company that has been making tenkara rods for only a few years. Tenkara is a traditional Japanese fishing style, it isn't a traditional Chinese fishing style. It makes sense to buy from companies that grew up with that tradition.

If you want the best, follow the tradition. Go to the source.

Tenkara Rods



All of the Daiwa rod models I imported have been discontinued. I have not seen and know nothing about their current tenkara rod models.


I no longer import Nissin rods. The linked pages are for information purposes only.


I no longer import Shimano rods. The linked pages are for information purposes only.

Tenkara Action Index

Tenkara rods are not grouped by line weight like fly rods. Instead many are given a rating such as 5:5, 6:4 and 7:3. Although all tenkara rods have soft tip sections and much stiffer butt sections, the ratings give an idea of where the softer sections transition into the stiffer sections. It is not specifically 6 sections are stiff and 4 are soft, because most tenkara rods don't actually have 10 sections. It's more of a percentage split, like 50/50, or 60/40 (60 percent of the rod is stiffer and 40 percent is softer). It is a trap to think that a 7:3 rod is stiffer than a 5:5 rod, though. The rating is a measure of where the rod bends, not how much force is require to bend the rod.

If you've ever taken any fishing rod and just wiggled it, you've seen the butt section move to the left while the tip moves to the right, then the butt moves to the right and the tip moves to the left. There is a point on the rod that is stationary, the point where the tip section goes one way and the butt section goes the other. On a 7:3 rod, that point is closer to the rod tip than on a 6:4 rod, and it's closer to the tip on a 6:4 rod than on a 5:5 rod.

Unfortunately, the rating system is of little use to rod buyers. Not all tenkara rod manufacturers use it, and among those that do there is no industry standard, so a 7:3 rod from one manufacturer can be very, very different from a 7:3 from another manufacturer. Even within the same manufacturer's rods, there can be a huge difference. For example, a Nissin Air Stage Fujiryu 6:4 360 feels nothing like a Nissin Zerosum 6:4 360. It is a guideline at best. I have tried to further the discussion of tenkara rod ratings with the Common Cents Database and my "What is a 7:3?" essay.

Other Tenkara Rod Essays

Aggressive Hooksets

Rethinking Rod Choice - A Softer Rod for Bass

Rethinking Rod Choice III - Many

Why I sell Rods That Aren't Tenkara Rods

Picking Pockets

Tenkara with a "tanago rod?"

It's all about the fishing

Lillian Knot - To Knot or Not to Knot

Seiryu-Tenkara-Keiryu Continuum

Seiryu-Tenkara-Keiryu Continuum II

Common Cents Database

What is a 7:3?

Keeping it Simple

Short Course on Telescopic Rods

Go Long!

Strike Detection

TenkaraBum Home > Tenkara Rods

“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.


The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.

Beware of the Dogma

Currently processing orders that were received June 20.

This Just In

Medium Rod Case

Suntech Kurenai II AR (Waiting list signup)

On many of the rod pages you will see testimonials. Not one was solicited. Not one was written by a blogger who was given a rod in return for a writing a testimonial.

To be sure, some were written by bloggers, but at TenkaraBum, bloggers are customers just like you. They aren't considered part of the marketing department, and they pay the same price for a rod that you do.

The testimonials are not about creating marketing "buzz" but to allow actual buyers who liked the rods to share their views.

Chris Stewart
Tenkara Bum

I must say I love it when the manager of a fly shop that carries competing tenkara rods buys a Japanese-made rod from me. I'm sure he could get a big discount if he bought what his shop sells. He knows their products inside and out, and buys mine instead (at full price). To me that says a lot.

Chris Stewart
Tenkara Bum

Thanks Chris.  You have the best rods in the US.

Fred L, New Jersey

Unbelievable service.  I ordered a rod Friday night, Sunday was Easter. The rod  arrived Monday morning with a hand written note.  

Phil E, Arizona

Wow!  Thank you so much for the quick turn-around. I never thought the rod and materials would be here sooooo soon...two days! The other rod from the other place took over a I have an excuse to go fishing THIS weekend...hahahaha!

The rod is beautiful and I can't wait to use it. I also really like the "Read Me First" instructions: nice blend of humor and very practical advice I had not heard about...until you. I love your personal touch in number 5...thanks and noted!!
John B, Georgia