It’s pretty clear that I never should have called the Soyokaze rods “tanago rods.” One of my customers, who bought a Soyokaze (and liked it so much he bought two more – just one short of collecting the whole set), told me that my chief competitor had just released a video making fun of tanago rods and said I had to see it for myself.
My customer said that it reminded him of the early days of tenkara fishing in the US, when the people poo-pooing tenkara hadn’t tried it, and that it was clear from the video that “he hasn't a clue what the rods you are selling are or how they perform.”
The video was shot in a shop in Tokyo, well known here in the US for its tenkara rods. It is true that everyone in the video had a good laugh at the idea of tenkara fishing with a tanago rod, but the tanago rod the store manager was holding and talking about at the time was a 90cm rod – all of 35” long. I’d laugh, too. It was nothing like the Soyokaze rods.
The package that the Soyokaze rods come in does in fact say they can be used for tanago, (which is why I called them that) but it also says they can be used for hai - which is another word for yamabe. The store manager volunteered that people use yamabe rods for tenkara fishing and went on to say that people who prefer a wider grip might wrap cord or tennis grip-wrap on the handle to make it thicker. The point is that a hai or yamabe rod is a type of rod that people do use for tenkara fishing.
To compare a 9’ or 10’ Soyokaze with a 3’ rod is, shall we say, stretching things a bit. (No, let's just come out and say it's ridiculous.) My customer was right. In the early days of tenkara, without exception, the people who were making fun of tenkara had never tried it. The people making fun of the Soyokaze rods, and laughing at the very idea of using a “tanago” rod for tenkara have never cast a line or caught a fish on a 9’ or 10’ Soyokaze. My customer was right - the guy hasn't a clue.
I’ve had more than one report of people fishing Soyakaze rods catching 16” trout, which are hardly tanago-sized. In fact, the Amago, Yamame and Iwana, the fish Japanese tenkara anglers catch, don’t even get any bigger than that. In all the Japanese tenkara videos, you generally see people catching fish half that size. The Soyokaze may be a little shorter than the average Japanese tenkara rod, but it is fully capable.
To be sure, there are people who have fished with a Soyokaze and decided it wasn’t for them – either they wanted a longer rod or they just liked the feel of a cork grip. That’s fine. No rod is going to satisfy everyone. One in particular described it as a “fun” rod even though he didn’t want one. Read the testimonials. People genuinely think it is a wonderful small stream rod. Most buyers have tenkara rods so they know what a tenkara rod should do. What some of their tenkara rods are doing is gathering dust while the Soyokaze goes fishing.