The Tenryu Rayz RZ39LL is going to be the most fun spinning rod you've ever used. It's a headwaters / little blue line rod that will let you fish where no one else can!
The feedback I've gotten over the years clearly shows that lots of tenkara anglers are interested in little headwaters streams. The feedback I got last year clearly showed that a lot more tenkara anglers are interested in ultralight spin fishing than I had expected or even imagined.
I had thought that tenkara anglers and spin fishermen would be two fairly distinct and separate populations. Apparently not. The attraction seems to be ultralight - but whether it is ultralight fly fishing (tenkara) or ultralight spin fishing may not matter that much to a lot of people - certainly to a lot more people than I had expected.
And that is why this spinning rod is on the TenkaraBum site. I've known for a long time that a lot of tenkara anglers fish headwaters, and I know now that a lot of tenkara anglers fish with ultralight spinning rods. I am betting, though, that almost no one knows they can fish the headwaters with a spinning rod, or that a spinning rod specifically designed for headwaters streams even exists.
The Tenryu Rayz RZ39LL is just 3'9" long - which is very short for a spinning rod. However, it was made that short specifically for fishing in narrow, overgrown headwaters streams. Streams where you can't easily cast a 5' rod. Streams where not only is there no room for an overhand cast, in places there's no room for a sidearm cast. A lot of your casts will be underhand. Point the rod tip at your toes and then flick it forward.
You are not casting for distance, you are casting for accuracy. And as often as not, you are casting under low branches. (Some of the nicest fish I have ever caught were right under branches, making casting to them extremely difficult.)
Even though the Tenryu Rayz RZ39LL is a short little rod, it is not a toy. When matched with a reel that has a good drag, it can handle much larger fish than you will ever hook in the headwaters! Tenryu's description of the rod says it can handle 12" trout. Coach says I always underestimate the capability of the rods I sell. It seems I'm not alone. I know for a fact that Tenryu's claim is overly modest.
With the Tenryu Rayz RZ39LL I have caught fish substantially larger than the one shown above. Yes, I have photos, but I am not trying to position this as a rod for the main stream. You should understand, though, that if you want to fish the little feeder streams and the main stream both, you can do it with one rod (and if you happen to hook a bruiser, the rod can handle it).
Catching big fish, though, is not what a headwaters rod is all about. Mostly, you will catch 5-7 inchers and you'll want it to be fun. With the Tenryu Rayz RZ39LL it will be fun to catch the 5 inchers. I must admit I had forgotten the value of a good drag on a reel - if you happen to hook one three to four times that size, though, the reel will save you (and the rod).
One of the best things about the rod - certainly from a tenkara angler's point of view - is that it's a two piece rod and is only 23 1/4" long when broken down. That's a quarter inch shorter than the Suntech Kurenai. The rod fits in the Medium Rod Case!
I have had more than one person ask for a backpack spinning rod, and one guy said he wanted to carry two rods, a tenkara rod for the little streams and a spinning rod for the lakes. It would be very reasonable to pack a tenkara rod and the RZ39LL both! Tenryu also makes a couple 4-piece spinning rods that break down to an even shorter length, but at 5' they may be a bit long for the really small overgrown streams where the RZ39LL would be ideal and where the tenkara rod might not work at all.
Tenryu rates the rod as an LL, which is between light and ultra light. The specs indicate that you can cast lures as light as one gram (which is exactly the weight of the .7g C'ultiva JH-85 jig head and the 1.3" Pin Worm, shown above) or as heavy as 8 grams (1/4 oz).
However, because on a very small stream you're not casting for distance (and you're not catching 4 lb fish so you can use a very light line) you can cast things that weigh much less than one gram. If it looks a lot like the brookie above hit a bead head bugger, that's because it did! If your go-to small stream rod now is a Suntech Kurenai HM30R, you know that the one thing it doesn't do well is cast heavy bead heads.
Even small streams have holes deep enough that a bead head would be ideal.
Not too long ago, a guy asked on one of the Facebook tenkara pages about using small spinners with a tenkara rod. He was essentially ridiculed for even asking the question. It was a fair question - there have been "fly rod lures" for decades, although actually fewer now than there were decades ago. Two things have happened over the last 30-40 years: purists have taken over fly fishing and ultralight spinning gear has gotten a lot better.
Realistically, if you want to use the gear that works best for fishing tiny spinners or tiny spoons, ultralight spinning gear really does work better than either a fly rod or a tenkara rod. (Personally, I prefer little spoons over little spinners because they cause much less line twist.) And as Coach can attest to (but probably won't since he doesn't like getting soundly outfished on his home water) sometimes they work much better than flies!
As nice as the Tenryu Furaibo tenkara rods are, the Tenryu spinning and baitcasting rods are on a whole new level. In one of the Tenkara in Focus videos, Go Ishii said that many think Tenryu makes the best blanks but that they're better known for their lure rods. When you see and handle one of their lure rods you will know why.
The Tenryu Rayz RZ39LL grip is top quality cork. The reel seat has a beautiful hardwood insert, with a matching hardwood accent just in front of the metal rod butt. The guides are titanium frame K-series with SiC rings.
The rear grip (behind the spinning reel foot) is a short 110mm (about 4 3/8") on the RZ39LL, making it easy to execute underhand casts without the rear grip getting in the way.
When you put the two sections together, there will be a gap. That is normal. Do not force them.
If you have ever wanted to do a little spin fishing in really tiny streams - tiny enough that no one else fishes them, consider the Tenryu Rayz RZ39LL. It will be an eye opener!
Careful, though. I've now had two people tell me it's the dark side.
For a rod as light and short as the Tenryu Rayz RZ39LL it will feel best to pair it with a light reel. If you are going to fish the main stream as well as the feeder streams, you will want a reel with a very good drag (you could hook a 20" fish, but with a good drag you could land it).
I would suggest the Shimano Soare CI4+ 500S. It weighs only 4.9 oz. It has eight ball bearings and one roller bearing. The gear ratio is 5.6:1. One turn of the handle retrieves 27" of line. Line capacity is more than you'll ever need (115m of 2#, 100m of 2.5# or 70m of 3#). Maximum practical drag is 4.4#. (More than your practical line strength!)
Note: the reel shown in the photos above is the Shimano Cardiff CI4+ C2000HGS, which is the reel I recommended before the Soare CI4+ 500S was introduced. The Soare reel is smaller and lighter, and a better match for the RZ39LL rod.
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|Just read your article on the Tenryu Rayz spinning rod! I am one of those that carry both an ultralight spinning rod and one or two Tenkara rods into the backcountry: my little Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 270, maybe my 12-ft Iwana, and a 4-1/2 ft, 2-piece UL spinning rod loaded with 4-lb test. I like to fish the small creeks and beaver ponds in the Colorado Rockies, then have the spinning rod to get out into the high lakes which are usually my destination. I thought I was the only one carrying both types of rods! Now I lust after that nice little spinning outfit on your most recent blog: nice to know such a high-quality, light combo exists, tho at a price. Thanks for talking about gear that "purists" might scoff at. I just like to catch fish!
Jennifer A, Colorado
One of the cool things about this rod is that you just want to use it. I find myself seeking hard to reach places just to see the short 3’9” rod shine. While you can fish the rod anywhere, taking it to an overgrown stream is where this rod will wow you. The ability to cast with accuracy in the tight spots is as fun as it is effective.
Jeff R, Texas
On the first cast with the Tenryu Rayz RZ39LL, I hooked an 8 inch Pike Minnow. It was a fun battle, and I can't believe the sensitivity as well as the backbone in such a light short rod.
I thought I had casting control with the Spectra. With the shorter rod, I was dropping the spoon within a half inch of weed clumps!
Les A, Idaho
I am enjoying this rod too much! It has been talked a lot about how convenient the shortness is in the brush. Yesterday I fished for 15 minutes, and caught 2 nice trout with the RZ39LL from the creek I cross on the way to work! I fished a Shimano swimmer. With this shorter rod, at least for an older dude like me, I find that I have much more control than with a 5' rod.
These were my first two trout caught in an actual stream with the RZ39LL. I am impressed with the backbone. Both of these trout were between 16 and 17 inches. I am not so sure I really need a baitcaster for precision anymore! I was getting that spoon under brush hanging over the edge of the creek that was less than 6 inches from the water! I didn't have one hang up either.
Maybe I'm just a slow learner, but I am amazed at the precision casting that is possible with the RZ39LL. Strategic casting is new to me! Too many years in my youth was spent trying to cast as far as possible. I am loving this new kind of fishing!
Les A, Idaho