Tenkara for Backpackers: State of the Market Report – Part 1
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Aug 13, 2013 at 3:37 pm #1306502Stephanie JordanSpectator
@maiaLocale: Rocky Mountains
Companion forum thread to:Aug 14, 2013 at 6:48 am #2015157
Nice rod overview.
Thanks.Aug 14, 2013 at 9:40 am #2015194
A great article for serious and not so serious backpack fisher(wo)men.
The weight of some of the poles justifies bringing a rod even if you aren't that much into fishing, but would enjoy it every now and then when on the trail.Aug 14, 2013 at 10:07 am #2015199
Great article Chris, very helpful.
I must confess that after using my Soyokaze 27 all last summer, my Amago lost so much shine by comparison that I sold it. The light weight and quick, telepathic casting of the Soyokaze is so good. I need a big fish sub for the Amago, hopefully with some of the attributes of the Soyokaze, and am wondering if the Kozuka might be it.
[It should be said that Mr. Stewart owns TenkaraBum.com, where one can buy many of the aforelisted rods. As a customer I've been quite satisfied with his service.]Aug 14, 2013 at 10:22 am #2015205
I have the Kozuka, and it is indeed capable of big fish in fast water.
The limitation is the tippet and the skill of the angler, not the rod.Aug 14, 2013 at 10:29 am #2015211
Thanks Greg. What length do you have? Can you compare the casting action to other rods you may have owned? I appreciate it.Aug 14, 2013 at 10:34 am #2015213Leonard IngallsBPL Member
@lci2000Locale: Southwest USA
Thanks Chris … great article! Where can the Fountainhead Stone Fly 330 be had here in the USA?Aug 14, 2013 at 11:32 am #2015224
Full Disclosure: I fish the Arkansas River, which is fairly high gradient, and ranges from 30' to 100' wide, with everything from cascades to half mile long structureless pools. Significant wind is typical. I typically land fat 14" rainbows and browns, and occasional 16" and 18", as well as a lot of skinny 14s and smaller. In the warmer weather I fish 80% beadheads and 20% kebari, and in the winter Heavy beadheads and body weighted nymphs. I've been fishing tenkara about 2 years, and before that, not at all. I think it is fair to say that I know just enough to be dangerous.
For big fish in fast water my two relevant rods would be a Daiwa Kiyose 33SF and a TenkaraUSA Amago. I've fished about 300 days with the Amago, which you know well. For me it handles big fish OK, but it seems to lack sufficient stiffness throughout to provide good control. I have fished it fearlessly, and it has taken the abuse, but I often felt I wasn't really in control of the fish, even though I was able land them. The Amago is too soft to handle a couple of heavy winter nymphs. Casting turns into a slow lob a best. (So use this description as a gauge of my perspective.)
I've fished the Kiyose about 40 days and really enjoyed it. At 10'8" it was a little short for my style of fishing, but is stiff enough to handle fat rainbows in quick water. And I have to say that the shorter length returns the leverage advantage to the angler versus the 13'6" of the Amago. I just need to improve line management so I become more effective at landing a fish on a 20' rig. With a #4 Level Line it handles the wind well.
The Kozuka 39NT is stiffer all around. Casts tandem heavies (1.5 grams total) fairly well. Casts a traditional #12 kebari on a #3.5 just fine. Where the Kiyose has some suppleness the Kozuka has very little. It is stiff and it feels stiff. But there is no question about who is in control when a big fish is on. As a friend said "You could herd small animals with this!" I have hauled big fish across fast water and into an eddy with ease (on 4X tippet). When I want to steer a fish I can steer. It is night and day over the Amago. (I have about 30 days on the Kozuka.)
On the feel, fit, and finish side of things I like the Kiyose over the Kozuka. It's a personal thing, but I just like the way it feels in my hand. (Maybe it's the shorter length.) It is a struggle to get the Kozuka to collapse at the end of the day. Give Kiyose a small tap and it releases. With the Kozuka it takes several stiff blows for each section. And on a Highly personal note, I found the color scheme on the Kozuka atrocious. It is now a uniform flat black.
I have been poking around trying to find a Kiyose 39, but to no avail. I like the Kiyose well enough that I will probably give it another shot, despite the 2' difference in length.
I have heard that a number of folks prefer the Kozuka over the Kiyose. You probably can't go wrong.Aug 14, 2013 at 3:03 pm #2015292
Thanks Greg, that's very helpful.
I want a rod shorter than the Amago, with at least as much backbone, and a snappier casting action. Hucking dries for big trout, as well as nymphing and streamer slinging in cooler weather. Sounds like either would do.Aug 14, 2013 at 4:01 pm #2015313
Sometime in September and again in October I'll be in the woods for a couple of weeks and won't be needing them.
If you want to compare them side by side, email me – greg attt smgm dottt orgAug 15, 2013 at 10:37 pm #2015723And ESpectator
@lunchandynnerLocale: Pacific Northwest
Unfortunately, I happen to be the only Asian person I know/have heard of that is allergic to fish (no, not shellfish or molluscs, arthropods, bivalves, crustaceans, etc. Just fish). My throat seals up and I get terrible stomach cramps if I accidentally eat fish. I have an epipen for it.
It sucks something fierce as I'd love to sit out there and fish for fish. It always looks so damn tasty. dT.TbAug 16, 2013 at 1:36 am #2015740
My sister is allergic to fish and I once had a cat that was allergic to fish.
Ever try to find commercial cat food that doesn't contain fish?
Anyway, I tend throw most of the fish I catch back.
The exception was a week in Yellowstone wilderness where I ate trout for every meal and still threw back most of the fish I caught.Aug 16, 2013 at 7:22 am #2015773JohnBPL Member
@johnnyh88Locale: The SouthWest
You can buy the Stone Fly rods here:
My first (and only) Tenkara rod is the 360 Fountainhead Stone Fly. As a beginner, maybe I don't know what I'm missing, but I've never felt the need to try anything different. I've been using the same rod with the same line and fly all summer with good success. I've certainly never blamed the rod for the times I don't catch fish :)Aug 16, 2013 at 7:47 am #2015778Ronald StokleyBPL Member
Elkhorn 12'0" nine piece 6/3 Tenkara rod. Med/fast action excelent quality. Replacement parts available. Introductory priced at only $99 each. Carrying case and sock included. Available from http://www.elkhornrodandreel.com
COPilgrimAug 16, 2013 at 7:52 am #2015780Aug 16, 2013 at 12:01 pm #2015843Jay JohnsonMember
Right now TenkaraUSA has a sale on their remaining Iwana 11' rods for $125 rather than buying the more expensive 12 footer and buying the handle to make it 11 ft. I also suggest going to TenkaraBum.com for not just tenkara supplies, but also some great info on Tenkara in general. Both TUSA and TBUM have excellent customer service, I would recommend both any day of the week.Aug 16, 2013 at 7:14 pm #2015967Trace RichardsonBPL Member
A lot of the stuff on TenkaraUSA is sold out, so I found this package from Orvis for the 12 ft Iwana …. worth a look if you're looking for 12 ft Iwana …. http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=7Y33
Update: looks like a lot of the inventory is back in stock …Aug 19, 2013 at 1:41 am #2016504Leon MoonenBPL Member
@leonmoonenLocale: Oslo surroundings, Norway
Thanks for this overview. The selection is (understandably) focused on the rods that are for sale in the US, which makes it a bit more difficult for me to get one as I live in Norway. Luckily, I happen to go to Tokyo in a few weeks, which may be a perfect opportunity to finally get one :-)
Could anyone offer some advise on which entry-level tenkara rod to get in Tokyo and where to look for them? (as I'm not yet sure if I really get into this, I would probably aim more at the Shimotsuke or Fountainhead price-level if I lived in the US; not sure how that level translates to Japanese/Tokyo rod prices though).Aug 19, 2013 at 5:19 am #2016515
Regarding Tenkara in Tokyo, contact Chis, the author of the article. I know he has traveled their and met many dealers in Tokyo.Aug 19, 2013 at 5:58 am #2016523diego deanBPL Member
Not much to add, except that I just did a trip in the Sawtooths and fished for the first time using a tenkara rod. Ive not fished in years asI rarely have any luck. But I was catching trout left and right , and it added immensely to my fun factor.Aug 19, 2013 at 10:13 am #2016575Adam KlagsBPL Member
@klagsLocale: Northeast USA
Yeah I suggest also buying the 11 foot Iwana on sale for $125. The rods are beautiful, they are just the right length and weight for all around use, come with a great rod tube that you can beat the crap out of (although its heavy.)
I also like the Daiwa Soyukoze rod I bought from Chris at Tenkara Bum. Its smaller and lighter and goes where you normally can't go to cast with a longer rod. But they unfortunately discontinued. Chris also sells some flies that I really like and have had lots of success with the setup I bought on the site.
I just took my rod on a trip in the moose river plains wilderness – tiny streams that run through swamps, places you just really can't cast, no shore on the tiny placid lakes, no opportunities to wade because of insane boot-swallowing mud – and I found that I could use the bow and arrow case or simply dangle my line down into the few openings and catch fish. It was great. Lots of very small fish that normally won't bite are going for the line too, its fun!
I always bring my rod along on my backpacking trips and am frequently surprised where I find fish. Nothing wrong with using a size 18 tenkara fly or a tiny bugger like an ausable ugly to catch fish every time!Aug 19, 2013 at 2:14 pm #2016629Adam KlagsBPL Member
@klagsLocale: Northeast USA
Hey Chris had a post on his site where he visited a famous fishing supply store in Tokyo and checked out a number of different rods that weren't available here, it maybe of some help. You can probably find it on hist site tenkarabum.Aug 21, 2013 at 4:55 am #2017221Leon MoonenBPL Member
@leonmoonenLocale: Oslo surroundings, Norway
I couldn't find that particular blog post but I did send an email to Chris to which he kindly replied. Here's some info for future travellers that is based on his reply:
Since I'm staying in Shinjuku, my first stop is going to be the Sansui shop in Shinjuku: http://tokyoflyfishing.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/proshop-sansui-shinjuku-shinjuku/
It is not certain they will have tenkara rods in stock, but it would be worth stopping there anyway to get detailed instructions on how to find the correct branch in Shibuya.
The Sansui branch in Shibuya is the shop that seems to be best known for tenkara rods (at least among westerners) of any in Tokyo. It is very close to the train station, but there are three Sansui branches within a couple blocks of each other and only one has tenkara equipment.
The best “entry level” rod Chris recommended is the Shimano LLS33NB or LLS36NB, both of which the Shibuya Sansui should have.
Finally, if buying in Tokyo doesn't work out I can always order from him as he ships internationally (and those blue rod cases do look really tempting ;-))Aug 29, 2013 at 5:56 am #2019756Craig PriceBPL Member
Try tom davis' site at teton tenkara. Tom also has a wide range of rods and compares them usefully with a slightly different approach to Chris. Adds to the info to help a prospective buyer.Aug 29, 2013 at 6:59 am #2019770
Note that the Rod Flex Index was developed after the 12 Month Review, so you won't see it referenced in the reviews. It is an excellent tool for comparing two rod characteristics.
But, to confound things a little more, Tom's Oni Rod Review shows that some things just aren't quantifiable.
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