There are hundreds of makes and models of tenkara fishing rods on the market today. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert at using all of them! In this video overview, I present the five rods that I’ve been using over the past few years for most of my backcountry tenkara fishing. They include four models from Tenkara USA (including the new Satoki) and one model from Tenryu (the TF39TA) that remains the staple of my kit. In addition, I’ll walk through the basic gear I use and take while tenkara fishing on hiking and backpacking trips.


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Tenkara Rod Comparison

make/modelhandle lengthclosed lengthextended lengthspennies*weightunique feature(s)best for
Tenryu TF39TA10 in14 in10 ft 10 in; 11 ft 9 in; 12 ft 9 in15.5; 16.5; 17 [1]2.8 ozfiberglass content for smoother action in casting level lines and finer control over accuracy, extremely compactexpert fishers who predominantly use level lines, who want a very compact rod for backpacking
Tenkara Tenkara USA Hane (BPL model)8.5 in16.5 in9 ft 10 in46 [1]2.7 ozshort length for small streams, fast action makes this a very easy rod to cast, extremely compact, lots of power for big fish controlsmall stream backpacking, kids, beginners
Tenkara USA Rhodo9 in20.5 in8 ft 10 in; 9 ft 9 in; 10 ft 6 in15; 15.5; 15 [2]2.1 ozlight weight, short rod, very easy to castcompact streams, delicate presentation of smaller flies
Tenkara USA Satoki11.75 in22.25 in10 ft 10 in; 12 ft 2 in; 13 ft 8 in26.5 [3]3.5 ozvery wide zoom rangelarger fish, versatile enough zoom range and handle length for wide variety of streams, rivers, and alpine lakes
Tenkara USA Ito11.75 in25.5 in13 ft; 14 ft 7 in15; 15 [1]3.9 ozlong length, soft actionlong lines, bigger rivers, alpine lakes

Table Notes:

* The number of pennies (a measure of weight, where one penny = 2.5 grams) hanging from the rod tip, when the rod is fixed horizontally, that results in a deflection of the tip equivalent to one-third the rod length. Learn more at [1] Source: Tenkara Bum. [2] Source: Teton Tenkara. [3] Source: author (10 ft 10 in length only).

tenkara rod and trout
An easy dinner in the Flat Tops Wilderness with the Tenryu TF39TA, a furled line, and a foam hopper.


  • For the minimalist who wants the absolute simplest and easiest to use setup – the Tenkara USA Hane.
  • For the beginner who wants the versatility of a zoom rod but mostly fishes small streams – the Tenkara USA Rhodo.
  • For the dedicated alpine lake fisher who needs maximum reach with long lines – the Tenkara USA Ito.
  • For the expert fly fisher who happens to backpack – the Tenryu TF39TA.
  • For maximum versatility in zoom range and the ability to wrangle big fish – the Tenkara USA Satoki.
tenkara hane rod and brook trout
Shore lunch in the Big Horns. Brookies caught by the kids (ages 6-10) on the Tenkara USA Hane with a furled line and Parachute Adams.

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