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/model||handle length||closed length||extended lengths||pennies*||weight||unique feature(s)||best for|
|Tenryu TF39TA||10 in||14 in||10 ft 10 in; 11 ft 9 in; 12 ft 9 in||15.5; 16.5; 17 ||2.8 oz||fiberglass content for smoother action in casting level lines and finer control over accuracy, extremely compact||expert fishers who predominantly use level lines, who want a very compact rod for backpacking|
|Tenkara Tenkara USA Hane (BPL model)||8.5 in||16.5 in||9 ft 10 in||46 ||2.7 oz||short length for small streams, fast action makes this a very easy rod to cast, extremely compact, lots of power for big fish control||small stream backpacking, kids, beginners|
|Tenkara USA Rhodo||9 in||20.5 in||8 ft 10 in; 9 ft 9 in; 10 ft 6 in||15; 15.5; 15 ||2.1 oz||light weight, short rod, very easy to cast||compact streams, delicate presentation of smaller flies|
|Tenkara USA Satoki||11.75 in||22.25 in||10 ft 10 in; 12 ft 2 in; 13 ft 8 in||26.5 ||3.5 oz||very wide zoom range||larger fish, versatile enough zoom range and handle length for wide variety of streams, rivers, and alpine lakes|
|Tenkara USA Ito||11.75 in||25.5 in||13 ft; 14 ft 7 in||15; 15 ||3.9 oz||long length, soft action||long lines, bigger rivers, alpine lakes|
* 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 Tenkarabum.com.  Source: Tenkara Bum.  Source: Teton Tenkara.  Source: author (10 ft 10 in length only).
- 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.
Browse our curated recommendations in the Backpacking Light Gear Shop – a product research & discovery tool where you can find Member gear reviews, Gear Swap (used gear) listings, and more info about specific products recommended by our staff and members.
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