November 10, 2013

New Rod Offering From Tenkara USA

Now that I have your attention...  I don't know what the new rods from Tenkara USA are...but recent indications in the Tenkara USA forum are that they are coming.  Very soon....

So with that said, what would you like to see in new offerings from Tenkara USA?  I have some wishes myself, and while I'm sure all of them won't be addressed, I'm hopeful one or two might.

1)  A "Don't call it Tanago" rod.  What I mean is a shorter, lighter version of the Iwana.  Something folks that fish brushy streams can use without freaking out above every overhanging tree branch.  I'm not going to get into the need for a cork handle, that makes no difference to me.  It's clear there is definitely demand for smaller, lighter rods...I'm sure Chris Stewart will tell you he sells plenty of "Headwaters" models.  Why fight it?

Nissin Air Stage 290
Image courtesy

2)  A short(er) zoom rod.  Tenkara USA offers the longer zoom rod, the Ito, which extends from 13 feet long to slightly over 14 and a half.  Something on the lower end of the spectrum would be pretty awesome as well.  A rod that goes from 9 to 11, or perhaps 11 to 13, would be a nice fit.  I'd probably buy one.  Want to take it a step further with a dual zoom?  9 to 11 to 13....that would be interesting, and perhaps a game-changer for those looking for "one rod" to go along with their "one fly."  Go, go gadget tenkara rod!

3)  A true "big fish" rod.  It seems on most tenkara forums or websites, the question comes up, "what's the best 'big fish' tenkara rod?"  Tenkara has captivated fishermen and not all live by mountain streams home to 8" trout.  They live near bass or carp or who knows what else and want to go catch them.  Some people mistake rod length for power, and assume the Ito is the "big fish" offering from Tenkara USA, when it is probably the Amago.  While they aren't truly "tenkara" rods and may stray a bit from what the company was built on, there are larger rods offered by overseas companies that address this need, it would be nice to see a Tenkara USA version.

4)  Different handle applications.  All of the Tenkara USA rods currently have cork handles, but many different grip options are showing up all of the time.  From dense, black foam to bamboo to rattan wraps to bare graphite, there are a bunch of intriguing options out there from other manufacturers.  Tenkara USA used to dabble with a wooden handled rod, but that has long gone obsolete.  Daniel could go a lot of different ways, but a foam gripped opening pricepoint rod or a bamboo (or rattan wrapped) premium rod would make a lot of sense to diversify assortment.

5)  A 5:5 offering.  When Tenkara USA first launched, there were several 5:5 options.  Today, you won't find any.  Now some of that has to do with re-categorizing rods, as the 11' Iwana was originally marketed as a 5:5 rod and later switched to 6:4, and perhaps some of it was due to slow sales.  I don't know the reason, but the absence is noticeable, especially since I really enjoy fishing the once-offered 5:5 Ebisu.  It might be my favorite Tenkara USA rod.

There are probably other things you would like to see, but that is my short list.
If you have wants, needs, or ideas, I'd love to hear them in the comments below...


  1. Perhaps Tenkara USA don't offer 5:5 rods anymore because there is no market for these rods. Most of western tenkara anglers use fly patterns that require faster and stronger rods so it's perhaps not profitable to stock slower action rods.

    1. I agree with you, and noted, it's probably due to lack of demand. That said, the 5:5 I own casts beautifully. I'd love to see at least one offering.

  2. A 5:5 would be nice. I think that is what many if not most tenkara fisherman end up likening. That being said, the ito is pretty close. It handles very close to the 5:5 I have used. What I would like to see in a new TUSA rod is: a) not a zoom rod. I have two, and like them, but overall, the single length rods handle better. B) lighter than the ayu ii. The you ii is a very nice rod, but it is really heavy. C) different handle shapes. I have fished two of the tenkara times rods, and find their handle design the best I have used, I do actually like the foam handle they make. Some different options on TUSA would be nice. I would even be up for a custom selection/assemble your own handle package. There are a lot of people interested in building tenkara rods, maybe this could feed that market. D) a unique rod. There are a lot of 11-12ft 6:4 rods showing up on the market from all companies. They aren't all bad, but at this point, everyone has one or could get one easily, without having any unique choices. It would b nice if TUSA would make something with a very different action or length. With the exception of TUSA and maybe one or two other western companies, there just isn't any big difference in most western "made" rods.

    1. Great comments, feedback.

      1) The Ayu II is nice, but totally agree with the weight. I'm happy with mine, but compared to other rods, it is a pig.

      2) Couldn't agree more on the handle piece. I've tried to figure out a way to make some sort of universal handle "add-on" that would fit multiple rods, but haven't cracked that code yet.

      3) Difference would be great. I wouldn't be opposed to something really high end, given the price point was warranted.

  3. Think I'll check in with Daniel if he's at the ISE show in January or the fly fishing show in Pleasanton in February. I would be very interested in a shorter rod for some of those small creeks I fish.

  4. I agree with your first point for sure. This Saturday I was cursing the overhanging laurels in the tight corners of the small stream in George Washington National Forest and wishing for a shorter option without having to telescope my rod down. I think I could go to a 7 or 9 ft in most of those small brookie streams and still do well. It will be intresting to see what they have in the works.

  5. There are some shorter rods available through tenkara bum or with traditional fly fishing. I would much rather see TUSA generate something altogether new, though I am not completely clear what that means. Tenkara bum is definitely worth your business