Yesterday was a pretty big day in the tenkara gear world. Tenkara USA announced the release of two new rods, as well as the first tenkara-only print magazine. The rods are pretty interesting as they are on the shorter end of the spectrum and have some very unique features.
As I've hinted here before, I've actually had advance samples of these rods for about three weeks now...I just wasn't allowed to talk about them...so maybe that reaction above is a little staged. But first impressions are that these rods are pretty freakin' cool. They both are "Triple Zoom" rods that can be fished at three different lengths, and also have a patent pending cap storage system...but more on that in a bit.
From Tenkara USA:
RHODO – Triple-zoom 8’10”/ 9’9”/10’6” (270/297/320cm), with “Keep your Plug™” system (patent pending) – $215
Despite its beautiful flowers sometimes anglers find themselves losing flies to the overreaching branches of the rhododendron. We developed the Rhodo, a tenkara rod that can be fished short when things get tight, or longer when the stream opens up. Since we began Tenkara USA people have been asking for a sub-9ft tenkara rod. We felt that a short rod could come in handy in some cases but for the most part anglers would miss the advantage that comes from fishing with a long tenkara rod. So, for years we have been working on developing a rod that could be the best of both worlds: short when you need it, long when you want it! That's what she said.
SATO – Triple-zoom 10’8”/ 11’10”/12’9” (330-360-390cm), with “Keep your Plug™” system (patent pending) - $215
The Sato rod is named after Mr. Ernest Satow, an avid mountaineer who was the first person to make a written record of tenkara. The Tenkara USA Sato is a compact and lightweight tenkara rod. At its shorter length it is perfect for tighter streams, and at its full length it will be ideal when the stream opens up again or when you find a bigger pool to cast your fly. The average length for a tenkara rod is 12ft long, we like to recommend rods that are closer to 13ft, yet many people are intimidated by such long lengths for rods intended for smaller streams. So, we felt a rod with the 3 most common lengths would be an easy choice: short to ease you into tenkara, long to give you a taste of the advantages presented by a long tenkara rod.
Now if you're a TENKARADORK™ like me, you probably know that not all of what is noted above is new. Yes, there are other rods that are more than adequate for tenkara fishing that have the "triple zoom" feature...you'll also find other rods with similar (thinner) graphite blanks. The combination of both...maybe, maybe not.
Clearly the unique thing here is the “Keep your Plug™” system...which basically allows you to store your tip plug in the butt end of the handle while fishing. A lot of tenkara anglers lose or misplace their tip plugs while fishing and this self-contained solution just makes it so much more convenient than tossing in the bottom of a gear bag, fly box, or random jacket/wader pocket.
I do have to say that the term "Keep your Plug™" system is kind of awkward, Tenkara USA probably could have called it the "Butt Plug" system, although...ummm...I'm not sure how trademarkable a term that is...but I digress...(c'mon, that was a layup)...
I'll have more on these rods in upcoming days, I've been fortunate to have fished (and caught fish) with both over the past two weeks. While I wish it was beautiful Valley Creek brown trout taking my kebari, instead they were aggressive Florida bass & bluegill. That said I'll tell you now that the rods handled both well, so warmwater folks, don't be scared off by the petite appearance and short(er) lengths.
In the meantime, if you just need more, more, more, check out the early reviews at Tenkara Talk & Teton Tenkara. Those guys will probably give you better actual product info & insight than I ever will, but will also leave out sex toy jokes. Sorry, you can't win 'em all...
Oh, and not to toot my own horn, but take a look back at my predictions on what these rumored rods might be...well before I received any demo rods. Two out of five ain't bad. Just call me Nostradamus. N! for short. Or poopie-head. That's what Lilly calls me.