The Best Tenkara Rod Reviews 2017 – All You Need To Know

Best tenkara rod reviews

What is the first thing you think of when someone mentions Japan? Surely, anime, samurai tradition, and ninjas are the first ones, but there is more than that. Being the land with a high fish consumption, Japan developed several interesting approaches to fishing, some of which even include birds. With such tradition, it is not surprising that we have considered tenkara’s approach.

It is amusing and yet traditional way of approach to fishing. People who have gone fishing this way said that it is interesting because of its system and the sense of accomplishment is high because you are putting more effort into it. Today we’re helping you find the best tenkara rod on the market. Let’s cast it out!

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*Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

What Is Tenkara Rod?

Originally, you can consider tenkara rods as a subclass of fly-fishing rods. Besides their flexibility and handlebar which is moved in front of the reel, this kind of rod is more or less the same as the standard one. Tenkara goes beyond that. Utilizing minimalistic approach, it doesn’t even have a reel or line guides. Instead, the line is tied to the top of the rod, similar to those which kids are making.

This approach has its pros and cons, of course. As for positive sides, tenkara rod is highly flexible when it comes to space. All you need to do is to unfold it, attach the fly and cast. This is why tenkara is very convenient for hikers, people who don’t want to spend a lot of money and are ones tight with space. The matter of bait is also nicely solved because you are using artificial one, which you can make by yourself. The need of live bait is thus eliminated, as well as troubling yourself with it.

On the other side, this kind of rod makes you unable to loosen the line to reduce the tension, meaning that in case you catch a bigger fish than your rod supports, it is likely that the line or the rod will snap. However, the places where you should use tenkara rod are unlikely to contain big fish, so you should be okay. Additionally, fishing this way will give you an excellent feel of the line, and you will improve your angling too.

When And How To Properly Use Tenkara Fishing Rod?

As we said, tenkara rods are subspecies of standard fly-fishing ones. In general, wherever you can use the standard one, tenkara will do just fine. Still, in case that you lack information, here is a quick reminder.

A mountain stream is a great place to start. The fish which lives here is less likely to be big, because of the shallow water. Therefore, you may expect trout and perhaps salmon here. Trout is the sign that you are fishing at the very clean stream, so it is safe to eat it if you wish.

Shallows of the lake are also common places for fishers when it comes to fly-fishing, but since the lake is stationary water, you can expect usual fish which lives in rivers, such as bass, carp, perch, and catfish. The latter is particularly challenging for fly-fishing because it can often be quite large. Still, since it lives mostly near the bottom, it is less likely that you will catch one of these.

Fly-fishing is possible from the boat as well, but in this case, always stay safe, and carry life-saving vest. You never know if the boat will tip over.

As for the way of using the tenkara, there are two approaches, of which we have concluded that rolling is the most effective. You will simply cast the fly, and by using the tip of the rod; you will make moves like when cracking the whip, only slower. The point is to imitate the movement of the insect so that it will attract the fish.

On the other hand, if there is enough room, the simple overhead cast will do the trick. What is truly important is to spot the place where the fish could be. If the surface is calm, you can spot the wrinkles which the fish makes when it comes closer to the surface. Of course, you should not aim for it, but a bit upstream, and leave the current to carry the fly closer to it.

What To Look For When Buying A Tenkara Rod?

Like with every other fishing rod you are preparing to buy, there are several things which must be seriously considered while browsing for the best tenkara rod. Here’s the list of features which served us as a guideline when we chose the best:​

The strength

With this factor, the more usually means the best. The stronger the rod is, the heavier catch it can subdue without snapping or damaging. Also, the strength is directly connected to thickness and weight of the rod, but thanks to modern science, there are composite materials which are lightweight, and still durable as their cheaper and heavier counterparts. Speaking of the material, the handle is usually wrapped with cork, which is great material because it is not slippery even when it gets wet.

The length

Usually, longer rod means better sensitivity and bigger reach, but it shouldn’t be too long because it will take a lot of space in your bag. Moreover, a long rod might give you the sense of clumsiness, so finding a compromise between these is of the essence. On the other hand, shorter ones might prove to be more convenient when there is not enough room to cast, so you should take place where you will be fishing into consideration. Therefore, those of medium length are the best, because you can use them almost everywhere and they provide enough strength.

The price

The less you pay, the better this is general advice which we can give you on this matter. Still, if you find a very quality rod at a bit higher price, but still under the value of rod itself, you should seriously consider it, but this consideration must be based upon your plan on how often and how seriously you will fish. If you intend to fish only from time to time, then the cheaper one should be your primary target. But, if you have been fishing for a while, then a bit more expensive tenlara rod should be in your focus.

Additional equipment

Some manufacturers include the rod only, and the price for these (although quality rods) might be high. Others seek to impress buyers with their full package and are in general preferable if you are a beginner. Also, if the manufacturer can provide you with spare parts at low cost, this is another plus because you will not have to bother with searching for those.

Top 5 Best Tenkara Rod Reviews On The Market

*Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

1. DRAGONtail Tenkara Shadowfire 12' Complete Starter Package

12-inch Dragontail Tenkara Shadow fire

Via Amazon.com

The first thing noticeable about this product is how much equipment you get for the price. The line, three flies, tube and soft sock, as well as the rod, are all included in this pack. Surely, this company means business and cares about its buyers.

With its 12ft length, this rod is not too big, nor too small. Still, for this length, we have expected a bit heavier rod, but it is not the case. It is quite lightweight, which proves that modern materials are used and that there are no compromises.

As for strength, it is suitable for medium-sized fish, but we feel that even with a bit of heavier ones, there will be no problems. The fact that graphite fibers are included in the mixture only verifies the statement.

The matter of price is also nicely solved because it is very affordable, so you will not spend a fortune.

Things We Liked

  • Low price
  • The whole set included
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Well-balanced

Things We Didn't Like

  • None

2. DRAGONtail Tenkara HELLbender Zoom 13'

Dragontail Tenkara Hellbender 13-11.3’ Zoom

Via Amazon.com

For those who consider tackling some stronger and heavier game, this set will be perfect. Again, you get the whole DRAGONtail package like on the previous product for the somewhat higher price, but this is no wonder, since this rod is meant for a bit heavier game, and thus its price.

Its strength is impressive, with manufacturer stating that you can deal with trout up to 22 pounds, which is quite a formidable opponent. Carbon graphite is used in its construction, which improves the durability and strength.

As for dimensions, 13 feet seems quite long but is appropriate for this rod. Its folded length might be a trouble because it is 24 inches; it may not fit in your backpack very good.

The price might be a bit troublesome because we have felt that it is a bit high, but if you keep in mind that this is the whole package (line holder, leader, storage tube, tippet, flies, and rod sock), then it is not that bad.

Things We Liked

  • Durable, yet responsive
  • The whole set included
  • Can tackle even heavier fish

Things We Didn't Like

  • Could cost a little less
  • Mainly intended for a bit more serious fishers

3. DRAGONtail Tenkara Shadowfire 360 12’

DRAGONtail Tenkara Shadowfire 360 12’

Via Amazon.com

With all three first places taken by the same company, it is no wonder that we have liked all of them. This product features the rod from the winning product, but without the additional equipment.

Strengthened by the same IM 10 graphite fibers as the winner, it is very resilient and resistant to breaks and cracks. The materials also include quality cork as well as stainless steel.

Given that it is only a rod with a cover and tube, the price seems a bit higher, and for just a few dollars more you can get a lot more.

Things We Liked

  • Responsive
  • Lightweight
  • Strong

Things We Didn't Like

  • Should be cheaper
  • You should buy it only if the rod from the 1st place broke, and you need replacement, or if you already have additional equipment

4. Maxcatch Tenkara Rod Telescoping Carbon

Maxcatch Tenkara Rod Telescoping Carbon

Via Amazon.com

The first thing you will notice about this rod is that it is available in two sizes, and is the only one with this feature on this list. Although it is a nice decision from the manufacturer, it simply wasn’t enough to push it higher on the list.

The strength seems decent and can deal with medium-sized fish, but for anything lighter than that, it appears that it is a bit unresponsive. This could be due to the composite materials, as it seems that manufacturer opted for a bit stiffer ones.

The cork of which the handle is made seems comfortable, but again, nothing special. Other materials include steel and plastic.

As for the price of this rod, although it is very affordable, we think that even if it is that low, it should at least include a fishing line. Also, because of the low price, this rod is intended for beginners, and they might be confused with the instructions which were not so clear as they should be.

Things We Liked

  • Lightweight
  • Low price

Things We Didn't Like

  • No additional equipment
  • Unclear instructions
  • A bit unresponsive

5. Tenkara Rod Co. The Cascade

Tenkara Rod Co. The Cascade

Via Amazon.com

Brightly-blue colored, this rod is just that – a beautiful sight. But if you don’t have kids, you should probably avoid it.

With the length of just 8 feet, this rod is best used in shallow water, where you can expect a bit lighter game. Although small dimensions have their advantages, such as low space requirements, it still lacks the freedom of choice, so you can hardly use this rod on a lake, for instance. Of course, if you are an occasional fisher, it will suit you nicely.

What puts out this rod in a negative way is its price. It is way too high, for just a rod. At this price, you can get an excellent package, with everything included. The material used might be good, but still, it would not be an investment, but robbery.

Considering that the manufacturer states that this rod is perfect for kids and those who are learning how to fish, the price of it should be lower by 2/3.

Things We Liked

  • Good for tight spaces
  • Ideal for kids

Things We Didn't Like

  • Being the smallest and the most expensive rod on the list just not goes well together

Conclusion

As we said, DRAGONtail Tenkara Shadowfire 12' Complete Starter Package is a clear winner. Although DRAGONtail is not a big manufacturer, they made a great move with this, because you get the whole package at a reasonable price. If you feel that you will go fly-fishing more than once, then look no further, this is your primary suspect.

The others have their use, of course, but this one seems well-suited for all situations. It is equally suitable for beginners as well as for those who have been fishing for a while. In any case, these are merely our suggestions, so whether you will follow them or not, it is entirely up to you. What we would like is to hear your experiences and tips on how to be better at fly-fishing, so share your knowledge in our comment section below.

    Patterson Riley

    I'm Patterson, and I’m absolutely in love with fishing blogs. At the weekend, I usually go fishing with my best friends. So, I build this blog to share all the information about it by my passion.

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