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June 10 2012

What’s a tenkara rod?

Consider this a public service announcement. Since we introduced tenkara outside of Japan in 2009, a number of rods have appeared in the market, being offered as tenkara rods, and a number of people with passing knowledge of the method have jumped on the bandwagon to offer their “alternative” to tenkara. This has translated into every kind of telescopic rod being marketed as a “tenkara-style rod”, whether it is designed for tenkara or not.

This greatly concerns me. There is a reason there are rods specifically made for tenkara. There is a reason I design rods for tenkara and rely on feedback from tenkara teachers in Japan for making our rods the best possible tools for tenkara. And there is a reason you can visit any tackle shop in Japan, or open the pages of the larger Japanese fishing magazines, and find tenkara rods next to cheaper telecopic hera rods (for carp), telescopic keiryu rods (for stream bait-fishing, generally trout), and telescopic tanago rods (for “micro-fishing”); yet just like a fly-fisherman in the US wouldn’t use a spinning for for fly-fishing, no tenkara angler would use the other rods for tenkara. In sum, there are reasons the rods look different and are marketed for entirely different purposes.

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