Still looking for a holiday gift? What about the most innovative tenkara rods around?
Louis Cahill from the must-follow blog Gink & Gasoline, stopped by our booth at a tradeshow earlier this year and did a great video about tenkara and our new tenkara rods, the Sato and Rhodo tenkara rods. My favorite quote in the piece he wrote to go with the video is probably “tenkara has spread like pink eye in kindergarten“, I guess that’s true, but without any of the symptoms. Here’s the video he made:
The Tenkara USA Rhodo, an adjustable tenkara rod we released earlier this year, just received the “Kudo Award” from renowned author and tenkara angler Dave Hughes and Fly Rod & Reel magazine (and yes, we do love the fact that a magazine with “Reel” in its name just gave us a Kudo Award”).
When I emailed Dave to thank him for the nomination, he responded of how he was showing the rod to someone, “I held my fingers on each side of the +/- 3″ section that has the extension ferrules, and said, ‘This three inches of rod deserves the Kudo.’ Then I caught a fish on it.”
Along with the 12ft Tenkara USA Iwana, which received an award in 2012 as a Best of Show at IFTD, the Rhodo is the second award given to a tenkara rod by the mainstream industry.
Dave has been doing tenkara for probably longer than anyone else in the USA, and his latest book “Trout from Small Streams” has a terrific chapter on tenkara.
Even I can find myself with a broken tenkara rod tip in need of repair. The odds implied that it was bound to happen. After about 6 years of tenkara fishing and opening and closing tenkara rods thousands and thousands of times, this weekend I was fishing in the Pacific Northwest when I broke the tip of my tenkara rod, for the first time ever not on purpose. It was my fault, I hurriedly tried to pull the line out and didn’t heed to my main advice: always keep the hard tip of the rod inside the handle segment while pulling line out of the spool.
Still, even though we were almost done for the day I tried to make the best of the situation by making a field repair of my tenkara rod tip with some spare replacement lillian I had on the rod. It was my first time attempting a field repair of the tenkara rod tip out of necessity. Watch to learn what to do if you find yourself with a broken tenkara rod tip.
We’re starting to roll out new cases for our tenkara rods. I’m very excited about this new packaging concept. These tenkara rod cases were designed with the help of our design intern Luke Uyeda. Starting immediately, the Sato rods purchased in the USA will be shipping with the new cases, then we’ll slowly be repackaging all our other rods with the new cases in the next few weeks, and soon make them available for sale individually as well.
The new cases are ultra-light (2.8 oz compared to 7oz for the older cases, with option to use only nylon bag which is under 1oz), well-designed with functionality and simplicity in mind, and sleek looking. The new Tenkara USA rod cases feature an ultra-light plastic case for crush protection with a durable nylon sleeve covering it. The sleeve can also be used by itself for even lighter-weight protection against scratches.
Each case features the name of the rod stitched directly onto it, making it easy to identify which tenkara rod you’re grabbing on your way to the water.
They have strategically placed straps and loops, making it easy to strap the case onto packs or tie a should sling directly into the case. It even features a segment of lillian should you ever need to do a field repair. Though the design is simple, the possibilities of use are limitless and we’ll cover some ideas soon.
Lastly, we printed the most basic instructions needed for tenkara fishing directly on the packaging.
About the white color? We wanted it to be authentic and establish it as our brand’a cases (after all our initial green case got copied by everyone making a tenkara rod). Plus, we plan to hold some contests to see how dirty you will get yours. A white case will quickly help make the case that you fish often.
Our newest tenkara rods are now in! ***
RHODO – Triple-zoom 8’10”/ 9’9”/10’6” (270/297/320cm), with “Keep your Plug™” system (patent pending) – $215
SATO – Triple-zoom 10’8”/ 11’10”/12’9” (330-360-390cm), with “Keep your Plug™” system (patent pending) – $215
***Ship date: Friday, December 13th for North America orders; Friday, December 20th for European Union orders.
With several years of experience designing tenkara rods under our belt now, and with a lot of great customer feedback over these years, we have been able to develop two of the nicest tenkara rods we have designed to date. Whether you’re an experienced tenkara angler or just about to give tenkara a try, we wanted to give you the best possible tenkara rod anywhere.
The Sato and Rhodo are very lightweight – in actual weight as well as feel – something people have been asking for. And, because sometimes you will want to get a couple of feet closer to the fish without spooking it; and sometimes you will want to stay away from the pesky trees above, we designed them with the innovative triple-zoom system which allow you to fish either rod at 3 different lengths. These rods also have two patent-pending features: a new and more durable system to lock in place the zoomable sections and the innovative “Keep your Plug™” system which allows you to store your tenkara rod plug in the rod while not in use.
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!
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.
After hearing that no one has ever been able to keep their tenkara rod plug for longer than a year we decided we should find a solution for you to never lose your plug again. We designed the “Keep your plug”™* system (patent pending).
Although it is a very simple solution, Tenkara USA is the first to have designed and incorporated this into its tenkara rods. Next time you go fishing, remove the plug from the top end of your rod and insert it into the hole at the bottom of your rod.
Our friend and tenkara enthusiast Aaron “Tye” shared a cool DIY idea for keeping track of your rod plug. He cut a small piece of bamboo, drilled the node off it, and reinforced one end with Kevlar cord. While we are working on a new system for preventing plug loss, this one is easy for anyone to do. Great ideas are usually the simplest and we really like this.
Tenkara USA is running a special dealers-only sale on the Ayu II and 11 ft Iwana. The rods will be on sale through our dealers for $125 (regular price is $169.95 for the Ayu, and $157.95 for the Iwana 11ft).
As many of you know, the Ayu II had a relatively short run with us. We intended to discontinue the rods and sold them all out a couple of months ago. THEN, our factory informed us they had produced an extra batch of the rods. So, we took them and decided to make them available until we sell out again. We promise these will be the last of them. As with all our rods, they will always carry a full warranty and we will continue to carry every segment and replacement part of the rods should you need it down the road.
The 11′ Iwana is an old favorite, but this may be the last chance to buy one as a unit. We will continue to offer the conversion handle to make the 12ft Iwana into a 11ft. But, to accomodate new rods in the future, these will be the last of the complete 11ft rods. As with the Ayu II, the rods will always carry our full warranty.
Please check our dealer list below to find a dealer near you and check their inventory of these rods, and remember that many of our dealers sell online or over the phone if you do not have one close. Enjoy the rods and please support our dealers on this special offer. If there are left over rods that our dealers didn’t buy, we’ll make these rods available for sale on July 20th.
Most of our products go through minor iterations and revisions on a regular basis. We follow the Japanese philosophy of kaizen, or continuous improvement, and are constantly making the rods, lines and flies better. Many of these changes, we will never announce. But, today we’re releasing what is essentially a brand new rod, and worthy of your attention: The 13ft Ayu Series II, a redesign of one of the most popular tenkara rods around. This rod is a direct result of my last trip to Japan, which was followed up by a week spent with our factories and engineers in China to ensure we built the best tenkara rods possible.
The Ayu has gone through at least two different iterations over the last 3 years. We originally changed the handle, which used to be flat, to a contoured and more ergonomic handle. On a subsequent iteration we improved its strength and smoothed its bend. Now, we changed it enough that the 13ft Ayu is a very different tenkara rod.
In creating (and tweaking) a tenkara rod I pay particular attention to four criteria I feel are most important for a good tenkara rod: it must cast well (precisely and effortlessly); it must feel comfortable to be cast all day long; it must set the hook well; and it must play fish well.
For the current version, I wanted to strengthen the Ayu a bit more and make it capable of more easily landing some of the larger fish people have been catching. The previous Ayu, I started realizing, was a bit too soft; this made casting with it a delight, but landing some of the larger fish took a bit longer than ideal – Not that it couldn’t handle good size fish! I also did not want to lose the soft feel of the rod, which was the original vision for the Ayu. It is a rod that reminds many people of a fiberglass rod or a bamboo fly rod, and I did not want to let that go, many of our customers love the Ayu for that reason. We kept most of the original Ayu there, but gave it slightly more “backbone”, and also made it into a 6:4 tenkara rod. This change gives it a crisper feel (it recovers faster and makes casting more precise. Moving to a 6:4 rating also allows us to get away from a rating system that adds complexity into something meant to be simple. Our goal, going forward, will be to have the best tenkara rods, but eliminate too many decision making aspects to trying tenkara.
This photo shows our first iteration of the Ayu
The new Ayu still casts beautifully, effortlessly, but now also with much more precision. It will also handle fish much more easily, yet feel great when a smaller fish is caught. It is not as robust or as heavy as the 13ft 6inch Amago tenkara rod. Nor as light as the shorter Iwana. It is simply a great tenkara rod.
I felt these changes warranted a change to the look of the rod. Typically I like to keep the look of the rod the same. People start recognizing the rods by their stripes. Essentially we start building some “model equity” into them. People will certainly remember the recognizable green stripes of the old Ayu, and letting that go wasn’t an easy decision. But, in the end we also found a finish that would be more durable, and would, as one of the first people to see it said, “look sexy”. The new Ayu has a carbon scrim look at the handle, and clear carbon look throughout the rod. You can see the quality of the rod thorough its entire length. I realized there was no need to hide something that is well done, and you can see the uniformity in the carbon behind the finish and be assured we have taken every step in ensuring the quality is good.
And, lastly, a small detail worth noting that we’ll be phasing in for all our future rods. We’re starting to connect a segment of lillian (the hollow braided material that makes up the tip of tenkara rods), to the plug of the rods. This serves two functions: (1) it makes it easier to keep track of where the plug is, and/or connect it to your shirt/vest/fishing bag, and (2) it can be used for field repairs should you ever break the tip of the rod.
*PLEASE KEEP IN MIND PREVENTING BREAKAGE IS VERY EASY: Just put the hard tip inside the rod and put your finger on top of it as you tie or untie the line.
The Ayu is currently only available for shipping out of the USA (USA, Australia, South America, Asia and Africa), we’ll soon stock it in Europe as well. For those in Europe, we have a great deal going on for the Series 1 Ayu here, until supplies last.
Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Jay Pape at the first Tenkara Summit. Jay works for the National Forest Service out of Bozeman, Montana, and this year I had the opportunity to get to know and fish with him when I was visiting the area. I’m very thankful for his submission of the very helpful article that follows on gear maintenance.
Written by Jay Pape
Now that snow and ice has closed most of the local streams here in Bozeman, I use the long Montana nights to tie kebari and reflect on the many days enjoyed tenkara fishing this season.
Highlights of my last day on the water include sleet and snow plastered to my beard, a furled line frozen stiff by the wind AND a handful of beautiful rainbow trout. Back at the truck numb fingers struggled to collapse my 12’ Iwana and each section made nasty noises as they nested into each other. I didn’t
dare collapse the tip sections and quickly drove home to let everything thaw out. At this point the harsh realization set in- my season was over for a while and a bit of winter maintenance was in order.
Here are few tips to make sure your tenkara gear will be ready to go as soon as the streams open up:
- Remove the end cap and slide out each section of the rod. I then place them on towel to keep them from rolling onto the floor.
- With a turkey baster or syringe full of warm water I flush the inside of each section and blow any remaining water out before.
- When everything is dry I use a clean cloth saturated with denatured alcohol to wipe down each section. This removes the residue on the thicker end and evaporates quickly. Warm soapy water also works well.
- Before reassembly I inspect the Lillian for damage and lubricate each section with Tri-Flow applied to another lint-free cotton rag or pad. TriFlow is a dry lubricant that repels dust/dirt and isn’t greasy like WD40.
- When my rod was new, I wanted to keep the cork grip from getting covered with black, sweaty grime. To prevent this, I applied a few coats of Zinsser Clear Shellac. If the shellac looks worn, I add a fresh coat.
- Once everything is dry, I apply a fresh wrap of white, PTFE (plumbers) tape to help keep the screw cap snug [note from Daniel: the newer tenkara rods have an o-ring on the caps, which prevents them from unscrewing, PTFE tape should not be necessary]. The rod tube also gets a thorough cleaning and the threads are dabbed with Tri-Flow to keep the end caps from binding.
- To clean the mesh of the tamo I fill the kitchen sink with hot soapy water, soak and rinse. This should be done after every outing to prevent the transport of invasive species. This is also a good time to inspect the net bag and make any needed repairs.
- Lastly, I wash my smelly waders and boots and let them air dry before storing them in my fishing bin.
I also go through all of my lines and replace the tippet rings or perfection loops. With everything put away in good condition I can tie kebari (and ski powder) knowing that I am ready to enjoy the streams as soon as the weather breaks.
This has been a great year for us here at Tenkara USA. We have far exceeded any expectations in sales and the number of new people taking up tenkara has surpassed our wildest imagination. Although we are a little late for it, we are thankful and this is our way of thanking the streams that allow people to take up tenkara, and our version of a BlackFriday/CyberMonday/GivingTuesday Sale – except that it will last until our supply of the super popular 11ft Iwana tenkara rod runs out.
Without further ado, we present you the Tenkara USA Pay it Forward Sale. Our most popular rod going for only $100 and $50 of that going to organizations that protect fish habitat. We expect this sale won’t last long, so get them while they are available for you, for your brother, for your cousins, for your wife, for your kids, and even for your neighbor!
Please note, the intent is to distribute the money to at least 4 charities and let you pick your own. We’re currently working on lining them up. Until then you’ll have the option to pick whether your money goes to Trout Unlimited, another organization (to be determined) or, if you’re outside the USA, to an organization with international ties.
One of our main goals is to make rods that are unbreakable. We have made improvements and with time are getting better rods. But, the reality is that rods do break and always will. So, we’ll strive to get your rod back in the water as quickly as possible. It is just good business: delight our customers by getting their rods fixed quickly and cheaply, and if they are able to go fishing the weekend after their rod breaks, there are more chances they will show our rods to someone else. So, yes, we want to get your rod fixed as quickly, efficiently, and cheaply as possible.
With that in mind, we’re starting an unprecedented way of getting your broken rods repaired. We’ll just send you the part that you need. We have made replacement parts (plugs and replacement tip sets) available for all our models for quite sometime. And, now we will extend it to the other segments too. This means we must stock over 49 SKUs in spare parts (7 rod models X 7 parts). This is a big effort, but I believe making getting your rod fixed a breeze will pay off.
We actually started testing this procedure a few ago. But, the communication with customers, and even between us, has been challenging. The best email exchanges usually went like this:
Customer: “I broke the 5th segment from the tip”
Us: “Is that including the tip? So, tip, 2, 3, 4, 5?”
Customer: “No, it’s tip, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5″
Not to mention that sometimes we thought we knew exactly what piece to send and would send the wrong one. So, from now on we must speak the same language when we need to say which segment needs to be replaced. Below is a chart on how we will describe the parts of a tenkara rod from now on. Start with the handle (which would be number one) and count up, thus: handle, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, tip-set. We had some debates on whether to count from the handle or from the tip. On the one hand we start extending the rod from the tip. However, if one is to break and lose one of the top parts, there wouldn’t be a way of counting. Moreover, if starting from the tip, we would still suffer from the communication issue above (“segment X below the tip”). So, we settled on counting from the handle.
To get your broken Tenkara USA rod fixed:
1) Please contact us first (email or phone) so we know what the issue was and what part has broken. This will allow us to learn more about what caused the breakage and use that to improve our rods; and to see if there is a quicker fix for you.
2) Shipping and handling charges are $17. To pay, just add this item to your cart and proceed through checkout; or call us at 888.483.6527. (Replacement tip sets and plugs are available here for $8.50).
3) We will send you what you need. When you get it, you can easily fix it yourself. Here are the PDF instructions on replacing the broken segments of your tenkara rod. Here’s a video.
* In rare situations we will need to get your rod back; or you may choose to have us repair your rod for you. We’ll ask that you send your rod along with this form to the address on the form. Shipping and handling is $17.
We’ll strive to make your rods unbreakable and hope you do not ever break your rod, but until then we’ll make it as painless as possible to get your rod fixed. And, we’ll support all of our rod models.
Today is day 4 of spending time with our factories in China. It was a very productive day. Margaret joined me in evaluating working conditions at the factory that makes the Yamame rods for us. She provided a keen eye for detail; requesting that workers put on their mask even as they may not like doing it and those are available to them. A good portion of the day was dedicated to teaching tenkara to our rod engineers and evaluating rod designs and processes to ensure good quality control going forward.
I don’t have a whole lot to write about today. Normally this would be a quick writeup with pictures posted on our socialnetworks/microblogging platforms, but unfortunately I do not have access to those where I am. I will leave it at that so I don’t lose access to this blog as well.
Written by Daniel
I have been in China for about 3 days now (5 more to go), following a 2-week long stay in Japan. This tour of Asia is very important and I believe will translate into ever-better Tenkara USA products. And, I’m already seeing concrete insights and results from being here.
For about 4 years I have focused on developing authentic tenkara rods. I do not copy any rods and have my own design philosophy when it comes to making (and releasing) new tenkara rods. Futher, for the last 4 years I have been taking your feedback into account into everyone of our rods. As you can see, I brought all those notes here with me.