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What is a tenkara rod?

Discussion on tenkara rods

What is a tenkara rod?

Postby Daniel @ Tenkara USA » Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:43 pm

Inspired by some recent posts about tenkara using non-tenkara rods (which are being marketed as tenkara), I thought I should take it upon myself to write about what makes a tenkara rod a tenkara rod, and why other telescopic rods in Japan can be marketed next to tenkara rods, but are not sold nor used for tenkara. It is a shame to see non-tenkara rods being marketed as "tenkara" and misleading people to believe they are the same. The post is here: http://www.tenkarausa.com/blog/?p=2449
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Re: What is a tenkara rod?

Postby scorpion1971 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:32 pm

Daniel I read your blog post What is a Tenkara Rod and I find some of your points do not determine if it is or is not a tenkara rod. The first part is this part of your post.

With the first goal in mind – being comfortably cast all day – the main apparent and quickly distinguishable feature of a tenkara rod is the presence of a handle (cork is the more common material used for its thermal properties and right degree of softness). The handle is very necessary for tenkara fishing, not so necessary for other types of fishing in which the goal is to cast the bait once and wait.

The presense of a cork handle has little to do with what type of rod you have. Rod building continues to evelo just as the way the blank material has evoled over the years. Tenkara rods used to be made of bambo and most are now made out of carbon and/or fiber glass. If you could afford to have one built out of split bambo the handle would be made from bambo or wrapped rattan.

The right diameter and the right shape of the rod handle will keep the hand from getting fatigued. The right materials will keep the hand from chaffing or sweating.


Every person does not have the same size hand. This is why there are differnet size and shape of grips for rod builders to choose from when custom building a rod for someone. They are also using carbon fiber with a foam core for grips, along with wood, Acrylic, and even EVA foam for grips.

You say:

A second, and less obvious feature to notice, is the casting effectiveness of the rod. More specifically, the dampening of the rod tip after the rod is cast (or shaken). Tenkara rods are designed to cast a very light line forward with maximum effectiveness. A poorly designed tenkara rod, or a rod that was not designed with casting in mind and the rod tip may continue oscillating after the line is cast forward.

Then later you say:

Note: any rod will oscillate after being cast, to improve our rods we design them with the goal of reducing that oscillation, the Ito is a perfect example of a very good dampening effect and I design all our rods with this in mind.

All rods will very when it comes to this asspect. That is why there are different rod classification like 5:5, 6:4, 7:3, 8:2. This also is a downfall since like regular rods, each rod maker decides what class there rod falls in. What one calls a 6:4 another might call a 5:5.

A third feature that makes a tenkara rod a tenkara rod is the length. Tenkara rods range from slightly under 10ft to just about 15ft, with 12ft being the average length. On the shorter end of the spectrum, the tenkara rod will still allow for good reach while staying away from canopy.


If this is the case you then also sell an add handle add on that makes a 9’3” that you market as being tenkara. Granted you may not be able to go too far past 15ft but you could go smaller. Just like most of your smaller bambo fly rods are 4.5 to 6ft. You could go with a smaller rod with long ling for extremly tight quarters that we have here in the states.

The market is still in the education phase when it comes to tenkara, and we will continually try providing insights on what makes tenkara, tenkara.


To quote Tom Kirland(publisher of RodMaker) “A blank is a blank is a blank. Fly rod blanks are made no differently than casting or spinning blanks. As above, they're all tubular shafts. That's all. I have built dozens and dozens of extremely heavy blue water fly rods on 8-feet Back Bouncing blanks. They'll work fine. You just need to match the rod power to the line and distance your customer will be fishing. “

I recently brought up what I have been seeing happening here to my teacher in Japan, Dr. Hisao Ishigaki. He responded in Japanese saying, “it’s really a shame this is happening, as some people will not know what tenkara really is”.


Lets face it, this is the USA not Japon. We do not have Yamame, Iwana and Amago. We also have people fishing for panfish and other warmwater species using tenkara rods. Modern Tenkara in Japan has evoled from what it was and continues to evole every day. Just like here in the states. It really sounds that the only way we will every now what tenkara is and understand it is by going to Japan and experince first hand. Well I guess I will never fully understand what Tenkara is or what a Tenkara rod is. I do know I have 3 different brands of tenkara type rods. One being the TUSA Amago and 2 others.

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Re: What is a tenkara rod?

Postby rsetina » Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:19 pm

Michael, I think what Daniel is saying is that in Japan there are different rods that look similar and in the Japanese fishing culture each rod has a place.

Let me put forth an example. You're fishing a small creek for 10 to 12 inch fish and you see a guy up river using a big fat ocean rod with 12 pound test. I've seen that before and I want to say to the guy, what are you thinking? We don't use that kind of gear on a creek like this. I suppose you can, but there's a better rod for this type of fishing. You're bring a mouser to a knife fight. Ocean rods are used for salt water and to see someone using them on a creek is just, not wrong but not right either.

Daniel's whole purpose for this forum from the beginning was to bring to America (us) the Japanese style of Tenkara. Not tenago, or some other Japanese style of fishing. And unlike America, Japan may have different styles of fishing that are separate from each other. And I think this is the case. I know Daniel has been to Japan several times, once for 3 month, to only study the Tenkara style of Japanese fly fishing and I believe he has something he feels is important to share with those of us who want to learn this style. And I think the word "style" is the barrier that's keeping us from understanding what Daniel is trying to impart. We as American want to think of fishing as just that, fishing where as Daniel want to share more of a philosophy, for lack of a better word, of what Tenkara is down to the gear, line, fly, etc. I think I've come to understand what Daniel is try to share and I hope I've not stepped on any toes which is definetly not my intention. I just wanted to share my thoughts.
Rick

テンカラ。小さなストリームのシンプルさ。
My Tenkara Rods:
13' Ayu, 12' Yamame, 11' with a conversion handle, and an Ito.

My Wife's Tenkara Rods:
12' Ebisu and 13.5' Amago, 12' Iwana with a conversion handle, and an Ito.
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Re: What is a tenkara rod?

Postby jd_smith » Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:47 pm

Yes, every body has made some valid points on this subject....or um issue, Daniel, Chris, Michael, Rick and many others at the forums covering the issue. Others are just suckling at the teet, Kind of sorry bout that but it should be said.

Daniel has done a stellar job introducing what traditional tenkara is to us here in the USA. Rick your example of rod choice is on the very extreme :) Yes their are right and wrong rods to use for certain applications but that example is way off the map. And quite frankly I think it is irrelevant to the issue. And by the way Chris never said that a tanago rod is a tenkara rod. Further more he also deliberately, out of respect for Daniel I might add, offered rods only in a different price range than the rods offered here. They are ether considerably more or less cost.

I will say this and only this on this subject of rod blanks. As a custom rod builder for more than 2 decades and a student of Tom. Make absolutely no mistakes about this. Tom is right!

scorpion1971 wrote:To quote Tom Kirland(publisher of RodMaker) “A blank is a blank is a blank. Fly rod blanks are made no differently than casting or spinning blanks. As above, they're all tubular shafts. That's all. I have built dozens and dozens of extremely heavy blue water fly rods on 8-feet Back Bouncing blanks. They'll work fine. You just need to match the rod power to the line and distance your customer will be fishing. “Michael Prybis


If the blank fits the desired purpose, it is unequivocally and unarguably the right blank to use period!
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's probably a duck, whether it has feathers or not, it's a duck.

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Re: What is a tenkara rod?

Postby rsetina » Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:42 pm

JD, I made an extreme example on purpose. I don't know exactly what went on between Daniel and Chris and I hope that one day they can make amends. I respect Daniel's reason for what he does and enjoy the posts of everyone on this site. That's why I'm here.
Rick

テンカラ。小さなストリームのシンプルさ。
My Tenkara Rods:
13' Ayu, 12' Yamame, 11' with a conversion handle, and an Ito.

My Wife's Tenkara Rods:
12' Ebisu and 13.5' Amago, 12' Iwana with a conversion handle, and an Ito.
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Re: What is a tenkara rod?

Postby dwalker » Fri Jul 20, 2012 1:55 am

jd_smith wrote:... Daniel has done a stellar job introducing what traditional tenkara is to us here in the USA. ... Yes their are right and wrong rods to use for certain applications but .... by the way Chris never said that a tanago rod is a tenkara rod. .....
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's probably a duck, whether it has feathers or not, it's a duck.

JD


From the fwiw file - if you look at the all.daiwa21.com web page. The rods that TBum Chris has decided to list as Tanago rods are listed by Daiwa under a category they call ハエ・万能竿 , which gets translated as All-purpose fly rod or Universal fly rod. The newest rod he has introduced is listed under the same category.

What do the Japanese do with a rod called an All=purpose fly rod? Maybe this is their Bluegill/Carp/Bass rod. Clearly these rod are intended for fishing with a kebari. We use tenkara rods for that type of fishing here. Does that make it not a tenkara rod?

The rod TB has called a Backpacking/Nymphing rod is listed under a category called 渓流・源流 , Mountain stream - Headwaters. Not sure how the Japanese use these type rods.

Maybe a new question to ask is - When is a tenkara not a tenkara rod anymore?

It all makes me wonder. If it looks like a duck but doesn't act like a duck. Is it still a duck? iow - If a tenkara rod is not used to fish for trout, using traditional kebari methods. Is it still a tenkara rod or is it an all-purpose fly rod ?

Tenkara rods in this country are being used as all-purpose fly fishing rods. Why be more concerned when a rod marketed as an all-purpose fly rod is used to fish the same way rods labeled as a tenkara rod are being used in this country?

Seems to me that to be authentic Tenkara one is expected to use a tenkara rod + tenkara set up and methods and fish for trout. Otherwise , fishing for something other than trout with a tenkara rod minus tenkara method = fishing with an all-purpose fly rod + tenkara method. They are equally non-authentic tenkara.

Why not give equal importance to tenkara techniques as is given to tenkara hardware? Or why not be equally disturbed when anyone of the three are missing ?

Buckminster Fuller would say, "Unity is plural and, at minimum, is two." If your not fishing for trout with a tenkara rod, line+ tippet, and single kebari. Unity is missing to be called Tenkara fishing. Any other combination lacking one of the three are equally not Tenkara fishing. Why be upset when someone wants to say they are tenkara fishing yet they are choosing to omit one of the three in their choice of how to fish ? Why be concerned when their choice of which of the three to omit is different from another person's choice?

Maybe we should call call it Araknet whenever someone fishes for what ever kind of fish they want to target using a tenkara rod without using tenkara methods or fishes using tenkara methods or non-tenkara method with an all-purpose fly rod. Controversy about a name is solved.
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Re: What is a tenkara rod?

Postby tntom » Fri Jul 20, 2012 3:12 pm

WOW! :o :o My Tenkara rods are Tenkara rods even when I'm fishing a popper for redeye. You want to know how I know. I looked at my Yamame the outher day while I was doing that and it was still a Yamame. And it was happy :mrgreen: And so was I :D

Tom
If you aint high sticking, you aint fishing hard enough.
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Re: What is a tenkara rod?

Postby Daniel @ Tenkara USA » Fri Jul 20, 2012 3:29 pm

We can go on and on about the rods.

I really consider my role to be that of an educator in that we are still largely in the education phase of tenkara. I introduced it here and wanted to introduce tenkara as it is practiced in Japan. I wanted to share what tenkara is, what a tenkara rod is like, and what we do to spread tenkara as it is practiced in Japan.
However one wants to fish it, or whatever one wants to use, is up to him. I just want to make sure people are aware of differences so they can decide themselves.

As you can imagine, it is upsetting to work on learning, understanding and sharing something just to have a few people undermine it based on erroneous assumptions. I don't pull stuff out of my a%$ on this. I have teachers who I communicate with often. There is a single reason I went to Japan for two months last year, on my 3rd visit, and why I host teachers from Japan here in the US. My purpose is to learn tenkara as it is practiced in Japan and to share that. If others can't see that and are trying to take shortcuts, up to them. I'm tired of paying attention to that and will simply forge ahead with what I know is correct.
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Re: What is a tenkara rod?

Postby Tenkara Guides » Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:20 pm

I think its about time people quit typing and just go fishing.

John
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EriK & I spent a few minutes today fishing for carp under freeway overpasses after a business meeting. It was way fun!
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Re: What is a tenkara rod?

Postby adventureR » Fri Jul 20, 2012 7:45 pm

I think its about time people quit typing and just go fishing.

John




This is the best advise. My fingers are crossed for fishing tomorrow. Carp looks like alot of fun too.
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