The Rhodo story
By Daniel Galhardo
Ever since the release of the first 12-foot long tenkara rod in the US there have been requests for a 9-foot tenkara rod to be made. I get it, 9 feet is the length everyone is accustomed to when looking at using a rod and reel set up. That’s the length anyone will tell you should get if you’re just getting into fly-fishing. Plus, 12 feet is scary!
There was certainly a lot of work to educate the public that with tenkara longer is usually better. And that for the vast majority – but admittedly not all – places going to a rod under 10 feet in length would negate the advantages of using a long tenkara rod. It was not to say that a tenkara rod shouldn’t be shorter, but I certainly wanted to push people to go longer. A short tenkara rod has its places, but it shouldn’t be the default option.
I can guarantee that if our first tenkara rod was 9-feet in length or under, it would have been the best-selling rod we made for a long time, perhaps up to today. We would have also gotten more people to try tenkara in the first couple of years too if I had gone that route and offered something less intimidating in length. However, I feel that people would have completely missed out on the advantages of using a 11, 12 or even 14foot long rod.
It was a ton of work to educate people on the idea that they should go longer; that tenkara was a bit different and anglers would quickly get used to the long length of the rods. I got into a lot of arguments on our forum, some even heated, about the fact that I was not offering a 9-ft tenkara rod early on. Contrary to what some may say, it had absolutely nothing with tradition or being a “purist”. But, in the role of bringing something here I didn’t want to take a shortcut and give new tenkara anglers a 9-ft tenkara rod even if I could have made a good buck from that. I knew that wouldn’t give people the best experience. A long rod, after all, has great advantages and can always be fished shorter by choking up on the grip when necessary.
But, after introducing tenkara in the US for several years and having felt that there was a strong community of people now fishing with the 12+ foot long rods and who got used to tenkara, I felt there was room to create something for those who truly need a short rod, for anglers fishing rhododendron-choked streams and tight headwaters.
The answer of how to do that became very clear when we started working on a line of adjustable tenkara rods. With the adjustable tenkara rods I could give people the short rod they thought they wanted while also giving them a way to get used to a longer length of rod.
The Rhodo was aptly named for rhododendron-choked streams where the rod is most popular. It can be fished at 8’10”, 9’9” or 10’6” (I should mention that I consider 10 ½ ft in length to be very short already).
Whereas with the Sato I wanted to cover the most popular lengths of available tenkara rods in one rod, with the Rhodo I wanted to give people an easy way to get into the world of tenkara. The Rhodo would give anglers a very short length rod while also having the option to be fished at a very reasonable 10 ½ ft long .
I suspected many people would get started fishing it at the 8’10” but very quickly start extending it and getting used to using a longer tenkara rod. For what I hear that is often the case. Many people getting into tenkara get the Rhodo and do exactly that. Later they may start using longer rods too.
Of course, many people pretty much use the Rhodo at the shortest length all the time; and they may even choke up on the grip because they truly need a shorter rod to fish the tightest of streams. With the Rhodo, if you hold the rod above the handle near the end of the handle segment you’re effectively fishing it at about 7ft long. I have heard of a couple of people doing that and also collapsing the next segment, which effectively makes it a 5 ½ ft long rod. But, that’s the exception rather than the rule.
The Rhodo is a delightful rod to use. I don’t personally use it very often, but when I do the 2.1oz weight of the rod makes it feel like I’m holding nothing in my hand which is a cool feeling sometimes.
I so often reach for the TUSA Sato, that I forget about its sibling the Rhodo. The Rhodo is a really great rod for the waters I fish in my part of Maine so this season I have been trying to bring the Rhodo with me when I take the Sato out on the water, and what I have found is I have been reaching for it more and more!
Usually with the Rhodo I know when I will be fishing it, because of its adjustable length and the tree canopy.
Line: Depending on the water I am fishing I generally use between 8 and 10 feet of 3.5 level line and in some cases 2.5 level line. I use my standard three feet of tippet.
Flies: I have found the Rhodo is able to throw a variety of flies but generally use at size 13 hook dressed with a turkey feather and some yarn.
Limitations and Use: From time to time I see pictures of people catching and landing large trout on the Rhodo. I target specific fish on my days on the water, and it is rare for me to hook into a fish that is much larger then expected. This means, I am not one of the people who have landed 20” trout on the Rhodo. However, I have caught dozens and dozens of wild Maine brook trout in the 2”-12” range and the Rhodo performed on all of them. When I am fishing for big fish I use a big fish rod, and when I am crawling through overgrown mountain streams, I use the Rhodo.
Rhodo – It’s not just for kids
Recently, a crazy friend turned me on to Tenkara. I have been fly fishing for the better part of the last fifteen years, but Tenkara is brand new to me. I was immediately drawn to it because of its simplicity, and the fact that it is a lot easier on my back than western fly fishing. After catching a few fish on a Tenkara rod, I was addicted. This addiction then spilled over to my nine-year-old son, who started bugging me for a rod. Figuring that it would be easier for him to learn on a kid sized rod, I bought him a Tenkara USA Rhodo.
As soon as the rod arrived, we took it out to the park down the street. Phoenix has a cool urban fishing program with stocked fishing ponds at various city parks. I casted the rod a few times to show him how it works, but I was paying more attention to my teaching than to the rod itself. After a few minutes, he said “I got it Dad!! Now give it to me!!” So I did. I was immediately impressed at how easy the Rhodo was for him to cast. Within a few casts, he was starting to get the line to unroll a few feet above the water. The rod was surprisingly manageable for him to use. It didn’t take him long to catch his first fish. He snagged a tiny smallmouth bass from the pond. It was only a couple inches long, but it was perfect for his first fish. He loves the rod. I was right; this was the perfect starter rod for him.
Then while on vacation at June Lake, California, I fell in love with Rhodo too. As I was waiting for my family to get ready to go to the lake to fish, I grabbed the Rhodo and went do to a small creek that was a few yards from the Cabin we were renting. We decided to fish the lakes because we were told by the local fly shop owner that the creeks were unfishable do to the late season runoff. Not expecting to do anything more than cast a few times before getting frustrated with the experience, I headed down to Reverse Creek, a five to ten foot wide tree-lined creek. This was the kind of creek that I would never try to fish with a western fly rod. And even with my small creek Tenkara rod, I had my doubts about the endeavor.
After walking the stream for a couple of minutes, I found a small pool that I could get close enough to fish. However, actually casting the rod took some plaining due to the tree walls on either side of the creek. Once I started casting, I was rather surprised at how easy the Rhodo was for me to cast in these conditions. Whether I was casting overhead or some version of sidearm, I was able to get the line to completely unroll and gently land on the water. After a few casts, I was able to get the fly to land exactly (or almost exactly) where I wanted. I had spent years playing with my western fly rod, and hundreds of dollars on furled leaders, expensive fly lines, and even a special fly rod designed by the late Gary LaFontine, to get this type of delicate cast. However, it wasn’t until I had the Rhodo in my hands that I was able to find the right balance between a delicate presentation and the power to completely unroll the line above the water.
Then it happened. Suddenly, to my surprise in this small creek where I wasn’t supposed to be able to catch anything, I had a fish on. I hooked into a beautiful 8 inch brown trout. Normally, by this time in my poor casting demonstration, I’ve splashed around in the water so much that all the fish are gone. Not this time though. Thanks to the Rhodo, a normally frustrating experience, turned into one of triumph. Needless to say, I no long consider the Rhodo, my son’s Tenkara rod. It’s now my small stream Tenkara rod that my son can use from time to time.
The Rhodo, the shorty of the Tenkara USA bunch. It’s a fun little rod.
While the versatility of the Sato has made it my workhorse tenkara rod, when I want to size things down a touch, the Rhodo is usually the first rod I grab. See, my first tenkara rod was the Tenkara USA Iwana 11’ and I fished that rod up down and all over for about 4 or 5 years. The shorter length was attractive to me at the time, and once upon a time you could also purchase a handle adapter to make it about a 9’ foot rod by removing a section… something that could come in really handy in tight quarters.
The reason I referenced that rod first is because when I came across the Rhodo, it instantly took the Iwana’s spot in my lineup. Why? Simple, the zoom capability from about 9’ to 11’ (with an intermediate 10’ setting) made it an ideal tiny water companion. Fish it naturally long, or fish it short without the need to disassemble your rod to swap out handles.
Now, I don’t fish the Rhodo all the time, but I do enjoy it as a small-stream pocket water rod, especially when fishing dry flies. OMG… a 2.5 level line, a size 12 or 14 elk hair caddis… that’s what I’m talking about. The rod even whips out a mean “bow and arrow” cast, to hit that perfect patch of soft water you’ll usually find right under that overhanging branch, and just out of reach.
Really, if you’re looking for a short rod, you can’t go wrong with the Rhodo.
i love my rhodo. it is an elegant tool with a purpose, and i can always count on it to perform. tight, overhung creeks? check. grassy meadow lanes? check. eight foot line? check. eleven footer? check. regardless of which length i have it set, i feel like it is almost an extension of my…of my will. when the situation calls for pinpoint accuracy, i am always glad i brought this rod.
The Rhodo is a really specialized tenkara rod. I enjoy using it in one of the most frustrating types of fishing that I do, in the tight quarters casting in the tree tunnel steep mountain valley forest stream. I use the rod either pulled long or stuffed short. It’s a rod that I beat against trees and generally treat it pretty badly but it just keeps coming back for more.
Under the first branches in the tree tunnel, I stuff the rod short, point the rod down near the water and sweep the rod parallel with a side arm backhand cast. The line turns over in a gentle sweep unfolding a little loop above the water.
It’s very accurate this way.
Often I am casting very close to 5 gallon bucket sized pools between rocks or threading a cast between two car sized boulders to a tiny little lair.
It’s a pleasure to cast, so light.
Definitely a pack rod, hiking up a steep stream, my favorite rod for sure.