March 31, 2015

Daiwa Tenkara RT rod -- review

It seems that buying a tenkara rod from Japan is getting easier and easier. Some US customers buy directly from Japanese fishing outlets while others prefer to deal to an importer for their tenkara needs.   One of the newest importers to enter the market is Dragontail Tenkara. Up until recently, Dragontail Tenkara has sold rods of their own label, but now they are importing tenkara rods from other manufacturers. These currently include Nissin and Daiwa.  I recently was able to borrow a Daiwa Tenkara RT rod from them to test out.

The Daiwa Tenkara RT comes from a company that is well known in the tenkara world. I have owned some Daiwa Enshou models and been impressed by their innovative design and solid construction. I had some hopes that the Tenkara RT would live up to that heritage while taking into account the reduced price point. The price is much less than the Enshou series rods, but then again, the Tenkara RT is designed as an entry level rod. Here is what I found.

The model of Daiwa Tenkara RT that I tested was the 360 cm model. It comes in a standard plastic carton and is supplied with a black fabric rod sleeve. The rod is very handsome and doesn't look like any other tenkara rod that I have used before. The coloration of the handle section is white, with simple rod designation labeling. However, the coloration of all the other segments is silver, including the tip segment. Each segment has a small black accent band in it tip most portion. The handle section is glossy in finish while the other segments are semi-gloss.

The handle is black foam and has an elongated camel shape. The handle is 26 cm long, not including the butt section (which sticks out prominently from the base of the handle). The handle fits the hand well and is comfortable.

The tip plug is wood, with a fluted rubber insertion post. It is quite large, being 16 mm in diameter. The butt cap is plastic and rubber, and as mentioned before, is elongated -- sticking well out from the base of the handle. Unlike many designs, this rod has threads that protrude from the base of the handle, rather than invaginate inside the handle. The butt cap screws onto these threads. There is no rubber bumper inside the butt cap, but there is a small air hole.

The lilian is red and is glued directly into the tip section with the glue joint being perfect in execution. Like most all Japanese designed rods, the tip section can be fully extracted through the 2nd section, allowing the rod to be fully dissembled for cleaning and drying.

The rod is quite compact when full collapsed -- coming in at 42.5 cm (with tip plug installed). Fully extended, it is 361 cm. Without the tip plug it weighs 87.4 g. This is likely due to the lower carbon and higher glass percentage of it's materials. As far as flex profile, the Tenkara RT 360 has a Common Cents System rating of 30 pennies. This gives it a Rod Flex Index of 8.3. The makes it a stiffer 7:3 rod. Also, it is quite tip heavy for a 360 cm rod. Its Rotational Moment is 7.4.  To put this in perspective, the Moment for the Nissin Air Stage Fujiryu 5:5 360 is 4.8 and the Tenkara Times WaterShed 360 is 4.7 (these are rods I am currently testing). Rotational Moment less than 6 is good, less than 5 is wonderful. For definitions of the Common Cents System, Rod Flex Index and Rotational Moment, please see my article on

The 360 cm version of the RT has 89% carbon fiber and 11% glass, but other lengths have varying amounts of carbon fiber. The 300 cm has 87% and the 330 cm has 88%. This fact likely accounts for the rod's weight and action profile.

Rod Flex Index comparison chart

As far as feel, this rod feels heavy. I know that 87 g is not that heavy but compared to the rods I've been fishing lately, it is. The swing is also more labored compared to many other 360 cm rods. I don't care for the feel of higher glass content tenkara rods, but many people might.

I used the rod with a 11 foot  #3.5 fluorocarbon level line and a 12 foot furled line. The rod cast much better with the furled line. I think if a level line is desired for this rod it would need to be a #4-4.5.

Conclusion: I don't really care for this rod. The price point is very nice, and the compactness makes the rod attractive for backpacking, but I'd rather carry a slightly less compact rod that has a better casting feel. I also don't care for the silver finish to the upper sections. I don't have any data supporting that this finish would scare fish, but it may be something to consider. The action is too labored and the rod feels too tip heavy for my taste. I think this rod is designed for the beginner, and as an entry level rod, but for the money, if I were to buy an entry level rod from Dragontail Tenkara,  I'd personally buy the Shadowfire over the Daiwa Tenkara RT.

What's good about this rod? It's pretty. It's inexpensive. It collpases down to a short length. It has the Daiwa name on it, but it's not made in Japan. It throws a furled line pretty well. But in my mind, that's about it.

No matter what I've said, if you think you'd like this rod you can get one from Dragontail Tenkara for a really nice price.

March 29, 2015

Video log -- March 23, 2015

I got out for a a couple hours the other day. I fished a stream that runs through a farmers field; yes, I had permission. The water was clouding up, due to the early snow melt. It was quick, but I did take a few browns.

March 26, 2015

The Keeper by Tenkara USA

Tenkara USA has the distinction of being the first tenkara company in the USA and by providing solid products and education for the tenkara enthusiast. But over the past year, they are also becoming known for innovative offerings to enhance the tenkara experience.

Little over a year ago Tenkara USA came out with their new line of rods that had the Keep Your Plug system, a new way of keeping track of your tip plug. They also introduced a white rod case, breaking all the molds for this most prosaic of rod accessories. Now Tenkara USA has redefined, or redesigned, the line spool into the ultimate accessory for minimalistic fishing -- The Tenkara Line and Fly Keeper.

The Keeper (for short) is a line control devise that can also carry a few flies. Here's what Daniel Galhardo, founder of Tenkara USA, says about this new offering, "The Tenkara USA Line Keeper is line holder solution that also incorporates an integrated fly box. The Keeper is designed to hold two tenkara lines, or tenkara line and tippet. That way a minimalist tenkara angler can have the tenkara line, tippet and flies in a compact solution." Jason Klass has blogged about this product already and you can read his take on it here.

The item that Daniel sent me is identical to the one Jason received but it is not the final product. Daniel communicated to me that the spool that he sent out was a prototype (a pretty nice one, I might add) but that there would be some changes to the final product. Here is what he said,

"There are two main adjustments we are making for the final pieces:
1) One of the finger holes will be slightly bigger to sit on handles a bit better.
2) The flap that closes on the fly box has also been modified to close a bit more easily. The box piece is not intended as a replacement to a full fly box of course, it's there more to potentially hold rod plugs or some 6-12 flies for the minimalist angler on a casual trip."

Keeping those changes in mind, let me show you a little more about The Keeper that I was sent. For size, it is 80 mm in diameter, 17 mm thick and weighs 39.7 g. For comparison, a 70 mm Meiho spool weighs 17.5 g and an ONI spool by Raj Leica (70 mm) weighs 11.8 g, and finally, a Meiho 50 mm spool weighs 10.8 g. These other spool don't have the features or versatility of The Keeper, of course.

Left to right: The Keeper, Meiho 70 mm, ONI, Meiho 50 mm.
17 mm thick

The Tenkara USA Line and Fly Keeper 
Meiho 70 mm

ONI by Raj Leica

Meiho 50 mm

Two holes in the spool body are of different sizes; they not only make it easy to wind on your line, but they should also fit onto many tenkara rods during transport. These holes have a rubber insert that keeps the spool from sliding off the rod, without having to push the spool on too tightly. They also protect the rod and cork from damage. I agree that they could be a little larger, to accommodate different tenkara rods. The largest hole is even a tight fit on the Rhodo.

It's a tight fit on the Rhodo

There are two bars, one either side of the spool, that allow you to anchor your fly while it is still attached to your line. These bars will hold hooks from size #6 to size #22. Four corresponding notches on the rim allow the line to go from the fly to the spool without sliding.


#6 (2X long) foam hopper

The spool will hold two lines, one on the ribbed side of the diaphragm and one on the smooth side. Or, you could put tippet material on the smooth side and your line on the ribbed side. Either configuration works equally well. The ribs capture your line as you wind it onto the spool; no more annoying "escapes" as your line springs off the spool while winding.

The rubber diaphragm has three tabs, each with a hole in it. These could be attached to a zinger or neck lanyard for easy carry and access.

Finally, the spool has a small compartment that is perfect for storing a few flies. As Daniel stated, The Keeper is not designed to replace a standard fly box, but it can store a few flies or even your rod plug. Still, with this compartment feature, as well as the others, The Keeper could make a nifty minimalist package and let you carry, in a single compact spool, a line, some tippet and a few flies.  Just add a rod and you're ready to fish -- literally.

The Keeper is well built and solid in construction. I threw mine on solid ground a few times and it didn't appear to get damaged in any way. I tried to pull it apart, and again, it didn't budge. As I said, solid!

Conclusion: The Keeper will be a very nice addition to the Tenkara USA accessories line up. It is due for retail release in April 2015. Innovative thinking, ergonomic design and solid construction are a few of many things where Tenkara USA is leading the pack. Well done TUSA!

March 23, 2015

My life uncovered

I've been writing this blog for over three years now, and if you've noticed, I don't share a lot of direct information about myself. This is mainly due to the fact the the blog is about my tenkara experience and not necessarily about me.

However, I recently had the opportunity to take part in an interview on in which Adam Trahan, the host and owner of that forum, asked me a series of questions regarding myself, my feelings about tenkara, and the like. I tried to answer the questions candidly and honestly, and I hope the interview is somewhat informative.

So, if you are interested in a little more about me, my background and my fishing goals, feel free to read and comment on the interview. It may be read here.