April 2, 2012

Tenkara USA Ebisu review

When I was recently fishing with ERiK of Tenkara Guides, he let me try his Tenkara USA Ebisu. That was a mistake because as soon as I fished with it I knew that I wanted one! I had been fishing with my Ito all morning but when I first held his Ebisu I was amazed at how light it felt compared to the Ito. So, I bought one!

From the Tenkara USA website: "This rods feature a unique Red-Pine handle, a very high quality wood that is light-weight, durable and water resistant. This beautiful wood has very fine grain and rays that flows in the same direction as the rod, and contributes to its beautiful aesthetic quality.
We designed a very short handle, which makes it feel more "delicate" and great in the hands. The wood handle is a great addition to a fishing rod that you will feel proud of. "

I ordered my Ebisu off the Tenkara USA website and less than a week later I had it in my hands. It came in a cylindrical crush resistant mailing tube via the USPS. As with all the Tenkara USA rods that I have (Iwana-12, Amago, Ito) the Ebisu came in a synthetic material sleeve, which in turn was in a rod tube.

After taking it out of its tube and sleeve, I immediately noticed its unique wood handle. But something was amiss with my handle when I mentally compared it to ERiK's Ebisu. My handle was very rough and looked, and felt, unsanded and finished. I remember ERiK's Ebisu handle to be smooth and having a finished appearance. Could this be? All the other rods I have purchased from Tenkara USA have been visually near perfect. This was so out of my normal experience with Tenkara USA rods. My handle appeared to be sanded in some places but very course and unsanded in other others (as in near the knot grain).  It appeared to be raw, unprotected wood. I could not detect any signs of an application of a surface treatment. The wood was also much paler than ERiK's or what is seen on the Tenkara USA website.

Unfinished wood
Course texture on a portion of the handle

The rest of the rod appeared Tenkara USA perfect. The graphite is black with a glossy finish. I do not really like the glossy finish (although it is very pretty), I much more prefer the flat finish of the Amago or the satin finish of the Ito. No flaws could I detect elsewhere in the rod. The lilian is red and attached with glue and a small gold band.

Red lilian and connection

After some thought, I decided that instead of sending the rod back, I would finish the handle myself. I used 120 grit sand paper to knock down the courser stuff, follow by 220 and then finally 320 grit. This left the handle smooth, but with just a little texture. I vacuumed off the wood dust to open the pores and to get the wood ready to take the finish.

To finish the wood, I decided on light golden oak Danish oil treatment. Danish oil penetrates the wood and yet will not make the surface so glass-like smooth as to be slippery with wet hands. I applied three treatments of oil, each separated by twenty four hours. Between each treatment I used ultra fine steel wool to smooth and burnish the surface. After three days the volatile oils had evaporated completely leaving a perfect finish.

After finishing

As for fishing the rod, this rod casts like a dream. When compared to the Iwana (6:4), the Ebisu (5:5) is a slow dream. You can feel the rod load more definable than with the Iwana. You have to take it slower; your casting strokes have to be more deliberate. It has a nice, relaxed feel. The Eibsu does not play with the wind very well however, but boy does this rod lay out a #3 level line with barely a ripple on the water's surface. It delivers the ultimate in stealth casting.

As for fish, this rod makes any size feel like a Henry's Fork freight train. Any enthusiastic fish up to 10 inches really bends the Ebisu. If your fish start getting into the 14-16 inch range then you might be a little over whelmed with this rod. Not to say it can't be done, but there are better rods for those mid-size trout.

Left to Right: Iwana12, Ebisu, Amago, Ito

Conclusion: Needless to say, I was disappointed with the handle finish of this rod. I very much doubt that my handle is the norm for this rod -- I feel sure that I got a rod that slipped through Tenkara USA's quality control process. I love this rod's feel and how delicately it places a light level line onto the water. It is not a large water, wind friendly, big fish rod for sure, but for smaller water in tight quarters with fish of 6-10 inches it is wonderful.

Tenkara USA Ebisu Overview (* poor, ***** excellent)

Ease of purchase                       ***** 
Quality of materials                   ****
Fit and Finish                           **'
Physical Characteristics            ****
Fishability                                  ***'
Overall                                       ***" (3.8 out of 5 stars)

An updated impression of this rod, and other rods I have used can be read HERE.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you got an Ebisu. It's a great rod, and you'll have fun with it. It can handle bigger fish too! I know it works for fish up to 18".

    Also, my handle was pretty light too...I think I just have dirty hands!