June 7, 2013

Tenkara Times NEXT 360 5:5 rod (2013 edition) -- review

Yesterday I went fishing a small mountain stream that has resident native Yellowstone cutthroat trout a plenty. There is nothing of great size in the stream, the largest I've caught in the past was 14 inches, but the stream is still fun none-the-less. I fished it with a rod sent to me by Oleg Stryapunin of Tenkara Times.

The rod was the Tenkara Times NEXT 360 5:5. Jason Klass reviewed a previous version and Christophe Laurent briefly reported regarding the current version. According the Oleg, the blank is the same between the two versions but two upgrades have been made to the 2013 version of the rod. The first is minor: the color accents on the blank have been toned down. They are not bright Komen pink anymore, rather they are a less obtrusive tone of purple -- sort of a Pantone 254 PC. The second is a major upgrade: a black EVA foam handle. I have owned a Shimano 34-38 ZL which has a similar style of handle and was very comfortable and, dare I say, chic! The handle of the NEXT 360 5:5 is similar in comfort and style.

The rod came in a paper covered package. Removing the paper finds the rod in a transparent polycarbonate tubular case along with a thick black stretch rod sock. The polycarbonate tubular case is not as sturdy as a fiberglass or metal tube, but is should protect the rod well. BTW, an aluminum rod case is offered as an option.

Collapsed, my rod is 57 cm in length. Extended it is 364.7 cm. Its weight without the tip plug is 70.2 g (advertised weight is 69 g).

The blank is a non-glare dark grey graphite matte which I appreciate. As previously mentioned, there are color accents on the distal ends of segments 2-8 (tip section being segment #1). Past versions of the NEXT 360 5:5 had bright fuchsia accents, but as mentioned above, that color has been toned down.

Matte finish

The handle is black EVA foam and has a subtle, but noticeable,  "gourd", "camel" or "hour-glass" shape to it. The distal 4.5 cm is high quality cork. Overall, this gives the rod a very modern and updated look. EVA foam handles are becoming more common on fly rods likely due to the difficulty obtaining high quality cork. The black winding check is tight to the handle. Personally, I like this handle. It is very comfortable and non-slip wet or dry. EVA foam is very robust and durable making it last a long time without the appearance of aging as with cork. The only downside to EVA foam that I have experienced is that it can have the tendency to retained fish smell, even after cleaning with water. Mild soap diluted in fresh water will help remove the smell, however.

The tip plug is wood with a rubber insert. The butt cap is black plastic; no drainage hole but a coin slot is provided.

Tip plug
Butt cap

The lilian is red and rather long, compared to other rods I have. It is attached to the graphite directly -- no micro-swivel. It comes with a simple overhand knot in the end, but as I don't use a girth hitch to attach my lines I don't use a lilian knot. Also, I prefer to remove all the segments of the rod after a days fishing so they can dry completely. This can only be done if the knot is undone. The end of the Lilian was a little frayed on my rod, but I corrected this with just a light touch of a flame.

 As far as flex action, the rod is advertised as a 5:5 or soft rod. As mentioned in previous posts, the whole 5:5, 6:4, 7:3 rating system for tenkara rods is very subjective and without standard from manufacturer to manufacturer. An attempt to have a simple, repeatable standard measurement for rod flex is provided with the Common Cents Scale (CCS). This, however, does not adjust for the length of the rod, but the Rod Flex Index (RFI) does. Using the RFI rods from different manufacturers may be compared and their flex categorized. The Tenkara Times NEXT 360 5:5 rod has a CCS of 14 penny; this gives is a RFI of 3.8. Therefore, it falls in the 5:5 range.

RFI comparison chart

Fishing the rod is a real pleasure. Personally, I like rods in the RFI range of 3.5-6.5 with a nod to those in the mid to upper end of this range (I do like a few not in this range though). The NEXT 360 fits solidly in the 5:5 range. Casting strokes are slow and controlled. Targeting is good. There may be a slight tendency for tip oscillation at the end of the casting stroke making the line jump just a little, but this can be over come with the right line weight and not forcing the casting stroke.  A #3 line fits it well; too heavy a line and it gripes just a little. Slower, smooth casting is in order with this rod.

It fights fish well. The largest I've caught with it so far is only 12 inches but it feels like it could handle larger in a fast current. The handle is comfortable. Tip heaviness is minimal, about what you'd expect for a 360 cm rod.

Conclusion: I like this rod. It appears to be well built; very good fit and finish. It's lightweight with good balance. The action is relaxed but not too relaxed -- smooth, slow casts are best; don't force the stroke or the tip rebounds. Unweighted flies are best as is a #3-#3.5 line -- #4 or higher make the rod gripe a smidge. I really like the handle. I see the EVA foam as a plus not as a problem. All in all, I'm betting that Tenkara Times will sell out this Y13 version as they have done with the past version of the NEXT 360 5:5. We'll see if I'm right.

Here is a video of me fishing with the rod. The video is interesting if for one reason: this is my first attempt at showing both POV and 3rd person views of fishing at the same time!


  1. Gracias por la revision.Estupendo el video..

  2. Thanks for sharin another very nice review.
    I also like that matte finish and the cork on other models looks very nice.
    I'm about to buy a rod from them.
    Probably the Try 390 7:3.