October 9, 2013

Tenkara Rod Co. Sawtooth rod -- review, part II, on the stream

In my previous post I reviewed the Tenkara Rod Co. Sawtooth rod. I pointed out that although the Sawtooth is marketed as a 5:5 it is much too stiff for that designation. Rather, it is more like a stiffer 6:4. I hadn't been able to get the rod on the water at that time so I held my final impressions of the rod.

I was able to get the Sawtooth on stream yesterday for a few hours, however. This allowed to me get a better feel for this rod.

The day had some challenges, mainly bright sun and a breeze. Because of the latter, and because the Sawtooth is a modestly stiff rod, I decided to go with a #4 line. Also, because of the breeze I used a short 10 foot line with 3 feet of 5X tippet.



I generally fish upstream, and that, plus the breeze, compelled me to use the shorter line. For most of the time that short of a line didn't hamper me, but in one spot it did.

After working my way up stream, I came across a nice pool. In those fleeting moments of smooth surface I could see fish lined up in the back eddy. I could have used a longer line to increase my stealth, but I didn't have one of my Versa-line extensions with me and I was too lazy to change out the whole line. Still, with the shorter line I took some fish.

Casting the Sawtooth on stream was just like my test casts done at home. It is a stiff rod; not at all like the 5:5 rods I am used to casting. Even with a #4 line the rod doesn't load much -- granted, my line was short and therefore had less mass than, say, a 16 foot #4 line would have had. Despite this, I could put the fly exactly where I wanted it to go. Targeting was very good with this rod.

I fished both unweighted and weighted flies. In fact, I used a large beadhead nymph to catch the largest fish of the day, an 18 inch cutthroat. The rod handled both types of flies equally well.

The Sawtooth fought the trout easily, and only on one occasion did I have any issue controlling a fish. That occasion was right after I entered the stream. On my third presentation I hooked into a fish that shot upstream so fast, and itself was so large, that I couldn't turn him. My knot gave way -- bummer!!! I would have loved to see the size of that guy!  I'm betting it was a large brown.

I took fish from 10 inches to 18 inches. The current was moderate to fast. The gradient was moderate to high.









Conclusion: This would make a nice entry level tenkara rod.  Despite some slight issues (a mislabeled flex ratio {this is not a 5:5 rod, it is a 6:4}, a hole in the butt cap that allows the 1st section to protrude through, no rubber/foam insert in the butt cap, and less than standard quality cork) this is a beautiful rod that can perform. It casts well, but mainly with heavier lines. If the aforementioned issues are corrected, I think this could be a really wonderful rod for anyone who prefers a stiffer rod action.

Update Oct 9, 2013: I received an email from Drew Hollenback of the Tenkara Rod Co. He said, "We are already working to make some of those changes to better the rods.  I think the rubber on the cap and an offset of the bottom hole along with a cork improvement are our biggest concerns right now."  I think this is encouraging. It sounds like the Tenkara Rod Co. is engaged and desires to improve their rods to be as good as they can be. That's good news for all of us.



Here is a video of me using the rod and catching the trout shown above.














8 comments:

  1. Tom

    I've read other places where bead heads are a no no with Tenkara due to the added weight. Having only fished bead heads when I western fly fish I find this to be a huge downer. Obviously it worked out great for you. I'm just wondering what your thoughts are here. Thanks

    Wesley

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    1. Hi Wesley.

      Bead heads work great with a tenkara rod! You have to adjust your casting a little so to opening up your loop, but that's about it. It may not be ubber traditional Japanese traditional tenkara, but who cares. The fish don't care. I have yet to be ticketed by the tenkara police for using a bead head with my tenkara rod. If you want to use a bead head then go for it!! I've got your back!

      -Tom

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    2. Always good to know someone has my back. I could care less about the traditional stuff. I just want to catch fish. I don't think there are any tenkara police in SC yet. I'm still trying to find someone close to take me under their wing and show me the ropes. Thanks for your reply. I look forward to your videos and blog posts. Thanks for what you do.

      Wesley

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    3. I have used a few bead head and they have worked great.

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  2. Everything pleasant, Tom: eye candy, music, how-to fish a stream, specifics about the rod being tested. I envy your experience and ability and admire your willingness to share. Bead heads? I use for them with my fixed line rods, because they cast easier in wind, and because they descend quickly when you want them to but can be held up in shallow water = generally more effective than unweighed flies.
    -John Laudenslager

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  3. Hi Tom,

    My son and I just returned from a fishing trip in NE Tennessee. Fished small streams in the Cherokee National Forest. Used the Teton, Sawtooth, and my Tenkara-Fishing.com 350. I think the Sawtooth became my son's favorite because it is a little softer than the other two rods. All rods fished well. Most fish were rainbows in the 10"-11" range. All on stimulators. This is the first time my son (who was on fall break from college) fished the tenkara rods. I think he is "hooked"! I warned him about placing the rod plug in a safe place as not to lose it. He thought for a second and asked why the rods couldn't be designed so the plug could be stored in the handle/grip while the rod is extended. The plugs nearly fit now Any ideas?

    Shawn in IN

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    1. Hi Shawn,

      Another tenkara fisherman "hooked"! That's great!

      I haven't seen any way of holding the tip plug in the handle without it rattling around, but it's a good idea!

      -Tom

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