February 29, 2016

Tenkara Rod Company Mini Teton rod

I recently received an email from a fellow tenkara angler and blog writer, Adam Klagsbrun, asking if I would like to borrow his Tenkara Rod Company Mini Teton rod for a review. I had previously decided not to buy another Tenkara Rod Company rod until they came out with some rod that was worth it, but getting the chance to borrow one from Adam was a deal I couldn't pass up. So not to become biased, Adam did not tell me what he thought of this little rod, although I'm sure he had already made up his mind. Adam is very experienced, has traveled the world in pursuit of trout, and has fished many different rods. His blog is called "Of Rock and Riffle" and I encourage you to subscribe to it if you haven't already.

Here's what the company's propaganda says regarding the Mini Teton:

"The Mini Teton rod goes everywhere with you.  At just 10 inches when collapsed, you can easily throw it in your pocket, glovebox, saddlebag, briefcase, etc.  And whenever you find that piece of water that looks fishy, give it a go!  It extends out to just under 12 ft so you get a lot of length with this rod.  We recommend it for fish up to two pounds.  And don't worry about how small or thin it is, it is made from extremely high quality carbon fiber and comes with a lifetime warranty!  


-Collapsed Length: 10 inches

-Extended Length: 12 ft (360cm)

-Weight: 1.9 ounces

-Includes: Rod, rod sock, and rod tube.

-Warranty: Lifetime"

As always, I like to see how close this information comes to reality, so I took a look at the rod.

The rod comes in a glossy black rod tube and is provided with an appropriately sized sleeve. The rod's finish is glossy black with sliver and gold accent rings at the tip-ward end of most sections. The rod has 20 sections and the carbon fiber walls are reasonably thick, so that they don't deform much with squeeze pressure.

The handle is the butt section, like a keiryu rod. There is no cork on this rod. The butt section is where the rod's graphic designs are placed. There is a non-slip coating on the butt section which incorporates the company's "wrapped around fish" logo. It covers half the butt section.

Tip plug

Butt cap

The tip plug is large, and would be harder to loose than some other rod's plug. It fits snugly into the tip of the handle section. The butt cap is black plastic, has a rubber bumper and a very tiny air hole.

The lilian is bright chartreuse and is attached to the tip section with a micro swivel. The glue joint is compact and smooth.

My measurements are:

Fully nested: 24.7 cm
Fully extended: 343 cm
Weight (without tip plug): 51.6 g
CCS: 19 pennies
RFI 5.5

The flex profile of the rod is that of a tip flex rod. Although the RFI is 5.5, most all of the flex is in the upper fourth of the rod. The main body of the rod is fairly stiff. This affects it's casting arc. Since I only use level lines that is what I tested the rod with. The rod requires a heavier level line, such as a #4 to effectively load. I suspect this rod loads better with a furled line, but since I don't like furled lines I can't really say how it works with one.

I find the action stiff and not very pleasant. At one point in my tenkara evolution I preferred stiffer rods, but I have gravitated to rods that give more feedback and require less energy to use. This is not one of those rods.

Conclusion: I harbor no ill will to the Tenkara Rod Company, but I'm sure they probably hate me as it seems that every rod I use of theirs I dislike. I know they sell a lot of rods, but what they have just doesn't inspire me. It's probably that I have used so many high quality rods that anything less than a top Japanese offering, or a rod engineered to cast like one, just leaves me wanting. Even with this rod's advantage of compact size, it's just not for me.

I appreciate Adam allowing me borrow this rod.


  1. I really want to like a rod from these guys. They have nice marketing and graphics. The rods are very pretty to look at. But I never fish them because they are sooo stiff. I don't mind lending them to friends, but I do hesitate to teach newbies to fish with them because they require too much power to cast. I showed the rods to Craig Matthews at the Blue Ribbon Fly shop in Montana and he was surprised at how stiff the rods were compared to the rods he helped design with patagonia/TFO. And the patagonia/TFO rod is pretty stiff already since it was designed to cast a floating PVC line.

  2. My brother likes the TRC rods. He has a Sawtooth. At least that rod seems to behave in a manner similar to the Japanese rods. I prefer the true Japanese rods myself.

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I feel the same way and really only enjoy fishing with my Oni rods. I would love pocket rod that casts well.

    1. The Nissin Pocket Mini rods cast very well. I really like the 270. Sometimes imitation comes up way short on the flattery.

  4. If we all liked the same things, it would be a boring world. :-) I fished this rod with furled line 4 weekends ago in Rocky Mountain National Park. I enjoyed the way the rod fished and thoroughly enjoyed catching trout with it. A little 8 inch trout makes for a big thrill on this rod and it's perfect for hiking to Dream Lake, along streams, or anywhere else your heart desires, while taking up very little room in your pack. I have used and enjoyed it more recently in Bear Creek near Evergreen, CO. In my experience, both Tenkara Rod Co and Tenkara USA make good rods, put together nice packages for the money, and have excellent warranties and customer service. If a section breaks, which is a possibility when first learning, you receive a replacement section and are back to fishing the rod in just a few days. For someone thinking of giving tenkara a try, Tenkara Rod Co rods provide a great entry into tenkara at a low cost, so people can make sure they enjoy tenkara (it's awesome and relaxing, don't miss out) before committing more money. I'm not affiliated with either company - just a guy who loves to hike and fish in the Rocky Mountains as often as possible. For anyone who came across this during an internet search because you are thinking of trying tenkara: whatever gear your budget allows you to buy, give tenkara a try, it is both simple and awesome.