September 23, 2016

Tenkara Rod Hack -- Two rods from one

If you've got one tenkara rod, you've got two. No, really. You've got two. Most tenkara rods that are available in different lengths have interchangeable parts. What I mean is that you could swap the tip sections of a Nissin Royal Stage 360 7:3 with the tip section of a Nissin Royal Stage 400 7:3 without changing the rod at all. They are the same part.

So it makes (some) sense that if you have a 360 cm tenkara rod and want a 270 cm tenkara rod, all you have to do is take out the upper sections of the 360 and fish with them. I know, I know, the new  "handle" section would be hard to hold, I get it. But what if you could put a handle on that shorter rod? Let me show you how.

First, some disclaimers. Not all tenkara rods are the same. Many rods have a smooth or simple curve under load. These are the best to do this hack with. If your rod has a complex load distribution curve, like a stiff lower and mid section and a very flexible tip section (Gamakatsu Multiflex Suimu 40), then I wouldn't recommend doing this hack with it. It might not be able the distribute the force of a fish properly and break. But if you have a unsophisticated load curve or a "simple" curve then you should be fine. The best rods for this hack are inexpensive entry level rods. Think Tenkara Rod Co. , some of Dragontails rods, etc. Don't get offended by the word inexpensive, they are functional rods but they aren't premium rods.

In this example we'll make a 270 cm rod. You could make a 240 cm or a 310 cm rod , but for now we'll talk about a 270 cm one. OK, take your original rod and remove enough top sections to equal, when extended, 270 cm or there abouts. Now go to and order a 6" EVA Foam Grips (Tapered) (SKU : #TGV-6-1/4 EVA Grip Size: 6" x 1/4"). Also order a Rubber Butt Plug (SKU : #FP-0 Rubber Butt Plugs: 1/4" I.D. x 7/8" O.D.).  These will cost you $2.68 USD (at the time of this writing). Add a little shipping and you have your handle parts.

$3.95 for shipping

The hole of the handle will be a little too small to accept the lower section of the "new" 270 cm rod. You will need to enlarge it. The easiest way to do this is with a rod handle reamer. They are cheap and they will save you a lot of headache. Get the small and medium sizes, that should be enough for this project.

Ream out the handle as needed

My old handle reamers from my rod building days

Now, use the reamers to enlarge the central hole of the handle. Protect your hands with gloves or a cloth. Make the central hole just a little smaller than the diameter of the rod segment. Now slip the handle over the tip of the "bottom" rod segment and slide it down into place. You want there to be some resistance, but not too much. After all, this rod is only temporary. When you want to use your rod at its original full length you will need to remove the handle by sliding it back off.

Make sure when the handle is in place there is a little room in the end to accept the butt cap. Now, as for the butt cap, since you enlarged the hole in the handle the butt cap post will be too small to hold by friction. I used self-fusing silicone tape to make the post larger. Wrap enough of the tape around the post to make it fit with slight resistance into the butt of the handle. The tape is very robust and will not fall off, even if it gets wet, yet you will be able to remove the butt cap when you want to remove your handle. Insert the butt cap into the butt of the handle.

That's it! Now you have a second rod for around $6 USD! I made my Dragontail Shadowfire 360 rod (a great entry level rod, BTW) into a 270 cm small stream rod. It works perfectly. The 270 cm Shadowfire is non-glare and has a great action for fighting fish in tight quarters. I also made a 270 cm from my Allfishingbuy Hirame-ML-3909. This little rod is too soft of action, in my opinion, for most of my small trout streams, but it would make a dandy micro-rod (micro as in fishing for micro fish).

270 cm Hirame

240 cm Shadowfire

So like I said, if you have one rod you have two! I won't use this hack on my Japanese rods, as they are too expensive to risk, but for Chinese made entry level rods this technique is great! Have fun fishing smaller streams!


  1. This is a great post. I once pondered trying this back in the day before "shorter" tenkara rods were commonly sold. My thought was to buy replacement tip and middle sections from a manufacturer and giving it a go. Never pulled the trigger, but good to know the concept works. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great idea! I am going to hit some small streams this week, and if I find my rod to be too long, I will be making an order for this conversion too. Les - Western Idaho.

  3. I've got an Air Stage 390 that I smashed the grip section on... I think I'll make it into a 240 or 190 this way.

    1. I have managed to partially (well, pretty thoroughly) smash two grip sections. Both times I was able to wrap them in glass tape and epoxy, then sand them and wrap in hockey stick tape, and they work great. The Air Stage 340 is a bit oval but there is room in there for the other sections and it still collapses just fine.

  4. I was just thinking about this sort of thing. Individual grip sections are $65 so that didn't work for me. This will. Thanks

  5. This worked great! I just turned my trc Teton into a 270cm small river rod. I plan to only use it in the shortened configuration, so I have it very tight. Thanks Tom