August 19, 2018

Tenkara Tanuki Golden Trout -- review

As a small stream fixed-line angler, I am always on the look out for a better small stream rod. I must admit that I am pretty picky when it comes to my small creek rods, so when I heard that Tanuki was making a small creek rod I definitely wanted to check it out. Luong recently sent me one of his new Golden Trout rods to test out and I was pretty excited to get it on the water.

I like Tanuki rods - mostly. I've owned an original Black Beauty, which was a great rod. I currently own an XL-1, which I think is an amazing rod for light line tenkara. It has excellent balance and a low rotational moment (doesn't feel tip heavy), but I don't care for the red camo handle (that's just me - I'm pretty boring and would have gone with black). So I had pretty high expectations of the Golden Trout. Here is what I found:

The Golden Trout (GT) comes in a plastic container with the rod and a red embroidered rod sleeve. It's hard to describe the overall coloration, as this rod is very psychedelic! Tanuki has out down himself on the paint job of this little rod. It has vivid greens in the handle section, with canary yellow predominating the next four sections. There are even some light reds in there too! The lower two sections are covered in various colored dots, I think to pay homage to the colored spots on a California golden trout.

The paintwork is something to see, but I did find a problem or defect on the butt of the 3rd lower section. The paint doesn't cover the entire section and it shows when you extend the rod. This may be nitpicking, but when you pay a premium price for a highly colored rod (in this case, the GT being $259.95 USD for a 7' 10" rod) you would expect the paintwork to be perfect. That was the only defect I could find, however.

The handle is green (with a bright green middle) EVA foam, and it has a slight camel or gourd shape. The overall diameter of the handle is smaller than most tenkara rods, but this seems to be characteristic of very short "tenkara" rods. My palm size is extra large but the handle still felt just fine when casting or playing a fish. The handle is 24.5 cm in length.

The tip plug is plastic with golden chrome for accent. It has been drilled and has a loop of bright green lilian material threaded through it. The butt cap is golden chrome, has circumferential knurling and a coin slot. There is a short plastic post to capture the zoom section.

The lilian is bright green. It doesn't have a stopper knot and the glue joint is perfectly executed. This allows the rod to be fully disassembled for drying and cleaning. This is so important!

The GT rod can be fished in two length configurations, 200 cm and 240 cm. The zoom feature works perfectly on this little rod. The zoom section is held snugly in place until needed, then with only a little force the rod can be extended. The zoom section can be recaptured equally easily.

Here are some of my measurements:

Fully nested: 51 cm
Fully extended: 200.5 cm, 240 cm
Weight (without tip plug): 39.2 g
CCS: 9.5 pennies @ 200 cm. 12 pennies @ 240 cm
RFI: 4.75, 5 respectively

RFI comparison chart

Casting the rod is fun. If you have ever tried to cast a very short "tenkara" rod (240 cm or less) you will recall that due to the short length of the rod the action can feel stiff. This is definitely true when you compare these ultra short rods to the more traditional tenkara rods of 360-390 cm. Some rod makers have tried to make short tenkara rods, but most fail IMO. It is very difficult to make an ultra short fixed line rod that loads with a short line. Well, Tanuki has done it! Even in the 200 cm configuration this rod loads. The overall casting stroke is still pretty short and fast, but that's not the rod's fault. That's just due to its short length.

I used a #2.5 fluorocarbon level line of approximately 245 cm total length (with tippet). The rods cast this line easily, but I felt it did so more comfortably in the 240 cm length than the 200 cm length. Casting accuracy was excellent in both configurations.

Fighting the fish I caught was another matter. Again, as with ultra short "tenkara" rods there is a compromise between loading the rod for casting and the ability to fight or play the fish when caught. When I caught 6-7 inch trout there was no problem playing the fish. Again, I felt that the rod did better in the 240 cm length than at 200 cm. Even a sub 6 inch trout puts a deep bend in the rod when it's in the 200 cm configuration. But the GT is marketed for small trout, so this should be expected.

The problem is this: at least for me, I never know what size of trout is going to hit my fly! On my little creeks I can catch a 6 inch rainbow on one cast, but the next cast I'll hook into a 12-14 inch brown. This is exactly what happened when I was wet testing the GT.

I had caught a number a little rainbows and browns (6-8 inch), and the rod did really well, but then I hooked a large (for that creek) brown. I had the rod in the 240 cm configuration, so I had a little more stiffness in the butt sections, but the brown over whelmed the rod right away. I fought him the best I could in the close quarters of a log jam, but not wanting to risk breaking the rod I hand lined him as soon as I could. He shook his head and popped off my fly (6X tippet). Needless to say, I didn't get a picture of him (but I can see him in my mind and he was a real beauty. I'd guess a fat 12-13 inches).

Conclusion: This is a great small creek, small trout rod. It has a very fun action and responds well to any casting angle, at least with a level line. It is designed for small trout, so remember that. I really like how it casts and how it fights small trout, but I'm not a fan of the coloration. I'm much more of a flat mat charcoal kind of a guy when it comes to my small creek rods. But this is just a matter of taste. Also, the rod costs too much for me to invest in. For $259.95 USD I can buy almost four Shimotsuke Gen 240 rods. I don't need the 200 cm length anyway; 240 cm is about as short as I need to go for my creeks. Still, Luong has done a great job on the design and dynamics of this rods, and should be commended. He has done the near impossible!

If you are in the market for an ultra short "tenkara" rod then take a look at the Tanuki Golden Trout, as this rod might be just what you'll like!

Disclaimer: My opinion regarding this rod is just that, my opinion. Your opinion may differ.  Also, your rod may not have the same length, issues, or functionality as my rod. There are variations between rods, even in the same production run. No description can fully tell you how a rod feels or fishes. For this, you must personally hold, cast, and fish the rod then make up your own mind. 
I have no financial interest in Tenkara Tanuki. I was loaned this rod and returned it after the review. Thanks again, Luong, for letting me borrow the rod!

1 comment:

  1. Let me understand this. You would rather have a $50 Rod then a $260 rod made by Mr Tam. I bought this rod and it casts very well and is a wonderful piece of equipment. Your loss,Bucko.


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