January 17, 2019

The long (but not short) of it.

In my last post, I made the following statement: "One concept that is often promoted in the tenkara community is simplicity. Simplicity often tends to lead some anglers to minimalism. In adopting minimalism, some anglers lean towards very compact rods, thinking compact is more minimal. I can see where the backpacking tenkara angler would want a compact rod in their kit, but I bet most tenkara anglers in the US don't have to hike very far to get to the waters they fish. The point I'm getting at is that although most tenkara rods are rather short when they are nested, and sure, this is nice and convenient, a compact rod is usually not required on most waters." Now that it's been said again, let me explain some of my thoughts.

Over the past many years I've had a few rods that have long nested lengths. Granted, I don't hike with them, (well, not very far at least) but for the most part I think they are great rods and have been overlooked by many due to their long lengths when nested.

What do I like about long nested rods? I like their flex action. I find these rods to be very smooth in action. Their bend profiles tend to be without flat spots (which often come from segment joints) and the transfer of energy is very efficient. Because of this they tend to cast beautifully.

Do they cast better than a rods that nest into a more compact length (in other words, ones that have more sections and joints)? That depends on your perspective. Personally, overall I think they do. I do have some rods that collapse into shorter lengths that cast really well, like the Oni Type-I, but long nesting rods are just plain smooth. It's really something you have to experience.

The long collapsed rods that I have used are the Shimano Mainstream ZE, Nissin Air Stage Honryu 380, Shimano Honryu 44NP, and the Dawia Master L LL36. Some may also include the Shimano Keiryu Tenkara 34-38 ZL, but it isn't as long when nested as these rods.

Left to right: Nissin Air Stage Honryu 380, Daiwa Master L LL36, Shimano Mainstream ZE. Also included for length comparison are the Discover Tenkara Karasu and the Tenryu Furaibo TF39TA. 

Are these rods perfect? No, of course not. I didn't spiritually connect with the 34-38 ZL so I did not keep it. The 44NP felt too tip heavy for my liking, so it had to go. The Mainstream ZE is a classic and so different from Dr. Ishagaki's other rods, and I like the 400 cm length but I'm not a fan of it's swing weight when it's extended to 450 cm. I don't like the AS Honryu 380's handle shape, so I modified it. However, the Daiwa Master L LL36 is near perfect for me.

Don't let the collapsed length of these rods put you off. If you ever get a chance to cast one of these special rods take the opportunity. Even if you don't end up purchasing one, you will be all the more educated for doing so. I believe you will feel what I'm talking about, and may even be able to overlook their unconventional length when nested.

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