April 18, 2019

Anglo & Company Wasabi 36 tenkara rod - review

When it comes to the tenkara rods that I own there are some that stand out because of craftsmanship and quality. Some that I can think of are the Sakura Seki Rei, Shimotsuke Ten, and the Wasabi 36 by Anglo & Company. What sets these rods apart is that they are small batch, handmade, non-industrial production rods where quality and craftsmanship are the top goal.

Anglo & Company is a small Japanese fishing rod company is located in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Japan. It is ran by Keijiro Suganuma, who makes rods on demand with modern materials and ultra-high craftsmanship. Their rods are handmade in Japan and are finished one at a time at the Setagaya workshop. They produce blanks and other major parts in Japan and aim for the best quality. They are best known in Japan for their high quality fly and spinning rods.

Anglo & Company shop in Tokyo. 

One of Anglo & Company spinning rods for genryu adventures. 
Anglo & Co. mainstream and tenkara rods from 6.3 m to 2.7 m. 

The Wasabi 36 is a beautiful rod that comes with an equally handsome rod sleeve. The sleeve is made of material with a corduroy pattern that is soft and compliments the rod. The rod blank is a very dark olive, which appears black in indoor lighting. The finish is glossy on all segments. The rod designation is simple and unadorned, with a hand written inscription of the company name, rod name, and length in meters/feet/inches. A few simply accents consisting of thin gold rings is all the "bling" this rod has, but it doesn't need "bling", this rod's beauty speaks for itself!

The handle is high quality cork. It is a thing of beauty! In a day of impersonal foam handles, this cork handle really stands out. The shape is the classic camel or gourd shape, but much less aggressive than most tenkara rods. The front of the handle has a slight taper to it. This makes the handle a little narrower in diameter than most of the rods I have. The handle is 24 cm in length.

There is no winding check! There doesn't need to be one as the place where the cork handle meets the blank is perfect - no gaps, no cork defects, nothing but perfect!

No winding check.

The tip plug is black nylon plastic, but it too has the artist touch. It has a shape that is easy to grasp and hold. The butt cap is black anodized metal, has knurling and a decompression hole. The statement on the butt cap says it all and demonstrates the pride the maker has in this rod.

The lilian is dark brown and is joined to the tip section with a perfectly executed glue joint. There is a small stopper knot in the lilian, which I removed. The tip section can be extracted through the second section making the rod easy to disassemble for cleaning and drying.

Here are some of my measurements:

Extended: 359 cm
Nested (with tip plug): 58 cm
Weight (without tip plug): 65 g
CCS/RFI: 16 pennies/4.5

Casting the Wasabi 36 is fantastic! The rod is very light in the hand and perfectly balanced. The handle fits your hand well, although the upper end is a little thin for my size XL hands. To me, the action feels like a 6:4 rather than the 7:3 that the rod is advertised to be. If it's a 7:3 then it's more like a "Nissin 7:3" than a "Daiwa 7:3", if you know what I mean. The RFI number is lower than would be expected because the top two segments are more flexible than the other segments. This lowers the RFI number artificially by increasing the tip-ward curve of the rod. This rod is not a full flex rod, rather it's tip flex; it stiffens up in the middle making the rod feel "faster" than an RFI of 4.5.

The linear and rotational dampening is fantastic. There is no overshoot when forcing the cast. Also, at 359 cm there is no appreciable air resistance when swing it through it's casting arc.

I used a #2.5-3 fluorocarbon level line in both 10' and 14' lengths, each with 4' 6X tippets. The fly lands first every time with an easy casting effort. This rod is a joy to cast!

Fishing the rod is also fantastic. It feels a little like my old Zerosum 360 7:3, only better. Most all my streams are blown out right now with record snow melt, so I only had one creek that I could fish it on. That creek has gin clear spring water and small but very wary rainbows. I ended up using a 13' #3 fluorocarbon line with 3.5' of 6X tippet. I caught dozens of rainbows, but nothing in the size that even got close to taxing the rod.

Casts were very accurate and easy to control, and hooks sets were quick with just the right amount of force needed.

Conclusion: I really like this rod! The Wasabi 36 is a beautiful rod with an incredible action that is a true joy to cast.  Jason Klass of Tenkara Talk says on his blog: "
Anglo & Company is a Japanese company specializing in ultra-premium tenkara and custom fly rods". He is absolutely right! The Wasabi 36 is an ultra-premium tenkara rod and is, IMO, among the very best tenkara rods I have ever seen. How many tenkara rods have I seen, cast, fished with? Look at the RFI table above. That's about 90% of the rods I've personally used. Yeah, I've tested/used a few rods!

This is a true Japanese tenkara rod. It doesn't get more Japanese than this. Although it's not full flex (like some think real Japanese tenkara rods should be), it's a handmade, one at a time, Japanese thoroughbred.

If you are in the market for one of the most refined tenkara rods in the world, consider the Wasabi 36 from Anglo & Company! I don't think you'll be disappointed!

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. Don't just take my word for it.
I have no affiliation with Anglo & Company. I purchased the rod at full retail price. 

April 3, 2019

What a Great Rod!

This past January I did a dry review of the Daiwa Master Tenkara L LL36. I wasn't able to fish it at that time due to all the local streams being frozen over. However, over this past month I've been fishing it regularly. And all I have to say is WHAT A GREAT ROD!

I generally prefer rods that are a little faster in action, like the TenkaraBum 36, but I'm really liking the Daiwa Master Tenkara. It's hard to describe, but it's an amazing rod to fish. At first it seems pretty floppy, but after a few casts with a #3 fluorocarbon level line it comes to life. The rod loads beautifully and transfers that stored energy to the line with efficiency and grace. Most of the days I fished there was a breeze and I generally have a harder time casting full flex rods in a breeze. But not this rod. I had no trouble casting and hitting my targets despite the breeze.

Just the other day I fished the Master Tenkara L LL36 on a stretch of river that I normally don't fish. It's lower gradient than I like, being the classic pool-riffle-pool-riffle so common to many western streams. Because of this water topography I had to lengthen my line considerably, so not to scare the trout that were busily taking midges in the surface film. On my 13' of #3 level line I tied 4' of 6X tippet. To this I tied a #16 olive Klinkhammer. Off the bend of the Klinkhammer I tied another foot of 6X tippet and ended it with a #20 pheasant tail nymph. For a guy that normally fishes a line length so that the fly is at the butt of the rod handle, an 18' line is long.

The Master Tenkara L LL36 cast that line with no issues whatsoever. Each time, the flies laid out straight. It was easy keeping the line off the water as well; only the tippet was on the water surface. And for the record, every fish took the pheasant tail.

At one place in the stream I came across a large tree overhanging the water. Under the low hanging branches where numerous trout. I changed to my usual length of line (so that the fly hung right at the rod butt), changed to a #12 Ishigaki kebari, and cast under the branches. I took those trout (one had a corneal cataract).

I have enjoyed fishing this rod so much that I think I'll be using it as my primary rod for a while. It's so light in hand and has such excellent balance that it is a real joy to fish. The long collapsed length is not an issue for me. It's just not. I've fished a Nissin Air Stage Honryu 380 for years so I'm used to the long nested length. I just carry it my hand instead of my back pocket.

If you're one of those "I only fish with Japanese tenkara rods" kind of persons, then you owe it to yourself to check out this rod. It's the real deal. Yes, I think it's that good!

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. Don't just take my word for it.

March 30, 2019

What I Carry in my Car

As you might expect, I have a lot of tenkara rods. Most are Japanese, made with higher end materials. Therefore, I generally don't leave them just lying around. But I have in the past found myself at times on a drive, with no intension of fishing, and coming suddenly upon a creek that looks pretty good. In those moments I would often think, "man, I wish I had my stuff with me".

So a few years ago I started leaving a rod, a few lines, one spool of fluorocarbon tippet and a small box of flies in the back of my car. I've changed the rod out a few times, but many times I have used those items for a spur of the moment fishing adventure.

One of these impromptu adventures happened just the other day. I had finished work earlier and not wanting to drive home to get my stuff I thought I'd just drive up one of the nearby canyons to "check out" the water. After I parked, I got out my "car rod", put a spool of #3 line and tippet in my pocket along with the small box of flies. I stuck the rod into my back pocket and started up the trail.

Wow! Not a flattering silhouette! 

The sky was sunny and the air was a delightful 64 degrees F. There was just a little breeze. I quickly saw that the water levels were good and the clarity was excellent. I was on-call to the hospital so I couldn't go very far, but as long as I stayed within cell reception I thought I'd venture to do a little spontaneous fishing.

As I did some boulder hopping along the bank, trying not to get my shoes wet, I caught fish after fish. Most were browns, but a did take few rainbow and one cutthroat. I exchanged flies a few times - usually after catching 2-3 trout with the fly. I started with a Killer kebari, then changed to a Grave Digger jun kebari, then a black Takayama sakasa kebari, and finally ended with a black Oxford wool futsuu kebari. All were size #10, as is my usual modus operandi.

I took fish in pocket water, pools, riffles and flats. It was great! If I hadn't had my gear with me I would have had a nice walk, but I would have missed out on this wonderful fishing.

I currently carry a DRAGONtail Hydra ZX390 in my car. Although there may be some concern with summertime high temperatures in the car damaging the rod, I have not seen any adverse affects to date. No, I won't be leaving my Oni rods in my car; the Hydra is a very robust rod, yet inexpensive enough for my "experiment".  I also carry a Dr Slick Mitten Clamp on a lanyard. On the lanyard I have my tippet spool and a nipper.

Also in my car I have one of my wading staffs, but I have at times just carried a trekking pole, as it is more compact. Either way, with this minimal gear I can have an enjoyable outing fishing even when I wasn't planning on fishing at all.

If you carry gear in your car I'd love to hear what you carry and how that's turned out for you.

March 26, 2019

CUTTHROAT, the book of books on this great fish of the west

If you are into cutthroat trout like I am, then you should consider getting a very special book. The book is CUTTHROAT, Native Trout of the West by Patrick Trotter.

This book is not a fly fishing book. It doesn't contain tackle, tactics or techniques for catching cutthroat trout. It doesn't even talk about fishing. But what it does talk about is everything else regarding the trout "discovered" by the Corp of Discovery August 19, 1805.

The book is a comprehensive study of cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) and their geographical groups, subspecies (let's hear it for Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri), range, habits, etc. This book is more like a doctoral dissertation than a book for casual reading. Still, I find this book extremely interesting and useful in my pursuit of this iconic western trout.

So, if you are into cutthroat trout hunting, like I am, considering getting this book. As we learn more about Oncorhynchus clarkii and share that knowledge with others, we can become a force for change in protecting William Clark's trout. For me, it is the most precious and special of all trout species.