February 21, 2012

Tenkara USA Handle Replacement for Iwana Series Rods

It seems that the more I investigate Tenkara the more cool stuff I find (and want to buy). The first Tenkara rod I purchased was a Tenkara USA 12' Iwana. It is a fantastic rod; I reviewed it in January.  However, I know that I will be fishing some pretty tight little streams (dark tunnels of willows, crawl rather than walk --  you know the streams) early this summer after the run-off has finished. I am not sure if I will be able to use the 12' Iwana even though it is relatively short by Tenkara standards. So I started looking for an even shorter Tenkara rod.

Right now my rod collection consists of three rods:  12' Iwana, Amago, and Kasugo-4209 (I have a two part review; part 1, part 2). I thought about getting a 9' Wakata but then I saw that Tenkara USA offers a handle replacement/upgrade for the Iwana series.  After seeing this I had my answer.

I purchased the replacement handle version that would convert my Iwana-12 into a 9 foot, 3 inch Tenkara rod. I understand that 9 feet is pretty short for a Tenkara rod, but I could definitely see me using it on some pretty heavily overgrown creeks and brooks.

The handle came promptly from Tenkara USA, well packaged as usual. The handle was in a clear plastic protective crush-resistant tube with red plastic slip-on end covers.

Handle with tube
The replacement handle is typical of Tenkara USA's rod offerings, i.e. high quality cork, and perfect fit and finish. I don't know who is in charge of Tenkara USA's quality control, but they sure do a great job. Nothing I have purchased from them has been defective, sloppy, poorly done, etc. This handle replacement is no exception.

The handle appears to be a thinner version of my Iwana-12 handle. I grade the cork as "Flor or CG1" with very few defects needing filling. The handle weighs a mere 54.9g (1.9oz) without the plug.

Comparison: 12' Iwana (top), Replacement Handle (bottom)
To use the replacement handle you remove the handle butt screws on both the 12' Iwana and the replacement handle. Then carefully slide out the rods segments (keeping them all together) from the Iwana. Remove the larger two segments (carefully setting them in a safe place) and slide the remaining segments into the replacement handle. I assume that if you have the 11' Iwana you would only remove one segment instead of two. Put the butt screws back on both handles. That's it.

Replacement Handle and the two largest Iwana segments

When the "new" rod is extended it looks just like a mini-Iwana! Mine is 112 inches (9' 4"). It is incredibly lightweight with a slightly brisker action than the 12' Iwana (I would estimate between 6:4 and 7:3).  Casting with an 8 foot furled mono "leader" (from my western-style fly fishing collection) is spot on. The rod loads well and doesn't buck or gripe. Casting a #3.5 level flourocarbon line doesn't load the rod as well but is more delicate. It doesn't cast as easily as the 12' Iwana but I then again it doesn't have as soft as action or the leverage. Still it is one sweet little rod.  Now I can do my small, tight stream fishing with two handles, interchanging them as the conditions dictate. Very clever Tenkara USA!

Conclusion: If you are like me and enjoy crawling along tightly overgrown little brooks or creeks (while all the other guys are crowding the famous water trying to catch "the big one") then this replacement handle may be for you. Fish with your Iwana and carry this handle. If it gets too tight even for the Iwana then quickly slip out the segments, slide them into the replacement handle, and your fishing again with the "Mini"!! 

Tenkara USA Handle Replacement/Upgrade for Iwana (* poor, ***** excellent)

Ease of Purchase *****
Quality of Materials *****
Fit and Finish *****
Physical Characteristics ****'
Fishability ****

Overall ****' (4.5 stars)


  1. Found your site from the forum. Will follow now, maybe you can drop in on me too?


    1. Hi Richard,

      Thank you. You have a wonderful blog. I really like the stream on your home page!