August 27, 2014

Tenkara Times 1st Step 360 tenkara rod -- review

I've had a little flurry rod rod reviews lately, and this has surprised me. The first the year saw my rod reviews decreasing mainly because I had pretty much reviewed every rod I wanted to. But I found a few more to test out and the Tenkara Times 1st Step 360 2014 edition is one of them.

I received the rod from Oleg Stryapunin. It came in the mail from the Czech Republic and arrived in great shape. The rod comes with a clear poly rod tube and a very nice rod sock. I like Tenkara Times rod socks better than most any other that I have used. It is plain black, but it is thick enough to protect the rod and it has no strings to tie. Just slip it over the rod and that's it!

The rod has the same very practical and highly functional dark charcoal flat finish that I have come to appreciate on all of Tenkara Times rods. The rod has the signature purple or mauve colored accents on all section but the tip and 2nd section. It has been toned down when compared to the first Tenkara Times rod editions. This is proof that Oleg listens to his customers' feedback.

The handle has very nice quality cork; I guess a CG2. This is much better than what you'd expect to see on an entry level rod. There is less filler than usual. The shape is a camel or double hump, with the proximal hump being smaller in diameter. The handle fills your hand really well and is a pleasure to hold. It is 28 cm in length. The winding check is black metal and the epoxy is smooth, without many bubbles. A short segment of cork composite are on the leading and tailing edges of the handle.

The tip plug is the typical wood with rubber insert that comes with most tenkara rods. It fits snugly into the handle section. The butt cap is black anodized metal. It has a very slightly knurled edge which is not useful in removing the cap, but there is a coin slot which is useful. No air/drainage hole is present but there is a rubber bumper on the inside of the cap. The cap has a curved surface which makes the butt of the handle fit comfortably in your hand.

The lilian is classic red and is long enough to comfortably tie a knot in, if that is your preference. It is attached to the tip section with glue. The glue point has been painted gold and is slightly rougher than some of the rods I've recently reviewed. The tip section can not be removed through the 2nd section for complete disassembly when a knot is in the lilian.

Here are some specifications: Collapsed, the rod is 56.5 cm. Extended it is 358 cm. The rod weighs 85.9 g without the tip plug. It has a Common Cents Systems score of 17 pennies. The Rod Flex Index is 4.7.  This places the rod at the softer end of the 6:4 flex range.

The rod feels pretty well balanced in the hand, but it does have some slight tip heaviness. Is guess this is to be expected since the rod is designed to have more robust sections than Tenkara Times' Try series of rods. It however has a very smooth casting action that is a pleasure feel. It loads and unloads sweetly with a #3 level line, yet it does not gripe when using a #4 line. I did not use a furled line with the rod, as I normally don't fish with furled lines. The rod dampens quickly at the end of each cast and there is no appreciable tip over shoot or oscillation. Casting accuracy is really good as well.

I sent the rod to my son-in-law for him to learn tenkara. He is a beginner, so we'll see if the 1st Step 360 works for those it is designed for. I'll report on his use of this rod in a later post.

Conclusion: I like the rod. For an economical (as of this writing, it sells for $89.00 USD on eBay) entry level rod this is as good as I have seen. Sure, its a little heavier and has a little tip heaviness when compared to some other entry level rods, but the rod has been designed to be more forgiving of abuse. It is design to be a tenkara fisher's first rod. The materials appear to be very good for it's price point. The action is softer and more forgiving than starter rods offered by many other tenkara suppliers. This may be one of its greatest strengths for those wanting to learn tenkara. Its flex action is very smooth and easy to control. I don't think you could go wrong choosing the Tenkara Times 1st Step to learn tenkara.

Want one? You can get it from Tenkara Times.


  1. Nice review. Oleg is a hard working man who really wants to create rods with its own identity and that will perhaps make the difference with many other companies in the future.

  2. Tom, the 1stStep uses the same blank as the Next360. But i noticed the penny rating and RFI are a bit different. Do you think they feel the same when casting?