March 31, 2015

Daiwa Tenkara RT rod -- review

It seems that buying a tenkara rod from Japan is getting easier and easier. Some US customers buy directly from Japanese fishing outlets while others prefer to deal to an importer for their tenkara needs.   One of the newest importers to enter the market is Dragontail Tenkara. Up until recently, Dragontail Tenkara has sold rods of their own label, but now they are importing tenkara rods from other manufacturers. These currently include Nissin and Daiwa.  I recently was able to borrow a Daiwa Tenkara RT rod from them to test out.

The Daiwa Tenkara RT comes from a company that is well known in the tenkara world. I have owned some Daiwa Enshou models and been impressed by their innovative design and solid construction. I had some hopes that the Tenkara RT would live up to that heritage while taking into account the reduced price point. The price is much less than the Enshou series rods, but then again, the Tenkara RT is designed as an entry level rod. Here is what I found.

The model of Daiwa Tenkara RT that I tested was the 360 cm model. It comes in a standard plastic carton and is supplied with a black fabric rod sleeve. The rod is very handsome and doesn't look like any other tenkara rod that I have used before. The coloration of the handle section is white, with simple rod designation labeling. However, the coloration of all the other segments is silver, including the tip segment. Each segment has a small black accent band in it tip most portion. The handle section is glossy in finish while the other segments are semi-gloss.

The handle is black foam and has an elongated camel shape. The handle is 26 cm long, not including the butt section (which sticks out prominently from the base of the handle). The handle fits the hand well and is comfortable.

The tip plug is wood, with a fluted rubber insertion post. It is quite large, being 16 mm in diameter. The butt cap is plastic and rubber, and as mentioned before, is elongated -- sticking well out from the base of the handle. Unlike many designs, this rod has threads that protrude from the base of the handle, rather than invaginate inside the handle. The butt cap screws onto these threads. There is no rubber bumper inside the butt cap, but there is a small air hole.

The lilian is red and is glued directly into the tip section with the glue joint being perfect in execution. Like most all Japanese designed rods, the tip section can be fully extracted through the 2nd section, allowing the rod to be fully dissembled for cleaning and drying.

The rod is quite compact when full collapsed -- coming in at 42.5 cm (with tip plug installed). Fully extended, it is 361 cm. Without the tip plug it weighs 87.4 g. This is likely due to the lower carbon and higher glass percentage of it's materials. As far as flex profile, the Tenkara RT 360 has a Common Cents System rating of 30 pennies. This gives it a Rod Flex Index of 8.3. The makes it a stiffer 7:3 rod. Also, it is quite tip heavy for a 360 cm rod. Its Rotational Moment is 7.4.  To put this in perspective, the Moment for the Nissin Air Stage Fujiryu 5:5 360 is 4.8 and the Tenkara Times WaterShed 360 is 4.7 (these are rods I am currently testing). Rotational Moment less than 6 is good, less than 5 is wonderful. For definitions of the Common Cents System, Rod Flex Index and Rotational Moment, please see my article on

The 360 cm version of the RT has 89% carbon fiber and 11% glass, but other lengths have varying amounts of carbon fiber. The 300 cm has 87% and the 330 cm has 88%. This fact likely accounts for the rod's weight and action profile.

Rod Flex Index comparison chart

As far as feel, this rod feels heavy. I know that 87 g is not that heavy but compared to the rods I've been fishing lately, it is. The swing is also more labored compared to many other 360 cm rods. I don't care for the feel of higher glass content tenkara rods, but many people might.

I used the rod with a 11 foot  #3.5 fluorocarbon level line and a 12 foot furled line. The rod cast much better with the furled line. I think if a level line is desired for this rod it would need to be a #4-4.5.

Conclusion: I don't really care for this rod. The price point is very nice, and the compactness makes the rod attractive for backpacking, but I'd rather carry a slightly less compact rod that has a better casting feel. I also don't care for the silver finish to the upper sections. I don't have any data supporting that this finish would scare fish, but it may be something to consider. The action is too labored and the rod feels too tip heavy for my taste. I think this rod is designed for the beginner, and as an entry level rod, but for the money, if I were to buy an entry level rod from Dragontail Tenkara,  I'd personally buy the Shadowfire over the Daiwa Tenkara RT.

What's good about this rod? It's pretty. It's inexpensive. It collpases down to a short length. It has the Daiwa name on it, but it's not made in Japan. It throws a furled line pretty well. But in my mind, that's about it.

No matter what I've said, if you think you'd like this rod you can get one from Dragontail Tenkara for a really nice price.

Disclaimer: My opinion regarding this rod is just that, my opinion. Your opinion may differ.  Also, your rod may not have the same characteristics 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.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations! this is undoubtably the only rod review (fishing rod that is) to ever use the word "invaginate". Way to go doctor Tom! :)