June 29, 2015

Badger Tenkara U.N.C. tenkara rod -- review

I recently have done a few posts about tenkara rods for small creeks, mainly rods in the 270 cm length range. Here I present another one that fits this criteria.

The Badger Tenkara U.N.C is this shortest rod offered by this tenkara company from Wisconsin. Here's what they say about the rod:  So, what the heck does U.N.C. stand for? U.N.C. is an abbreviation for "unnamed creek". Small water, marked by that little blue line on the map. It may not be easy to get to, and it may not be easy to fish, but it could be full of naive, wild trout eager to take your fly!  Or it could just be a miserable trip to a mosquito breeding ground. You don't know until you put in the miles, fight your way through the tangled brush, and give it a cast. So what does U.N.C. stand for? It stands for adventure!

U.N.C Specifications:
Length Deployed: 8 ft 6 inches
Length Collapsed: 18 inches 
Cork Grip: 9 inches, Slim profile 
Flex: Medium 
Action: 6/4  
Weight: 2 oz. 
Finish: Matte Olive Drab Green 
Tip Section: Lillian mounted on 360 degree micro-swivel 
Includes a printed soft case and a rugged travel tube.

I received my UNC in its rod tube and sleeve. The rod is OD (olive drab) green with a matte finish, which I appreciate. The rod designation is simple and unadorned.  The tip section is black glossy in finish.

The handle is contoured in a subtle gourd shape but it is pretty narrow in diameter compared to other rods in the 270 cm category. This makes the rod feel somewhat dainty and like a toy, but a toy it is not. It's a very capable small creek rod.  Then handle is cork of moderate quality with lots of filler. It is 23 cm long.

The tip plug is plastic with a fluted metal jacket and the standard Chinese faux stone decoration insert. The butt cap is small, black anodized metal, has a rubber bumper and a very small air hole (in the rubber bumper but I can't find where it connects to the outside). It is also knurled and has a coin slot to aid in removal.

The lilian is red and is attached to the tip section via  micro-swivel but mine does not swivel. This is not an issue as far as I'm concerned but it is a swivel that doesn't rotate. The first section will not retract through the second section because of the size of the glue joint.

Here are some measurements that I made:

Collapsed with tip plug: 46.5 cm
Fully extended: 263 cm
Weight: 48.2 g
CCS/RFI: 18 pennies/6.9

The action of the rod is pretty nice but just a little stiff, as would be predicted by the RFI score. Still, it is not so stiff as to be difficult to cast. I used a seven foot #3 level line but this rod would answer to a slightly heavier line, such as a #4. I did not fish it with either a furled line or PVC line as that is not my preference.

The U.N.C. casts smoothly, but your casting stroke has to be short and brisk. It executes the sling shot cast really well. The rod has plenty of power to fight small to modest size trout, even in fast gradient creeks.

Conclusion: I like this rod. It is just a little stiffer than I would prefer, but it's not any stiffer than the Kiyotaki 27 or the Kosansui 270, both of which I like. I really appreciate the OD green flat matte finish.  I think this rod should be considered if a tenkara fisher is looking for a 270 cm range rod. It should serve them well.

Here is a video of the rod in use and some of the fish it caught:


  1. Thanks for another video review. Looks like a nice rod and Mike and Matt from Badger Tenkara are good guys.

  2. Looks great as always Tom. Hey I was wondering could you do a piece on your line, leader, sighter, tippet setup please? Thanks

  3. Nice looking rod! I like the stiffer ones more these days as I've been fishing heavier flies. Too bad it doesn't come in zoom length :)

    1. There are very few short zoom rods, but for small creek anglers they can be quite useful, as you know.

  4. Great video Tom! One of the things we had heard from many people was that their children could handle the weight of a tenkara rod fine, but the grip was too wide. We wanted this rod to be good for adults fishing small streams - and a good choice for young anglers too, so we made the grip profile slim with the intent that small hands would find it comfortable.

    1. I thought that was the reason for the handle diameter. I don't think it's a problem, after all, it's thicker than keiryu rods of that size.

  5. Fantastic review and video. Thank you for putting the time and energy into creating it. Well done. I just purchased my own U.N.C.