October 31, 2015

Two rods from Badger Tenkara: Bad Axe and Tenkara Classic

I have a rod that I purchased from Badger Tenkara. It's the U.N.C.  It's a great little rod. The quality is good and the action is good. It's a much better fixed length short rod than many other tenkara rod companies offerings and the price is very appropriate. It's a very capable short length/small creek rod.

Recently I was sent the Bad Axe and Tenkara Classic rods from Badger Tenkara to look at and review. I did not buy these rods, they were loaned to me buy Matt, from Badger Tenkara. That said, I'm only going to do dry reviews. There are plenty of on-the-water testimonials of these Badger Tenkara rods. Just look at their website. These rods appear to be very capable rods.

Both the Bad Axe and Tenkara Classic come in rod tubes and with a rod sleeve. They are both OD, or olive drab, in color. Both have gourd or camel shaped handles and both have micro swivels to attach the lilian. The tip plugs are identical and have flared shape with faux-marble insert common to many of the Chinese rods I have used. The butt cap is black anodized metal on the Bad Axe and Nickel on the Classic.

The Bad Axe is a zoom rod. It is a moderate length rod and would be very good for fishing small to moderate sized mountain streams. It zooms between advertised lengths of 300 cm and 348 cm. The rod they sent me is 300 cm and 350 cm -- pretty good! Fully collapsed (or nested) it is 66 cm in length. The handle is 29 cm in length, is a good quality cork and is pleasing to hold. The lilian is red in color and attaches via a micro swivel, as previously mentioned. The rod's action is smooth and moderately stiff, with a transition in the upper 3rd of the rod. It casts similarly in both configurations. At the 300 cm length it has a CCS rating of 20 pennies and an RFI of 6.6. This makes it a fast 6:4 or a slower 7:3; I'd say the later.  At the 350 cm length it has a CCS rating of 23 pennies and an RFI of 6.7. It casts a #3.5 level line well, but I felt that a #4 line was a better match. The Bad Axe weighs 86 g without the tip cap. The zoom mechanism is unique from other zoom rods I have seen. The Bad Axe has friction tape on the zoom section, but the butt cap doesn't have a post. Rather, the butt cap is hollow and the zoom section fits snugly into the hollow.  It's different, like I said, from other rods, but it's effective. There is no rattle when nested.

In short configuration

In long configuration

The Tenkara Classic is a fixed rod of 358 cm. The sample I have measures 361 cm. Nested it's 54 cm long. The handle is 27 cm in length and, like the Bad Axe, is pleasing to hold. The action is smooth and moderately stiff, also like the Bad Axe. It has a CCS rating of 23 pennies and an RFI of 6.4, right at the upper range of the 6:4 flex scale.  This rod weighs 91.5 g without the tip plug. That's pretty heavy for a 360 cm rod.

 Both of these rods are solid and unassuming. I like their OD coloration, but best of all, I like their prices. Both are heavy for their length, especially the Tenkara Classic. This may need to be taken into consideration if you are looking for a lightweight rod. That said, the walls of both these rods are quite thick and do not deform when squeezed. This fact, and the robust nature of the butt cap, may be the reason for the heavy weight.

 I understand that not everyone wants or can afford a Japanese tenkara rod. Many look to Chinese manufactured rods because of their reduced costs, but many of the Chinese manufactured rods available in the US are over priced for what you get. For a higher price you can get fancy graphic designed rod colors, and that may appeal to the visually stimulated buyer, but you don't get increased rod performance. The guys from Badger Tenkara don't claim their rods are designed by a Japanese master, but they do provide a solid product for a reasonable price. Also, their customer service is stellar, second to none.

If I was looking for an entry level rod, or a capable but economic rod, you might want to check out Badger Tenkara. They're a little heavier than many other rods in their length category, but they are solid performers. It's hard to beat these rods for performance per dollar -- i.e., value!

Disclosure: I don't have any vested financial interest in Badger Tenkara. They did purchase an advertising spot on the Teton Tenkara blog site, but that purchase came with no preferred treatment or stipulations that I would favorably review their products. I have not met Matt or the others at Badger Tenkara, but through email communication they seem like nice folks. I did sent their rods back, at my own cost, as per our agreement.

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