September 1, 2016

Daiwa Expert Tenkara L LL36 -- dry review

I recently got my hands on a new Daiwa Expert Tenkara L LL36 tenkara rod. I have been curious about this rod ever since it was released but I haven't been able to test one out. I have a Daiwa Enshou LL36 SF and I love that rod. But I've got so many rods I've decided to sell it (I might regret that someday). I wanted to compare the two tenkara rods and see what is new and what is not.

I'm not sure what it is, but I love Daiwa rods (except the Diawa Tenkara RT, that rod is a dog). I've got tenkara rods from Shimano, Nissin, Tenryu, Sakura, Shimotsuke, Gamakatsu, Oni, and Suntech and they are all very nice, but I really like Daiwa's high end rods. So I was excited to get this rod and test it out. I borrowed the Daiwa Expert Tenkara L LL36, so out of respect for the owner I did not fish it. It's not mine; I didn't want to risk damaging someone else's property.

The Daiwa Expert Tenkara L LL36 is a beautifully simplistic looking rod. No fancy paint colors. No fancy ornamentation, except in one small spot. Even it's rod designation lettering is simple. It's just beautiful in design, balance and action. It doesn't need all the other fluff.

(Left) Enshou LL36 SF.  (Right) Expert L LL36

The finish is glossy and although at first it looks black, it isn't. The coloration is a very subtle brown. This is best seen in bright sunlight. The rod does have a simple silver paint ring on the tipward ends of the lower sections but as far as ornamentation that's about it. The handle section does have a carbon fiber cross hatch section that offsets the simple design of the rod. Also, next to the winding check there is a aquamarine metallic flecked section that has Daiwa's "D" insignia. It's really nicely done!

Outside under the sun.

Blank color: Expert L LL36 (top), Enshou LL36 SF (bottom)

The handle is very good quality cork, is 31 cm long, and is the classic gourd or camel shape. The shape is smooth and refined, without being too extreme in its curves. It's just a little longer than the Enshou LL36 SF handle -- 2 cm longer.

The tip plug is wood with a fluted rubber insert. It, like the rest of the rod, is simple in design but perfect in appearance and function. It fits snugly into the handle section. The butt cap is gold anodized metal, has a coin slot, and rubber bumper. There's no air hole. It too is simple in design. It's rim is a little thicker than the one on the Enshou LL36 SF, but the winding check is thinner.

The lilian is thick brown and much shorter than most tenkara rods. It is attached to the tip section via a micro swivel, which I think is a mistake. I'm not a fan of micro swivels unless they are the ones from Suntech or Gamakatsu. Those company's micro swivels are perfect -- small, don't rattle and just plan perfect. I'm sad to say that although the Daiwa swivel is executed nicely, it's not as perfect as I'd like. Still, the glue joint is very well done and the tip section can be removed through the second section for complete disassembly of the rod.

Measurements and Specifications:

Extended length: 360 cm (on the nose, I might add)
Nested length (with tip plug): 72 cm
Weight (with plastic on the handle but tip plug removed): 79.9 g
CCS/RFI: 14.5 pennies / 4
Maximum tippet: unclear, but likely 4X.

RFI comparison chart

Here is the part I'm going to have trouble with -- describing the action. Let's see what adjectives I can use. How about --  this rod's action is slow, rich, full bodied with an excellent finish. There is no oscillation of the tip, no bounce of the graphite blank.  It does not moan or gripe! It is so pleasing to hold, and its balance it just perfect. In other words, this rod sings!

It casts a #3 fluorocarbon level line flawlessly in a dead calm, but it does fight a little if there is a head wind. This is not a rod for a windy day, IMO. Still, it's casting accuracy is a treat to behold.

So how does it compare to the Enshou LL36 SF? They'er pretty close. The Expert L LL36 is 10.5 cm longer when fully nested, and the handle is a smidge longer as previously explained. They are both wonderful in the hand and a joy to cast. But I must admit, the Expert L LL36 does dampen a little better than the Enshou LL36. Is it enough? You would have to be the judge of that yourself. But this I can say, both are absolute gems of the tenkara rod world. If you fish with either of these rods you would be spoiled!

Conclusion: I really like this rod. I told you, I like Daiwa tenkara rods. Even though it's not manufactured in Japan, it might as well be. It is nearly perfect for tenkara, Japanese tenkara on freestone mountain streams. I don't care for the micro swivel but it's really not much of an issue. This is a great rod!

Want one? You can get one from Chris at TenkaraBum.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear that's not just a pretty paint job on that rod. Daiwa's cosmetics are always top notch, no matter what kind of rod or reel you're talking about - tenkara to baitcasting. Maybe Chris will have one at the Tenkara Jam for us all to take a peek at...