November 11, 2017

Shimotsuke Tenkara Gen 240 -- a fun little rod for tight canopy streams

I LOVE fishing small streams and creeks. The more technical the better. Certainly this is not tenkara, as it originated in Japan, but I don't care. Also, this type of fishing doesn't require rods that will cast a #3 nylon line (which seems to be all the rage right now), but it does have specialized requirements of it's own.

One of the challenges with rods that will fish creeks with a really tight canopy (creeks where even a 270 cm rod is too long) is that short rods tend to be rather stiff. This is great for after you've hooked the fish, but it makes casting a pain. The Shimotsuke Kyotaki 240 is a great little creek rod, but it is on the stiff side with a rod flex index of 6.3. The Zen Suzume is pretty nice in it's shortest configuration, but, well, it's pretty ugly in it's design and if you fall and break the lower section you have to buy the whole lower three sections all over again (since they don't disassemble).

240 cm rods are specialized tools that are not required very often, but when you really need one that 30 cm shorter length makes all the difference.

I recently received a rod that looks like a promising compromise. It's the Shimotsuke Tenkara Gen 240. It's a 240 rod that casts a light level line well, but it will also play trout in tight quarters. It's made well, looks good, collapses into a short length, and (a big plus) is inexpensive.

Here it is sitting alongside a standard length tenkara rod (Nissin Zerosum 360).

The cork handle is done nicely and is 23 cm long. The blank's finish is matte graphite (much appreciated when you are only 8 feet away from your quarry) with green accents on the tipward ends of the lower sections. The tip plug is wood with rubber insert and the butt cap is black nylon plastic. The lillian in red and the glue joint allows full disassembly of the rod for drying and cleaning.

Here are some of my measurements:

Fully nested: 50 cm
Fully extended: 246 cm
Weight: 42.6 g (without tip plug)
CCS: 13.5 pennies
RFI: 5.5

I've been fishing the Tenkara Gen 240 on some of my most challenging, tight canopy, creeks and streams. These are the creeks that hold trout in the 6-10 inch range, but can deliver a 14 incher on occasion. These creeks have very little room to cast, so the rod has to load casting a line under 7.5 feet long (total length, with tippet). Also, there is no room to fight the trout because the water is only 2 feet wide and full of snags, so the rod has to be just stiff enough to be able to control the fight. These are highly specialized requirements and not all rods will deliver equally.

The Tenkara Gen 240 casts a 6 foot #2.5 line really well. The flex profile is more mid flex than the Kyotaki 240, is more mid flex than the Suzume, it's much, much more mid flex than the Nissin Yuyuzan ZX 290 2-way (a zoom rod that fishes at 240 and 290 cm lengths), and, dare I say it, it's radically more flexible than the Tenkara Rod Co. blue broom stick, the Cascade! Also, it's more stiff in the mid section than the Daiwa Soyokaze 240.  The casts are smooth and you can feel the rod load, even with such a short line.

As far as fighting the trout, it does great. Small trout are more fun on it than either the Kyotaki 240 or the Suzume. Because it has a little more flex in the midsection than these two other rods, you do have to move your arm more to keep the trout in the fighting zone of the creek. That means the rod hitting branches and the line getting caught on those same branches -- but that's just a fact of life when fishing tightly canopied creeks.

Here's a video of two of the creeks that are very challenging for me to fish. The last fish of the video is a 14 inch brown. It's that size that really can challenge a small rod.

Conclusion: This is a fun little rod that works great for small, tight creeks. I like its looks, construction and function. It would probably also be a fantastic rod for kids, as it casts really well and weighs next to nothing.

Disclaimer: My opinion regarding this rod is just that, my opinion. Your opinion may differ.  Also, your rod may not have the same length, issues, 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. 
I have no affiliation with Shimotsuke and I purchased this rod.


  1. Many Many Thanks for that review Tom. Again you Did a great service do the community. That rod was already in my wish list but was in doubt about buying it or the watershed 300z... You untied the match.

  2. Ah, just in time, as much as you i Also love fishing those tight waters. But more than that i Also love to fish a Short rod over a longer one and would use any excuse to justify using it even in big waters.

  3. Thank you once again for taking me on your fishing trip. Always a learning experience!

  4. Tom - Thanks for the wonderful review, and taking us on one of your fishing adventures again. In my personal quest for finding isolated spots less than 50 miles from home, I have identified 3 creeks that look amazingly like the ones you fish. I have a Shimotsuke Kiyotaki 240, and now I am excited to give it a try on those streams. I am impressed with your review, and may have to look at going to a true Tenkara rod.

  5. Thanks Tom - Many of the streams in Tasmania are clogged with overgrowth and require quite a bit of bush bashing to get into so I am hopeful that this rod will make for a less frustrating day out.
    I just bought one from Tenkara-ya and did so before I found your review. Needless to say, I'm relieved after reading your comments. I'm new to Tenkara and this will be my first Japanese fixed line rod but I have no doubt that it will outshine my introductory chinesium 3.4m 7:3 beginner.