November 18, 2018

Oni Itoshiro 340 review

This past Oni School, I had the opportunity to obtain a new rod from Masami Sakakibara for use with a light level line and unweighted kebari on smaller streams. It is the Itoshiro 340. Like the other Oni rods that I own, the Itoshiro 340 is a premium tenkara rod that has to be cast to be appreciated.

The Itoshiro 340 is basically a shorter version of the Oni Type-I rod, as the parts are interchangeable. This is analogous to the Oni Type-II and Type-III rods which likewise have interchangeable parts with each other.

The rod is charcoal grey/black in color, with unsanded blank segments. It is simple in it's marking and other than the handle looks exactly like a Type-I Oni rod. The segments have a fine gold ring accent on all but section 1, the tip section.  The rod came, like my other Oni rods, with only a rod sleeve. No rod tube is provided.

My rod was signed by Oni between the rod designation and the handle. This is not usually for his rods, but if you ever meet him and have your Oni rod with you he will be happy to sign it.

My Itoshiro 340 has a wood handle, which is made of karin wood.  In Japan, the tree called karin (花梨; rarely, also 榠樝), Pseudocydonia sinensis or the Chinese quince, is a deciduous or semi-evergreen tree in the family Rosaceae, native to eastern Asia in China. It is often used in making furniture and musical instruments. I chose this wood because of its deep rich color and prominent grain pattern.

The handle is 25 cm in length, camel or gourd shaped and has a smooth satin finish. It is very beautiful and is perfect in fit and finish.

The tip plug is black nylon plastic and fits securely. The butt cap is small, gold colored metal, is knurled and has a coin slot. A small air hole is present.

The lilian is fine red material, much finer than the lilian on the Type-II or III. The glue joint is small and perfect. The entire rod can be disassembled for drying and cleaning.

Here are some measurements:

Fully collapsed: 60.5 cm
Fully extended: 349 cm
Weight (without tip plug): 111.5 g
CCS/RFI: 10.5 pennies/3

The rod has perfect balance in hand, and despite having a heavy dry weight it feels like you're holding nothing at all. I know this seems like a contradiction, but it's true. For a tenkara rod, this rod is heavy. But it balances perfectly and feels amazing!

The casting stroke is tip flex, like the Type-I. Sure, the rod is a soft rod, after all it has a Rod Flex Index of only 3, but don't let this measurement fool you. It's lower RFI comes from the flexible upper sections, but the lower segments have more stiffness. This is in contrast to the Type-III which has an RFI of 3.5. This is because the tip segment is thicker and less flexible than the Itoshiro, but the midsection of the Type-III is more flexible. When I cast both the Itoshiro and Type-III alongside each other I much preferred the Itoshiro for my casting style.

Fishing the rod is pure joy. It casts as only an Oni rod casts. Casts are smooth and precise. I used both  #2.5 and #3 fluorocarbon level lines and the rod didn't care which one I used. I first fished the rod on a spring creek that has a low but steady flow and clear water. The cutthroat that populate this creek can see you a mile off, so stealth is paramount. The rod placed the fly exactly where I desired and I took many fish within a 45 meter stretch.

I only fished this rod with 6X tippet and unweighted subsurface kebari. I'm sure it could throw a weighted nymph, but I don't think it would be at peak performance doing so. This is a Japanese tenkara rod made specifically for Japanese style tenkara (but I bet Bluegill would be a blast on this rod).

Just for information, although my rod has a wood handle, the Itoshiro is being released in a EVA foam handle version by TeamOniUSA. This rod will be lighter and less expensive. I'm sure it will be a great rod as well, but there is something to be said about the craftsmanship and uniqueness of the wood handle.

Conclusion: Like the Oni Type-I, the Oni Itoshiro 340 is phenomenal! It is a great smaller stream finesse rod, and for me feels/casts better than the Type-III. Sure it's a little heavy but you can't tell when using it. It looks and casts like a dream and I think anyone who obtains one of these rods will be very, very pleased!

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 purchased this rod, and have no affiliation with Masami Sakakibara, or Team Oni USA. 


  1. Hi Tom,

    I mainly fish small streams in the driftless region. I usually use 5X tippet. Do you think I'd be better off in low, slow, and clear water with 6X? I am guessing I would be.

    Thanks for all your informative writing!

  2. Why isn’t this rod reflected on you data chart? I would love to see where it sits in comparison to other rods.