February 9, 2021

Introducing the New DRAGONtail Hybrid-Composite tenkara rod: the marriage of glass and carbon!

As many of you know, I like fishing small streams and creeks. These waters present unique challenges, that larger streams don't provide. To tackle some of these challenges, I prefer moderately fast action rods, that cast with tight loops, have lightening fast hook sets, and power for fish control. That is why I like the Dragontail Mizuchi so much; it accomplishes all of these goals so well!

But sometimes a rod like the Mizuchi is a little overkill. If you fish creeks that don't regularly have trout up to 14 inches lurking in them, but rather,  the monster of your creek is 7 inches, then maybe the Mizuchi isn't the right rod for you. 

So what is? Brent at Dragontail has put a lot of thought into that question, and after some design and materials breakthroughs, he came up with a rod that just might be the answer.

Introducing the _________ Glass zx280 from Dragontail! Why the blank name line? I'll tell you later on; first let me tell you about the rod. 

The ________ Glass zx280 (G280 for short) is a small stream zoom rod that can be fished at three different lengths: 200, 245 and 280 cm. It is also a hybrid rod, combining the best of carbon fiber with that of S-glass fiberglass. How's that for thinking outside of the box!

The top two sections of the G280 are carbon fiber, just like other Dragontial tenkara rods. This provides a solid platform for line casting and hook set. The third section (from the top) is a combination of 30% S-glass and 70% carbon fiber. It provides a smooth transition from the carbon to the glass sections. The remaining lower sections are made from fiberglass, specifically, S-glass. How cool is that!

Look at those beautiful, transparent glass sections!

Older, more standard fiberglass is called E-glass ("E" for electrical grade). It's been around forever, and many older fly rods are made with it. S-glass ("S" for strength) is a newer technology. It was developed for military and ballistic applications. S-glass has a much higher tensile strength and modulus than E-glass and is approximately 10% stiffer and 30% stronger. S-glass strands are produced at higher temperatures and require more expensive machinery therefore the cost is a bit more.¹ 

With these materials ,and a special design, the G280 provides the angler with a slow, rich casting stroke, but strength for hook set and fish fighting. 

The overall coloration of the G280 is green, except the top three section which are very dark green to black. The finish is glossy. As mentioned above, the G280 is a zoom rod and utilizes the standard torpedo segment on the two longest sections along with O-ring on the butt cap to hold the zoom sections in place. They are held snugly, but not overly tightly. 

The handle is made of good quality cork and has the newer, more pronounced, double hump or Japanese hyoutan gourd shape that Dragontail has adopted for many of its rods. The handle is 24 cm in length. A ring of cork composite is placed at the tip and butt positions of the handle. 

The tip plug is wood with a rubber insert. The butt cap is black nylon plastic, is knurled, and has a coin slot. No decompression hole is present. 

The lilian is red, and is attached to the tip section with a micro-swivel. The entire rod can be disassembled for cleaning and drying. 

Here are my measurements:

Nested length (with tip plug): 56 cm

Extended lengths: 202, 245, 283.5 cm

Weight (washout tip plug): 79.2 g

CCS: 12.5, 12, 10.5 pennies

RFI: 6.3, 4.9, 3.7 

Casting the rod is really fun. It doesn't take much to load this rod, so those of you who prefer a full flex rod will be pleased. I used a #3 fluorocarbon level line which worked really well with this rod. Again, since I don't use furled lines, I can't give you an opinion on the G280's performance with that style of line. 

The casting arc is slow and rich, except in the 200 cm configuration. At an RFI of 6.3, it is slow enough to feel the rod load, but not so much of a noodle as to be functionally useless. 

I fished the rod on a few different waters. I first fished the G280 on a wide open river. It definitely was not the type of water the G280 was designed for, but I had the rod with me, so I thought I'd use it. I caught cutthroats in the 8-10 inch range, and they were really fun with this rod. One trout was a surprise, though. He turned out to be a 14 -15 inch rainbow! He was much too large for the G280, putting a full, deep bend all the way to the handle. But since I had plenty of room to fight him, I got him to hand. And of course, I didn't have my camera with me so you'll just have to believe me (the fish was witnessed by Brent Auger of Dragontail though)!

Where I caught the large rainbow (but image taken on a different day). 

I also fished the rod on a couple small streams/creek. These creeks are the type of water the G280 was designed for. I had to retract and extend the rod, depending on the situation I encountered. I caught trout from 6 to 12 inches. As you would expect from a softer action rod, the hook sets were softer as well and fighting the larger trout was more difficult. I say more difficult, but not terrible. Remember, I like faster action rods. You, or any else who likes softer action rods, would probably not have any issues with the rod's fish fighting action. 

Here is a video of me using the rod on the smaller creeks:

So, now we come to the big question: what is with the blank name line? Well, Brent had a temporary name for the rod, but we thought it needed a better one. After looking at some other names (that didn't seem to fit) Brent thought it would be fun to let DRAGONtail enthusiasts and small stream tenkara anglers come up with a name for the new rod. So, after a survey on Facebook, a new name was chosen and will be announced at a later time. 

Conclusion: I like this rod! Although it is softer than I generally prefer in a small stream/creek rod, I like the casting and fishing action of the rod. I'm really pleased with Dragontail's commitment to pushing the design envelope, and the addition of S-glass in this rod makes all the difference. I'm definitely going to get me one of these rods when they are available, and then, in combination with the Dragontail Mizuchi, I'll have the most excellent, versatile coverage for any small stream/creek I decide to fish!

Combine the S-glass zx280 with the Mizuchi, and you've got every small creek scenario covered!

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 received no incentive or compensation from DRAGONtail for a positive review. I borrowed this tenkara rod and returned it after my review. 


  1. Since you are involved in some of the Dragon Tail design why do all the rods seem to weigh about the same, 2 3/4 oz or a little more?

    1. Our main goal on weight is to stay below 3 ounces, other than that we just let the weight be what it ends up being and focus on the balance and performance over weight. It is not on purpose that they end up being close to the same weight. Even though this rod is very short it still weighs about that weight because it is made with mostly fiberglass which weighs more than carbon fiber but the balance is still great because of it's length being shorter.

    2. Brent,
      The reason I ask is that I have a torn rotator cuff and your older version Shadowfire is a bit much for me.

  2. I look forward to this rod's arrival.. I've been fishing with modern and vintage glass rods for many years, and hoped to see Tenkara adopt fiberglass..
    Bob F.
    Syracuse, NY

  3. I bet this rod would also be fun for playing with creek chubs, shiners, small sunfish, etc. in warmwater creeks!

  4. I've wanted a "fun" sub 300cm rod for a while that doesn't break the bank. Haven't joined the "Kurenai Klub" yet, have thought long and hard about the Shimotsuke Gen rods, even bought a Tiny Ten.

    Pricepoint wasn't mentioned, but I think this will fit the bill. Kind of excited for this one...

  5. Find that the tip oscillates quite a bit compared to carbon fiber. Any comments?

    1. That's glass for ya. It's very different than carbon fiber.

  6. What line length would you use if you want to be able to switch between rod lengths whilst out fishing? Or do you need to change the line when you go to a different rod length?

  7. What line length would you use if you want to change rod lengths whilst out fishing? Or do you need to change the line when you zoom from longest to shortest?