April 20, 2021

Wasatch Tenkara Rods Daikyu T-Hunter review

A few weeks ago I received a rod to review, the Daikyu T-Hunter. It was graciously sent to me by Ruben Garza, owner and founder of Wasatch Tenkara Rods. After fishing with the T-Hunter, I called Ruben and we talked about the rod, his goals in design and manufacturing of the rod, and how he found tenkara. 

Ruben has been fishing for over thirty five years, but it was in the last seven years that he has been concentrating on tenkara. Shortly after being introduced to tenkara by a friend, he purchased a tenkara rod from a top USA tenkara rod company. Unfortunately, Ruben broke the rod quite soon. He purchased a replacement part, but then broke the rod again. This act of repeatedly breaking his tenkara rod is important, in that it bothered him so much that he decided to investigate tenkara rods and try to find one that wouldn't break. He purchased many other rods and despite proper techniques, many of them broke. 

After these experiences, he decided to design and get manufactured a rod that was strong enough, well balanced enough, and long enough to do the type of fishing he liked to do. After a number of years the Daikyu T-Hunter was born. BTW, a daikyu is a type of Japanese longbow. 

My T-Hunter arrived in a branded rod tube and sleeve. The rod came with a clip-on line winder and a furled line. The rod's over all coloration is very light gray, which has a matte finish. Most of the segments have red band accents on the tipward portion, the tip segment being excluded. The rod designation is nicely done and states "Premium Reinforced Carbon". The rod is a triple "zoom" design and can be fished at advertised lengths of 12', 13'5", and 15'. The advertised action is 7:3.

The handle is cork and is in an elongated reversed half-wells shape. It's length is 30 cm (11.8"). The cork quality looks very good. The winding check is blued metal and fits tightly against the first cork ring. 

The tip plug is a standard style plug and fits snugly into the first zoom segment. The butt cap is blued anodized aluminum and has knurling to aid in removal. The "zoom" post has only one O-ring to retain each "zoom" segment, but this seems adequate for this rod's design. I didn't have any issues with zoom segment retention, being too loose or too tight. There isn't a rubber dampener (the segments do "chatter" loudly when the rod is shaken) or decompression air hole. 

The lilian is dark brown and is fixed to the tip segment via a micro swivel. The glue joint is well executed, but the joint profile is too large to be withdrawn through the second segment (the tip segment traditionally being labeled the first segment). Therefore the top two segments can't be fully disassembled for drying and cleaning. 

Here are my measurements:

Fully nested (with tip plug): 58.5 cm (23")

Fully extended: 364 cm (11' 11.3"), 408 cm (13' 4.6"), 450 cm (14' 9.2")

Weight (without tip plug): 130 g / 4.6 oz.

CCS (12'/13'5"/15'): 21.5 / 23 / 24.5 pennies

RFI (12'/13'5"/15'): 5.9 / 5.6 / 5.4

Rotational Moment (12'/13'5"/15'): 7.4 / 9.6 / 12.7

For the larger version of the RFI Comparison Chart, CLICK HERE and request the link.

One thing you can say about this rod is that it is substantial! It is the heaviest rod designed for tenkara that I have used (although there are heavier rods out there). But given Ruben's design goals of the rod being strong enough to not break, I'd say that weight is appropriate. 

As you would imagine with that weight, the T-Hunter has noticeable startup inertia when casting at its longer lengths. The rotational moment (estimation of swing weight) for this rod is significant in all three lengths. At its shortest length, 364 cm, the rotational moment is 7.4. At the rod's fully extended length (450 cm), the rotational moment is 12.7. Remember, any measurement over 6 and the rod begins to be noticeably tip heavy. But even with these rotational moment measurements, the T-Hunter has a pleasing action and is very fishable.

I cast the T-Hunter using a #3.5 level line and found that it fit my casting style best in the 364 cm length. In the longer lengths, I had to use more effort in overcoming the inertia of the rod. The overall action is that of a 6:4 with Rod Flex Index (RFI) measurements a little above 5 in all three lengths. I liked the action of the rod, particularly when loaded with a large trout!

I fished the rod on a tailwater in central Idaho. The tailwater is known for trout in the 20+ inch range. At first I used a different rod, but the trout kept breaking off, due to the required thinner tippet. I then changed to the T-Hunter and even the largest rainbow (a 21 inch fatty) was easily controlled, even with 4.5X tippet

Conclusion: Recalling that Ruben had designed the T-Hunter to be a "strong, well balanced, and long rod", I'd say he definitely achieved his overall goal. This rod is strong and could, IMO, handle pretty much anything you could hook with it (within reason). I do have concern with the swivel failing at some point, and would rather see the lilian glued directly to the tip segment, but that's just me  (I'm not a fan of micro swivels). Ruben claims the T-Hunter will handle any fish up to 15 lbs., and you know what, I believe him! Ruben has designed the T-Hunter not to break, so that anyone can have fun fishing without the worry of inadvertently breaking the rod. He wanted a rod tough enough that individuals and families could have fun, worry-free, fishing. With its action of an RFI near 5.5, even smaller fish would be fun with this rod. 

So if you are in the market for a rod designed to be durable, a rod that can handle large trout and even large warm water species, then maybe the Daikyu T-Hunter by Wasatach Tenkara Rods would be the rod for you. If you have any questions, contact Ruben. He's friendly and very personable, and I'm sure he can answer all your questions regarding your specific fishing application and this rod.

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 the rod from Wasatch Tenkara Rods, but there was no expectation for a positive review.


  1. Tom,nice review. The rod sounds like a beast! I don't need a rod in this class, but if I did, the micro swivel would be a deal breaker. Or, I would at least cut it off.

  2. A very interesting (and seemingly capable) rod. Nice to see a review from a brand outside the mainstream.

  3. If you had to choose between the T-Hunter and the Hellbender for your “big water, big fish” rod, which way would you lean, and why? Many thanks for your incredible reviews!

    1. If I "had" to choose is a difficult question. But that said, I'd probably go with the Hellbender. The main reason is that I live near DRAGONtail Tenkara's wholesale office and it would be easy for me to get what is needed to go with the rod. It's lighter also, which is important to me (as I've had tendonitis in my casting arm before). But I'd rather not "have" to choose. I like them both!