I freely admit that I have a strong opinion regarding what makes a good small stream rod. But I also acknowledge that not everyone agrees with my opinion. So in the spirit of looking beyond my personal preferences, I'm going to review a small stream rod that is much shorter than I usually prefer. This rod is the Sharp Shooter by Wasatch Tenkara.
I first heard of Wasatch Tenkara in regards to their ultra strong, large water rod, the T-Hunter. This rod was designed specifically not to break. It's got a pleasing action and good Rod Flex Index (RFI), but it's very heavy and fatiguing to fish for long periods of time. That wasn't a surprise, given that the rod was designed to be very robust and be able to withstand all manner of abuse. So when Wasatch Tenkara announced the Sharp Shooter I assumed that it too would be built to be very robust and I wanted to take a look.
The Sharp Shooter comes with a matching rod tube and branded rod sleeve. The rod is a double zoom rod, meaning it is designed to be fished at three different lengths, 6, 7.5 and 9 feet. Its overall coloration is powder blue with a glossy finish. The tipward ends of the lower sections have white ring accents. The rod designation has the name, lengths and logo; all nicely done.
The handle is mixed with both cork and foam components. It has the classic camel or double hump shape and is moderate in diameter. It is 23 cm in length.
The tip plug is quite small in size, and is wood with a fluted rubber plug. The butt cap is anodized metal, has knurling to aid removal, but no coin slot or decompression hole.
The lilian is red and moderately long. It is attached to the tip segment via a glue joint. The entire rod can be disassembled for drying and cleaning.
Here are my measurements:
Fully Nested (with tip plug): 55 cm (21.7 inches).
Fully Extended: 193, 234, and 272 cm (6.3, 7.7, and 8.9 feet).
Weight (without tip plug): 75.7 g (2.7 oz.).
CCS: 26, 26, and 26 pennies respectively.
RFI: 13.5, 11.1, and 9.6 respectively.
As you would expect with such high RFI values, this rod is difficult to cast. I suspect that it is designed to be mainly used as a slingshot or bow-and-arrow rod (reference Wasatch Tenkara's logo), but that it not true tenkara. So, I tried to cast the rod using a variety of traditional tenkara casting maneuvers. I used a 7 foot #3 level line (my usual line for small, tight canopy creeks). I could achieve fly placement when the rod was extended to the 272 cm length, but my casts were jerky and inefficient. I couldn't reliably cast it in the other two shorter lengths. That said, the Sharp Shooter does slingshot cast very well at all three lengths. It is advertised as a 7:3 action, but it clearly has a 8:2 very stiff action.
I fished the Sharp Shooter on a local small, tightly canopied creek that has cutthroat and rainbow trout. I caught fish from 6-10 inches. The vast majority of the fish were taken using a slingshot cast, making the outing less than satisfying. Hook sets were lightening fast and decisive. Controlling these fish in the tight, snag rich creek was not problem since the rod has lots of power.
Since Wasatch Tenkara's rods are designed to be very robust, I decided to give the rod some abuse. One of the problems with the slingshot cast is that if there is only room enough to cast using that method, there is usually not room enough to set the hook properly. In setting the hook on the fish I caught I didn't shy away, I forcefully hit tree the branches. I also walked through trees with the rod fully extended (which I never do). If my fly got stuck in the trees, I yanked on the rod to free the fly. None of these horrific maneuvers seemed to bother the Sharp Shooter. It's one tough rod!
Conclusion: This is a very robust rod, but it is also very stiff. It excels at the slingshot cast, but it doesn't cast using traditional tenkara maneuvers with a short level line very well. This is a result of both its stiff action and very short length. The rod has a fast hook set and plenty of power to keep fish out of underwater snags. This is not a finesse rod, it is a power rod. So, if you are looking for a short rod that has a responsive and pleasing flex to smaller fish, this is not your rod. But if you want a very robust rod that is also very short in length, and you mainly slingshot cast on your smaller streams, then look at the Wasatch Tenkara Maruki Sharp Shooter. Other than slamming the rod tip in a car door, I bet you won't break 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.