Affordable rod options for lakes and large rivers?

Hi everyone,
I am very familiar with small stream rod options, but don’t know as much as about rod to be used on larger water body and rivers.
I am hoping to find an affordable rod that will perform well on alpine lakes, that can handle wind, cast a long distance, and the occasional 18” trout. Also, a rod that is not overly heavy and a pain to cast for a while.
Would the Tenkara USA Ito be a good option?
Suggestions of rods would be most appreciated!
Thanks!
Jason

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Send Chris Stewart at TenkaraBum an email. You might want to take a look at the TB40.

For many of the alpine lakes I go to, I like to use a two handed keiryu rod. The stiffer mid section will cast longer/floating lines and you get great leverage casting into the wind. I would not want to use the ITO in those situations…I found the Ito very tip heavy and too soft. I prefer something like the Suntech Sawanabori 53, which is significantly lighter than the ITO, even though it is longer…I often fish it one handed even.

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I don’t fish stillwater much but I do fish to larger migratory fish in our creeks here. I’ve been rotating through a few different rods lately and the Ito (assuming you are not trying to throw too much weight ) can be a good choice. For heavier flies/lines, the TAO wisco 2 has performed well for me, the TUSA Amago is a little soft in the tip but does well on big fish. I will say that the Ito fished at 13’ feels a bit lighter (less wrist fatigue) to me than the other rods but they all do pretty well. I’ve fished my Ito the last few days without getting my feet wet, a case where the length is a bonus. The ONI 395 honryu rod (available through tenbum) is very capable of casting a wide variety of lines and is pleasant to fish with as well, but not as budget friendly. I enjoy fishing it. -Lance

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IMO, you lose all the benefits of a tenkara rod on a lake. It’s best to use a rod with a reel.
That being said, I’ve used fixed-line rods on alpine lakes with a bit of success. As long as the fish are close to shore…
The TB traveler rods would work well. A much better rod for the money than the Ito or Amago.

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Agreed. I bring a standard rod for the lakes usually, and a tenkara rod or two for fishing streams on the hike in and out. If it’s just a matter of an indicator and balanced leech type situation, then I’ll go with a fixed line rod just for simplicity and to save weight. Or when I have a box to check, like I did last year to catch a trophy golden trout on a fixed line rod, just to say I did.

I pull out my western rods or even a spinning rod for Stillwater. When I’ve used my Tenkara rod it can be fun if it’s a high altitude lake and the fish are cruising the banks. But usually the conditions aren’t great for it. I bought a bunch of high quality furled lines and even some fly line turned into Tenkara line and tried those on Stillwater. I just wound up feeling like I was fighting to make it work. I found I didn’t really enjoy it that much. That’s just been my experience.

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I see others that have a lot more Tenkara experience than I do feel Tenkara is usually not the best tool for lakes (and the salt). I agree with @cc121 that the majority of the time I am spending way too much effort on management of a line that’s long enough to be effective. Many lakes around here below 6000’ are probably going to have a lot of trees and brush lining the shore that will even make using a western fly rod and reel difficult to use unless I’m in my Watermaster raft or a float tube.

Another vote here for the TB Traveler 39 for Alpine Lake Angling, provided you also include a Floating Tenkara Fly Line equal to the rod’s length, or a little longer, and a Tapered Leader half again as long as the T-line is long.

The PVC coated line will handle wind better than Fluorocarbon Lines can, and when it is windy, the floating line will give drag free drifts casting into the wind with dry Flies. Also when it is windy, you loose the option of holding your line up and off of the water, T-style, with the FC. Lines, because the wind will blow your line and fly all over the place.

When it becomes too windy for the PVC Line, and it will, a Titanium Line from Esoteric Tackle will make casting in strong winds a snap and also fulfill all your sinking line needs better than the FC. Lines can.

In alpine lakes, Wind is the Major Provider of food for the trout to eat living in those lakes. You want to fish from the windward shore, where the wind will concentrate the bugs against the shore. And that’s where the fish will also be looking for their next bite, tight to the bank and in the Splash-Back Zone of the waves, so most of your casting will be done parallel to the shore (where the food and fish will be) rather than as far out into the lake as you can cast.

Most of the food the wind provides for the fish will be of Terrestrial Insect origin - Ants, Beetles, Hoppers and more, provided by Up-Slope-Blow-In-Winds, which makes Dry Flies especially effective for alpine lake angling if it is windy in the afternoons, which it usually will be all season long. The rod is just the casting and fish fighting tool. It is an important tool, to be sure, but what you really need is a complete Alpine Lake Fly Fishing System and the knowledge you need to use it to the best advantage.

Overly long rods tend to be tip-heavy and fatiguing to use and offer no significant casting advantages as you do not need to cast long distances to catch fish on alpine lakes, where stealth is much more important than distance casting is. The longer the line is, the less positive control you will have over it, and the more line management problems you will have in landing your fish. A comfortable, accurate, cast is all the line length needed to get the job done, and do as little casting as possible. Frequent casting scares more fish, and scared fish will not take our flies.

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What a perfect post.
I have no experience of fixed line fishing in lakes as all my lake fly fishing was done before I became aware of the fixed line option. However I have fly fished lakes and upland reservoirs for years in the UK with much success and can vouch for the ‘parallel approach’, as well as letting the wind be your friend I would say that over the years 80-90% of trout caught on the fly have been within 3 to 4 yards from the bank.
My outfit has usually been a 10’6” rod fishing a ‘team of 3 spider flies enabling me to quietly work the water. I also think that it is important not to be too hasty to get too near or into the water. Fish over the bank first concentrating on the first few feet. You will be amazed at how close fish will come in to the edge, especially if the area has not been disturbed .
To me lake fishing in a quiet environment is the ultimate - even if you don’t catch. Just being there is enough.

One of the wilderness lakes I visited lasted year. The Sawanabori 53 pulled in MANY cutthroats!

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Getting there is half the fun!

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Thanks everyone for your input. A lot to consider.

Kris - thanks for reigniting my interest in ultralight hiking and camping. The 9 lbs set-up and Zpack tent is intriguing. I have a hammock tent, but found it too cold. The idea of packing extra quilts did not appeal to me.

Karl K - great to hear from you. My wife and I were fantasizing about summer camping while we freeze in Canada. While looking at East Sierra pics and Golden Trout, my wife asked if I had spoke to you. I said I had not and hoped you were okay. Ta-da, a post from Karl!

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Is that a Zpacks Duplex? I have the same tent if so, only I picked it up in camo. It’s my favorite backpacking tent. I also use a Hyperlite Duo mid and also really like it. I tend to reach for the Duplex the most though. I can’t wait for the warm weather to pick back up.

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Yes, it’s a duplex. My favorite tent. Although I was using my zpacks Nero pack that trip, my Hyperlite southwest pack is my favorite pack.

Ahhhhh, golden trout. My annual trip to MT’s best golden fishery. This is my buddy who helped me land this one. This one wasn’t on a fixed line, but I did catch a few nice ones this summer with my flying dragon, but I was alone and didn’t get good pics.

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Same fish, but me posing this time.

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Wow nice fish! I still haven’t caught a golden trout, I went to a lake up in the Uintas near me to get one and only caught Brookies. This year I’ll have to conquer it. It would also be fun to get a Paiute cutthroat trout. The Hyperlite Southwest is my most used pack also. I have the Nemo and the z-pcak Arc Blast, but mainly use the Hyperlite. I like the straps and fit overall better on the Southwest pack.

I probably should have bought one of the Tenryu packable fly rods Chris had on Black Friday, but I just have so many rods.

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I just bought one of his 4 piece Tenryu spinning rods to go with my collection of fly rods and tenkara rods…snail mail hasn’t got here yet though.

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Most of the golden lakes here in MT have small goldens…the other lake is special, but they are the pickiest fish you’ll ever find.

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