Discover Tenkara Rod Article, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Here is an unbiased, knowledgeable look at tenkara rods and their makers, with the ups and downs of what we can buy presently: https://www.discovertenkara.com/tenkara-rod/

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I think that article is worth reading, but I’m not sure unbiased is the word I’d use. Those guys have their own line of rods and are very focused on traditional tenkara and its Japanese roots. I think this comes through in the comments about Zen Tenkara (“I don’t personally enjoy the rather “circus tricks” sensationalist vibe of sharks and bonefish caught on fixed line rods for the camera.”) and Tanuki (“there is a strong flavour of flim-flam and PT-Barnum about his marketing”).

Not saying it’s good or bad or justified or not, just that it’s something worth keeping in mind.

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All very good points to keep in mind, thank you Tristan. I hope and believe fixed line fishing as practiced on the North American Content is much more free wheeling and inclusive than much of what Discover Tenkara advocates. And I believe that is what the 10 Colors Tenkara Blog should be all about. After all, its Your Fishing, You Have Every Right to do it any way you like. But I found the information presented on the different rod models and their makers to be somewhat useful and interesting, but I agree it should probably be taken with a grain of salt.

But the one thing that did really ring true for me was the difference one experiences the first time you cast a good quality Japanese made rod compared to nearly any of the Chinese made rods that there are out there, which is a very difficult thing to explain but it can be easily felt that the Japanese product really has its hand on the pulse and heart of what tenkara fishing is all about. But because the species of fish differ here so much, and the techniques used to catch those fish differ, and the different tackle they call for to be used is often far removed from Japanese Tenkara. There is certainly a lot of room here for different rod construction theories, methods, and practices, as well as the fish they are designed to catch demand.

And if you own and have fished some of the rods and makers criticized and like those rods, many of the statements made may be offensive in your view, which is a 100% valid feeling to have.

However, it is hard to appreciate just how good a good Japanese rod really is if you have never cast or fished with one. And, I believe, every tenkara angler deserves to have that experience at least once in his angling life. The only problem is, have we as anglers developed our skills to the point where we are know enough to be able to tell the difference? In some cases at least, probably not. So the BEST RODS may be like Casting Pearls Before Swine for a lot of us, including me. But even I could tell a world of difference the first time I cast a Suntech Kurnai HM33, and the first and every time I cast my Gamakatsu Ryokei 360 Seiryu Rod compared to my TUSA Iwana and Amogo Tenkara Rods. So, I believe, there is hope out there for everyone.

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Karl, I feel most folk on this forum have fished or does own japanese tenkara rods. There are a ton of resources that point to the quality in a Japenese tenkara rod. I consider myself comparatively unskilled as a tenkara angler, yet I can tell the difference.

I feel it is one thing for an individual to share their opinion on a product or company, but for a company to do such a thing publicly I feel is in really poor ethics. Dirty laundry, mud slinging, and the like will be the things that turn me away from any company. It might be entertaining to some, but I see it as them showing their true colors. I see the behavior to be disappointing and unprofessional.

Discover Tenkara seems to have little humility in this community. Just about everything they have achieved has been on the shoulders of many really generous Japanese anglers. They really would be nothing at all in this community without those Japanese Anglers. It really goes for all of us. It spans everything from their content to the rods they sell. For them to stand on the top of the hill and cast stones at their competitors that way is just self serving arrogance. If they continue on this path, I am sure eventually it will just be their silence remaining, and people will ask…"What happened to Discover Tenkara? "… “Their arrogance was their undoing”, someone will reply.

Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. And I am sure that you will cast your vote where it will count the most with your hard earned dollars. I have not bought any of their products, myself, so I have no personal experience with same. I found the historical information presented on the bamboo rods to be interesting and not commonly available to anglers living in the West. I had no idea there was so much animosity here for the Discover Tenkara Company. Thank you for going to the time and trouble it took to inform me of your feelings, I had no intention of provoking or rubbing anyone on this board the wrong way. I have learned something but, I am not sure just what other than Discover Tenkara is a sensitive subject here, better left alone.

Karl,

Discover Tenkara is a tremendous resource. The community and Tenkara would not be the same without them.

My opinion defnitely is my own and not an indicator of this forum. In fact i would bet several folk probably disagree with me.

I think it is unfotunate that DT wrote what they did. Dumping bad apples into good information.
My opinion only. I really want them to succeed as what they offer is so helpful and critcal to our community. Wish they would just deliver and report information in an objective way. If they did that I would be quite pleased.

In general, making education a comercial endeavor is a complicated business…especally in the digital age of information where so much is free. I think there is a way to do it, but I personally do not like the path they have chosen.

The point of this forum or any is to have a conversation. I am just sharing my thoughts on the link and what you and tristen wrote.

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I don’t want to turn this into a DT-bashing thread. I have learned a lot through their resources and appreciate their passion.
I too was turned off from the article, but was not surprised. I am not a fan of their pretentious writing and wish they would just report material and ideas in a more straightforward manner. I feel the content is important to the community, but the delivery leaves me wanting to avoid them.
The feedback from community members might help them evolve their brand.

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I have gotten many items from John and Paul over the years and conversed with them many times by email. They have put out some great material and have been an outstanding resource for the Tenkara movement. A couple of sentences may have raised my eyebrows slightly but I am going to give them the benefit of doubt because of all the good they have done. They have put out an incredible amount of free material on all aspects of Tenkara.

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Thank you for all the responses and insight from everyone. In the title: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, I didn’t really understand The Ugly part. But all of these responses have pointed out that there is a certain unsavory side to the information that DT provides.

I read all the reviews of the 36 and 40 DT rods that I could find. And, generally speaking, they were all quite positive, which is something of a mystery to me. The main consideration seems to be how well the rod casts, which most people were very positive about, as well as they should be. But the weight difference ( a lot heavier) alone would be a real deal breaker for me. And the tip heavy characteristic is much more than I would ever want to deal with. Of course if all you have fished with are heavy rods that are really tip heavy, as most rods that long are, that would be a nonissue because that’s what you are used to using. But the fact that their rods run about $200.00 dollars more than a competing TB 40 Tenkara Rod, which weighs less and is less tip heavy and casts just as well for most, would give any logical thinking T-angler reason for pause I would think. But I guess for some people the increased cost is an indicator of Quality and carries with it a higher pride of ownership, which does not make any sense at all to me. But to each his own.

Karl,

Peder owns both the 36 and 40. He really likes them. If you search for threads on karasu i am sure you may find some of his comments. You can also pm him. I have casted the 360 and it casts beautifully but the sticker price was too steep for my liking.

I actually casted the nissin royal stage 360 side by side with the karasu and imediately liked the royal better. I could be just my casting style, but within a couple weeks i bought a royal stage 320…i really dig that rod. It makes my casting accurate.

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G, thank you for the information and pointers. I also have a Nissin Royal Stage Rod but it is 33 Seriyu Rod. And I know what you mean about a rod seeming to make your casts more accurate, that Royal Stage Seriyu Rod does the same thing for me. And so does the Suntech Kurenai HM33 I got the Royal Stage Rod as a backup rod for at My wife’s suggestion, because I had broken the Kurenai a couple of times and didn’t like the down fishing time of waiting for repair parts. Every fixed-line rod I have broken has always been due to operator error and no fault of the fish.

We all have different physical abilities, arm and leg lengths, timing, reaction times, and rod action preferences. When you come across a rod that matches your angling personality makeup and your casting style, that rod will Sing In Your Hand and make you a better fisherman than you have ever been before. Such a rod allows you to concentrate on your fishing and forget about previous casting problems. We can all learn to live with just about any rod with time and practice, but it is much easier and a lot more fun to fish with a rod that suits you to a TEE. But when the only way you have to test cast rods is to buy them, that can become a very expensive learning process. At present, I know of no economical way to get around that particular problem.

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Very true. I live in a part of Canada with minimal Tenkara practitioners, so I don’t have the opportunity to try others’ rods either.
I tried a Nissan Zerosum and smiled while field casting, as it felt so fun just casting it. That felt like a rod that I would just take out to cast and have a great time, regardless of fish being around.
I think there is “a rod” for everyone, based on their casting style, environment they fish, etc. Just wish there was an easier (and cheaper) way to find it.

Definitely off-topic now, but I’ve always thought that a tenkara rod rental company would do well. It would be a great way to, as several of you have said, find the rod that really fits you.

Ya, definitely thinking the same thing. I know of a couple Western fly fishing companies that offer rod rental.

Tristan, when I get back to Pocatello I’ll contact you and have you over to the house. You can cast any of the rods that I have; I have quite a few. That should give you an idea of what different rods feel like.

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Tristan and Tom, Now we all envy the casting session you two are going to enjoy together in the future. Please report back on what you learn…Karl.

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An interesting read. Especially if going in the reader understands this is th writer’s feelings and opinions, teamed with our interpretations of what we read into them based upon our experiences.

A note: I had a friend who own a fly shop. Smart guy, well educated, quite iconoclastic. He had many high end clients who demanded and expected the best. it was his business to meet their feelings and wishes. He did.

However at times he would get mischievous. He would take numerous brands of rods (reels and lines) and remove the all the labels from them. He would then allow customers to go out in a lot behind the shop and cast them. In truth, without the labels very, very few could tell which brand rod it was. Most, of course, would brag ahead of time how much they loved this or that brand of rod (reel or line - and extoll their virtues and attributes), and could tell the difference between brands and quality (usually meaning price).

He would not embarrass them with the fact that they couldn’t tell anything about a rod other than how it felt to them, in their hands, in action - which is absolutely valid. And these weren’t fly fishing slouches either; long time fishers with lot’s of experience and skill. It’s just that our ego and “rational” mind gets in the way of knowing or accepting what actually works for us. I’ve seen it many times with other things in life we think, believe or insist that we know.

I think this applies to Tenkara as well.

I have taught fly fishing and fishing to many people over the years - all ages and abilities. I usually triy (with varying degrees of success) to allow my participants to come to finding what works for THEM without my recommendations or guidance as to equipment, etc., and then try to help them get the most out of the choices they made “blind-folded”, so to speak.

Bottom line; cost, name, manufacturer, manufacturer’s rep, looks, had little to do with how a rod, reel or lure/fly performed for each individual. Of course some, upon hearing they’d blind-chosen the “lesser” of the rods, or reels or lines, would get quite upset and feel angry, guilty, cheated or tricked. Such is the human condition, it would seem.

Oh final note. Upon finding out they had picked rods other than their faves, or ones they swore they knew, very few would take on the one they liked and had just worked for them in the blind test. That was, to me, quite human and understandable, and as Mr. Spock would say, “fascinating.”

Thanks. Great read Boss!

It is all true. I would add that there is something about loving the one you are with… I have two rods that o bought about five years ago when i started and still use them the most to this day. I prefer them even though i do own several better rods. There is a huge difference between good all round rods and a niche beautiful casting rods.

Even in other disciplines there is tendency to gravitate to what casts best…often the best casting rods are not the best at fighting fish or sacrifice durability and tend to fail more often.

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Sounds great! I’ll be there :+1: