Favorite low canopy rods

I’d like to hear what rods everyone likes to use for those streams with low canopies. I am considering a new rod and am floundering between a new low canopy rod or an Oni type iii. My current shortest rod is the Tenkara Bum Traveler 27 (GM Suikei Keiryu Special 27). I find myself in these overgrown streams a lot and would like another rod option. I have been really enjoying softer rods lately. Last year almost all of my fishing was done with my Tanuki Snow 325. I really didn’t think I would like it as much as I did. So, maybe something soft with full flex?

I have been looking at the Dragontail Mizuchi zx340, Nissin Pro Spec 2 way 320, Nissin Fine model 270, and a few others I can’t remember. Perhaps someone has a Daiwa Soyokaze they want to part with? What do you all use and like?

On the other hand I have been wanting a type iii for a long time. Perhaps I should just scratch that itch.

I picked up an Anglo Kowasa for that very reason:

At an oni school a couple of years ago Chris brought a pocket mini 270 for me and I tried that one out. I didn’t love it, but the newer version Tenkara mini is a great option for that handle. Also the Tenkara Bum Traveler 27 is a great small stream rod. I’ve fished with all of those except the Tenkara mIni 270, but I have the Tenkara mini 320 and it’s a great rod. I’m sure the 270 is very similar. The Anglo is fantastic and extremely well made, however it’s expensive and has to be ordered from Japan. You really can’t go wrong with any of those options, I prefer the tiny pack down size of the Tenkara Mini and Anglo Kowasa.

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I’ve caught several hundred fish on the Dragontail Mizuchi. The reason I like it is that it has enough backbone for bigger fish (I’ve caught wild fish up to 18 inches on it, and it handled it like a champ), so it probably isn’t what you’re looking for in terms of something soft.

The Zen Tenkara Suzume, which I’ve also caught hundreds of fish on, is softer and has better sensitivity for smaller fish, but I’ve still caught multiple 16-inchers on it. It’s a good all-around small stream rod.

I’ve never fished extensively with any of the other rods you mentioned.

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Aside from the diminishing ESA listed salmon and steelhead populations, a 17" resident fish in US Pacific Northwest streams on the west (wet) side of the Cascade Mountain range is a leviathan. Most of the fish I encounter in my home waters streams will be 8" to 11". There is a small stream, averaging 10 feet in width, 25 minutes from home flowing briskly through a steeply walled canyon in a suburban park with three distinct sections before it reaches the saltwater with a good population of native Coastal Cutthroat Trout.

The volume of water from heavy winter rains scours back the riparian brush throughout its course. The more open “Meadow” section never really “meanders” and has a braided stream bed with multiple forks because of the volume of water passing through. It fishes well with a 4 meter rod. The “Forest” and even faster flowing “Canyon” sections have a dense overhead canopy sometimes reaching down into the water. I have fished those upper sections with both my 6:4 - 7:3 DT Mizuchi, and 5:5 Tenkara Times Watershed 300Z.

The Mizuchi’s 3 lengths makes it versatile enough to fish all three sections, but the 7:3 action at 240 cm doesn’t feel very “elegant” - “pleasurable” for casting, and I tend to “launch” some dinks (which I really dislike doing) until I get used to it.

The TT Watershed 300Z’s action makes it a dream to cast whether fully extended at 307 cm, at the 265 cm length or choked up on the handle to fish at 240 cm. It makes 5" fish “sporting” but I’ve landed three 13" fish in swift runs and it is exciting. Two were hooked under trees with branches reaching down to the water and had to be fought horizontally. They felt like leviathans, and the line was “singing” under the tension, but the rod was able to turn fish away from the tree branches and submerged snags in the confined stream bed. However I have lost big fish on two occasions when low overhead cover didn’t allow the distance I needed to get a solid hookset with the soft action. But I was able to come back after several minutes to solidly hook and land one of them.

One of those two shorter rods may get sold. Do I want to keep one with more versatility to fish wider streams yet has the ability to get better hooksets in tight quarters, and will handle larger fish that I rarely encounter? Or a more specialized rod for smaller streams having a little more room for setting the hook, that is more “pleasurable” to cast, more sporting with smaller fish, and is “exciting” when I hook the larger fish I can encounter on a typical trip?

Decisions decisions…

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I use a Tanuki 275 for my short rod and have landed fish up to 16’ with it. It’s a fun little rod.

Thanks for bringing up the Anglo. I have been watching that thread and am really looking forward to a few more trip reports. It is one of the rods I am considering although, if I am being honest with myself, it is a little pricey for me. But I am willing to be convinced.

I forgot that the Tenkara mini came in a 270 length. I don’t know how much slower or softer it would be than the TB 27. I’d be interested to hear from any one who has fished it. If you have the point of reference, how does it compare to the TB 27 or even the Anglo?

Thanks for all the responses. It seems like small stream/low canopy rods are a hot topic right now so I am sure I will find a lot of good information in other threads as well.

Thanks dpnoll. Is the Tanuki 275 an accurate caster? My Tanuki 325 feels really soft but seems pretty quick on the hook set. How is the hook set on the 275?

I have a real issue with Tenkara Tanuki. I really want to prefer Japanese made rods over Chinese made rods, but Tanuki is making it hard for me to justify more expensive Japanese rods like the Oni’s, Anglo & Co… I realize the quality and craftsmanship is probably not quite as good but it’s close enough that it makes it hard to justify the extra expense.

Very accurate. I use a 3.0 level line with it. The 3 rods I use the most are a Tanuki Ninja, a TB 36 and a Nissin Honryu 395 and whenever I have to go short the 275. All are excellent.

@TenkaraOdyssey said:
“I really want to prefer Japanese made rods over Chinese made rods, but Tanuki is making it hard for me to justify more expensive Japanese rods like the Oni’s, Anglo & Co… I realize the quality and craftsmanship is probably not quite as good but it’s close enough that it makes it hard to justify the extra expense.”

I will join you in the heresy :grin: I stopped being interested in Japanese rods basically when I realized how much replacement parts cost and how much of a pain it is to get them. I fish a lot and apparently am not good to my gear. I broke the handle section of my TenkaraBum 40 (after first replacing a broken tip section for $42), and it would have cost something like $90 to fix. And I had to first email Chris to see if the parts were in stock. Too much hassle and expense for me. I sold the TB 40 for parts and bought a Nirvana 400, which I have also broken twice now. But the parts are cheap, and I can immediately order them directly from the website without having to contact anyone.

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I was a Tenkara Times Watershed 300Z boy until the DragonTail Mizuchi…
I do have the Badger Tenkara Rocky Creek Special, but that is just a single length, not multiple lengths.
The Rocky Creek Special throws dry-dropper rigs nicely, even tungsten beaded nymphs on that dropper, and is light in the hand and bow&arrows very nicely.
I have all three rods, and have fished them all on one of the most challenging closed-over, brush-intensive streams in my area.
All three do the job well. Mizuchi is most variable because it lengthens and gives you a bit of extra range for the couple of open runs that exist. But Rocky Creek and Watershed - if you slow yourself down, are cammo’d up and patient - will let you catch fish there too.
I find myself using Mizuchi the most, becuase if I fish three different creeks in one day, it is an all rounder. I really need to give my Watershed some more love, it’s been neglected…

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Tristan, how do you break a handle section? That’s gotta be a good story.

@dpnoll, I wish it were a better story than “it randomly broke in half as I was casting,” but that’s exactly what happened. I was filming at the time; you can see it happen if you start watching at 3 minutes in this video.

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Have not tried it yet, but I have been interested in the Esoteric 245-206 cm rod. Talked to a few people who really like it and it’s smooth casting for such a short rod. Good price as well.

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I completely spaced the mizuchi, also another solid option.

Tristan, wow.

Jason,

The Esoteric is an intriguing rod. It would certainly open up some options for me on small streams. It will probably be added to my quiver eventually. Right now I am leaning toward something in the 270cm range. If I get a smaller rod every season then I get to fish the same old streams like they are new to me as I am able to get into new areas.

I think the tb40 has a one year warranty, we’re you outside of that? I have a handle that I lost the rest of the rod due to break on the next section up. I wish I knew at the time but I saw retroactively you sold it.

I wonder if it broke previously and you didn’t notice until it of course finished breaking. I had that happen to one of my rods, it broke when a large fish hooked on and I think it was either hitting it with a bead head nymph or on a branch.

I’ve pretty well decided that if I can’t fish a stream with my Tanuki 275 I’m just not going to fish it. Another reason is that in the small streams I fish there are larger fish and I don’t want to be overmatched. Besides, the 275 has a real nice bend with smaller fish. :slightly_smiling_face:

In tighter conditions I fish a tusa rhodo and recently the nissin royal stage 320.

For what you describe the Mizuchi or Rhodo would be my choice. I have not fished the Mizuchi but have heard great things about it. The Rhodo is a great rod and a total animal. I have landed some large fish in heavy current with that rod. In dense canopy you need a rod that can take abuse. The blank will make contact with trees alot. Missed hooksets and dropped fish will have you pinging the blank off branches all the time. I would pick a blank that can take abuse. The rhodo definitely can and in my opinion is a great rod. Zoom is a great feature for this kind of fishing too. Extend for reach and drop down to fight. Sort of counter to what most use zoom for but that is a really nice feature. I am curious on the Mizuchi, but probably will not buy one just because it would overlap what I have currently too much. The fact that it has a shorter length is attractive.

A few note that the shorter lengths on these zooms are just not enjoyable. I would agree, but in tighter conditions I would opt for a stiffer configuration for hooking and landing fish. In tight conditions it is no longer about casting. Flipping and bow and arrow are more effective. In general shorter lengths sort of diminish a lot of utility of a rod over 300. Length in casting inertia…length in rod flex and fish fighting power. Most shorter rods that cast well, may not be as well suited for fighting fish…they seem to be one or the other.

All that said, @dpnoll points out sometimes dense canopy fishing is not worth the effort. I have to be in a special mode to fish dense canopy and feel that the handicap in casting and what I can do in tight conditions is not as enjoyable. Part of this for me is limit of skill. I also, find greater enjoyment in honing other skills in my tenkara fishing that canopy prohibits. Also, catching fish in tight canopy is a real challenge. Hooking is one thing…landing is another. Without freedom of movement in fight some spots may be nearly impossible to land fish. In general, I feel I can fish a 320 length in most places by crouching and choking up on a blank are other ways of making up the 2.6 foot difference between a 320 and a 240.

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There was a week or so that I was leaning heavily toward the Mizuchi. Not so much any more. I would mostly want it for its shortest configuration and that seems to be peoples least favorite.

I understand that tight canopy fishing is not always worth it, but sometimes it is. It’s what I have a lot of near me. It would open up some opportunities and allow me to fish some areas that don’t see a lot of pressure. It’s also psychological, seeing a stream or section of a stream that I can not fish because I don’t have the right rod (or perhaps skill, but that is another topic to its self), is completely different than having the option but choosing not to.

Another rod that is on my radar is the Tanuki Golden Trout. It looks like a really fun rod but might be a little over priced for what I need it for. Does anyone have any experience with it?