I like it.
I find most anglers try to solve their productivity problems with equipment.
It only takes a trip around the block to realize that gear has little to do with being a good fisherman.
That said. I have tried it all but have settled on what is durable with fish fighting as priority over all else.
First off I am extremely grateful for the service you’ve provided to the tenkara community. I had read the High Dollar versus Economical… blog article at the end of an awesome first year of fishing with a T-rod.
I started out with (and still frequently use) a zoom rod you reviewed as a response to questions from (1) newbs asking “What rod should I get?” You stated that it was (2) “conducive to traditional level line tenkara techniques” that; after watching a couple of TUSA and many DT videos, was where I wanted to go with tenkara, and (3) it had your “I like this rod!” rating. Your printed and embedded video on-stream review (4) highlighted the rod’s versatility (zoom, casting with unweighted and bead head flies, fish to 15" that I occasionally encounter on small streams). And a (5) low “introductory” - Black Friday price checked off several of my initial tenkara “requirements”. As time passed, the mfg-dealer provided (6) outstanding Customer Service and (7) super-fast shipping that were added to the list making (& still makes) the rod a very high value purchase.
After fishing it a lot over several months on small local creeks to larger open rivers (OR Deschutes near Warm Springs), and alpine lakes I found some situations that the rod doesn’t excel at for me; i.e. launching dinks that are more common in the relatively sterile small local streams compared to UT & ID, casting range for larger streams, excessive length on small overgrown creeks.
Since my favorite places for over 20 years with a western rod is small creeks, I decided that was an itch (niche) I needed to scratch and that had a different set of requirements for a value proposition. There was an earlier review you had done on a rod for small streams that met those requirements and had your “I really like this rod!” rating for another high value purchase.
And so it goes, an initial rod with high versatility, then additional acquisitions that scatch the itch-fill the niche and reliable Customer Service at a price that makes it a high value for me.
To sum up, I have found higher priced rods have had better fit and finish, but fishability (length and action for the situation(s) where they’ll be used, casting, ability to control and land fish), Customer Service, durability, and finally cost are higher priorities for me.
I’m a woodworker. Hand tools are what I use. I could buy a plane from the local hardware store. That is if they carried the category of plane I wanted. For specialized planes I need to look beyond the local hardware store. These will cost more because smaller manufacturers fill this lower volume item. Most often the attention to details and materials used is well beyond the hardware store.
For the same plane, one from the hardware store and the one from a specialized maker, will have a price and a performance difference. One will get the job done and the other will make getting the job done a more intimate experience. Like Rob Worthing said about the rod and tenkara, he loves the aesthetics of it.
I have found Tom Davis’s reviews very helpful. You can read about a specific rod and the characteristics he has noted. You may decide from a review that this is the rod for you. He has stated that he is fortunate to be in a position to afford these rods. For the most part he enjoys more specialized rods and their makers. Keep in mind he is a scientist by nature. He gives measurable parameters as well as his subjective findings. Collectively his reviews can highlight what areas to explore in whatever rod you have in hand. The reviews and videos are a wonderful resource. Price point is not a characteristic in itself.
For some the price primary, some it’s the aesthetics, some it’s the enjoyment of discovery, etc. They all catch fish. The reasons behind why we chose a particular rod are our own. But we are all in the same club.
To me, it’s just like golf clubs. I play with clubs that are perfect for me… my swing. That optimizes my scoring, but much more, my enjoyment of playing the game. I may have spent more than many others would, and less than I could have, but that was not relevant to my choices.
My tenkara rods are exactly the same. I have five rods that perfectly suit the full range of the places I fish and how I fish. My choices optimize my casting and catching, and thus my enjoyment of fishing tenkara. I may have spent more than many others would, and less than I could have, but that was not relevant to my choices.
This is what I do. Other people have a different decision process. Such things are highly individualized.