Tenkara Grasshopper Central

Selecting a Tenkara Fishing Rod

Selecting a Tenkara Fishing Rod

by May 5, 2017 0 comments

If you are just getting into tenkara you will need a few basic pieces of gear. First and foremost, you will need a tenkara fishing rod. Selecting a tenkara rod will take a bit of research and thought on your part. But making a final decision should not be a heartburn inducing proposition.

Tenkara Fishing Rod Considerations

When deciding on a tenkara fishing rod there are a few basic tenets to be aware of.

  1. Rod Length
  2. Rod Handle
  3. Fish Size

Tenkara Rod Length

Tenkara USA Ito Tenkara Fishing Rod

Your choice of tenkara rod length should be based on the largest water you plan to fish. Choosing a rod appropriate to the size of fish you are targeting comes into play as well.  Tenkara rods range in size from 8’10” (270 cm) up to 14’7″ (450 cm). The longer the rod the more reach a tenkara angler can get with each cast.

My current go to rods are the Tenkara USA Sato and the Tenkara USA Ito. Using these two rods allows me to cover a wide range of waters here in Colorado and around the country.

I use my Tenkara USA Sato rod for approximately 80% of my fishing. My Sato rod, being a zoom rod, allows me to cover an extremely wide range of water with a single rod. Additionally, using a rod like the Sato I am able to get different casting actions at each length.

Tenkara Rod Handle

A comfortable tenkara rod handle, at least in my opinion, can make for a great fishing experience. If a tenkara rod handle does not feel comfortable an angler will not be likely to continue using the rod. Also choosing the right material for the handle can make for a more pleasurable day of tenkara fly fishing.

Having a rod with a comfortable handle can make for a great fishing experience in a number of ways. I find that having a rod handle that fits into my hand comfortably gives me a better sense of any given rod. If the rod handle is either to large or too small I feel I have to grip the handle with extra strength to control the rod.

Tenkara Rod Handle Material

Tenkara rod handle material can make a difference in the feel of a tenkara rod. There are rods available with different handle materials. There are brands that do not use any material to form the handle beyond a bit texturing to allow the angler to maintain their grip on the rod. Rods are also offered with a foam wrapped handle that might work for some anglers. Foam does not work for me as I am a very tactile person and don’t like the feel of foam.

By far the most common material found on tenkara rods is cork. Cork has been a mainstay of fly rod handles for quite some time. I prefer a cork handle on my tenkara rods because of the properties of cork. I like the fact that cork stays at a comfortable temperature no matter what the conditions. Using cork handles I have also found that they shape to my grip over time thus making them extremely comfortable. The higher the grade of the cork used, the longer the handle will last.

I will not say that one tenkara rod handle material is better than another. But, for me cork is the clear winner. Maybe you will find the same thing or have different feelings altogether.

Fish Size

Tenkara rods were originally designed for small mountain streams in Japan. The fish that the commercial tenkara angler was fishing for were not massive fish.

There are a wide range of tenkara rods available to the modern tenkara angler. Because of current technology, rod manufacturers are now able to design rods that have more or less backbone built into them.

Tenkara USA offers what some anglers would consider a softer rod such as the Iwana. The Iwana is in my opinion a great rod to get into tenkara and for targeting fish up to 16″ in length. If an angler wants to catch fish in the 17″ and over range I would suggest the Ito or the Amago. Both rods have the backbone to handle larger fish with ease.


Choosing a tenkara rod is not difficult, but there are a few points that will make for an easier purchasing decision.

Hold every tenkara fishing rod you can get your hands on to feel how the tenkara rod sits in your hand. Find out what tenkara handle material feels the best in your hand. And lastly, think about the size of the fish you wish to target.

Once you have made these decisions, it is time to go buy a tenkara rod.

To get a list of the tenkara gear that I use on every fishing trip head over to the Tenkara Fishing Equipment page. Learn more about what a zoom rod is check out my post.

Tight Lines and Tenkara!!!

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