Craig Wisner

Chinese “Tenkara”. You’re either a Comrade or Enemy of the People.

With a little hesitation, I pressed the “Confirm Purchase” button on my Paypal/Ebay account, ordering a Chinese made “Tenkara” style telescoping rod for a grand total of $6.48 including shipping.  I half expected to never actually see this rod, as many items coming direct from Hong Kong fail to materialize during 12 week shipping periods.

I originally wanted to get into tenkara with the minimalist Daiwa Soyokaze, but they were discontinued and upon seeing this rod for the ridiculously low price, I figured I’d have nothing to lose.  I like the aesthetic of the more minimal rods without cork handles, a perfectly streamlined tool for backpacking, literally looking like a stick when collapsed.  Nothing to catch or snag in a pack, rods of this style are the most minimal available.  Add a few flies, some clippers, tippet material, and some small forceps and I’ll be fishing for under 4 ounces.

Within a day of ordering I received a shipping confirmation.  A good sign I might actually get this rod.

Only one week later, the rod arrives, shipped from a distributor not in Hong Kong, but in New Jersey.  Not bad.

Rod is 5 sections, 7.8 feet long, 24" collapsed.  Weight is 52 grams.

Rod is 5 sections, 7.8 feet long, 24″ collapsed. Weight is 52 grams.

The cap on the butt is threaded, allowing access to the sections.  Overall finish isn't great, as you can see, but the sections fit together snug and break down easily.

The cap on the butt is threaded, allowing access to the sections. Overall finish isn’t great, as you can see, but the sections fit together snug and break down easily.

The tip plug is pressure fitted and plenty secure.

The tip plug is pressure fitted and plenty secure.

The lilian could be finished better.  I plan on wrapping the rod-end of it with a quick whip finish.  The tip should probably be slightly burnt to prevent fraying.

The lilian could be finished better. I plan on wrapping the rod-end of it with a quick whip finish. The tip should probably be slightly burnt to prevent fraying.

As you can see, the finish isn't great.  The rod has a decent gloss coat, but the blank is pretty textured.

The rod has a decent gloss coat, but the blank is pretty textured.

A hand made line.  I furled three strands of .28mm flouro for a total of .74 and 7' in length.  The next section was two strands of furled .28 for a total of .56 and about 3 feet in lenth. The line was finished with a taperd 7 foot 6X leader, .53 butt diameter.  Total line length: 17'

A hand made line. I furled three strands of .28mm flouro for a total of .74 and 7′ in length. The next section was two strands of furled .28 for a total of .56 and about 3 feet in length.
The line was finished with a tapered 7 foot 6X leader, .53 butt diameter. Total line length: 17′.  EDIT:  A second trip to the casting pools today showed me that an even simpler line works just as well.  Two strands of .3mm furled for a total of .6 and a length of 7 feet connected to a tapered 7′ 6X leader cast very well.  This configuration gives me a reach of roughly 20′ (including rod), well within the range I catch most fish in the Sierra or small local streams.

The tip action is very slow and light.  I have little experience with “tenkara” rods, but plenty fishing western fly rods.  I would put the action on par with a 2-3WT rod.  The rod has no issues casting the above mentioned line.  While I’ve yet to hook a fish, I can tell from a trial at the casting pools that this will work fine for high alpine lakes/streams where range is not necessary and typical fish are under 10″.  The only experimentation I need to do is try a few more hand made lines and see what weight is optimal.

Three more rods are in the mail; one spare and two for my kids.

A grand total of $6.48 to get into “tenkara”.  Time will tell if I find it necessary to upgrade rods, but as an infrequent fisherman, I don’t see the need for anything better.

The true Rod of the People.

propaganda (677x216)

And if you have any guilt about a cheap Chinese rod, read about where all the  $150 tenkara rods are made….

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6 responses

  1. Follow up after you spend some quality time with your budget rod in the Sierras this season.

    June 3, 2013 at 7:18 pm

  2. Pingback: Tenkara season approaches | Bedrock & Paradox

  3. J-F

    a link for purchase this chinese rod with New Jersey retailer?

    June 5, 2013 at 8:15 am

  4. DustinS

    Look up the buonshopping seller on ebay. Lots of telescopic carbon fiber poles for fishing in a multitude of lengths.

    June 10, 2013 at 5:55 pm

  5. Hi Craig,

    I also have this rod. My way into tenkara fishing started a while ago now with a similar style of rod, I have since moved onto using “proper” tenkara rods but I still take this cheapo pole to fish the small overgrown streams in my area where a tenkara rod is too long and while it doesn’t offer the same experience as a tenkara rod it is possible to fish tenkara techniques with these cheaper rods. Like you say the quality of these rods is pretty shocking but I think for a kid to learn fishing they serve pretty well.

    July 4, 2013 at 9:51 am

  6. Reblogged this on Glenn Ashcroft and commented:
    I first came across Tenkara when I stayed in the peak district a few months back. I loved the Idea but didn’t get the chance to put it to the test. I am not surprised to find these rods at this kind of price in China but will watch the ” test” process with interest. Have fun.

    August 6, 2015 at 4:34 am

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