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How to choose the Tenkara rod for beginners

Posted on | December 22, 2013

Japanese anglers are quite busy with dreaming of fishing in the stream in upcoming spring, tying flies and preparing equipments.

I’d like to give a tip for beginners to select the first Tenkara rod.

First, as to the rod length, you have to clarify what kind of river you will go fishing at. Why have you decided to do Tenkara fishing?

Is that because a friend of yours recommended? If so, ask your friend what size the river is.

We call rivers with more than 10 meter width “honryu” – main stream. Such rivers require 4 to 5 meter-long rods.

If the rod has writing of “honryu,” that indicates the rod is for main stream fishing.

For rivers with 3 to 5 meter-wide length, use small stream rods.

Rods of 3 or 3.4 meter length are suitable.

But if you cannot afford to own several rods for different size rivers, you should choose a smaller one . Choose long line,you can use big rivers.


Japanese rods come with “action” indication written on them, which shows action balance where they bend with coordination figures such as 5:5, 6:4, 7:3. Nevertheless, these figures vary from manufacturer to manufacturer due to different standards.

There is no common Japanese standard for these action figures. Even written with 5:5, rods of Shimano and Daiwa differ in action. So it’s probably safer to cast the rod in person before buying a rod, or ask someone for recommendation on rods.

First start with a flexible rod so that you can cast the rod using its flexibility.

Stiff rods are difficult to cast. You may be so absorbed in casting at first that you cast whole day.

So I recommend a light and supple rod that you can cast without hurting your shoulder.

Such a rod usually casts with a beautiful arch.


Any way, Teton Tenkara give me good job.

I have to answer him.   Thank you Teton Tenkara.He give me this time.

The reason people feel that the Tenkara rod is light isn’t because of its weight.

There is nothing to hide to balances the rod.

Where is the center of the balance?   This is important for the light feeling of the rod.

If the center is close to the grip, people will not feel the weight. Of course,

if 1 kg of weight is at the top of a rod you will feel that it’s heavier than if the weight was at the bottom.

There is no magic here.

The light weight balance is because of the rod.

However, in order to keep the strength, we can’t make rods too light.

I have over 35 years Tenkara experience and I’ve see that most people feel that the balance of the Oni rod is light.

Because of the craftman’s skill!   There are not so many skilled craftman at the Japanese manufacturers.

Meeting with this craftman was a miracle for me.

I really thank the god of the mountains for making this happen.

The Oni rod we are releasing in February is the result of collaboration with this craft man.

People at team Oni are happy.

Please be patient, the rod will come soon.



6 Responses to “How to choose the Tenkara rod for beginners”

  1. Jason Klass
    December 23rd, 2013 @ 3:51 AM

    Masami-san, thank you for confirming that you do not add weight to the handle to counterbalance the rod. Some of us in the USA were just debating that.

  2. Oni
    December 23rd, 2013 @ 10:38 AM

    Hello Jason. I know your Conversation.It’s good time,about Tenkara talking.

    Thank you for your message.

    Masami Sakakibara and Team Oni

  3. David
    December 25th, 2013 @ 4:53 PM

    An informative article, thank you. It confirms my belief that a shorter center of balance is set by the design of the rod blank.

    You wrote,”First start with a flexible rod so that you can cast the rod using its flexibility.”

    That statement seems to suggest that a beginner should start with a flexible rod because he has not yet developed skill to cast with a stiffer rod.

    Are their advantages of using a stiffer rod? If yes. What steps would you recommend for learning the skills to cast with a stiffer rod?

    I ask these questions because my understanding is that to cast a longer lighter line. It must be cast with a higher line speed. And a stiffer rod will generate higher line speed than a more flexible rod. If you have the skill to use one. Or am I incorrect about that? Thank You.

  4. Oni
    December 28th, 2013 @ 6:05 PM

    Dear David Thank you very much for you message .
    I’m not saying that begninners shouldn’t use a stiff rod.
     Beginners don’t have the skill to use both flexible and stiff rods.
     Because they have just started.
     If this is the case, our recommendation is to use a flexible rod.
     The reasons for this are;
    – A stiff rod is heavy and makes people tired. It impacts to the shoulder and elbow.
    A stiff rod deliver the power to the line easily and it’s difficult to control it – It is heavy and hard to cast
    The goal should be to cast a long and right line and get a fish.
    People think stiff rods can create a faster line speed.
    I don’t think so.
    A Tenkara line is maximum 7-8 meters. Do you think the hardness of the rod makes different for the line speed?
    I don’t think so.
    I think there are more risks than that.
    If you are using a hard, stiff rod and power from your arm, what will happen after you cast?
    The leader will strike the surface of the water.
    Then fish will escape and also your shoulder will be tired.
    If you are using flexibility of the rod, control long and right weight line, then you are able to drop the fly on the water gently. This is ideal. It will lure fishes. Also, you are able to swing as many times as you want.
    For stiff rods, a heavier line is easy to throw. because the rod will bend with the line.
    Using the right line with a stiff rod is a difficult technique.
    You might get some bad habits, too.
    Tenkara style depends on the person.
    Finding out your style of Tenkara is a fun process.
    I like flexible rods. This is my preference.
    Please understand that I’m not forcing my ideas on everyone.
    I’m just sharing them.

    Happy Tenkara

  5. David
    January 2nd, 2014 @ 9:48 AM

    Thank you for the reply. I am just trying to understand conflicting information from different sources. I know many people say a more flexible rod is better for casting light lines. My own limited experience would agree. And rods designed specifically for casting level lines seem to be more flexible rods than LT rods designed to cast both types of lines. Yet I read other places that say to cast long light lines you need to use a stiffer faster rod. But it requires you to have more casting skill. Your insight from your experience on this topic is helpful. Thank you. Happy 62, ; – )

  6. Roger
    January 22nd, 2014 @ 2:11 AM

    I appreciate the mention of choosing a relatively short rod (3M) for the smaller streams. I fish very small streams and have been fishing with 1.8M to 2.7M rods for the smallest. I was feeling somewhat outside of the norm for angling with a smaller rod on the very small streams (about 3M at the widest).

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