The Essential Guide to Finding the Best Tenkara Rod + Reviews
This article is here to help you find the best tenkara rod for your needs, especially since we know that doing the research on your own is a time-consuming process. After we’ve gone through a lot of data on the most sought-after rods in this category, we concluded that the one model you should set your eyes on as a first alternative is DRAGONtail’s Tenkara Hellbender Zoom Fly Fishing Rod. This particular rod is a versatile solution that one can use to catch a wide range of fish that are between 16 and 22 inches. Moreover, the high-grade carbon graphite construction makes this a sturdy and reliable unit, while the package itself comes with everything you need to get started right away. In case you cannot find this rod available for sale, you can safely consider DRAGONtail’s Tenkara Shadowfire 365 12′ Fly Fishing Rod as a suitable alternative which offers similar benefits.
Our Top Choice
There is no reel included in this rod, which makes things a lot easier. Plus, you won’t need any additional expensive gear to use it, and you can also set the rod up in under 3 minutes, which is a great thing for those times in which you want to start fishing right away. This is also a highly portable tenkara rod.
This rod is somewhat pricier than other models, but it also offers plenty of benefits, so this is good to keep in mind.
Thanks to its elegant and reliable design, as well as to the top-grade materials used, this is a rod that anyone who is passionate about tenkara fishing should try out and add it to the gear.
This is a highly effective unit that comes equipped with everything you need, which makes matters a lot easier, especially if you are still new to this type of fishing. The simple design makes this an easy-to-use-and-set-up rod, while the collapsible functionality means that you can easily carry it around.
The rod might feel a bit odd during the first uses, given that it should be held right in the middle, but you quickly get used to it.
If what you need is a reliable and versatile rod that you can successfully use for small and medium fish, then this model fits the bill just right, so you should check it out and see what benefits it offers.
Also To Consider
The telescopic design this rod features makes it a very good choice if you need a portable and reliable unit. Thanks to the 7:3 action and special construction that includes 9 segments, you will benefit from enhanced usability and versatility. The enhanced handle means that you will also enjoy more comfort during use.
Make sure that you read the instructions and use the rod accordingly, to avoid any damage that might occur.
The special design and the high-quality materials used for this rod make it a reliable choice, so if you are thinking about giving it a try, don’t hesitate, especially given the affordable price.
5 Best Tenkara Rods (Updated Reviews) in 2023
For those who are looking for the best tenkara rods, things can get a bit complicated and technical, given that there are so many options out of which they can choose. That’s why the selection below showcases our top picks out of the highest-rated rods, together with detailed reviews to help you make the right choice.
1. DRAGONtail Tenkara Hellbender Zoom Fly Fishing Rod
This DRAGONtail tenkara rod is the right model if you want a versatile solution that you can use on various streams with fat rainbows, decent bass, brown trout, or other such similar fish that fall into the 16-22 inches range. The first thing you are going to notice about this product is that it features a sturdy yet lightweight construction of IM 12 carbon graphite of the highest grade.
This means that it’s a very strong fishing rod that you can rely on, but also that it ensures the elegance and light construction needed for successful tenkara fishing, which is also made possible by the 7:3 action. You can safely say that this model is specially built for catching bigger fish.
Another aspect worth mentioning is the fact that this is a complete starter pack that includes every element needed to get started on tenkara fishing. Therefore, even if you are still rather new to this, you shouldn’t have any problems enjoying this experience once you place your order.
The kit includes an ultra-premium furled Moonlit line, three soft-hackle tenkara flies, as well as an EVA foam line holder, a tippet, a rod sock, and a storage tube.
You can set this rod up in under 3 minutes, which means that you are not going to waste any time once you get to the fishing location of your choice.
Given that one of the major characteristics of tenkara fishing is its simplicity, this rod follows the same principle, thus no reel is included and no expensive gear is needed to use it.
The HELLbender tenkara fishing rod is equipped with a telescopic zoom functionality as well, that allows anglers to use it in big water, as well as in narrow streams.
It’s very easy to transport, given that it can collapse to 24” and that it weighs 3.4 oz.
The rod might require a bit of time getting used to it, so don’t be scared if you are not getting the desired results on the first try.
It’s not necessarily a cheap tenkara rod, but this depends on your budget as well.Buy from Amazon.com
2. DRAGONtail Tenkara Shadowfire 365 12′ Fly Fishing Rod
If you want to choose a really good tenkara fly rod, then this DRAGONtail model is certainly one that should catch your eye, given that it’s available at a price comparatively similar to entry-level models but that it ensures a much better performance. In terms of characteristics, this is a 12-foot rod with a 6:4 soft-action construction.
You will surely enjoy the balanced and lightweight feel which makes a fishing trip extremely enjoyable, given that the main piece of gear is not a burden. Furthermore, given the excellent craftsmanship and versatile design, you are going to be able to use it for multiple purposes and types of fish.
Overall, this is a very nice alternative for small streams and for catching fish that are under 18 inches. The good part is that you can use it for fish that are as small as 4 inches. If you are highly experienced, you can use the Shadowfire model for fish larger than 18 inches as well, but this depends on your skills.
Also, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to the unit’s durability, given that IM 10 high-quality graphite is used for its construction.
This product comes with all the necessary elements for you to start using it right away, such as three hackle flies, or the ultra-premium furled line.
You will be able to set it up in a very short amount of time, especially since it doesn’t include any reel, which means you’re going to be ready to hit the water in no time.
This is a versatile unit that can be used for small and medium fish, but that also gives experienced anglers the chance to catch larger ones as well.
This is a collapsible model so you won’t have any difficulty fitting it into your backpack as you plan your next fishing trip.
The segments might be a bit harder to telescope at first.
It might feel a bit odd using it at first, especially as you have to hold right in the middle, but the company’s informational videos can be of great help.Buy from Amazon.com
3. AnglerDream 12/13FT Tenkara Rod Kit
If you are looking for an affordable tenkara rod that also has no problem in effectively getting the job done, then this AnglerDream definitely meets the criteria. The unit features an IM8 graphite construction which makes it both lightweight and sturdy, so you won’t have a problem carrying it around, handling it, but also fighting strong fish.
The 7:3 action and 9-segment construction mean that the bottom sections are stiffer for extra strength, while the tip sections are more flexible for enhanced usability and versatility. If you decide to try it out on your own, you’ll also notice that the rod ensures precise and powerful casting capabilities, and also that it works very well for larger fish.
Tenkara fishing is all about keeping things as simple as possible, and this rod follows the same idea, so there are no unnecessary elements needed for you to enjoy a very nice time out in a stream.
Its construction is specially made to ensure more play for users, which means that it can be used for large fish. The package includes everything you need to start fishing right away, so there is nothing to be concerned about.
Thanks to the telescopic design, you won’t have any difficulties in carrying this rod around wherever you may want to fish next, as it easily fits in most bags.
This model is both a sturdy and lightweight fishing rod, which means that you won’t have a difficult time handling it, even if you are still getting used to tenkara fishing altogether.
Its construction allows the rod to easily and effectively handle medium fish, but experienced anglers won’t have a hard time using it for larger ones, such as trout, as well.
You may also be happy to know that this model features an AAA-grade 11.9’ Cork Grip which makes the rod a lot more comfortable to hold and handle.
For those who are not used to tenkara fishing, this model might feel a bit odd during the first uses.
You should handle it following the manufacturer’s instructions, as it can otherwise get damaged.Buy from Amazon.com
4. Tenkara USA Iwana Japanese Fly Fishing Rod
This model is one of those tenkara fishing rods that fit the bill if you are looking for a high-quality unit for delicate casting and fishing in small streams, so don’t hesitate to give it a try. Its excellent design and high-quality craftsmanship make the Iwana rod a very precise solution for medium action.
The ultra-lightweight construction and progressive taper, as well as the tip action, provide everything you need to catch the fish you want, even if we’re talking about hooking smaller ones. You should also know that strength and quality are not compromised in any way, and that experienced anglers can land even large fish on certain occasions.
For 12-inch trout trophies, this rod is the way to go, and besides the excellent performance, you will surely also enjoy the elegant design which enhances any user’s gear. This model sports a beautiful glossy finish that allows you to see the top-quality construction that includes high-grade carbon fiber.
Given that tenkara was developed as a simple yet effective solution, this is probably what you are looking for. The great part about this rod is that it follows the same principle, so you won’t be disappointed if you decide to give it a try.
This is one of those effective, sturdy, and lightweight medium-action tenkara rods that you will be able to successfully use in multiple situations.
The high-quality carbon fiber construction is enhanced by the glossy finish that renders this model a very elegant and stylish one.
The unit is also delivered with a convenient carrying case that ensures the rod’s protection, so you will be able to take it with you without any trouble.
The progressive tapper, as well as the ultra-light design work together to ensure enhanced flexibility and elite strength, so you have nothing to worry about when it comes to these aspects.
The manufacturer rounded some of the numbers to obtain a clean metric conversion, so the rod’s length might vary slightly from the information displayed.
This is not necessarily one of the cheap tenkara rods, but this depends on how much you want to spend on this item as well.Buy from Amazon.com
5. Seaquest Fly Fishing Rod with Storage Tube
If what you are looking for is a lightweight and compact fly rod that can help you obtain the desired trophies without costing a fortune, then this is the answer to your quest. Given that the package has an overall length of 20”, you can see why this is a highly portable alternative.
You won’t have any difficulty carrying and handling this rod when you are on the go and when you are fishing, especially given that it features a segmented construction. When stretched, the unit can reach up to approximately 12 feet in length, which is quite a difference from the 20” package it comes delivered in.
Furthermore, this particular design is what makes it suitable for fishing in varying conditions. This Seaquest model ensures a 6:4 action, while the number of segments the design features goes up to 9.
This means that it is much easier for the user to catch bigger fish, and probably more as well, using less physical effort. In terms of portability, it’s also worth mentioning that this is a rod that weighs approximately 3.04oz.
This Seaquest model is 100% made of top-rated carbon fiber, and it’s also delivered with a replacement for the top segment.
Given that it’s such an affordable yet effective alternative, it can be a great first rod for someone who is still a beginner and doesn’t want to spend a fortune on gear.
This is a 12 ft. long model that can collapse all the way down to 20”, which is a feature that speaks for itself in terms of portability, without even considering the convenient 3.04z overall weight.
You will also enjoy using the AA-grade cork handle which adds to the user’s overall comfort, for significantly reduced fatigue during long fishing trips.
The tie line on the end is glued to the first segment, which means that this attachment prevents the user from removing the first segment through the second one.
The line holder included is a bit loose-fitting, which means that it slides off the end of the rod.Buy from Amazon.com
Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
If you are looking at tenkara rod reviews, then you surely know that this type of fishing has become quite popular around the world because it’s a minimalist and traditional alternative that brought anglers a new perspective altogether. Even though it’s quite similar to fly fishing, the two sharing some techniques as well, there are a few fundamental differences.
The most important one is that there is no reel included, which means that anglers have the chance to come more closely in touch with the fish and the stream, thus making the entire experience more personal. Furthermore, they have to also pull in the line with their own hands, which is something that offers a fresh perspective compared to fly fishing.
The fact that there is much less complexity when it comes to tenkara fishing means that anglers get to focus more on presentation and casting, thus developing a particular set of skills. With this in mind, we’re going to see what characteristics are important when choosing a tenkara rod, especially if you are still new to this type of fishing and want to make quick progress.
In terms of line choice, there are two main categories related to tenkara rods, namely level lines and tapered, furled ones. The level line has the same diameter throughout its length, which makes it less delicate than its tapered counterpart. On the other hand, it offers advantages when you are casting in windy conditions, and it’s attached to the lilian using a simple knot.
The tapered, furled alternative, is tapered toward the fly, which means that more delicate and subtle techniques and casting can be employed. Furthermore, this is the most popular type of line you are going to find when using a tenkara rod.
You should also know that, just as it’s the case with fly fishing lines, tenkara lines also use weight as measurement and the categories are usually numbered. The lower this number, the more delicate and lighter the line, which means it’s harder to cast and requires subtle action. A beginner should probably choose a #4 line, while experienced anglers can go for #1.5 or #2.
There are various types of handles out of which you can choose. Some models employ high-quality cork or dense EVA foam for this element, while others go toward the traditional way of making tenkara rods and use wood for the handle. However, this is a rather unusual approach, especially when we’re talking about modern rods.
Cork handles tend to look better than other alternatives and they are also warm to the touch, which is a small but pleasant characteristic. EVA foam, on the other hand, is usually easier to make and it might also be somewhat more durable than cork.
As for wood handles, the preferred types of wood for most manufacturers are cypress and cedar, as such materials offer increased sensitivity and also follow the traditional way of making these rods.
Therefore, if you want to know what traditional tenkara fishing feels like, this is the way to go. Wood is a very good material to ensure a firm connection between the angler and the rod, but there’s a downside as well, given that it tends to wear on the hand faster.
A bit about the rod’s length & weight
Tenkara rods feature a collapsible design which means that, just as matryoshka dolls, the smaller sections go into the larger ones. That’s why these rods are also very easy to store and transport. Usually, when extended, these models can range from 10’ 6” to 14’ 11”, and it’s good to know that longer rods ensure more loading as the user casts.
Another aspect worth considering is that longer rods are more difficult to handle in tight areas, so if you usually go to a stream with trees around, then you should consider the suitable length you need to be able to handle the rod in a comfortable manner.
In terms of weight, tenkara rods are what you can safely call light as a feather. The heavy models weigh around 3 ounces, which is quite different than the standard types of rods anglers usually use.
However, it’s important to know that only extended experience will allow you to sense and fully appreciate a well-designed tenkara rod, and you can get to this point only by testing out as many as possible.