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tenkara vs B&M fishing pole
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Andrew Zajac

Locale: South West
tenkara vs B&M fishing pole on 04/18/2013 13:53:46 MDT Print View

I know people on this forum really like tenkara style fishing and tend to use tenkara usa rods costing $150 to 200. I have come across this fiberglass rod for $9 which looks like a poor man's version of the carbon fiber poles. Does anybody have any insights into the differences between the two? Are the tenkara USA rods worth it? I would personally carry a few more ounces if it means not spending a lot of extra money.

Here is a link to the cheapo pole I was thinking of:

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: tenkara vs B&M fishing pole on 04/18/2013 14:54:41 MDT Print View

First thing is this isn't a tenkara pole. Tenkara is a japanese style of fly fishing where the western reel is removed. You still cast similar to fly fishing but don't have a retractable line. It's technologically simpler but potentially more complicated technique (like stalking fish due to limited range). This style requires a long but very flexible pole to land fish, primarily used for trout, so a fair bit of engineering/experience goes into designing tenkara poles. Hence their price (still FAR cheaper than traditional western flyfishing setups).

What you posted is a cane pole, used for dapping. Think Huck Finn style of fishing. You tie a string to a stick and drop it into the water. Works well for dumb fish like blue gill, not so well for wary trout. You might as well find a big stick in the woods and just tie some fishing line onto the end, it'll be lighter/cheaper than carrying a full blown 13' fiberglass pole (which by the way only breaks down into 3.25 foot sections).

It is cheap and will let you fish for some species, but no substitute for a tenkara pole unfortunately.

Peter Griffith
(petergriffith) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Re: tenkara vs B&M fishing pole on 04/18/2013 15:31:21 MDT Print View

If you're looking for a tenkara rod that's supposed to be just as good but less expensive, check out the Fountainhead Stone Fly 360. At 12' it's $80. There have been a few good reviews on BPL, do a search.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Fountainhead on 04/18/2013 16:04:00 MDT Print View

The B&M pole you linked is next to impossible to fly cast with. I bought one to play with and decided it was nearly worthless as a tenkara substitute.

I like my Fountainhead Caddisfly 330 and it was fairly inexpensive, at least compared to the high end stuff.

Edited by staehpj1 on 04/18/2013 16:05:35 MDT.

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Tenkara Shmenkara on 04/18/2013 16:37:54 MDT Print View

The only way to know if that rod will flip a flyline good enough for your purposes is to try it. Tenkara is not magic. I have casted fly lines with spinning rods, old fiberglass bait rods, and yes, sticks. The key is to find an instrument which will load sufficiently with only the very subtle weight of a fly line, which is trickier than it sounds, especially with any wind. Sometimes, adding 2-3 split shot along the line for added weight will help with this and will get your fly deeper as well. If you are after the classic, upstream, dry fly experience, then your "rod" will have to be quite supple. I have used one of the long 10-14' fiberglass bait fishing rods that you see many asians use on lakes. These have a tip which is quite supple, but only the top 20% of the rod or so, the rest of the rod is a bit on the stiff side. If this rod is anything like those, it might just work with a flyline about the same length as the rod (length of rod x 2 = casting distance). However if you want to cast a line 1.5-2 times the lenght of the rod as is often done with Tenkara rods, then your "rod" will need to be even more precise, not to mention your technique. Often, I find that any 8' rod, with an across-and-downstream presentation in broken water (wet fly style) will produce pan-size trout. My daughters have done this into the wee hours of the evening and had a blast. Whether or not some people would call this "Tenkara", I dont know or care. But if it helps folks in any way, there was no reel involved and the line had to be repeatedly "casted" behind us and forward into the current.

I'm no expert, by the way. I've just tried a few things and found some that worked. In my experience, any experimentation you do along the way will result in temporary decrease in fish landed and a proportionate increase in skills/experience gained.

Personally, I had already chosen a very supple 9' fiberglass spinning rod circa 1970 as my "tenkara" rod when my wife, unbeknownst to me, bought me an actual Tenkara USA rod for Christmas. :) And I love it! I already caught a very memorable fish on the Upper Owens this past summer with it. Could I have caught the same fish with the same method if I had used the spinning rod? Yes. this fish was caught about 5 feet in front of me in a deep hole.

I'm not trying to start an argument about the definition of "Tenkara". I dont care about that really. Just making sure you get both sides of the coin. Here is a quote from some Tenkara badass at a big flyfishing hooha back in '09...

"Originally the rod was simply a bamboo/cane rod, which was cut and treated, but unlike contemporary western bamboo rods, they were not "manufactured" (i.e. split and glued back together). Unlike in the western fly-fishing tradition where anglers used heavy wooden rods, in Japan anglers always used bamboo, which is readily available and very light. Because of its light weight, Japanese anglers were able to use very long bamboo rods and reach as far as needed without the need to develop reels for the short rods developed in the west"

Andrew Zajac

Locale: South West
Thanks! on 04/18/2013 17:56:59 MDT Print View

The responses have been much appreciated! I have literally no experience fly fishing. Catfish are currently my favorite quarry and are seemingly on the opposite end of the spectrum. I also don't really care to define tenkara or adhere strictly to any definitions, I was just looking for a compact and lightweight system to carry around and get into other types of fishing. I will definitely not get the b&m, I already have a 10ft crappie rod that seems like it should do the same thing. Thanks for the links to fountainhead rods, I'll look into those.

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
tenkara on 04/18/2013 20:49:50 MDT Print View

I have yet to catch anything with my Tenkara setup. It still feels really cool to use it, so simple and light, though the 15 ft line length feels really short to me (also a non-fly-fisher myself) as it tends to curl back under its own tension to be right under the rod within a couple seconds of landing (alpine lake fishing).

My main issue is that I've been unable to find any advice for non-flyfishers just getting into Tenkara. No idea what my presentations should look like for different situations or how far I should be casting or what flies to use. Even tried cheating with some trout Powerbait. No luck in known productive rainbow trout lakes.

I use the old TiGoat CF extension that hooks into their trekking pole upper. Such a cool idea and it weighs practically nothing. But the tip is so fine and delicate, that leads me to another worry: how much bending can these rods take under weight and run of a fish on? Is there a special technique for fish retrieval that involves less rod bending?

Don't mean to derail this thread... but I thought presenting these questions might interest you as well if you're just getting into it. And a definite recommendation for the TiGoat extension, not sure if they still make it but it was *cheap*! ($80 or so)

Edited by dasbin on 04/18/2013 20:52:53 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: tenkara on 04/18/2013 20:54:01 MDT Print View

Tenkaras are best for fishing small streams.
Rod and reel set ups are better for lakes.

Andrew Zajac

Locale: South West
derail away on 04/18/2013 21:07:03 MDT Print View

I got the advice that I came for and would always appreciate input on how to fish using the tenkara rod once I get one.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Tenkara on Lakes... on 04/18/2013 21:35:34 MDT Print View

If you know how....

Tenkara on Lakes

... it can be done.

Edited by greg23 on 04/18/2013 21:39:16 MDT.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Curtis Creek Manifesto on 04/18/2013 21:53:21 MDT Print View

Get the little book listed in the title above. While it is on "normal" fly fishing, 95% is directly applicable to Tenkara. It is one of the best books on trout fishing ever written, errr, drawn....whatever!

David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Tenkara on 04/18/2013 22:23:48 MDT Print View

I have found this book to be helpful for leaning the basics of fly fishing like how to read a steam, presentation, fish behavior, etc. Some of the chapters on mending line and traditional equipment are not as helpful for Tenkara. I usually pick up and re-read this book right about this time of year to get ready for trout season.

The significant difference I have noticed between the Tenkara USA and Fountainhead rods in the finishing. I found rods from each brand to cast well (although handle differently). The materials and detailing on the Tenkara USA rods are exceptional. Although I have not has issues with a rod, it seems like Tenkara USA's customer service may also stand out.

Brad, What kind of water are you fishing and where may I ask? Are you fishing water that you know holds fish?

Edited by Davidpcvsamoa on 04/18/2013 22:24:22 MDT.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Tenkara on 04/19/2013 07:33:15 MDT Print View

Some of the older vids on TenkaraUSAs Youtube channel are a good visual demonstration of casting and fish landing techniques. Reading a few intro fly fishing books is a good idea, as is a fly fishing guidebook to your area (if available) so you'll be fishing in areas which have fish.

The Fountainhead rods, and some of the cheaper ones TenkaraBum sells, are perfectly adequate. The TenkaraUSA rods are high quality, very durable, and have better handling characteristics.