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Can my el cheapo eBay tenkara rod be saved?
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d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Can my el cheapo eBay tenkara rod be saved? on 05/22/2013 22:26:48 MDT Print View

I made the mistake of buying a cheap Hong Kong Tenkara style rod on eBay for $13, having been seduced by all the positive writing about Tenkara fishing but not wanting to invest much to just try it out. It arrived today - 12 ft, 3.8 oz, but one big problem: no lillian braid at the tip, just the thin carbon tip at the end of the last section. Is there any way to obtain and attach some sort of braid to the pole tip to be able to use it at all? Or have I just learned a relatively cheap lesson about being cheap?

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Can my el cheapo eBay tenkara rod be saved? on 05/23/2013 04:04:11 MDT Print View

Well, do you have a picture?

I have built 20-30 fishing rods, albiet fly rods. Most can be repaired if broken or something, though it looses a slight bit of action where repaired.

If the rod is in good shape, a couple small pieces of a broken rod can be inserted in the core, then epoxied and wraped. On some rods, you will see the tip open. If it is about 1/32 or more, just insert a piece of broken graphite rod with epoxy. This will reinforce the tippet. For the tip, a larger braid, from the, now old, braided butt leaders(maybe 60# or 100#, can be gently opened with a sharp pencil. After pushing it over the tip, you will find it frays quite a bit. A drop of super glue will mount it. Keep the glue about 1/8" below the tip/line mount! If you get epoxy or super glue in this area, it will get brittle and could snap. The tip and braid should just freely slide to allow good casting. Then carefully, shave the frays off with a razor: push away from the rod. 4-5 wraps of good silk will complete the process of attaching it. After mounting the on the end, epoxy over it to smooth out the finish. I use 5 minute epoxy, heat will later soften it to allow removal. The super glue can be removed/softened with toluene/acetone. Often remaining super glue can be sanded mostly clean. In about 15 minutes, you should be good to go.

The graphite from the pencil will lubricate the tip/line junction. A small extra fine piece of sand paper should be used to round this piece, providing more of a socket for the braided line to flex against.

Rather than using knots, I do the same with the line.
Strip the coating off a 1/4" of the base line. (I much prefer a tapered fly line, because they are generally easier to cast.) Then coat the braided part with super glue to stiffen it slightly. Insert this into the rod lilian braid. Super glue this in too. Then carefully wrap the joint with some flourescent thread, generally contrasting with your line color. Coat with a small amount of 5 minute epoxy.

I was using a loop to loop connector, but this was a little bulkey and I could "feel" it on the rod. The braided core line/glued connection is perfect for making the transition between the rod and line smoothly, and, keeps the braid from fraying. I have caught many 12-16 pound steelhead with the identical connection, soo, it is more than strong enough for smaller tenkara fish. I tested a few of these with a 25# weight with no breakage. I used to make braided butt leaders for a few fly shops in around Beaverkill, the Salmon River in Pulaski NY, and shops near the West Canada area in NY (also thousands of trout and steelhead flies to several Orvis shops around central NY.)

Edited by jamesdmarco on 05/23/2013 06:43:11 MDT.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Re: Can my el cheapo eBay tenkara rod be saved? on 05/23/2013 05:51:40 MDT Print View

I just found some small cord with a braided mantle and pulled the core out. On the other hand I think that Tenkara Bum or Tenkara USA could probably sell you something. Also on one of those two I think there were directions for replacing the lillian.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Can my el cheapo eBay tenkara rod be saved? on 05/23/2013 08:34:33 MDT Print View

I want to make the mistake of buying a tenkara knock off for $13.

Can I ask where you found it and if there are more? My ebay search turned up nothing.

stephan q
(khumbukat) - F
el cheapo eBay tenkara rod on 05/23/2013 08:38:30 MDT Print View

search for "telescoping carbon fiber fishing pole"

That will get you started. Look for the lighter, thinner ones.


d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: el cheapo eBay tenkara rod on 05/23/2013 10:28:13 MDT Print View

@ James: there WAS no lillian braid, the last segment of the telescoping rod just tapers to a very thin end.

@ Pete: where did you find the cord you used? Do you have extra, and would you be willing to send me some?

I will also try the two Tenkara sites and inquire about getting some from them, but I'm guessing it will probably cost me as much as the pole did, at least!

Having never seen an actual Tenkara rod with my own two eyes, I'm wondering from some of the pictures if there is normally some sort of metal tip which the lillian braid is pulled over? Or is it just pulled over the carbon tip and epoxied?

I did see the instructions for replacing the braid on one of those sites last night.

@ Craig: Unless you want to go through the process I am with attaching your own lillian, I suggest you email a question to the seller of any rod you want and verify that it comes with a lillian.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: el cheapo eBay tenkara rod on 05/23/2013 12:11:13 MDT Print View

Yeah. Like I say, braised butt leaders are old hat, nowdays.
For lop to loop connectors:



For larger spools:

Greg Pehrson
(GregPehrson) - MLife

Locale: playa del caballo blanco
brand on 05/23/2013 12:50:39 MDT Print View

Was this a Como brand Tenkara knock off, sold by uxcell?
I had seen these on Amazon and was curious, but there are no reviews for any of the versions they sell...

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: leader loops on 05/23/2013 14:46:13 MDT Print View

Thanks, James. I think I glossed over the part of your post that dealt with attaching the braid, since your initial sentences seemed to me to deal with repairing broken pole tips. I have never done fly fishing, so was not aware of the braided leaders. The Cortland loops look like they might work well for this (the larger size?).

Greg, it's not the exact same rod but it looks very similar. Mine is 3.6m long.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: leader loops on 05/23/2013 17:11:11 MDT Print View

Yeah, I knew that.

Yes. Use the largest size you can find. Usually the tip will be about 1/16", sometimes a little less) to 3/32" (a 9wt steelhead/salmon rod.) Line will typically measure UP TO about 1/16" Soo, you will need to stretch it out before adding it. When you do that it frays quite easily. Make sure you scuff the rod surface clean where you intend to attach it. Any rod varnish will interfere with the glue. I would suggest mounting the braided leader butt (5' of 40-50# and 2' of 20-30#) permanently as I described. Most flyfishers will rarely change the butt section too much. At least I always started out with the same butt for 4-8wt. Add a small braided loop at the bottom to attach a furled (twisted) line, a regular tapered leader or a simple 8'-20' of limp level line. It sort of depends on what you are doing, dry, ie on the surface, surface floaters (within 6" of the water's surface,) nymphs, or sunken bottem crawlers. Don't get to fancy, mostly the white water and small pockets don't give a fish much time to strike a flie. Gink helps with drys. A small mini-shot sinker will help with bottom crawlers (stoneflies, some caddis, etc.) A smaller tippet will normally be used attached to the line, anywhere from 12"-60". As you start, the shorter the line the better, but not less than the rod length.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: leader loops on 05/23/2013 20:23:37 MDT Print View

The tip on this pole ( appears to be roughly 1/32", at least it fits between the middle of two adjacent lines on the part of my ruler that measures 32nds.

For anyone interested, this eBay rod seems to be pretty darned inflexible compared to real Tenkara rods I saw in action on YouTube. Mostly the end 1/4 or 1/3 portion is what bends when moving it back and forth with any force. I am not expecting much out of it in terms of performance; for those interested in cheap, I'm guessing something like this ( might be more usable. Probably the best thing in the long run would have been to buy a decent low-end Tenkara pole and sell it on BPL if I either ended up not liking Tenkara or wanting to upgrade, but of course I didn't think of that. At least with the info kindly provided by James, I have a chance at getting as far as taking it out and playing with it, even if it breaks if and when I actually hook a fish on it.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Re: Re: leader loops on 05/24/2013 06:04:48 MDT Print View

Note that there are a lot of videos on Tenkara fishing. In many of them, you will see the line or tippet attached with a loop-to-loop connection, but, it is done incorrectly.

To do it correctly, pass one loop through the other, then, take the end and pull it through the protruding loop. Rationally, a very simple operation. It you allow the line to fold back around, it could be cut or break much more easily.

1/32" of tip is great. I have seen 2wt rods with these dimensions. This will work fine.

Don't worry too much about the tip flex. Many rods will vary in flex. Indeed this is the definition of rod action. I prefer a "soft" action rod for Tenkara style fishing. This means the whole rod from handle to butt, flexes at about the same rate. A "tippy" rod, such as you describe, will simply apply less pressure initially, then increase rapidly as more of the lower sections become involved. While this is the halmark of cheap rods, it is not necessarily bad. A more sophisticated lamination is needed to bend evenly. The walls of the rod blank thin as the diameter of the rod increases, allowing more flexibility. Soo the rod will flex more in the butt sections than would be expected with a constant wall thickness. This is refered to as a "soft" rod, because you need to apply a little more force to the hook when a fish feels softer since the whole rod absorbs it. But, this allows better action for playing a fish. A tippy rod will allow you to strike a few miliseconds quicker and is usually more satisfying to beginners. You almost feel the hook as it sets. This is not true of a soft rod. You often need a visual indicator, watching the line, a rise, watching the fly, or a strike indicator (colored section on the leader, or, bead) to be able to detect a strike.

If you had any eyes, such as on a standard fly rod, this could be adjusted by decreasing the distance between the eyes near the tip and increasing the distance near the butt. (Being careful you still maintain control of the line.) There can be a huge difference in rod action, depending on where you apply pressure, too. The few inches your hand can travel on the rod grip can effect the action. And how you grip a rod. Often, I find my index finger extended onto the blank to "feel" a strike. But I like small flies, 20-26 are normal for summer conditions on fairly flatwater. I have nailed some of my best fish in high summer during a blue winged olive hatch (usually a size 22 hook for dryflies.) Hard to beat a 30minute fight out of a 2 pound trout with 1/2 pound #8 tippet.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Re: Re: el cheapo eBay tenkara rod on 05/24/2013 14:37:04 MDT Print View

Sorry, but it was just something I had laying around. It was nothing exotic or fancy though. It might have been a draw cord from some bag or gear item. You could probably even use the outer mantle on 1/8" shock cord, but I have not tried it.

It was larger diameter than needed and once the core was out the diameter shrink as it was stretched out.

The whole thing really wasn't a big deal to do.

Is the action of your $13 rod really anything like that of a tenkara? Most of the non tenkara rods I have seen had MUCH stiffer tips that did not lend themselves very well to casting flies.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: el cheapo eBay "tenkara" rod on 05/24/2013 15:15:37 MDT Print View

I ordered a couple different types of braided loops on Amazon, and James' instructions were very helpful (once I actually read them!) so I will give it a try.

As I wrote above, the tip seems more flexible than the rest of the rod. I doubt that it is all that similar to a Tenkara but since I'm very new to this it will probably be less noticeable to me! We shall see...

(edited to add quotes around the "tenkara" designation in title line)

Edited by dkramalc on 05/24/2013 15:24:10 MDT.

Brian Johns

Locale: NorCal
Cheap Tenkara on 06/07/2013 10:45:34 MDT Print View

I would look at fountainhead rods like the caddis. About $65 will get you a very serviceable rod comparable to a Tenkara. I have not seen your pole, but have never found the $20 fly rod sets to cast as they should. Diminishing returns is what they offer.

Jim H
(jraiderguy) - M

Locale: Puget Sound
Tenkarabum Kit? on 06/07/2013 11:20:44 MDT Print View

Apologies if this is too off-topic, but does anyone have experience with the Tenkarabum starter kits? I'm new to fishing, and just got a small telescoping spinning setup, but would like to try tenkara as well. The tenkarabum kit seems like the most affordable turn-key option.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Tenkarabum starter kit on 06/07/2013 14:01:52 MDT Print View

I can't speak to the quality of the rod, but a ~12 foot mid-action rod is a good choice for all-around use. Presuming the rod is quality, 145 bucks for a rod, level line, and tippet isn't a bad deal.

Assuming 15-20 bucks for a spool of level line and 5-10 bucks for a spool of tippet, you could certainly save money going with some of the cheaper tenkara rods out there. The Fountainhead Caddis is 50 bucks, and while not near as good as TenkaraUSA works well enough.

Charging an extra 25 bucks (170 for the complete beginner kit) just for a dozen flies is a total scam. You should be able to find flies at the local shop for a dollar each, and they'll work just as well as premium patterns.

Personally, I'd spend a bit more and go TenkaraUSA, thus saving yourself any worries about quality and customer service.

Jeffrey McConnell
+1 TenkaraUSA on 06/08/2013 16:07:32 MDT Print View

I had a Iwana 12' break on me. After sending pictures they were great about replacing it. Great customer service in my opinion.