Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Tenkara for Backpackers: State of the Market Report - Part 1

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(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Tenkara for Backpackers: State of the Market Report - Part 1 on 08/13/2013 16:37:00 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Tenkara for Backpackers: State of the Market Report - Part 1

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Tenkara for Backpackers: State of the Market Report - Part 1 on 08/14/2013 07:48:11 MDT Print View

Nice rod overview.


Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Tenkara for Backpackers: State of the Market Report - Part 1 on 08/14/2013 10:40:14 MDT Print View

A great article for serious and not so serious backpack fisher(wo)men.
The weight of some of the poles justifies bringing a rod even if you aren't that much into fishing, but would enjoy it every now and then when on the trail.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Tenkara SOTMR on 08/14/2013 11:07:40 MDT Print View

Great article Chris, very helpful.

I must confess that after using my Soyokaze 27 all last summer, my Amago lost so much shine by comparison that I sold it. The light weight and quick, telepathic casting of the Soyokaze is so good. I need a big fish sub for the Amago, hopefully with some of the attributes of the Soyokaze, and am wondering if the Kozuka might be it.

[It should be said that Mr. Stewart owns, where one can buy many of the aforelisted rods. As a customer I've been quite satisfied with his service.]

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Tenkara SOTMR on 08/14/2013 11:22:29 MDT Print View

I have the Kozuka, and it is indeed capable of big fish in fast water.

The limitation is the tippet and the skill of the angler, not the rod.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Kozuka rod on 08/14/2013 11:29:24 MDT Print View

Thanks Greg. What length do you have? Can you compare the casting action to other rods you may have owned? I appreciate it.

Leonard Ingalls
(lci2000) - M

Locale: Southwest USA
Tenkara SOTMR on 08/14/2013 11:34:14 MDT Print View

Thanks Chris ... great article! Where can the Fountainhead Stone Fly 330 be had here in the USA?

Edited by lci2000 on 08/14/2013 11:34:49 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: re: Kozuka rod on 08/14/2013 12:32:39 MDT Print View

Full Disclosure: I fish the Arkansas River, which is fairly high gradient, and ranges from 30' to 100' wide, with everything from cascades to half mile long structureless pools. Significant wind is typical. I typically land fat 14" rainbows and browns, and occasional 16" and 18", as well as a lot of skinny 14s and smaller. In the warmer weather I fish 80% beadheads and 20% kebari, and in the winter Heavy beadheads and body weighted nymphs. I've been fishing tenkara about 2 years, and before that, not at all. I think it is fair to say that I know just enough to be dangerous.

For big fish in fast water my two relevant rods would be a Daiwa Kiyose 33SF and a TenkaraUSA Amago. I've fished about 300 days with the Amago, which you know well. For me it handles big fish OK, but it seems to lack sufficient stiffness throughout to provide good control. I have fished it fearlessly, and it has taken the abuse, but I often felt I wasn't really in control of the fish, even though I was able land them. The Amago is too soft to handle a couple of heavy winter nymphs. Casting turns into a slow lob a best. (So use this description as a gauge of my perspective.)

I've fished the Kiyose about 40 days and really enjoyed it. At 10'8" it was a little short for my style of fishing, but is stiff enough to handle fat rainbows in quick water. And I have to say that the shorter length returns the leverage advantage to the angler versus the 13'6" of the Amago. I just need to improve line management so I become more effective at landing a fish on a 20' rig. With a #4 Level Line it handles the wind well.

The Kozuka 39NT is stiffer all around. Casts tandem heavies (1.5 grams total) fairly well. Casts a traditional #12 kebari on a #3.5 just fine. Where the Kiyose has some suppleness the Kozuka has very little. It is stiff and it feels stiff. But there is no question about who is in control when a big fish is on. As a friend said "You could herd small animals with this!" I have hauled big fish across fast water and into an eddy with ease (on 4X tippet). When I want to steer a fish I can steer. It is night and day over the Amago. (I have about 30 days on the Kozuka.)

On the feel, fit, and finish side of things I like the Kiyose over the Kozuka. It's a personal thing, but I just like the way it feels in my hand. (Maybe it's the shorter length.) It is a struggle to get the Kozuka to collapse at the end of the day. Give Kiyose a small tap and it releases. With the Kozuka it takes several stiff blows for each section. And on a Highly personal note, I found the color scheme on the Kozuka atrocious. It is now a uniform flat black.

I have been poking around trying to find a Kiyose 39, but to no avail. I like the Kiyose well enough that I will probably give it another shot, despite the 2' difference in length.

I have heard that a number of folks prefer the Kozuka over the Kiyose. You probably can't go wrong.

Edited by greg23 on 08/16/2013 06:59:48 MDT.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
kozuka v. kiyose on 08/14/2013 16:03:28 MDT Print View

Thanks Greg, that's very helpful.

I want a rod shorter than the Amago, with at least as much backbone, and a snappier casting action. Hucking dries for big trout, as well as nymphing and streamer slinging in cooler weather. Sounds like either would do.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: kozuka v. kiyose on 08/14/2013 17:01:15 MDT Print View

Sometime in September and again in October I'll be in the woods for a couple of weeks and won't be needing them.

If you want to compare them side by side, email me - greg attt smgm dottt org

And E
(LunchANDYnner) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
i can never fish for food in the Backcountry on 08/15/2013 23:37:19 MDT Print View

Unfortunately, I happen to be the only Asian person I know/have heard of that is allergic to fish (no, not shellfish or molluscs, arthropods, bivalves, crustaceans, etc. Just fish). My throat seals up and I get terrible stomach cramps if I accidentally eat fish. I have an epipen for it.

It sucks something fierce as I'd love to sit out there and fish for fish. It always looks so damn tasty. dT.Tb

Edited by LunchANDYnner on 08/15/2013 23:38:08 MDT.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
i can never fish for food in the Backcountry on 08/16/2013 02:36:48 MDT Print View

My sister is allergic to fish and I once had a cat that was allergic to fish.
Ever try to find commercial cat food that doesn't contain fish?

Anyway, I tend throw most of the fish I catch back.

The exception was a week in Yellowstone wilderness where I ate trout for every meal and still threw back most of the fish I caught.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - M

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: Fountainhead rods on 08/16/2013 08:22:05 MDT Print View

You can buy the Stone Fly rods here:

My first (and only) Tenkara rod is the 360 Fountainhead Stone Fly. As a beginner, maybe I don't know what I'm missing, but I've never felt the need to try anything different. I've been using the same rod with the same line and fly all summer with good success. I've certainly never blamed the rod for the times I don't catch fish :)

Ronald Stokley
(COPilgrim) - M
New Tenkara Rod Available on 08/16/2013 08:47:44 MDT Print View

Elkhorn 12'0" nine piece 6/3 Tenkara rod. Med/fast action excelent quality. Replacement parts available. Introductory priced at only $99 each. Carrying case and sock included. Available from

Ronald Stokley
(COPilgrim) - M
Correction to New Tenkara Rod Available on 08/16/2013 08:52:27 MDT Print View

Make that

Jay Johnson
TUSA Iwana 11' on 08/16/2013 13:01:41 MDT Print View

Right now TenkaraUSA has a sale on their remaining Iwana 11' rods for $125 rather than buying the more expensive 12 footer and buying the handle to make it 11 ft. I also suggest going to for not just tenkara supplies, but also some great info on Tenkara in general. Both TUSA and TBUM have excellent customer service, I would recommend both any day of the week.

Trace Richardson
(tracedef) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Iwana on 08/16/2013 20:14:43 MDT Print View

A lot of the stuff on TenkaraUSA is sold out, so I found this package from Orvis for the 12 ft Iwana .... worth a look if you're looking for 12 ft Iwana ....

Update: looks like a lot of the inventory is back in stock ...

Edited by tracedef on 08/18/2013 19:00:03 MDT.

Leon Moonen
(leonmoonen) - MLife

Locale: Oslo surroundings, Norway
Any advice for buying in Tokyo? on 08/19/2013 02:41:31 MDT Print View

Thanks for this overview. The selection is (understandably) focused on the rods that are for sale in the US, which makes it a bit more difficult for me to get one as I live in Norway. Luckily, I happen to go to Tokyo in a few weeks, which may be a perfect opportunity to finally get one :-)

Could anyone offer some advise on which entry-level tenkara rod to get in Tokyo and where to look for them? (as I'm not yet sure if I really get into this, I would probably aim more at the Shimotsuke or Fountainhead price-level if I lived in the US; not sure how that level translates to Japanese/Tokyo rod prices though).

Edited by leonmoonen on 08/21/2013 05:38:36 MDT.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Any advice for buying in Tokyo? on 08/19/2013 06:19:33 MDT Print View

Regarding Tenkara in Tokyo, contact Chis, the author of the article. I know he has traveled their and met many dealers in Tokyo.

diego dean
(cfionthefly) - M
tenkara on 08/19/2013 06:58:19 MDT Print View

Not much to add, except that I just did a trip in the Sawtooths and fished for the first time using a tenkara rod. Ive not fished in years asI rarely have any luck. But I was catching trout left and right , and it added immensely to my fun factor.