We’re big advocates of Tenkara-style fishing here in the Black Hills. It’s simple, easy, and incredibly effective. If you’re in the market for your first Tenkara rod, or looking for an additional one to add to your arsenal, here’s a short breakdown of the different Tenkara USA rods and what they each do best!
Iwana 12′ – In my opinion, this is the best Tenkara rod to start with, especially if you’re fishing fairly small streams where a 12 inch fish is a trophy. The Iwana is super lightweight and accurate, and is an easy rod to fish all day long. This rod makes smaller fish tons of fun, but can also land surprisingly large fish. Overall, the Iwana is a great first Tenkara rod that you won’t grow out of in time.
Sato 10’8″ – 11’10” – 12’9″ – The Sato is an Iwana on steroids. It’s essentially three rods in one – the triple zoom feature allows it to be fished at any of three lengths. If you’re in tight, brushy areas, you can leave the top locking sections collapsed. In more open areas, you can fully extend it and reach out further. The versatility of this rod is a nice feature, and it allows you to fish most situations with a single rod, just varying the length depending on the situation and area. In my opinion, this is the most versatile “do everything” rod you can get.
Rhodo 8’10” – 9’9″ – 10’6″ – If you like fishing super small streams for native fish, this is the rod for you. It can get into the tightest of situations, and a 10″ brookie feels like a steelhead. It features the same triple zoom as the longer Sato as well. If small streams are your gig, this is your rod.
Yamame 12′ – This is Tenkara USA’s big fish offering. While you can still land larger fish on the other rods they offer, the Yamame is built with significantly more backbone than the others. If you’re throwing larger flies, heavier tippet, and targeting larger fish, this is the rod you want to have along.
Amago 13’6″ – The Amago is the longest non-zoom rod offered, and it’s a great stick for fishing big rivers. We’ve had great success fishing on the Bighorn River in Montana fishing this rod. It has the backbone necessary for wrangling larger fish, but is still soft enough that it makes average size fish fun.
Ito 13′ – 14’7″ – The Ito is the longest rod in the lineup, and the most versatile. If you’re fishing more open streams where brush and trees aren’t much of an issue, this is a great choice. It can be fished at either 13′ or 14’7″, which allows you an incredible amount of reach. Very long, but still very light, the Ito is a great choice for anglers looking for the most versatility for larger streams.
Hopefully this cleared up any confusion about the differences in Tenkara rods, and helps you pick which one to start with or to add to your arsenal!