Choosing a tenkara rod
The number one question we are asked by new tenkara anglers is which tenkara rod to buy?
Since all Tenkara USA rods will work for most trout fishing and smaller fish scenarios it’s hard to pin each one down to a specific use or to match your exact preference.
Each tenkara rod in our lineup was developed to fill a specific niche or preference, and have somewhat little overlap among them.
How to Choose a Tenkara Rod
Decision tree chart by Tenkara USA. Learn which tenkara rod is best suited to your needs
(Choosing a Tenkara Rod downloadable PDF)
Three Easy Choices
If you wish we offered fewer options, you can easily narrow the choices down to 3 “all-arounder” rods: the Hane (our adventure rod, ideal if you're looking for something that is super compact), the 12ft Iwana (great value all-arounder), and the Sato (our premium all-around rod)
These rods are very easy for us to recommend, with the other rods in the lineup being considered more “specialty” tenkara rods.
If in doubt: just get the 12ft Iwana, or the triple-adjustable Sato (10ft8in to 12ft9in), primarily based on your budget.
Bigger Fish – two more choices
We have developed two rods with more backbone if you’re frequently catching fish that are 17″ (43cm): the adjustable Ito (13' /14'7"), and the 13ft 6in Amago have more backbone and make landing the larger fish a bit easier. The Ito is the premium version, and Daniel's unabashedly favorite rod.
Smaller Streams – one more choice
The Rhodo! Named after the Rhododendron that surrounds small streams, the Rhodo is an adjustable tenkara rod that can be fished at 8 feet 10 inches, 9 feet 9 inches, or 10 feet 6 inches. It is a delightful rod, that feels incredibly light on the hand at only about 2oz overall. This is the rod we recommend if you're primarily targeting small streams.
Some further thoughts on what how we make our recommendations
Length, start here
The first question you should ask yourself is which length is right for the majority of fishing you plan to do. Generally speaking, we always recommend using the longest rod you can get away with. This will give you more reach, help you keep more line off of the water and give you more control over your fly (one of the main benefits of tenkara).
A 12ft (360cm) tenkara rod is a very standard length for tenkara. But, if you live near pretty small streams with low, overhanging branches, then a shorter tenkara rod (say in the 11ft / 330cm range ) might let you cast and maneuver more easily under the canopy.
In either case, you should decide on your tenkara rod choice based on the waters you’ll fish the most. AND, keep in mind a longer rod will have the added versatility of giving you reach in more open sections of a stream, while having the ability to be “fished shorter” by holding the rod above the handle and potentially even collapsing one segment. Further, pairing a long rod with a short line is a very effective combination in smaller streams.
Fish Size, last consideration
All tenkara rods are made for the average trout and other smaller species of fish: 8″ – 18″ (20 – 45cm).
All tenkara rods will handle the occasional 20+ incher (50cm +). So, if your targeted fish size is within those ranges, fish size should have little bearing on the rod choice: ANY ROD WILL WORK FINE.
If you’re constantly catching fish that are over 17 inches (43cm), then look at the Ito and Amago more seriously.
With each rod being so versatile, it is hard to make the “wrong” choice, and we guarantee you will enjoy whichever tenkara rod you purchase.
Tenkara Rod Trade-in Program
If you have purchased a non-Tenkara USA rod but are interested in upgrading, please take a look at our tenkara rod trade-in program.
We offer a 30% discount on any tenkara rod toward the purchase of one of our rods.
For more information on choosing a tenkara rod here are some articles on how to buy a tenkara rod for a specific location:
- Choosing a tenkara rod for the Sierra Nevada
- Best tenkara rod for Sawtooth mountain range
- Tenkara rods for Colorado, Front Range and Boulder