I’m a fair-weather fly fisher; I only go fishing for 4 months of the year, roughly mid-June through mid-October. I like catching trout on dry flies in clear water, and those are the months in which this pursuit is most profitable. The last few autumns I’ve thought that perhaps this year I’ll fish a longer season, but it has yet to happen. Maybe if I ever buy a pair of waders I’ll be tempted.
Competition in the exploding Tenkara market has gotten ferocious. And confusing. Three years ago you picked a Tenkara USA rod and were done. Today illuminating and comparing the options will take a lot of time.
If you’re in the market, your first stop after a basic perusal of gear and how-to websites should be the Teton Tenkara blog. Tom Davis fishes all the time, has tried more rods than just about anyone, and writes about them clearly. He has produced the extremely helpful comparison table I’ve reproduced below.
I remain content with my first generation Tenkara USA Amago, and the Diawa Soyokaze I purchased last year. The Soyokaze is no longer available, but similar sub 9 foot rods are available from several places. The moderate action of both rods suits me, and having both a long and short rod covers my bases, terrain wise.
If you’re just starting out it’s not a bad idea to get one of the super-cheap rods available and try out the concept. Your lines and flies and miscellania will transfer over. On the other hand, you do get what you pay for. We’re currently seeing a rush from companies and distributors to out-cheap and out-light each other, and there are inevitable downsides. Tenkara USA rods have a deserved reputation for robustness (unless you go beyond spec and nymph them to death), and as a result they’re suddenly among the heavier choices on the market. It’s nice to be able to put your rod in an Ebira, your Ebira in your pack, and not have to worry about breaking the rod in transit. I also find the larger diameter cork grip of the Amago to be much less fatiguing and pleasant to cast all day than the tiny, bare plastic of the Soyokaze.
In either case, get a rod, get a level line, get some tippet and bushy dry flies, and go at it. If you visit clear mountain waters this is something you want to try now, least you rue it later.