Which Tenkara Rod Should You Get?

Choosing which tenkara rod to get

I’m new to tenkara. What rod should I get?

I get asked this question multiple times a week, but most of the time the asker doesn’t give me enough information to be able to give a good answer (e.g., the exact size of stream, the amount of cover on the stream, the exact budget, the fish they’ll be going for, etc.). People often say they want to fish “small streams,” but that is not helpful information. Essentially all tenkara rods are made to fish small streams, and everyone’s definition of a small stream is different. Small streams can be 3 feet across or 30, depending on what you’re used to fishing.

It’s also getting to the point where the sheer quantity of people asking is more than I have time to answer individually. So if you’re new to tenkara and ask me what tenkara rod to get, I’m going to send you to this page.

Here’s my advice:

  1. Watch my videos and look for streams that are about the size of what you want to fish. Check the video description to see what rod I’m using. That’s about the size of rod you’ll likely want to get. Check multiple videos to see multiple rods in that size class.
  2. Check the Tenkara Rods I Own page to see what rods I use and how I like them. I try to not recommend rods I haven’t fished with. I haven’t fished with every rod out there, and there are entire brands that I won’t recommend simply because I haven’t used their rods. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re bad rods.
  3. Dragontail Tenkara makes good rods at good prices. I’m not affiliated with them, but they make a good starting point for looking at rods unless you have a particular reason to go with another company. If you want a Japanese-made rod (in general, these are more expensive and are a bit harder to get spare parts for but are lighter in the hand and just feel nicer to fish with), go browse Tenkara Bum and email Chris there if you have questions about which rod to buy. If you’re set on a rod from a particular company, email the company directly about which of their rods to get. They will know their rods better than I do.
  4. Remember that your rod purchase is not final. If you don’t like a rod, you can always sell it to someone, recoup much of the cost back, and put that toward a new rod. This is especially true for the main tenkara rod companies out there (Dragontail Tenkara, Tenkara USA, Tenkara Rod Co., any Japanese rod, etc.).
  5. You’re not going to find a great tenkara rod under $100, with the Shadowfire 365 being an exception. Any rod under that price will be fishable, but it won’t feel very good compared to the higher priced rods out there. Yes, there is a difference. If you can, save a bit more and go for a rod at least in the $100–$150 range. These also have better resale value than a generic, Chinese-made $50 rod from Amazon or AliExpress.
  6. You probably aren’t going to need any rod under 8 feet for your first tenkara rod.
  7. I’m just one person, and my opinion doesn’t count for much. There are lots of people out there with much more tenkara experience than me. You should get input from multiple people, so I recommend asking on one of the tenkara Facebook groups: Tenkara Anglers, American-Tenkara Anglers, Appalachian Tenkara Anglers.
  8. Regardless of who you’re asking, be as specific as possible about what your wants/needs are.

Have fun fishing!

Note: I’m no longer sticking to a 1st of the month posting schedule here on the blog. I’ll simply post when I have something to post. 

2 thoughts on “Which Tenkara Rod Should You Get?”

  1. Good information. I give the same advice to people asking what’s a good beginner’s mountain bike. I like to give them choices on what’s the “best bang for the buck”. Do you have a sweet spot, price point where your getting a quality rod but if you spend anymore it’s just minimal improvements.

  2. I just recently got into tenkara fishing…like last weekend. It was incredibly fun for my dad, brother in-law, and myself. I want to thank you for your videos they were very helpful and just enjoyable to watch. Looking forward to our next fishing trip.

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