Last updated on August 18th, 2023.
Fishing has been a century old tradition widespread across many countries including America, China and mainly, Japan.
One of the particular styles that developed early on is Tenkara. This Japanese technique – which literally means “fishing from heaven”, “sky fishing” or “empty sky fishing” can be seen as a very basic form of fly fishing. Compared to traditional fly fishing, Tenkara does not use a reel. The Tenkara set up simply consists of a rod, a line and a tippet to which you attach your fly – that’s it, simple as that.
As fascinating as it sounds, Tenkara is quite an easy yet a rare method to catch fish. In addition to that, it was also rare amongst local Japanese anglers and was rather unknown. However, around the beginning of the new millenium, this technique experienced a resurgence. Anglers in the US came across this style of fishing and it quickly gained some popularity which resulted in the foundation of brands like Tenkara USA, founded by Daniel Galhardo. Due to this particular company, the scope of tenkara fishing has accelerated not only in Japan but also, worldwide, as people indulge in this activity immensely.
Fishing is one of the few outdoor activities that is always one’s escape and therapeutic pleasure as it not only soothes your senses and mind but also enables you to feel the triumph of winning and achieving your goal. What more can one ask for? This activity calls for equally reliable and well-built rods.
Fear not, the market has a lot in store for you! Tenkara rods are not for ordinary business to catch small freshwater fish. These rods are destined to present big dry flies and cast over long distances.
Best Tenkara Rods Quick Overview
Overview of the best Tenkara Rods for Sale
Choosing a rod may seem like a piece of cake. It is only if you consider your needs. It enables an angler to use a rod, a line, and a fly. For fly fishing, it is best to keep the work clean with minimum embellishments of extra gadgets. And that exactly is the best part about tenkara rods as it offers simplicity with profound power and majesty.
Moreover, it is a technique that even beginners can gain pleasure from as they can practice and gain mastership in the basics of the craft. This is the reason why people are easily swayed towards tenkara fishing as it is back in style and is the new roar of the modern century due to its effortless skills. It sure does sound ethereal as you dip your feet into the water whilst taking your first glorious plunge with your Tenkara rod.
We dug into the best tenkara rods for sale in 2023. Here follows a detailed review of the top ten and leading Tenkara rods.
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The Tenkara USA Fly Fishing HANE™ is one of the best choices you can make when picking a Tenkara rod that you intend to use for years to come. Despite having a tough and sturdy exterior, it is very light and perfect for backpacking. Other than being very easy to use, it comes in a little tube and a sock for extra protection.
Even better, the Tenkara USA Fly Fishing HANE™ comes with a lifetime warranty which is a bonus point on Tenkara. It is apt for all kinds of weather conditions such as the wind. This Plain Jane of a product has its buyers going back to it every time as it offers more than its simplicity. The rod is apt for small streams with brookies or pan fish but can surely handle mightier fish.
Material: Carbon Fiber
Dimensions (LxWxH): 6 x 38 x 6 inches
Popular amongst kids
The Aventik Pro IM12 Nano 6:4 comes forth with a rod, an extremely heavy weight leader, small brackets for storing the line and a reasonable number of flies. Despite having an additional expense of a lengthy tippet material to connect the fly, it is extremely pocket friendly.
For fishing addicts, the Aventik Pro IM12 Nano 6:4 is a must have on your collection as it is ideal to catch small panfish and trout. The quality is superb as it is very compact and can be easily carried. The action is very smooth and has great balance. For an avid fisherman, this is the perfect gift and companion to carry with you on trips. Even more, its perfection is not only confined to its action and control. It also is very aesthetically pleasing and accentuates the beauty of the rod generally.
Resistant to all water conditions
Easily packed into a backpack or sling bag for bike trip or air flight.
Apt for smaller sized streams
The DRAGONtail MIZUCHI zx340 Zoom is one of the leading rods that not only makes an excellent choice but also an affordable one too. The rod is quite well designed and can be set at three different lengths.
Alongside that, the DRAGONtail MIZUCHI zx340 Zoom comes with a protective sock and case. This adds more to its excellence as it is best for stream fishing. Other than easily adjustable length, it is very light weight yet built well and most customers are satisfied with this top-notch Tenkara rod.
Kid Friendly Rod
Has 3 different lengths
Includes a rod, Hard Case & Sock, 10ft Furled Line, 1 Line Holder, 3 Flies, and Tippet.
The Tenkara Rod Co. The Sierra Package is potentially the top leading product as it is beginner friendly. Most people have had a good experience with this product. It is perfectly apt for catching trout. Other than that, its simplicity is coupled with its excellence. It comes equipped with everything you need to catch your first fish: a rod, a line, tippet spools and flies.
The Tenkara Rod Co. The Sierra Package’s short length adds to the many benefits as being handy and swift in fishing. Furthermore, this particular rod is perfect for local creeks and streams.
Material: Carbon Fibre, Cork, Aluminium
Dimensions (LxWxH): 25 x 6 x 2 inches
Great for everyday use and hiking
Perfect for beginners
The ANGLER DREAM 12/13FT Tenkara Rod Kit is popular amongst intermediates and beginners. It is very lightweight and extremely compact with it’s 21.5 inches that make it highly packable. It is a pleasant surprise for tenkara fishermen to discover how it can capture and handle aggressive species of fish gracefully.
The grade AAA cork handle of the ANGLER DREAM 12/13FT Tenkara Rod Kit is ergonomic and provides comfort for long days on the water. This set is made to catch bigger trout as the rod has the backbone to handle these fish.
Comes with Furl Leader of 12 ft, a fluorocarbon tippet, 12 flies and 2 hook keepers
Material: Carbon Fibre
Rod Length: 21.5 inches
Perfect for streams and rivers
The TINY TENKARA CO.’s Tiny Ten 5 Foot is perfect for tight areas and creeks as it is quite swift and of course, light weight. Needless to say, it adds a minimalistic approach to fly fishing.
With the TINY TENKARA CO.’s Tiny Ten 5 Foot you can either use bow-and-arrow casting or a shorter fly cast can be had with this rod with excellent precision of fly placement. The TINY TENKARA CO.’s Tiny Ten 5 Foot is perfect for catching trout and small grayling for example. The biggest asset of this rod surely is it’s very compact size that means you don’t have any excuses to bring a rod on any trip.
Material: Carbon Fiber
Articulated design for fly fishing small mountain creeks, alpine streams, and overgrown brooks.
A spinning tip which helps keep your line tangle free
Traditional cork handle which ages beautifully over time.
REYR Gear, one of the leading companies presents its Tiny Cast with built-in line keepers. It is perfect for backpacking trips. Its precision and accuracy are parallel to its swift equipment. Even if you are a beginner, this unique telescopic rod has got your back as it effortlessly works in breezes. Fully extended, the rod fishes at 10ft but packs down to only 14.25″ making it a great choice for backpacking.
The REYR Gear- Tiny Cast Tenkara Fly Rod has a comfortable long lasting swivel tip. It has a lot of power despite it being very light weight and can be easily carried as it weighs only 2.8 Oz (3.3 Oz with case and spare tip). Hence, this is your go-to bad boy that can be carried easily everywhere and fits almost all sizes of backpacks. So what are you waiting for? Get your hands on this tenkara fly rod as it magnificently unfolds to present its magic and stealth.
Material: Stainless Steel, Neoprene
Comes with Fishing Line and Fishing Rod
Ideal for tight fishing areas such as small streams and ponds
Another leading rod in the market is the Seaquest Tenkara Rod Kit. It contains a great grip on the hook. Not only that, but it is also quite pocket friendly and lives up to its expectations with a nice medium soft action that makes it a good choice for intermediates and beginners as it comes with spare tips in case you break something.
The Seaquest Tenkara Rod Kit is workable in both small lakes and streams. Depending on where you fish you can choose between different lengths. The longer setup includes a 13’5″ rod which gives you a bit extra range when you need it on streams to reach a certain spot.Its performance speaks for itself as it is one of the leading products and customers have always returned satisfied with its performance, referring or gifting to their peers.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 20.87 x 1.5 x 1.3 inches
Good for starters
Perfect to catch big species of fish
Could work for daily use
The Tenkara Rod Co. Sawtooth Fly Rod has been the leading tenkara rod for a long time as it satisfies all the needs of the customers. It’s well defined and is capable of catching trout in the 6-18″ range. Good thing is, this rod has enough stamina should you hook into a bigger fish. With it’s delicate action such a fish will feel like a real biggy.
The Tenkara Rod Co. Sawtooth Fly Rod extends to 12ft which makes it a great all-round choice if you are looking for a solid tenkara rod. Collapsed it measures 21″ which is solid but does not make it one of the smallest. So if you are looking for ultimate packability take a look at the REYR Gear – Tiny Cast Tenkara Rod or the TINY TENKARA CO.’s Tiny Ten 5 Foot.
Material: Carbon Fibre, Cork, Aluminium
Great for hiking, backpacking, and everyday use.
The Nirvana 400 Tenkara Fishing Rod is an all-rounder for medium sized streams. The performance is as immaculate as the top-notch expensive rods in the market. Time to save your money as this 13ft rod casts like an ethereal being and is suitable to dry and traditional flies.
Due to these outstanding attributes, the Nirvana 400 Tenkara Fishing Rod is always on a tenkara’s expert’s list of recommendations as it excels not only in its fine structure and aesthetics but also its performance. Comes in various options: with a furled line, a level line and with a rod only.
Great for small open casting streams or rivers
Kits include everything you need to catch your first fish
Material: Carbon Fibre
Conclusion on the Best Tenkara Rod
All in all, here is a detailed buyer’s guide to the best, mind blowing Tenkara rods of 2023. Investing in these will surely not be a hassle as they are emblems of excellence and majesty in both quality, quantity, and price as well. In fact, an investment on these rods will never be wasted as it propels them to catch the mightiest fish from afar places.
Even these aggressive species are helpless with the sharp hooks of the afore-mentioned rods. Moreover, you must consider your needs and place as well whilst buying a tenkara rod. Not to waste a bit of time as you must hurry your way and order your very own tenkara rod, a companion for years.
For this review, Leonard Schoenberger and his team went Tenkara fishing with master tenkara fisherman Mauro Mezzo, author of Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara and Rod and Reel. We spend countless days on the water testing new gear for you so you can make a solid purchase decision. We always tell our honest opinions on products and don’t hold back with criticism. We can do that since we never get paid for reviews and are proud of our editorial independence – thanks for being a reader of The Wading List.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Tenkara rods break over time?
The rods are too powerful for the mightiest fish to break it. However, tenkara rods can break by the fishermen themselves if they do not take good care of it. To the contrary, carbon Tenkara rods are surprisingly very strong and steadfast when it comes to catching and landing fish.
I have read that Tenkara is only for small fish, is that true?
Absolutely not. Tenkara, as mighty and ancient this practice was in Japan, is inclusive of all types of fish, be it as big as an elephant or as tiny as a mouse.