Sunday, January 9, 2011

Shortening a Tenkara Rod

Several people have asked me about the possibility of making a shorter model of a Tenkara Rod available. Bad news, at this point, I'm not sure there would be sufficient demand to cover the cost of development and a production run. Good news, it is a simple and straight forward process to make a very fishable shorter rod out of an existing Tenkara rod.

I've been thinking about this for a bit. It would be very easy to modify an existing rod into a shorter version that would fish. Just remove the existing handled section, add a cork handle to the next (or next to next) section up, and you are there. What I've been thinking about, how does one store the rod when not fishing?

The handled section of a tenkara rod is usually a bit longer than the other sections to allow the entire rod to be collapsed into the handle section, with room for retaining cap. So would it be possible to easily extend the newly handled section to allow more space for rod storage? It hit me like a ton of bricks, all that is needed to to cut a length off the top section of the original handle. That would be installed at the butt end of the new handle section, and covered when a the new cork handle was installed.

The only thing that would take a bit of research, finding a plastic cap that would securely fit on the butt end of the cork handle that was added to seal the butt end of the rod. It should be secure, but removable in case the rod needed to be disassembled. The other bit of handy work required would be to make a replacement cap to fit the tip of the new handle section. That's easily done using a piece of foam.

If there is any interest, I may make up a model and take some pictures.


  1. You've got my interest. I took mine apart to dry after it's maiden voyage where I let it get into the stream a bit. When putting it back together, I just assembled the top three sections, and BOOM - I had a 4.5 ft ( or something like that) mini-tenkara rod. I sat there trying to figure out the butt-cap thing and how it would all fold up and gave up on it. I can easily see that appealing to alot of small stream anglers near me, who fish brook trout streams you can spit across and can't stand up in.

  2. I was fishing a pool on the St. Vrain River in RMNP and couldn't use the full length of my Iwana 12ft due to trees around and above me (yes...). So I just collapsed the next bottom segment into the handle segment and held on to the rod at the joint of the two instead the cord handle. If I could come up with something, i.e a rubber thingy that I could jam the joint easily, that would also solve the butt cap issue. Whaddaya think?

  3. Daniel talks about shortening the rod to fish on the TenkaraUSA website (check the video about small streams.) The bummer is he says to extend the rod when after you've hooked the fish to fight him. That's a deal breaker in some of the choked creeks I fish. I'm still working on a technique.

  4. I'm not sure how pleasant it would be to fish a semi collapsed rod all day. There would be alot of jiggling around going on inside, and it seems like you'd have to be careful not to have it spring out to full extension while casting.

    There is a rod available in Japan that is specifically designed to fished at two separate lengths. (Shimano Mainstream) I've never handled one, so I'm not sure how the interlock method is designed.

    What I had in mind was to make a permanent change. The bad thing being there would be no going back. But if you were sure it was going to meet your needs, it would be an easy and cheap process to do the modification.

    I'd maybe slip fit on a cork handle and take the proposed shortened rod out for a test spin to be sure it's what you wanted. Just remove the old handle and slip the cork handle on the next section up.

    If it feels good, a quick cut off from the old handle to extend the new one, a bit of epoxy, and you'd be set to go.

  5. re: Goneflyfishing's suggestion, maybe a rubber band or the rolled top section of a balloon. I guess the question being, would it provide enough resistance to make sure it didn't slide out while fishing, but not too much that you couldn't undo it at day's end.