There are some products that arrive on the market and shake up what you believe to be the best. Earlier this year Tenkara USA released two new rods to their Tenkara product line. And these are just not Tenkara rods, these are truly game changers for Tenkara the world over in my opinion. The rods I am speaking of are the Rhodo and Sato, two rods that will forever be THE rods. Below are my reviews of both rods in no particular order.
|Tenkara USA Rhodo|
Photo Courtesy of Tenkara USA
Let me start by giving you my review of the Tenkara USA Rhodo. The Rhodo is one of those rods that makes you question what you thought was the ultimate in the past. The Rhodo is a zoom rod meaning it extends from 8 feet 10 inches (270 cm) to 9 feet 9 inches (297 cm) and topping out at 10 feet 6 inches (320 cm). The Rhodo weighs in at a miniscule 2.1 oz (59.5 g). At first I was a bit skeptical of a rod that performed at three different lengths but my mind was quickly changed when I started casting the rod. The responsiveness of the rod at the eight foot ten inch length was crisp and extremely precise with little to no backlash. I knew from the first cast that this was going to be one of the rods that would always be in my quiver when I went fishing no matter the size of the water that I would be fishing.
Having experienced the rod at its shortest length I made the decision to extend to the middle length of nine feet nine inches and fell in love with the feel of the rod again if not more than at the eight foot ten inch length. The gentle presentation of the kebari tied to the end of the line was by far the most gorgeous thing I have seen in a long time in Tenkara. The crisp feel of the rod at this length was astounding to me even with such a gentle presentation. I had some assistance from my wife who performed the role of hooked fish, admirably I must say. The backbone that is built into the rod was a true pleasure to feel at the nine foot nine inch length and only got proved to me how special a rod that the Rhodo is.
With the excitement of a rod like the Rhodo extended to its mid-length I ran the Rhodo out to the ten foot six inch length and started to salivate after casting the rod at the maximum length. I was wholly impressed with the thought that went into the design of the Rhodo that gave all the same performance characteristics at even the max length. The casting motion didn't change at all nor did the presentation of the kebari. As an additional benefit, I found that the backbone was almost the same from the shortest length to the longest length.
Now one question that you might ask and it is a good thing to consider when purchasing a Tenkara rod is the line length I used during this test. I used two different lines during my initial review process. One of the lines was the Tenkara USA ten foot six inch third generation furled line as well as a ten foot six inch length of Tenkara USA #3.5 level line. Both lines had a four foot section of tippet tied into the end with a size twelve Ishigaki Kebari attached to the end.
|Tenkara USA Sato|
Photo Courtesy of Tenkara USA
The Tenkara USA Sato rod is the second new model in the Tenkara USA product line and again a game changer for the practice of Tenkara as well as for the Tenkara angler. I have to say that the Sato will be my go to rod from now on, and I never thought I would say that a different rod would eclipse my love for my Tenkara USA Ito. As I type this I am awaiting a bolt of lightning to strike me for letting my Ito gather dust on the rack because of the Sato.
The Sato is also a zoom rod like the Rhodo with the biggest difference being that the Sato starts at its shortest length of 10 feet 8 inches (330 cm), with a mid-length of 11 feet 10 inches (360 cm) and maxing out at 12 feet 9 inches (390 cm). The rod weighs in at a whopping 2.6 oz (73.7 g) which in my humble opinion is insane for a rod that extends to almost 13 feet in length at its maximum.
Holding the Sato in your hand is one of the most amazing experiences that any angler can have. The rod is responsive to even the most gentle adjustment yet has the power to throw a Tenkara line whether furled or level accurately and with the grace of an eagle in flight. Watching as the kebari tied to the end of the line drift gently onto the water as if it were an angel or a feather off of an eagle was a complete pleasure to feel and watch.
The backbone that has been built into the Sato is amazing as it has the strength to hold even the hardest fighting fish out there. I was greatly impressed when my wife performed as a hooked piscatorial quarry and flexed the rod under weight and the rod performed more than admirably. My wife, who by the way does not fish, said she felt as though she was being lifted from the ground by the rod tip. Hearing that from someone who has held a Tenkara rod but never fished one was a testament to the time Daniel Galhardo and his team of beta-testers put into this rod.
The crispness of the forward and back casts that were used during the initial testing I did were eye opening and mind boggling at the same time. At the shortest rod length of 10 feet 8 inches, the rod was extremely comfortable to cast and appeared to be well balanced with all the action that I would expect from a Tenkara rod of this length. I was amazed and still am by how gently the fly is presented to a fish by this rod at its minimum length.
Going to the mid length of the Sato, running at an impressive 11 feet 10 inches I was quickly enamored by the silkiness of the forward and back casts again. The sensations that traveled down the length of the rod into the cork grip on the rod was one of the more pleasurable experiences I have had as a Tenkara angler. Many times you will see fly anglers looking behind them on their back cast to watch the line load the rod tip in preparation for their forward cast. Not so with the Sato, it almost felt as though the rod was whispering directly into my ear when it was time for the forward cast. I have seldom had that experience with any rod, Tenkara or western rod and reel!
Finally, with the rod at the maximum length of 12 feet 9 inches, the true magic of the Sato shined like a beacon in the night. With a single gentle move of my arm the line lifted from the ground as though it was being held the same way a loving mother holds her new born baby. The line lifted silently from the ground and proceeded to extend behind the rod imperceptibly and still loaded the rod tip for the most graceful, beautiful forward cast I have seen. The kebari appeared to drift on the air before settling out in front of me with the line fully extended and no loops or errant curls in the line to speak of.
With the first cast at 12 feet 9 inches I knew without a doubt that I had finally found the Tenkara rod I had been searching for. I knew within that cast that the Tenkara USA Ito would fade into second or third place as my rod of choice for any given day of fishing.
The Tenkara lines that I used for testing the Sato were a 10 foot 6 inch furled line as well as a #3.5 level line of the same length. I chose this length to get a feel for the rod that I had gotten with the Rhodo. I would suggest that if you were to purchase a Sato that you get a furled line running anywhere between 13 feet and 15 feet to truly get the feel for the awesome performance of the Tenkara USA Sato.
In conclusion, if you are looking to get into Tenkara or have been practicing Tenkara for some time, it would behoove you to not purchase either the Tenkara USA Rhodo or Sato. Both rods appear to be a single rod, which in reality they are, but with three different lengths built into each rod you are effectivly buying three rods. With a price point of $215 per either the Rhodo or Sato you cannot go wrong with a purchase of one these rods.
I am confident in my assessment of these rods and would highly recommend the Rhodo or Sato to a beginning Tenkara angler or a more experienced Tenkara angler. I know I will be purchasing both rods for my son and for my wife when they are fully introduced to Tenkara.
Oh, and one final thing:
Buy a Rhodo or Sato!!!
Even better, save your pennies and buy both!!!!!!
If you wish to purchase the Tenkara USA Rhodo or Sato follow the link below to the Tenkara USA website to make your purchase. You can also find all the appropriate lines and flies that you might want for Tenkara as well here.
Labels: Beginning Tenkara, Gear Review, Rhodo, Sato, Tenkara USA