From its introduction to the West, Tenkara has thrived in a mostly online eco-system. As such, unless you’re one of the lucky few who live near a fly shop or outdoor retailer that carries tenkara rods, you probably never got to try out a particular rod model prior to purchase.
One of the more valuable (and underrated) tools when it comes to evaluating the “feel” of a tenkara rod (without handling it) is the Rod Flex Index Chart compiled by Dr. Tom Davis of the Teton Tenkara blog.
Tom has handled, tested, and fished probably (or very close to) the most rods of anybody I’m familiar with. In doing such he compiled quite the chart, calculating the rod flex index (RFI) of each. According to Tom, the rod flex index is a simple rating that gives a person an estimate of how a rod’s character and flex might feel in comparison to other rods of any given length.
It’s also an offshoot of the common cents system “penny rating” he took from Chris Stewart and ran with (who also happened to borrow it from somebody else), so hopefully I’m spreading all the credit around where it’s due. For a heck of a lot more info on what goes into all this, Tom wrote the following “Treatise on Static Rod Testing” for those that really want to geek out.
Generally speaking, the smaller the rod flex index, the slower and more “full flex” the rod. Conversely, the higher the rod flex index, the faster and more “tip flex” the rod. This rating is becoming more and more helpful as companies are moving away from the often inaccurate 5:5, 6:4, 7:3, designations many have grown accustomed to.
As Tom has evaluated more and more rods over the years, the chart has become a bit more difficult to read, especially if you’re trying to locate one specific rod from the over 150 categorized. So this past weekend I took the liberty of compiling all of that data into a simple Google Sheet that can be sorted or manipulated online, or can be downloaded for personal use.
And looks sort of like this:
Natively, the chart is set up in alphabetical order by brand, but if you want to sort/filter the info within to narrow down what you are looking for, you simply need to click on cell A6 and then apply a temporary filter from the tool bar drop down as follows:
And then you’ll be able to sort by any of the headers as you see fit…
I’m not 100% done updating the chart, (I’d still like to add all of the Manufacturer’s ratings as well as links to either Tom’s review and/or the manufacturer’s website), but it’s a start. And with Tom taking a bit of a hiatus from tenkara rod testing, I probably have a little more time to make these updates.
In the meantime, I hope you find this helpful, and if you have any comments on how to make this Google Doc better, feel free to reply in the comment section of this post.
Note: The translation of this chart to a Google Sheet was an unsolicited and quirky little side project I brainstormed at an odd hour of the night, much like the idea of this magazine itself. It is presented in goodwill to the tenkara community without any commercial interest to Tenkara Angler magazine. All data contained in the chart should be attributed and credited with great appreciation to the extensive work and research of Tom Davis & Teton Tenkara.