While the cork grip was starting to look rough, there wasn’t anything “wrong” with the rod. Just the opposite really – It’s beat up because it’s my favorite to fish. In my view, the Nissin Oni Zerosum Honryu 395 is a strong candidate for the best “one-and-done” tenkara rod on the market. It’s well balanced, and able to deliver a nearly immediate recovery. This means it stops wobbling almost instantly after the cast stops, which is a big factor in accurately casting and controlling light lines. I was able to make it do everything I wanted to do with it, comfortably. No complaints with the rod prior to deciding to convert the grip. It was already, in my view, a “perfect” tenkara rod.
Riverworks Rod Company is known for engineering some of the tenkara-verse’s most specialized fixed line rods. Company owner Jeff Lomino brings a nearly obsessive attention-to-detail to his products. The company’s signature tactical nymphing rods have a cult following, largely due to the ZX rod line’s high performance blanks. Riverworks rods stand apart for another reason too – Jeff has pioneered what I believe to be the ultimate tenkara rod grip.
Does the grip really matter that much? A month ago I would have told you “no”. I would have said “while I love the feel and look of the cedar wood grip on my Nissin Air Stage Fuji-ryu, it doesn’t seem to impart any extra capability to the rod”. I did not feel held back by cork, or even EVA foam, which is my least favorite grip material. As long as the shape of the grip is comfortable in my hand, I’ve never felt it offered potential for improving. So why would I even consider changing the grip?
I’m not afraid to admit that the first reason was simple: Riverworks carbon grips look SHARP! The black carbon fiber gives me old-school stealth fighter vibes. The second reason, the important reason: Jeff has engineered a grip that delivers energy transmission at a level I’ve never experienced on any other rod. That carbon fiber grip is wrapped around a high density foam core, which is adhered to the blank. This means no gaps to deaden vibrations – when extended, the rod is effectively a “solid” single piece from the grip to the tip. Any vibrations taking place at the end of a properly tensioned line transmit instantly and completely to the grip.
You are probably thinking – “I can already feel strikes in my hand, through the grip.” Respectfully, my answer must be…”not like this”. A month ago I would have agreed with you. A month ago I had not felt the differences myself. This grip delivers extreme sensitivity, with vibrations clearly transmitting all the way down the rod to the very bottom cap. In the cast, drift, set, and play, I can feel more details than I can with other grips. Each fish I’ve caught with the convert felt noticeably unique and nuanced. Adding additional mass and material made the rod a few grams heavier, which did alter grip’s weight and balance – for the better! The finished product had improved its balance and added some extra punch in my cast – without any negative changes to performance.
I was absolutely satisfied with this rod before converting it. Jeff took what I thought was already a “perfect” rod – and significantly improved its performance. Riverworks carbon fiber grip conversions are offered exclusively for Oni Type I, II, III & Honryu rod models. If you want to take your favorite rod to the next level, a Riverworks convert grip will deliver – it did for me!
Do you have a story to tell? A photo to share? A fly recipe that’s too good to keep secret? If you would like to contribute content to Tenkara Angler, click HERE for more details.