Fixed-Line Fly Fishing Rods Tenkara Trout & Char

Zen Tenkara Sagi Rod Review

It’s been quite some time since I fished with a Zen Tenkara rod. I’ve had a couple in the past, one I liked and another that I didn’t. So I thought it was time to try Zen Tenkara again. This time, I decided to try one of their longer rods, as it’s pretty easy to design and manufacture a well balanced short rod, but a real challenge with a long one. They have a few longer rods, but I decided to go with the Sagi. 


The Zen Tenkara Sagi comes with a rod tube, sleeve, and spare tip sections. The rod sleeve has a very clever compartment for the spare 1st and 2nd sections which are provided with the rod. The overall coloration of the rod is black with a glossy finish. The rod branding and designation are simple but effective. The Sagi is described by Zen Tenkara as being equivalent to a 7-weight traditional fly rod, and this is noted on the rod. Its tippet rating is 12 lb. or 1.5X.

Zen Tenkara Sagi Review - Tom Davis - Tenkara Angler
Zen Tenkara Sagi Review - Tom Davis - Tenkara Angler - FRAE
Zen Tenkara Sagi Review - Tom Davis - Tenkara Angler - Lillian

The handle is 33 cm (12.9 inches) long. It has good quality cork and has a classic double hump shape.

The tip plug is blued metal with a faux-stone crown. It has a nylon plastic insert. The tip plug fits snuggly into the handle section of the rod. The butt cap is blued metal with a knurled edge. A coin slot is present.

Interestingly, there is no rubber bumper inside the butt cap (which helps deaden the chatter of the rod sections when they are nested). I’ve been told by a friend who’s a large fish tenkara expert that not having a rubber bumper is an advantage on big fish rods. He states that often on these rods some of the sections tend to get jammed when fighting large, powerful fish. The lack of a bumper allows the user to “unstick” the segments easier, as there is a hard surface in the butt cap to hit them against. I never thought of that, as I’m not a large fish angler. The butt cap does not have a decompression hole.

The lilian is red and is attached to the tip section via a micro-swivel. Due to the micro-swivel glue joint, the tip section can’t be removed through the second section, therefore the entire rod can’t be disassembled for cleaning and drying. I also purchased a Performance Tip for the Sagi. It’s the same length as the regular tip, but it’s slightly thicker and the lilian is thicker/stiffer material and is dark brown.

Zen Tenkara Sagi Review - Tom Davis - Tenkara Angler - Tips

My Measurements

Fully Extended Length 417 cm / 13.7 feet – Regular Tip
417 cm / 13.7 feet – Performance Tip
Nested Length (with cap)57.5 cm / 22.6 inches
Cork Grip Length33 cm / 12.9 inches
Weight (without cap)97.7 g / 3.4 oz – Regular Tip
97.8 g / 3.4 oz – Performance Tip
CCS22.5 pennies – Regular Tip
24 pennies – Performance Tip
RFI5.4 / 6:4 Moderate Mid Flex – Regular Tip
5.8  / 6:4 Moderate Mid Flex – Performance Tip
Rotational Moment8.4 – Regular Tip
8.5 – Performance Tip
Tippet Rating*1.5X / 12 pound
* Tippet rating provided by Karin Miller/Zen Tenkara.


The Sagi is a long rod, and so, like all long rods, there’s more effort involved than when casting a 360cm tenkara rod. But once you get around this fact, you’ll find out that the Sagi casts smoothly, throwing the line in a beautifully tight loop. Because the Sagi is over 4 meters in length, it has increased wind resistance, but not more than other long rods I’ve used.

I used the Sagi with 16 foot #3 and #3.5 fluorocarbon level lines, as well as with a 18 foot PVC tenkara line. Using the regular tip, the Sagi cast these lines quite well, but in my hands that Sagi seems to prefer the heavier line. That said, it casts well and its flex action facilitates efficient line curves. Dampening is good, as the tip comes to rest quickly at the end of the casting stroke.

While the handle length is excellent, I did find the diameter near the rod butt to be a little small for my preference. I prefer to cast a rod holding the butt of the handle, and in this configuration, I did find my hand cramping somewhat after a while. Moving my hand to the top of the handle resolved this issue.

I didn’t get to challenge the Sagi with a large fish, but I’m sure it can handle it. If you read the reviews on Zen’s website, many folks have used the Sagi to target large and powerful fish, such as salmon, steelhead, and other large salmonids without any problem. It seems the Sagi is more than capable of taming almost any reasonably sized freshwater fish.

Zen Tenkara founder Karin Miller with a nice fish!


I like the Sagi. Its got a smooth and efficient flex action, and it casts a wide variety of standard tenkara lines well. The Sagi has a solid reputation and it comes from a company with a lot of experience in catching large fish with fixed-line techniques. Its balance is good, but like almost all 4+ meter rods, it is somewhat tip heavy. Still, it’s hard to make a well performing rod over 4 meters in length, and I think that Zen has hit the mark with this one!

Disclaimer: My opinion regarding this rod is just that, my opinion. Your opinion may differ.  Also, your rod may not have the same length, issues, or functionality as my rod. There are variations between rods, even in the same production run. No description can fully tell you how a rod feels or fishes. For this, you must personally hold, cast, and fish the rod, then make up your own mind. I purchased the Zen Sagi at retail price.

Share Your Experience: Have you fished with the Zen Tenkara Sagi? If so, what are your thoughts on this rod? What is your favorite line to use with it? How large of fish have you landed with the Sagi? If not, are you interested in this rod? Did you find this review helpful?

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  1. Tom, thanks for this helpful review on the Sagi. When I purchased my Zen rod (a Zako) it was certainly on a leap of faith. There were hardly any knowledgeable, independent reviews on the interwebs and the available reviews on other Zen rods were all over the map, ranging from “it’s one of my all time favorites” (Suzume) to “it’s a broomstick” (Baichi). It’s great having this review added to the tenkara consumer knowledge base.

    1. The HELLbender is easier to swing through the air, given it’s shorter length, but the Sagi has a softer flex profile, thus it will cast a lighter level line better. The other differences can be easily seen from the stats. I hope this helps.

  2. Tom,
    This is a little off-topic but I’ve thought about asking you this and it just came to my mind. I’ve seen you use the snap-on line winders. They are very convenient but leave so many kinks in the line. Other than stretching the line, do you have any other tips on removing the kinks?

    1. Hi David,

      Yes, the snap-on line winders do put some kinks in a level line, but they are easily removed by stretching the line tightly for the length of time you’d say “now you have a new memory”. That is, as long as the line is a tenkara fluorocarbon level line. Nylon line resists removing the kinks much more than fluorocarbon. Anyother tip is to not wind the line on the winder very tightly – just tight enough that it won’t slip off. Still, you’ll get some kinks. Just stretch the line for the right amount of time with the right amount of force and you’re good to go.

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