Having owned and used tenkara rods from around the world, I’m always interested in various company’s tenkara offerings. I’ve used rods from all the tenkara companies in the US, excepting one, and that is Red Brook Tenkara. But recently, Bill Holleran, co-founder of Red Brook Tenkara, loaned me one of his rods to test and try out. It’s called the Red Brook One (RBT1).
Bill says about Red Brook Tenkara:
“I started fishing the tenkara method around 2013. I was looking to improve my technique with western fly fishing and discovered tenkara on the internet and was intrigued by the simplicity. I started Red Brook Tenkara in 2016. I fell in love with tenkara and once again was looking to improve my technique and results. I couldn’t find any support locally. I visited several fly shops looking for help and information. One shop had never heard of it. Another told me it was a fad that wouldn’t last, and the third shop had one tenkara rod but no one knew much about it. I went back to the internet and absorbed everything I could find on tenkara. On camping trips to the White Mountains, I began to teach friends and really enjoyed watching them catch their first brook trout. It was like reliving my own first time. Soon after, friends started encouraging me to start a business to fill the void here in New England, so I did. “
The Red Brook One is a triple length rod and comes with a black rod sleeve and solid rod tube. The coloration of the rod is black with terracotta-colored accents. The finish is glossy. The rod designation states 10’8″ / 11′ 10″ / 12′ 9″.
The handle is good quality cork, and is 30 cm (11.8″) long. It has a reverse-half wells shape, with the largest diameter being in the upper portion of the handle.
The tip plug is wooden with a rubber coated insertion post. It is not fluted. The butt cap is red anodized metal with a standard double zoom-section capture post. There are grooves for four O-rings, two to capture and hold each zoom section, but on this rod sample there are only two O-rings. I’m sure this was a rare assembly line issue not present on all Red Brook Tenkara rods. On the rod that I tested, this error made the largest zoom section loose. The butt cap edge is knurled to aid removal, but there is not a coin slot or decompression hole.
I contacted Bill regarding the missing O-rings. Red Brook Tenkara inspects all of their products, so he wasn’t sure how this sample got through. He immediately offered to send me the missing parts. However, since the rod was on loan, and I planned on returning it to him, I didn’t ask him to send them. The missing O-rings didn’t concern me at all, rather, it gave me an opportunity to experience Red Brook Tenkara’s excellent customer service!
The lilian is dark brown and came tied with a terminal knot. It is attached the tip section via a micro-swivel. I didn’t untie the terminal knot, but if I had, the tip second would be able to be removed through the next section. This means the entire rod can be disassembled for cleaning and drying.
|Extended Lengths||316 cm / 10.4 feet|
353 cm / 11.6 feet
386 cm / 12.7 feet
|Nested Length (with cap)||51 cm / 20 inches|
|Cork Grip Length||30 cm / 11.8 inches|
|Weight (without tip plug)||118 g / 4.2 ounces|
|RFI:||10.8 – 8:2 Very Fast/Minimal Flex|
9.5 – 8:2 Very Fast/Minimal Flex
9.8 – 8:2 Very Fast/Minimal Flex
|Rotational Moment @ 386 cm||9.3|
At first, casting the rod took some effort for me because of its weight and stiff flex action. This doesn’t mean I couldn’t cast it. Once I got the feel of the rod and it’s required startup inertia, I could cast a 15 foot #3.5 level line just fine. However, I found the rod cast best with a heavier line, such as a furled line or a #4 fluorocarbon level line. Using a PVC tenkara line seemed to load the rod best.
Extending and collapsing the zoom sections was smooth and not difficult. But I must admit, since there were two O-rings missing, the lower zoom section was a bit loose. Despite this, it didn’t prematurely extend or hamper the action of the rod.
Bill Holleran says of the Red Brook Tenkara and the One rod: “Our mission is to spread knowledge of the method by teaching what we have learned and offering quality equipment at a fair price. We give back whenever we can by supporting groups like Project Healing Waters, Casting for Recovery, TU, and Native Fish Coalition. After much research, the ONE was our answer to a do it all rod for most conditions.“
The Red Brook One (RBT1) was designed as a “do it all rod for most conditions”, and I think it achieves that goal. It has a stiffer action than I prefer, but given its penny rating, it could probably handle a pretty good size fish. I like Red Brook Tenkara’s commitment to the environment and to helping everyone enjoy the fun of fishing. They also have excellent customer service! So, if you are looking to support an American tenkara company, one that gives back to the community and aims to make the world a better place, consider looking at Red Brook Tenkara.
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 was loaned the Red Brook One tenkara rod, and I returned the rod at my own expense.
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