A good pocket rod is hard to find. They are frequently way too stiff to be fun to use, or they are way too fragile for make them worth using. Like I said, a good pocket rod is hard to find. Well, one pocket rod that is both fun to use and robust to survive is the Anglo & Company Kowasa.
Anglo & Company is a small Japanese fishing rod company located in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Japan. It is ran by Keijiro Suganuma, who makes rods on demand with modern materials and ultra-high craftsmanship. Their rods are handmade in Japan, one at a time at the Setagaya workshop. They produce blanks and other major parts in Japan and aim for the highest quality rods. They are best known in Japan for their high quality fly and spinning rods. Owning an Anglo & Co. rod is like owning a functional piece of art.
I’ve owned one of Anglo & Co. other tenkara rods, the Wasabi 36, since 2019 and it is one of my favorite rods. Since it’s a bigger sibling to the Kowasa, they look very similar. Because of that, I’ll use some of the same descriptions as I did for the Wasabi 36.
The Kowasa is a very compact rod. Fully nested, it’s only 27 cm (10.6 in.). It’s the most compact tenkara rod that Anglo & Co. makes, but like all the others, it is made to perfection as only the Japanese can seem to do.
The Kowasa doesn’t come in a plastic carton, as most Japanese tenkara rods do. The rod comes only with a rod sleeve. The sleeve is corduroy, and is soft and compliments the rod. The rod blank is a very dark olive, which appears black in indoor lighting. The finish is glossy on all segments. The rod designation is simple and unadorned, with the company name and a hand written inscription of the rod name, and length in meters.
The handle is high quality cork and is of simple design. It is 12.5 cm (4.9 inches) in length and tapers from head to butt slightly.
The tip plug is black nylon plastic, and has a shape that is easy to grasp and hold. The butt cap is black anodized metal, has knurling and a decompression hole. The statement on the butt cap says it all and demonstrates the pride the maker has in this rod.
The lilian is dark brown and is joined to the tip section with a perfectly executed glue joint. There is a small stopper knot in the lilian. If the stopper knot was removed, the tip section could be extracted through the second section making the rod easily disassembled for cleaning and drying.
|Extended Length||273 cm / 8′ 11.5″|
|Nested (with cap)||27 cm / 10.6″|
|Cork Grip Length||12.5 cm / 4.9″|
|Weight (without tip plug)||43 g / 1.5 ounces|
|RFI:||5.0 – 6:4 Moderately Fast, Upper Mid Flex|
Since the Kowasa has an RFI of 5, it is a real pleasure to cast. The casting stroke is fast, as there is not a lot of rod moving through the air. This little rod throws a tight loop, and yet, it can lay a fly down delicately when needed. It seems that most pocket rods are way too stiff. One even has an RFI of 21! But not the Kowasa. It has a pleasing cast, even despite its short length. I paired this rod with a #3.5 fluorocarbon level line between 7 and 9 feet. I prefer the #3.5 over a #3, as the extra mass helps the shorter line load the rod better.
Another feature that I like is that it’s reasonably robust. I used to have a couple of other pocket rods, and although I really liked their flex action, they were just too fragile for my liking. I like a rod that I can count on, rather than one I have to always baby. Yes, the Kowasa’s segments can break if you don’t use proper technique and precautions.
Coming in at 27 cm (10.6″) when nested, the Kowasa easily fits in your pocket, or certainly in any pack. It’s not the most compact rod out there, but it’s reasonably compact and yet has a wonderful action both casting and playing fish.
Here are some thoughts about the Kowasa by other tenkara anglers who have experience with it:
I purchased a Kowasa rod from Anglo & Company in Japan a few years ago and have used it extensively in small creeks. I love that it collapses down to a small pocketable size and is short enough to use in creeks with lots of brush and overhead trees. However, I wouldn’t call the Kowasa delicate like other pocket rods I’ve fished, it isn’t as strong as some, but tough enough to handle small creek fishing. Many of the pocket style rods I’ve tried are more like fishing with a broom stick rather than a tenkara rod. With the Kowasa you feel like you are casting a tenkara rod.
Level line works exceptionally well with it. I use a Daiwa line that has a very subtle color which works well on small creeks and pools where the fish tend to be spooky. In the years I’ve been fishing the Kowasa I broke it once, which was definitely my fault, I broke the cardinal rule of though shall not pull on a snag. I required two new sections which were quickly sent out by Anglo & Co. They are very easy to work with by e-mail and I’ve found them to be responsive.
I have fished the Kowasa several times and have been very impressed. Unlike some short-sectioned rods, the Kowasa has a very smooth flex profile and can cast unweighted flies comfortably. Being a short rod, I find a slightly quicker casting stroke works well for me. A small fish will put a bend in the rod and yet I’ve had no problem landing modest fish around 13-14 inches. I find the short, one position, cork handle very comfortable with the tip of my index finger resting on the blank. The fit and finish of the company’s rods are second to none in my opinion. The extremely short collapsed length (the shortest one I own) makes it ideal for my backpacking activities.
The Anglo & Company Kowasa is a premium compact, short length Japanese tenkara rod perfect for genryu-style (headwaters) tenkara. Its design, materials and fit and finish are second to none, and like its longer sibling, the Wasabi 36, it’s a functional work of art. The Kowasa has a pleasing and responsive flex action, yet has enough power to control modest sized trout that inhabit smaller streams. Its compact nested length allows it to fit in a pocket, meaning you can pretty much take it anywhere!
If you are looking for a premium quality Japanese pocket tenkara rod, then take a look at the Anglo & Co. Kowasa. Handmade one at a time to order, it’s a pleasure to own and to use!
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 this rod from Anglo & Co. at retail price.
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.