A Sortable Teton Tenkara Rod Flex Index Chart

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.

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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.

Anyway…

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.

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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.

It is available here:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1LeYYeDxRJD1W_mIGgBSkcjr62DQxqZjFPANKdt9MXcw/edit?usp=sharing

And looks sort of like this:

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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:

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And then you’ll be able to sort by any of the headers as you see fit…

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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. 

Southern Hospitality: Alabama’s Redeye Bass

Southern Hospitality:
Alabama’s Redeye Bass
by Chris Lynch

As a kid, I never really did much fishing. It was not a family pastime of ours. My first exposure to fly fishing was at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico when I was 16, and I absolutely loved it. Why I didn’t further pursue it in the next 15 years, is anybody’s guess.

When I moved to Montgomery, Alabama (I’m active duty United States Air Force), a new coworker of mine was a fly fishing nut. I started hanging out with him, and the fire was lit. While reading up on everything I also discovered tenkara… So, against his suggestions, I got a simple tenkara setup (Daiwa Kiyose) along with a “western” fly fishing outfit (Echo 4-weight).

Fast forward three years; I’m fishing almost exclusively tenkara, although I still have a (different) 4-weight rod and reel setup for when I feel the itch.

Alabama is NOT what you think of when somebody mentions tenkara. It just is not. Most anglers here have no clue what it is, what it means, or why you would use it. Most non-anglers are even more confused by it. In my local fly fishing circles, I’m “the tenkara guy,” and the source of a lot of ribbing, but I have managed to convert a few over in the process.

So, what do I target down here in the Deep South, when I don’t have trout?

Redeye bass!

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To further specialize in my tiny niche of tenkara in Alabama, my favorite species to pursue are the little-known group of bass that are native to the Mobile basin, known simply as “redeyes.” In 2013, redeyes in Alabama were split from the single Micropterus coosae species into four separate but unique species based on their respective watersheds and slight morphological differences: Micropterus coosae (Coosa River), Micropterus cahabae (Cahaba River), Micropterus tallapoosae (Tallapoosa River), and finally the Micropterus warriorensis (Warrior River). There is also the Micropterus chattahoochae in the, you guessed it, ‘Hooch, but it’s essentially extirpated from any flows within Alabama, and found exclusively in Georgia now.

These bass are small (8 to 12-inch average adult length), need clean, flowing water, and are very spunky, eagerly attacking topwater flies such as dries, poppers, and bugs, or even streamers. They also are mostly found in beautiful places, not unlike trout. This has given them the popular name of “Bama Brookies,” for the obvious similarities they share with everybody’s favorite native Eastern trout (char!).

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My first time on a redeye stream (in the Coosa drainage, near Mount Cheaha, Alabama’s highest point), I landed several, and started a bad addiction. These fish are so much fun to chase and catch! That was in summer of 2016, and I’ve since caught all four Mobile basin species, and intend to do it again this summer.

My usual tackle for redeyes has evolved as I’ve gotten more specialized with them as my favorite fish to target. I’ve found a softer, full flex rod with sufficient length, is my preferred method. Rods like the Daiwa Seiryu-X 45, Nissin Royal Stage or Pro-Spec in 6:4, or a longer Air Stage (390) work very well. Realistically, most redeye streams in Alabama are open enough to allow casting a longer rod like these, but there are some tributaries where a shorter one comes in handy.

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Redeyes eat a lot of the same kind of things that trout do; crawfish, insect larvae, and smaller fish. In the early spring or fall, when water temperatures are still a little on the low side, you will get most of your bites sub-surface with nymphs or streamers. In those conditions I have had good success with large (size 6-10) nymphs and kebari, like Chris Stewart’s “Keeper Kebari.” This is about where the traditional tenkara aspect of chasing redeyes ends for me though… so you may want to put on your blinders if you aren’t ready for some blasphemy!

In the hotter months, which are typically April to October in Alabama, the most fun way to catch a redeye is on the top. Whether this is dries, poppers, hoppers… it’s all about big (and often) yellow flies. Redeyes eat a ton of terrestrials, so I’ve had great days where I had a giant foam hopper on all day and it just got destroyed. However, they still act like trout in that if you miss a hookset, you might as well give up on that run, as they’ll be spooked out. These are not dumb sunfish, you still need to be on your game! One of the most popular, if not the most religiously-celebrated, flies for redeye is the Booglebug, a popper made right here in Birmingham, Alabama. People like to say you can use any color you want for redeyes, as long as it’s yellow. This has been pretty accurate from my experience.

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32884867_2000967323246619_4397607453777199104_n.jpgA good buddy of mine, Matt Lewis, recently published a book, (THE book, by the way), about these guys, Fly Fishing for Redeye Bass,” and it is the best single source of information if you have any desire to learn more about them or attempt to catch one for yourself. Matt has helped to organize a Redeye Bass Slam challenge where you can either target the four Mobile basin species, or go after all of the recognized species in the South, which comes out to seven if you count the Altamaha and Bartram’s.

A lot of what Matt is trying to do is bring attention to these awesome and unique fish, which have quite specific habitat requirements and can bring a lot of fun to anglers. Currently, Alabama has some of the most relaxed environmental protection laws in the country, while hosting some of the most diverse and rich habitat. Fortunately, we have some very active riverkeeper organizations here in the state who are working very hard to raise awareness about these issues, and fight against the many abuses of our resources.

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So, while Alabama is definitely more closely associated with college football than fixed line fly fishing, the various species of energetic redeye bass you’ll find within the Yellowhammer State will definitely provide enough southern hospitality to make your tenkara rod feel right at home.

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This article originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.

Do you have a story to tell, a photo to share, or a fly recipe that’s too good to keep secret? If you would like to contribute content to our next issue, click HERE for more details.

Fall 2019 Issue Call For Submissions

I hope everybody has been having an incredible summer! Just getting back from a mini-getaway to Colorado myself, recent memories of boulder strewn streams, high altitude lakes, and greenback cutthroat trout can’t help but bring a grin to my face. If your summer has been full of fishing, I’m certain you’ve been smiling a lot as well.

As such, I wanted to take the opportunity today to remind everyone that the submission period for the Fall 2019 issue of Tenkara Angler is officially open, a perfect time to share those experiences with the larger fixed-line fishing community.

FALL ISSUE CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

While the submission process never technically closed, I like to make these posts about a month prior to the deadline, in this case September 13th, 2019.

As always, this issue should reflect the interests of the tenkara community at large, so as long as the content – articles, photos, etc… – is tenkara, fixed-line, or conservation themed, all is fair game.

Submissions can be sent to mike@tenkaraangler.com, and more information on the submission process can be found HERE.

Kickstarter – DRAGONtail MIZUCHI zx340 Small Stream Zoom Tenkara Rod

The eagerly anticipated DRAGONtail Mizuchi tenkara rod Kickstarter is finally here.

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Ever since Teton Tenkara‘s Tom Davis teased an upcoming small stream rod he co-designed with Brent Auger of DRAGONtail Tenkara, many fans of “bluelining” for trout have just been waiting for the day to pull the trigger on a new tenkara rod purchase.

Well, wait no longer. The Mizuchi zx340 zoom rod is now available for pre-sale. This rod is unique in the fact that it is a 3-way zoom rod that in explanation, not only addresses three small stream lengths (240cm, 290cm, and 340cm), but also fishes with an appropriate flex profile at each.

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If you act quickly, you can get one of these rods at an “Early Bird” price well below the eventual retail price of $160. As of writing this article, this rod had raised more than $3000 toward the $8000 funding goal, so it appears it’s well on it’s way to production.

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To read Tom Davis’ post regarding the design and development of this rod, check out this link HERE.

Or, if small stream is not your thing, but you want to check out the full range of DRAGONtail tenkara products – including rods, lines, line holders, and nets, check out this link HERE.

Just For Fun: What’s The New Tenkara USA Rod?

The Tenkara Summit in Boulder, Colorado is in two weeks. Organized by Tenkara USA, this year’s summit celebrates 10 years of tenkara in the United States. The Summits are always great time to learn a little bit, meet people you may only know from online, see some tenkara gear in person, and of course, get out and fish. I would expect this year’s to be no different.

Recently, on social media, Tenkara USA teased that they would be introducing a new rod at this year’s Summit, their first since the Hane, which was revealed at the 2017 event.

So what is it?

I’m sure there are a few “insiders” that already know the answer, (I’m not one), but I though it would be fun to muse upon what might be released, as the scenarios are endless.

  • An existing rod, badged with a 10th Anniversary logo
  • An improved/updated version of an existing rod
  • A re-issue of a retired rod – Ayu, Ebisu, Yamame
  • A mini rod (those seem to be quite popular these days)
  • An “elevated” non-zoom rod – high end, perhaps made in Japan
  • A rod developed and manufactured in the USA
  • Totally out of the box rod – saltwater, warm water, nymphing, etc…
  • Something else

So why don’t you vote in THIS LINK and if you want to elaborate on your guess in the comments, have at it. Would welcome the conversation and speculation. Just for fun, of course…

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The Summer 2019 Cover Photo Contest Entrants…

Although you are certainly welcome to visit the current issue of Tenkara Angler magazine to see all of the cover photo contest entries, I thought I’d create a separate post to highlight them all as well. It will allow you to view these photos in a format that is not cropped for space constraints, as well as a few additional secondary entries that did not make the magazine.

All photos are below, please feel free to click into them to zoom!

Congratulations to Anthony Naples & Lino Jubilado for winning the front and back cover contests. In lieu of physical prizes, each have opted to have a charitable donation made in their names to American Rivers (Anthony) and Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (Lino).

Thank you to all that entered, we’ll likely open up another photo contest for a future issue, so keep those cameras focused!


This post was presented by:
Zen Tenkara

The Summer 2019 Issue of Tenkara Angler is Now Live!

It’s here, the Summer 2019 issue of Tenkara Angler is now available!

Tenkara Angler Summer 2019 Spread Web

This 72 page issue features seven fantastic articles, one photo installment of “Brookies & Beer”, and the entries from the Cover Photo Contest. The topics span general essay, trip reports, destination locations, kebari tying, and introductory fixed-line fishing for smallmouth bass.

Additionally, a hearty welcome to two new authors – Nathan Scott Camp and Kengo Shintaku – for their entries, make sure to check each out.

Finally, a special congratulations go out to Anthony Naples (front) & Lino Jubilado (back) for winning the cover contest with some great shots that really lent themselves to the vertical nature of a magazine. The rest of the entries are found within the magazine in various places, so nobody was overlooked. Thank you to all who entered!

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As usual, the Summer issue will be available as an e-magazine over at Issuu, HERE.

And also available for sale as a physical magazine and PDF download in the Blurb bookstore, HERE.

Enjoy!