I read TUSA blog post What is a Tenkara Rod and I find some of there points do not determine if it is or is not a tenkara rod. The part in red is from Daniel blog post Then my response follows that. I am not affiliated with any rod maker or seller. I am giving my opinion on the matter.
With the first goal in mind ? being comfortably cast all day ? the main apparent and quickly distinguishable feature of a tenkara rod is the presence of a handle (cork is the more common material used for its thermal properties and right degree of softness). The handle is very necessary for tenkara fishing, not so necessary for other types of fishing in which the goal is to cast the bait once and wait.
The presense of a cork handle has little to do with what type of rod you have. Rod building continues to evelo just as the way the blank material has evoled over the years. Tenkara rods used to be made of bambo and most are now made out of carbon and/or fiber glass. If you could afford to have one built out of split bambo the handle would be made from bambo or wrapped rattan.
The right diameter and the right shape of the rod handle will keep the hand from getting fatigued. The right materials will keep the hand from chaffing or sweating.
Every person does not have the same size hand. This is why there are differnet size and shape of grips for rod builders to choose from when custom building a rod for someone. They are also using carbon fiber with a foam core for grips, along with wood, Acrylic, and even EVA foam for grips.
A second, and less obvious feature to notice, is the casting effectiveness of the rod. More specifically, the dampening of the rod tip after the rod is cast (or shaken). Tenkara rods are designed to cast a very light line forward with maximum effectiveness. A poorly designed tenkara rod, or a rod that was not designed with casting in mind and the rod tip may continue oscillating after the line is cast forward.
Then he said:
Note: any rod will oscillate after being cast, to improve our rods we design them with the goal of reducing that oscillation, the Ito is a perfect example of a very good dampening effect and I design all our rods with this in mind.
All rods will very when it comes to this asspect. That is why there are different rod classification like 5:5, 6:4, 7:3, 8:2. This also is a downfall since like regular rods, each rod maker decides what class there rod falls in. What one calls a 6:4 another might call a 5:5.
A third feature that makes a tenkara rod a tenkara rod is the length. Tenkara rods range from slightly under 10ft to just about 15ft, with 12ft being the average length. On the shorter end of the spectrum, the tenkara rod will still allow for good reach while staying away from canopy.
If this is the case you then also sell an add handle add on that makes a 9?3? that you market as being tenkara. Granted you may not be able to go too far past 15ft but you could go smaller. Just like most of your smaller bambo fly rods are 4.5 to 6ft. You could go with a smaller rod with long ling for extremly tight quarters that we have here in the states.
The market is still in the education phase when it comes to tenkara, and we will continually try providing insights on what makes tenkara, tenkara.
To quote Tom Kirland(publisher of RodMaker) ?A blank is a blank is a blank. Fly rod blanks are made no differently than casting or spinning blanks. As above, they're all tubular shafts. That's all. I have built dozens and dozens of extremely heavy blue water fly rods on 8-feet Back Bouncing blanks. They'll work fine. You just need to match the rod power to the line and distance your customer will be fishing. ?
I recently brought up what I have been seeing happening here to my teacher in Japan, Dr. Hisao Ishigaki. He responded in Japanese saying, ?it?s really a shame this is happening, as some people will not know what tenkara really is?.
Lets face it, this is the USA not Japon. We do not have Yamame, Iwana and Amago. We also have people fishing for panfish and other warmwater species using tenkara rods. Modern Tenkara in Japan has evoled from what it was and continues to evole every day. Just like here in the states. It really sounds that the only way we will every now what tenkara is and understand it is by going to Japan and experince first hand. Well I guess I will never fully understand what Tenkara is or what a Tenkara rod is. I do know I have 3 different brands of tenkara type rods. One being the TUSA Amago and 2 others.