Tenkara Times 1st Step Rod

Tenkara Times Try Rod

Tenkara Times is a relatively new player in the rapidly growing tenkara market and I recently had a chance to field test one of their rods.  Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly on it…

Specs

Length: 365 cm (12 ft.)
Closed length: 56 cm (22 in.)
Weight: 73 grams (3 oz.)
Handle length: 27 cm (10.6 in.)
Number of segments: 9
Price:  79.95 EUR (approx. $103 USD)

 

Action

The action of the 1st Step rod is a true 6:4 but it’s slightly stiffer than I like.  If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know that I prefer softer action rods such as the Tenkara USA Ito or Ayu.  That doesn’t mean this is a “bad” rod.  It’s actually a nice, crisp action.  Anyone who likes a little faster action rod with a soft tip and stiffer butt and mid section would like this rod.  The tip tracks well and is very sensitive which aides in accuracy and strike detection.

It’s also surprisingly good in the wind.  When I tested it, the winds were howling and I have to admit that it was easier to slice through the gales with this rod than my beloved Ayu. I think fly fishers with a western background in relatively stiffer rods would also like this one.

Tenkara Times Rod

Ergonomics

One thing that is a little unique about this rod is the grip.  Unlike many rods that feature a bulge in the center of the grip, this one is shaped more like an elongated triangle–with the bulge at the end.  At first, I didn’t think the grip would be comfortable because it would be too thin when gripped in the middle.  But that proved not to be the case.  And when held right at the end of the rod (the thickest section), it actually was very comfortable.  For those of you who like to grip the end of the handle, I think you’d appreciate this design.

Tenkara Times Grip

Hardware

The rod is equipped with pretty standard hardware common to many other tenkara rods.  The plug is a typical, tight fitting wood with rubber insert and the rod is tipped off with the familiar red lilian:

Tenkara Rod Plug

The end cap is a black metal and has a rubber pad to cut down on noise when the rod segments bang into it while moving from spot to spot:

Tenkara End Cap

The cork is surprisingly good for a rod in this price point and it’s topped off with a nice black winding check with no gaps like I’ve seen on some other brands:

Tenkara Times Winding Check

Aesthetics

The blank has a black matte finish that doesn’t reflect the sun with tasteful silver labeling:

Tenkara Times Labelling

Unfortunately, the aesthetics are ruined with gaudy fuchsia accents on each segment.  I’m not sure why they chose this color (maybe to make the rod recognizable on the stream) but I think it’s ugly. I would have preferred a much more subtle earth tone color like brown or green:

Tenkara Times Segments

 

Rod Case

The 1st Step rod does come with a rod tube but it’s a fairly thin plastic (if you squeeze it, you can pretty easily flex the walls) and is nowhere near as robust as the rod tubes that come with Tenkara USA rods.  Since I never use rod tubes anyway, this isn’t an issue for me (to me tenkara rods create their own rod cases when collapsed).  This tube would probably be adequate protection in most cases, but I wouldn’t trust the baggage handlers with it.  If you need serious protection, I’d recommend making a DIY rod case out of PVC, or slipping it in your Tenkara USA rod tube if you have one.

Tenkara Times Rod Tube

 

Conclusion

Overall, this is a great tenkara rod and if you like a crisper action, then the 1st Step rod is worth a try. If you can overlook the aesthetics (or if you happen to love the color fuchsia, LOL) then you’ll like this rod.  The 1st Step is only one in a series of rods offered by Tenkara Times.  For more information or to see their complete lineup, click here.

Author: Jason Klass

Jason is an avid fly angler and backpacker. As a former fly fishing guide originally from Western New York, he moved to Colorado and became an early adopter of tenkara which perfectly suited the small, high altitude streams and lakes there. He has not fished a Western-style fly rod for trout since.

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13 Comments

  1. Thanks for the review Jason. Did you land any fishes with the rod or was it a day of finding and casting? If you did, how did the rod respond? How would you compare it to an 12′Iwana, and or the StoneFly 360cm? Did you have a chance to cast them side by side? Fuchsia hah, looks pink to me and I agree with you that it is ugly.

    Just a side note here, and it’s really neather here nor there. For a few years now, I’ve been seeing people referring to the TUSA rod cases as being aluminum, but they are actually fiberglass or maybe carbon, but definately not aluminum.

    JD

  2. Hey JD, I didn’t “land” any fish, but I hooked a lot and almost landed them so I got to feel what a fish felt like on the end of the line.
    As for the T-USA rod tubes, I’ve sent an email to Daniel asking for clarification. I always thought they were aluminum but could be completely wrong. Thanks for raising the issue as I’m sure others would want to know.

  3. JD, just heard back from Daniel and you’re right. The T-USA cases are made from a carbon/fiberglass blend. I guess I owe you a beer.

  4. This rod sounds like its a decent entry rod. Maybe I can get the girlfriend into fishing with this one?(:

  5. Hey Jason,
    Hope this finds you & yours & your baby Tenkara model doing well.
    Just have one question regarding this new Tenkara Times Outfit.
    Is there any special reason prices are listed in Euros & not US$$??
    I’m into building my own level lines now and so far Vanish by Berkeley seems to be our only US product option? Do you see or use any others that are easily obtained?
    As always thanks for your input & tight lines.
    Bob Traver

  6. Hi Bob, the site is in the UK so that’s why it’s in Euros

    The only places to get high via fluorocarbon in the USA are Tenkara USA and Tenkara Bum. As far as I have been able to tell no US manufacturers make it. I’ve been looking for a long time.

  7. Mmmmmmm beer! Jason I hope one day we do have a chance to spend some time one the water and enjoy a beer afterward.

    JD

  8. I’ve been thinking about my next tenkara rod, living in the UK these rods are easily available to me and each time I look I’m tempted but the colour scheme is, well, a little girly.

    I would agree with you about the comfortable shape of the cork, I imported a tenkara rod from Japan a while ago and it has a similarly shaped grip and it’s really nice to fish with. My other rod has a more shapely grip but I find it less comfortable over a long session.

    I may well buy one of these in the future if nothing else grabs my attention first, there are more options here in the UK all the time and tenkara is growing steadily.

  9. You might want to wait until the next batch comes out. I just found out they are changing the color of the bands to be much darker. The “girly” color was apparently due to a miscommunication between Oleg and the manufacturer.

  10. I’m still waiting for someone to design an 8′ tenkara rod that I can fish the tiny overgrown burns around my area, I know the tanago rods Tenkara Bum sells are nice and all that but I think I’d like a little cork :)

  11. I actually like the color. It reminds me of the green I always thought stood out as strange on the Ayu.

  12. Ciao, io ho comprato recentemente la Try da 3.60m e devo dire che mi trovo benissimo! La cosa che mi sorprende è come mai i produttori italiani non si cimentano nella costruzione di queste canne. Siamo ancora troppo in pochi? Dai, forza…

  13. Hi Jason
    Thanks for your review. I just ordered this rod where a Sunline Buttobi tenkara level line size号3,5 (fluorocarbon mono dia 0,310 mm) is included, but as I can see from different guides it is advised to both have furled and level lines to see what fits you. Since Tenkara times currently are out of stock of furled lines – Do you have a suggestion for a furled line for a beginner (although I have fished a small bit with western fly fishing).
    Thanks
    Peter
    Denmark

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