Right out of the box, I knew the new Try 390 rod from Tenkara Times was a winner. For one thing, I’ve reviewed several of their rods already and upon initial inspection, the overall quality seemed in keeping with the attention to detail and consistency I’ve come to expect from them. But it wasn’t until I fully extended the rod that the magic happened.
This 13 ft. (390 cm) rod was LIGHT! Some rods are heavy on the scale but light in the hand (or vice versa). But the Try lives up to its 2.5 oz. (72 g) expectation with an almost antigravity feel wen telescoped out. Even my wife (who knows nothing about rod design) was amazed at how light it was when I let her wiggle it in our living room before taking it out for a field test.
Not only was the rod light, but the 7:3 action was crisp and responsive. I used to stereotype 7:3 rods as “too stiff” but the Try isn’t at all. Instead, the tip easily loads right at 7:3 but with enough backbone right behind it to deliver pinpoint casts with a range of line diameters. I tried the rod with everything from a 2.5 fluorocarbon level line to a 4.5 and it handled all of them well (keep in mind that you still have to adjust your casting stroke accordingly). I would say that the sweet spot for a level line is probably somewhere between a #3-4 level line.
Overall, the rod is just pleasant to fish and because the backbone is closer to the tip, makes it really sensitive for strike detection.
While the action itself is enough to sell me on the Try, there are some hardware components I’d like to point out that I think are icing on the cake.
One is the grip. Previous Tenkara Times rods I’ve tried had a grip that was mostly shaped like an isosceles triangle. But now it seems they’re moving to a more democratic ergonomic design. The contour of the grip offers two positions: one that is more choked up on the rod toward the winding check, and the other is a bulge at the butt of the rod.
I know different tenkara anglers prefer to hold the handle in different places (and some switch throughout the day or between different situations) so this is a nice touch. Amazingly, the comfort and balance of the rod doesn’t seem to change when switching positions (at least I can’t tell). So, whether you like to choke up on the rod or hold it right at the end, you’ll probably like this grip.
The rod comes with a clear plastic tube and a rod sack. Normally, I wouldn’t even remark on the rod sack, because, well, they’re typically just not sexy. But this one is. Rather than your normal drawstring or Velcro-closed bag, this one is truly unique. And as a lover of good design, I need to point it out.
The sack is made of a black, stretchy material (I don’t know what it is). Instead of a “bag” design, the tips are sewn shut, but there’s a slit toward the top in the side. To remove the rod, you pull up on the top of the sack, stretching the material enough to poke the tip of the rod through. Then it easily slides out. To stow the rod, just place the butt end of the rod through the same slot and stretch the tip of the sack over the tip of the rod again and let go. Here’s a short video showing you how it works:
You might think this is pedestrian, but I think this is one of the increasingly few innovative designs I see coming out across the overwhelming amount of new tenkara manufacturers today and is worth a mention. No doubt, others will eventually copy this. Kudos to Tenkara Times for being the first to implement it.
My one nitpick with the Try rod is that unlike many others, the end cap isn’t knurled so that you can remove it by hand. It’s a smooth, flat cap with a slot to tighten or loosen with a coin or other flat object (like the back of a knife or a screwdriver). To be honest, I’ve never done a field repair and probably never will because I always carry at least two tenkara rods with me. Still, for those who only carry one rod and bring a spare tip in anticipation of a field repair, remember to also pack something with a flat edge to unscrew the end cap.
If I break a rod in the field, I just grab another one. The last thing I want to do during the precious few times I get to go fishing is fix a rod so for me this is moot. It’s more of a heads up for those of you who only carry one rod.
I can’t say I’m newly impressed with the new Try rod because Tenkara Times impressed me a long time ago. Every time they send me a new rod to try out, I pretty much know what I’m going to get: a rod with a great action, good hardware, and at a great price.
To learn more about the Tenkara Times Try 390 or to get one, click here.
Jason, have been looking at these. Have an upcoming trip in Oct and 2 in Nov at LMFR. Lots of overhang. My Amago works very well for reach and point casting. Just bought another since there will be 4 of us fishing Tenkara. Could you compare this rod vs the Amago?
Hi Chris, I haven’t directly compared them so I’d have to take them out and do a side by side. I can tell you the Amago feels a little heavier in the hand. But to be fair, it’s also 6″ longer. I like the more pronounced 2-position grip on the Try rod too.
Thanks for sharing Jason, it looks very promising I want to make the right decision on my first high end Tenkara rod.
The grip on the tenkara times rods is probably the most comfortable one I have felt on the market. I am a fan of the foam one they have on their 5:5 rod.
I’d drop an order for this rod days ago and was itching to find a review on it.
As i have not received it this review will help me with the antecipation (or maybe not).
How it feels fish fighting?
Rod socks are awesome, but nothing new. Some bum we know has them for sale.
Thanks Jason for the aesthetic review, but it seems a little too soon for the complete story. Cute rod bags and handsome grips are nice but how does the “Try 390” stand up on stream under a variety of conditions and fish?
Do you have plans to give an in depth onstream review of the rod? I see from the pictures that you had it out but you didn’t give much reflection other than “light, crisp, sensitive”. I’ve yet to fish a tenkara rod that isn’t sensitive, and would expect a 7:3 to be crisp.
I respect what you do for the tenkara community but I didn’t really like this review. I think it came too soon and fell short of the whole story. Thanks for bringing this rod to our attention, but I would like to know more.
Sorry you didn’t like it. The problem is that rod preference is so subjective and there’s really no good objective way to describe it. The common cents system is probably the most objective descriptor we have but even that only tells you where the rod bends-not how it feels or if you’ll like it. Two people can have completely different perceptions of the same rod and really the only way to know if you’ll like one is to fish it yourself.
Let me know what other details about the action of the rod you’d like to know and I will try to fill in the blanks. But keep in mind, your mileage may vary.
Jason, ALWAYS enjoy your blog! Sometimes i even have to look up your words cause im not a “word smith” like you. We have heard of the minimalistic frame of mind for All things Tenkara, camping, backpacking, etc. Whats perplexing to me is so many “minimalists” that have SO MUCH lines,tippetts,rods,flys, etc.!!!!! Sooooooooo…I would like to ask this question of our minimalistic cohorts, “If you lived on a deserted mountain stream whats the one rod,line, tippet and fly you would choose?! (ok, 2 rods in case you brake one.)
Thanks Timmy, and I enjoy your comments! Thanks for participating!
If I could only choose one, it would be the Oni rod, a #3 fluorocarbon level line, 5X tippet, and a black Kamikaze Kebari.
Jason, just wondering if you found the pink accents on the rod off-putting? I seem to recall an article on their site that their rod designs were aimed at a European audience with the bright accent colors and that there may be a set of designs with more toned down options for the US crowd. While I love the idea of cutting down on rod flash with a matte rod, the bright pink accents seem like they could be counterproductive. Any thoughts?
Their rods used to have REALLY pink accents like this: https://www.tenkaratalk.com/2012/09/tenkara-times-rod/
I didn’t like the way it looked. But now they’ve switched to a much more subdued purple as you can see in this post. While I’d still prefer accents that are more or an Earth tone, I think the purple looks a lot better than the pink on the older models. And I don’t think the color is bright enough to scare fish. It’s pretty subtle.
JD: You sound like my 5th grade teacher. What do you expect…..blank wall thickness, diameter of each segment,flex characteristics based on various loads, performance in the rain or potential for lightening conductivity? Jason spent more time on this review than the value of the rod itself and he contributes this information to you in a good spirit with no compensation. Give the guy a break.
Hmm, well I wrote a fairly long response back to you Jason but I’m not sure where it ended up. I probably did something wrong. I wrote it on word and tried to paste it here but I don’t know what I did wrong. Sorry bout that.
In short I was asking if you had a chance to, or if you were planning on testing some other lines like the Rigs lines you reviewed a while back or with some furled lines and if you felt the rod was better as a LL or LT rod? Does it excel at one more than the other type of line? How is it with a long line?
Is it versatile enough to be fished with weighted or beadhead flies or is it better suited with the standard unweighted kebari.
There was more but I’ll just leave it at that.
I know that your a busy man and value your family time as well as your time on the water, so if you simply say “give me a break, I didn’t have the time.” that makes perfect sense to me. As I mentioned earlier I respect what you do here. My intention was not to find flaw in your post. Just my curiosity that’s all
Keep up the good work.
I’ve lost tons of comments I’ve written so what I do now when leaving a comment on someone’s blog is copy it first before hitting submit. That way, if something goes wrong, I can just resubmit it.
Unfortunately, I only tested the rod with the lines I fish–fluorocarbon level lines and the braided nylon lines. I don’t fish traditional lines really, and I messed up my titanium line so I couldn’t try that either. I didn’t think to try the Rigs floating line because I rarely fish in situations where I need the line to float. Although I was going to use it to do some dry fly fishing this year but I’m pretty sure the recent floods have pretty much shut down the rest of the season.
Again, I probably could have done much more extensive testing but really want to encourage people to try rods out for themselves.
Jason, comparison vs the Amago or Daiwa 39 would be the heft in a larger fish without damaging the tip sections.