Let’s talk tenkara!

Jason KlassIn this ongoing series, Jason Klass hosts casual conversations with tenkara anglers around the world to explore the most interesting and esoteric facets of our rich sport.

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Ep. 11: Tom Davis’ & Jason Klass’ Fantasy Gear Wishlist

Tenkara podcast tom davis jason klass

Dr. Tom Davis surgically removing trout from a stream somewhere in southeast Idaho. The titanium tamo (net) mentioned in this episode is in the background.


  • While discussing spools, I said, “40mm” and “60mm” when I should have said, “90mm” and “120mm”
  • Tom said Thom was dead. But Thom’s not dead, Tom!
  • Other than those two things, we really do know everything. 

Imagine for a moment ..

You’re walking along the bank of your favorite river … when all of a sudden, “clink”–your toe kicks a bottle on the ground.

You pick it up, and out of curiosity, open it. To your surprise, a “gear genie” emerges and grants you one wish:

You can have any type of tenkara gear you want–exactly to your specifications. All you have to do is picture it, and it will magically appear!

What would you wish for?

All of us have our “dream” gear–and, probably, an unwritten wishlist of gear we’d like to have, but doesn’t exist.

Well, Tom Davis and I wrote ours down, and in this episode, we reveal the design ideas we wish gear manufacturers would bring to life (and … a few we wish they’d kill).

Dr. Tom Davis is best known for his blog, Teton Tenkara, and as Contributing Editor and Head of Gear Evaluation at Tenkara Angler.

But perhaps his greatest contribution to tenkara is his creation of the Rod Flex Index: a comprehensive chart where you can easily compare the actions of a wide range of tenkara rod brands and models.

The RFI is arguably one of the most important resources available to tenkara anglers today!

I asked Tom to make a list of the designs and trends he’d like to see in the industry, and I wrote down my own.

We agreed to not share our lists prior to recording so we’d get the most authentic reactions to each other’s ideas (and because it’s just more fun that way).

So listen in and see if anything on our list made yours too!

Jason’s List

My wishlist probably isn’t much of a surprise since I’ve been harping about them for years. 


Tenkara podcast tom davis jason klass

Tom’s List

What was surprising though (to me at least), was how many ideas we had in common!
Tom Davis Jason Klass Podcast

What’s on YOUR gear wishlist?


  1. – Improved Level Line Visibility
    – Wader shoes with detachable soles (more offerings)
    – Waders that aren’t so bulky but still freedom to move
    – Better options for glasses wearers for clip on shades
    – Most of Tom & Jason’s wishes would be many of mine too.


  2. If you want rod blanks so you can build your own rod it is really pretty easy to duplicate the DIY experience. Decide how long you want your rod to be. Either buy an off the shelf tenkara rod that is at least one section longer than your desired length, or use one of your existing rods. Buy or fabricate a cork grip that will fit the section that would result in a rod of your desired length. Buy a spare for that section and glue your cork grip onto the spare. Buy and install the fittings required to act as a grip screw cap so the parts won’t all slide out the back end (it will be tricky to find what you need, as the fittings that serve that function exist but are not sold as rod parts). Buy a Fuji KTC-12 or PTC-10 to serve as a rod cap, or make your own. You have now made a DIY tenkara rod. I have Mini-Me 6’0″ and 7’5″ TenkaraBum 36 rods that are really sweet for very small streams. Want a matte blank? Wet/dry sandpaper will give you a matte gray blank. Don’t like the swivel tip, break it off and glue a lillian on in its place. As I recall, Rob Worthing once did that to an early Tenkara USA rod on the belief that a tenkara rod should have no moving parts. And if you want the amazing swing weight of the original Oni rod, when you glue on your grip, leave some space for some large lead split shot or worm weights. Tip heaviness is a question of center of gravity, not overall rod weight.

    A lot of the other things on both wish lists are readily available, they just aren’t free. In reality, nothing is free, the true cost of everything is just embedded in the price. Want a spare tip? Order a spare tip when you buy the rod. I have customers that do exactly that. Same with a universal cap when I still offered them. It’s really no big deal to put more than one item in the cart, and the end cost would likely be exactly the same.

    I agree completely with Tom’s feelings regarding tenkara rods with long collapsed lengths, such as the Daiwa Master L and the Nissin Air Stage Honryu and Royal Stage Honryu rods. More companies don’t offer them because more customers don’t buy them. Daiwa has already discontinued the Master rods, and I would not be at all surprised if the Air Stage Honryu got discontinued as well (if it hasn’t been already).

    • Hi Chris! Yes, you could do all of that for a completely DIY rod. In fact, my friend Dennis has done it and I fished with it! Actually, it cast pretty well, but had balance problems and other issues. However, in this episode, Tom and I were really focusing on what we’d like manufacturers to do. The mainstream fly fishing industry has offered blanks and/or kits forever. What you’re talking about is more in-depth DIY. You’re going to have to track down some pretty esoteric parts, might need special tools, etc.. Dennis also happens to have a tool shop, so that helps. Some people want to go that far, but I think others want a somewhat more accessible DIY experience. If you want to do it to get your feet wet without a big investment, a kit guarantees you’ll have the parts that fit. My point was that I think there could be a market for that specific audience. Coincidentally, right before I wrote this reply, I saw someone asking about blanks and kits on the Keiryu Rod Co. Facebook Page! 🙂

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Jason Klass, Author
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