I’m calling this Phase One – because so far I have just put the rod together – but I plan on doing some custom paint and thread wraps (Phase 2).
A little while back I posted about Tenkara Customs and their build your own or customize your own tenkara kits and rods. The kits, which is what I got, come with everything that you need to put together your own rod, all parts, and supplies, plus a rod sock and a rod tube – these kits cost $75. Or you can order a complete rod starting at $95 (if you don’t want a rod tube. $105 with tube.) You can also work with Tenkara Customs to create a one-of-a-kind custom rod, with custom grips, paint, thread wrap, etc.. And – now this is cool – they now have all of the components available separately. So you can buy a blank ($35) and hardware ($7) and attach your own custom grip, or buy one of their stock grips or custom grips. Spare rod sections are also available. Tenkara Customs is clearly responding to what the customers want. As of this writing the rods/blanks are all 12′ 5:5 – but this may change.
So you might ask why do this? Well there are two parts to my answer. One is that I like the idea of customizing with decorative wraps and paint. A second is cost. So at present I have more rods than I need and probably never have to buy another the rest of my life. And I’m in a position that a $200+ rod is not out of reach. But I’ve been a struggling college student and a struggling grad student – and I know what it’s like to have the bucks be pretty lean. So a tenkara rod for $75 – I figure that’s got to be interesting for folks. And now that you can buy the parts separately you could actually make one for $57 worth of components plus the price of some epoxy. A rod tenkara rod for $57 – not bad. Well let’s move on.
I’m not going to give a step-by-step for this. The instructions are good and it’s not difficult. But there are a few things I’d like to emphasize though:
- Before you start, read through the entire set of instructions and make sure you have everything you’ll need. You don’t want to be running around looking for stuff with epoxy dripping.
- You’ll get some alcohol wipes for cleanup in the kit – Though I’d recommend having a whole bottle of isopropyl alcohol handy, along with plenty of paper towels and maybe some extra Q-tips too. If you’re like me you’ll find epoxy on your hands and work surface, so it’s good to be prepared.
- Also, you may want to have some masking tape on hand for shimming the grip. When I did a dry fit, I decided that I wanted to add some tape to the blank to make the fit a bit tighter, though this may not have been necessary. To get the fit that I wanted I only needed 2 wraps of masking tape.
- Warning: The one place where I almost had a disaster was when I inserted the threaded insert into the grip. I applied the epoxy placed the insert and checked for epoxy in the interior of the blank, and on the threads of the insert – looked good. A few minutes later I looked and there was epoxy in both places. So keep an eye out for that. I was easily able to clean the epoxy out with a bunch of Q-tips and alcohol, but if I hadn’t noticed, it could have been bad.
So what about the rod? Well my blank was good – no problems that I can see. It’s a flat black finish – and I always prefer flat finishes for tenkara or fly rods. The hardware is very nice. The cork grip is nice, it’s a beefy and nicely contoured grip and I like the shape quite a bit – it’s much like the grip on my Nissin ProSpec 2-Way. The cork itself is quite acceptable and is of the same quality that you’d see on just about any tenkara rod (or fly rod) out there – except for the very top shelf premium fly rods.
Tenkara Customs says that it’s somewhere between a 5:5 and 6:4. Based on my very “exacting” and “scientific” messing about with bags of pennies, and through visual comparisons with numerous other rods and also by taking a peek at Teton Tenkara‘s extensive chart of tenkara rod actions, I’m going to say it is more like something between a 6:4 and 7:3. So let’s call it a tip-flex 6:4, approaching 7:3. But take that all with a grain of salt. I can say for sure that it is not a soft full flex rod. Below is a flex comparison between the Tenkara Customs 5:5 and a Nissin Pro-Spec 6:4. The Pro-Spec 6:4 is a soft, full-flex rod. So what does this mean? Well what it means to me is that the Tenkara Custom has an action that puts it in the range of a good “all-around” trout rod. Though I love my Nissin ProSpec 6:4, it is a niche rod. It is for casting light lines and small flies to smallish fish on smallish streams (that’s what it’s best at) – I love the Pro-Spec in its place – but it is not an all-around rod. Conversely, based on its action, the Tenkara Customs rod ought to make a more versatile stick.
So how does it fish? Well…err…umm…err… Okay, you got me, I don’t know. I was trying to hold off on this post until I got a chance to fish with it. And not just once but multiple times and under various conditions, with various line types and with different size fish on the end of the line. But dang it all – weather and schedule are just not cooperating (memo to self: finish work on the weather machine). I cannot get out. So I did some backyard casting in the snow, with 18′ of #3.5 level line. And it cast that very nicely. But I don’t like to draw too many conclusions from yard fishing. And I’ll hold my judgement until I get on the water.
So in short – I’ve enjoyed this project so far. In fact, I’ve enjoyed it all so much I’ve got some more components on the way for another project. I’ve still got the decorative work to do on the rod and I’ll keep you updated. The blank and component quality at first examination looks excellent. I’ll have to let you know how it fishes later, after I get some stream time.