Cost to US = $79 USD Please note that The Tenkara Times has told me that US customers are refunded the Value Added Tax (VAT) so that the final price will be $79 – not $95 (it is a bit confusing on their site)
Shipping to US = $9 USD
Closed length: 56.5 cm (22.3″)
Weight: 79 grams (2.8 oz.)
Handle length: 28 cm (11″)
Number of segments: 8
The Tenkara Times 1st Step 360 6:4 is the Tenkara Times “starter” rod. But as I mentioned in other reviews don’t let that throw you. The more that I think of it, the name “1st Step” is actually a genius name for a tenkara rod. I like to think of my own tenkara experience not as a destination – and not even as a journey – but as a series of “first steps”. What I mean is that I try not to think of any destination at all – or even of the journey as a whole – but I try to stay in the moment. And the name “1st Step” is a great reminder of that – take each step like a first step, full of wide-eyed, childlike wonder.
According to the Tenkara Times description:
With a very gradual transition from the softer tip sections to the stiffer mid and butt sections, you will find casting stroke is remarkably smooth. . It has certain additional strength to reduce the risk of harm which can be inherent in beginners. This rod is optimal for casting level lines #3.5-#4 and light-weighted 3,6 m furled lines. In windy conditions it will not find itself overburdened with the #4.5 size or heavy-weighted furled lines.
So what’s that all mean? Well here’s what I found. I did the common cents testing – hanging bags of pennies off of the rod ( read more about it and see a nice database of evaluated rods at the TenkaraBum site) – to get a sense of overall stiffness and flex profile. Some people put stock in it – some don’t. I think that it can be useful in comparing rods, especially when coupled with an evaluation of the flex profile. So the 1st Step 360 6:4 tested out at about 19 pennies. This is somewhere near the middle, trending to “soft” for 6:4 tenkara rods. But that can be deceiving and is only part of the story. The other part of the story is where that deflection occurs on the rod length. Theoretically two rods can have the same “penny rating” but one may have most of the deflection in the tip and the other rod may flex more over the full length of the rod. As a result they can be quite different rods to cast and fish with.
The 1st Step rod is the of the latter type – it flexes smoothly over much of the rod. So, though it is in the low-middle range of penny rating for 6:4 rods it is not “tippy” and the result is a fairly slow casting stroke with a good “feel”. That tactile feedback can be comforting – especially to the beginner.
At least that’s what I get out of it. To test out the tip flex, and get an idea of it’s all around range, I put on a wooly bugger with a split shot snugged up to the tip and swam it through some downstream pools. Very soft tipped rods will not deal with this well and when you try to pulse a weighted bugger you won’t get much response in the fly. The 1st Step 360 handle this well – and fishing a small weighted bugger downstream against a bit of current was not a problem.
I fished with #2 and #4.5 level lines (all about 10′ long) as well as with a Moonlit Fly Fishing Ronin furled line – the 1st Step worked fine with all of these. I didn’t fish longer lines (no room) but I yard cast longer lines up to 18′ with good results. Though I found the #2 line quite castable, I suspect many might prefer a heavier line – especially when using a short line. As I expected the Moonlit Ronin furled line was a dream to cast – and if you haven’t tried light furled lines – especially with dry flies – you really have to give them a try.
A few last words – at 2.8 oz it’s fairly light in this price range. Also it’s collapsed length is slightly longer at 22.3″ than some other 12′ rods – the result is a rod with 8 segments rather than the 9 that many others have.
I like the flat black finish of the Tenkara Times rods – personally I think all rods should have a flat, no-glare finish. The fit and finish is very good. The screw-cap has the rubber damper to prevent annoying clacking. The tip-cap has fluted rubber edges to allow you to easily keep the line out while the cap is on. The cork handle is a double contour style, with a slim long tapered upper profile – unique to the Tenkara Times rods. The rod comes in a utilitarian plastic tube with slide on caps- it will protect the rod from but it’s nothing fancy (optional aluminum tubes are available). The rod sock is very nice – it’s a stretchy knit fabric (like a sock) with a side opening. No flaps or tie strings to mess with.
So…how about that rod giveaway? The rod in question is of course a Brand New Tenkara Times 1st Step 360 (not the rod that I fished with to review but a brand spanking new one). Let’s make it fun and simple – make a comment below and make it clear in the comment you want to try for the rod by starting the comment with “Tenkara Rod Giveaway” – your comment must also include a fishing related Haiku Poem to be eligible. I will have my kids choose the winner from among the poems – so make sure it’s kid friendly if you want a chance to win. If you haven’t commented on Casting Around previously, your comment will need to be moderated – that may take a few hours or so, but don’t worry I’ll get to it. All entries must be in by midnight eastern standard time on Saturday May 3rd, 2014. If you comment prior to that deadline but it hasn’t been cleared by the moderator yet – no worries you will still be eligible.
disclaimer: I purchased the Tenkara Times 1st Step 360 for review at a discount.