By Morgan Lyle
You can now buy a rod from the Tenkara Bum – and not just any rod: a high-end Daiwa, just like the guys in Japan fish.
For two years, www.tenkarabum.com has been a retail outlet for tenkara lines, flies and accessories, as well as an excellent repository of tenkara lore. But only now has the Bum, whose real identity is Christopher Stewart of New York City, offered rods for sale.
Stewart enters a U.S. market that is dominated by Tenkara USA, which introduced tenkara tackle and methods to the western world in April 2009, and also Fountainhead and several smaller rod sellers. The difference is Tenkara Bum’s rods cost twice as much as anything else on the market outside of Japan.
“I think the tenkara market in the U.S. is now ready for some premium rods,” Stewart said. “Even the Daiwas I’m bringing in are not their most expensive series of rods. These are the mid-priced rods in Japan – or at least the mid-priced rods from one of the top name companies. They’re really, really nice rods, though, and I do think that once people decide they like tenkara, they’re going to love these rods.”
TenBum’s Daiwas include the LT series (level line/tapered line) in a 7:3 action in lengths from 10 feet, 7 inches to 14 feet, 5 inches and priced from $345 to $415; and two models in the 5:5 LL (level line) series, an 11-foot-8 for $360 and a 13-foot-5 for $400.
The rod actions are a bit different than the tenkara rods we’re accustomed to in the U.S., Stewart reports. The faster-action 7:3 rods aren’t as stiff as other brands, and the 5:5s aren’t as soft – especially since the LL rods have hollow tips, which makes them a bit stiffer. Stewart explains all this on his site.
We tenkara enthusiasts have been wondering whether Daiwa and Shimano, the top tenkara rod companies in Japan, would begin selling to the U.S. market. So far, they haven’t; Stewart imports the Daiwas and says he sells them for about the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.
Until now, the only way western customers could buy a Daiwa or a Shimano was by dealing directly with a Japanese retailer, which isn’t very easy for those of us who don’t speak Japanese.