Long rods

So I wanted to start a thread to discuss long rods. I read an entry in the TUSA book. Rod length for tenkara maxes out around 4.5 meters. I may even argue that it may max out at 4 meters.

I believe this is true. It is not to say you cannot fish and use some tenkara techniques with a longer rod…like a 5 or 6 meter rod. Its more that the rod length makes it much much more difficult to employ all tenkara manipulation techniques effortlessly.

The longer the rod the more minute the movement required for subtle manipulations of the fly. Really hard to do when the force and fulcrum is 5 meters or more from the end of the wand.

I fished a 3.6 meter rod recently for a whole day. Then I hit a bigger river and fish for an hour with my 5.3m suntech GM. All I can say is that I could not employ all my tricks as easily. There is definitely a change in precision in both casting and manipulation.

I have fished long rods all day long. Even my 5m / 5 oz carp rods…Those are a strain one handed…but it is possible. This is sort of noting that long rods do have their place and are awesome for fighting larger stronger fish.

Its the typical trade of finesse for power.

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I guess it depends on where you fish, and how you fish.
For me, where I usually fish the streams and creeks are fairly low gradient, low flow waterways, and I tend to have the most success when fishing the deeper pools of those waterways. Now, because these waterways have a pretty slow flow, the surface is calm and unbroken, which means that wary fish (and they’re all wary) spook easily because they can see the silhouette of a potential predator (me).
A longer rod would allow me to present my fly, nymph or bait at a greater distance and reduce the chance of the fish detecting a threat.

Also, I don’t really fish unweighted kebari style flies. I haven’t had much success with them, maybe I’m no good at presenting them correctly but generally I stick to small bead-head nymph patterns or slightly wire weighted bug patterns and more recently, split shot weighted bait.

Recently, I fished a small overgrown stream that is pictured below. I have fished this stream about 4 times over two years and never caught a fish, but I had always seen fish in the stream. Initially trying with small spin gear, then after discovering tenkara I had fished with my small GM 2.7m rod but still found it extremely difficult to cast a fly because of the dense vegetation.

Some might say that even a 2.7m rod was too long for this overgrown stream, or stop trying to fish that creek and move on. However I was determined to land a fish from this stream as a personal challenge and I’m happy to say that I was successful on my 5th visit to the stream. I found success not by going to a shorter rod (which I have a 2.1m Kiyotaki), but by going to a longer rod and shorter line. I actually landed a fish with a keiryu setup (you can just see the markers in the above photo slight left) with my GMR Special 36NP and a line that was less than half the length of the rod. With a line less than 1.8m long I was able to underarm pendulum swing the weighted bait without fear of getting stuck in the constant overhead trees. There’s no reason to say this wouldn’t have worked with a small weighted fly or bead-head instead of the grub I was using. Now if you expand this formula to a larger waterway, it is evident a longer rod will be required, which is what I plan to do with the new Jade 65M I have recently received.



For your usage there is no doubt a long rod has advantages. Especially nymphing or slow drifting in large water and larger pools. I too own some longer rods for the same reasons.

Can you share the type of fish you target?

The notes I was making are more inline with tenkara manipulation techniques of both unweighted and light wire weighed flies. I have started getting more skilled with the shorter rods and am noticing that I just cannot do the same tricks as effectively with the 5 meter rods.

I am not sure if it helps, but I would definitely give lighter flies a try in calm water. There are still currents in there and they can an will deliver a lighter fly to places that might be more difficult with a heavier fly.

Targeting those larger pools in greylight can be another huge advantage. Mostly the bookends of the day but also overcast conditions. When the sun is up and bright the fish will push for the saftey of the depths, structure, and cover. They are also more likely to see you or shadows of your line and rod. Some of my haunts have several different birds that will feast on trout. The trout become wary of any movement. I noticed that I do much better in the magic hours than I do when the sun is up…and high noon is the most challenging unless the water itself provides cover with its speed or foam.

I have not done this myself for trout but I fish for salt species at night. Some of those larger pools might be interesting to try on a full moon if you feel you can cast without a light and have enough room not to snag up.

I use the bow and arrow cast a lot when things get tight. Not sure if you have used it but I tend to use it a lot in tight quarters. You can often get the fly delivered lower than with an upright or even a side arm cast. Great for geting in to the nooks under the overhanging brush.The only reason I mention it is because you mentioned the pendulum cast, which I find far less precise.

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This can be lots of fun for trout. At least in my experience (and from a few things I’ve read over the years) the biggest brown trout feed at night. It definitely has its challenges, but can be fun.

The species I’m chasing in the streams pictured is trout. Browns mostly but I have caught rainbows there as well.

I should definitely try to improve my success rate with unweighted kebari. I guess coming this far having much more success with weighted patterns, confidence in an unproven method (for me) would be my greatest hinderance.

When I fished the small overgrown stream with the GM27 I was using the bow cast a lot. I agree that it is very accurate but for this particular stream I was having to bow cast nearly every cast. While the bow cast definitely has its place I don’t find fishing very enjoyable when having to bow cast more than 90% of the time. It breaks up the flow for me too much.
Also, not really shown in the pictures, there are a lot of sections that are broken up by fallen logs across the stream. Having the 36NP with a short line allowed me to lift over the obstacle and place it in front for a short drift towards the sheltered area under the log. This resulted in one hookup but I wasn’t paying complete attention and did not set the hook properly, which allowed the small trout to headshake itself free.

Fishing the larger pools at night is something I have thought about. This would also open up the target fish to include River Blackfish, a small Australian native which almost exclusively feeds at night.

If you can get over the boogieman factor, night fishing is pretty awesome. Have to get into the mindset that you are the boogiman. Although, considering your location I bet there are a bunch of legitamate creepy crawlies on the prowl at night.

You are right about the bow cast…it gets old quick. Definitely try lighter flies. I will do a post shortly in the kebari section with some suggestions that might help.

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the longest rods I’ve fished have been 4.5m- Nissin ZX450 and Daiwa Seiryu-X 45.
The Nissin felt like a telephone pole, I didn’t like it at all, the Daiwa feels just like a long tenkara rod to me.
I can cast it all day, but i will feel it later on.
I’m reasonably accurate with it, certainly less-so than with my shorter rods. It does however give me great standoff distance without resorting to long lines.
I don’t think there’s a rod longer than 4.5m that will balance well enough to be used like a tenkara rod while being realistically comfortable.

My gm 53 is pretty nice. Light and can cast pretty well. The grayce is pretty nice too. They are definitely fishable…just not as comfortable or precise. Definitely nice rods for big water and big fish. Leash em and land em.

With the conversation going on about line length for the x45 I thought I’d revive this thread too.

I’d like to know what kind of water/flies do you fish with your longer rods ? I’m really on the fence of buying a x45 to have a rod for larger waters and I’m curious of how people use theirs. I fish mountain streams and rivers almost exclusively and my 3,60 m is working 90% of the time, except sometimes on large, clear pools or flats where I spook fish by being too close. Stories of how you use your rod would be nice to read. Photos of your streams even better.

I have one rod that is 4.5 meters. It is the nissin oni honryu rod. Its a fanstic rod, but I do not use it.

When I long rod, it is in wider rivers(40 feet or more across), and the difference of 1/2 to 1 meter is not a whole lot so I opt for the gm 53 that zooms from 4.5 to 5.3…and mostly fish it at 5.3 for the reach. The only way to use these longer rods is to have a lot of room. If you do not have a lot of room…then the utility drops quickly to zero. Both longer rod and longer line. Often long rod forces one to step into and cast from inside the river. In most cases…this will spook fish, so stealth advantages can be lost.

Most of the water I fish has enough of a canopy to prefer a 3.6-4.0 meter rod. Seems like most people are in this camp for good reason.

In terms of spooking fish. I believe that stealth is good, and rod length can help but in my mind as a solution…it is not going to make much of a difference. I have spooked fish from 30 feet creeping up to a spot. I believe in fish personalities and temperament. Some have a hair trigger. Some could care less and will strike a fly if you are on top of them. So, I use stealth but I do not obsess on it. I let the pool and the fish give me what it will. Most of the time in those deep pools you can target areas or approach where the fish just will not see you. Getting low is part of it…check out that thread on the OZ videos…there are nuggets in their much more valuable than rod length.


Yea, those videos are gold, I had a wonderful time watching them and they definitely had an impact on my sneaking tactics, with results to boot.

I’m very happy with my 360 overall, but there have been a few rivers where I felt a bit confused on how to fish with the reach I have. I have little experience on 30 ft wide rivers and up so I’m grateful for your input, cheers.

The utility of a fixed line rods definitely diminishes with bigger water. Width is not as much of a problem as depth. If its deep the best we can do is to fish the structure we can reach. You can fish fixed line deep but its definitely not its strong suit. I would opt for rods and gear suited to heavy offerings. If the depth is shallow and wadeable…then as a lot of people note a wide river is fished just like a small brook but broken down into an array of parallel pockets of structure.

I had a spurt where I fished longer rods a lot…pretty much one season. The novelty and the fun of it. Now, I prefer to fish fixed line in water suited for it. The smaller brooks and streams.

One thought on deeper pools. Try targeting them at greylight hours on the bookends of the day. The fish may be more willing to come out to play under the cover of low light.


That is a really nice rod, a nice tenkara rod, a nice honryu tenkara rod.

Super nice.

I like my Gamakatsu 5m, it is a big rod, I’m using it, catching, experimenting with lines up to 10m and catching fish with it.

Catching fish on a 10m line is kick ass.

It’s a little heavy, my arm has yet to hurt fishing and catching with it but it’s usually a 2 day max use and only a few hours each day.

I argue a little with people that say use a longer line on a shorter rod, I like using a longer line on a longer rod and fishing big water with it. After a while, I get tired of arguing and now after some time, I just study what the Japanese honryu fisher does and it seems I am on the right track.

The rod will tell you what to do and the fishing validates that.

Completely and totally disagree.

My 5m single hand Gamakatsu Suimu is a bitchen river rod for nice sized rainbows.

I fish it with 6 - 10m lines, I’ve used all sorts and I’m zeroing down on clear premium 14lb Seaguar Invizex. Its a great rod, casts a long line like nobodies business. Im still young on it but man I’m tapping into another level of tenkara in a big river. I fish this rod deep and it’s like morse code, I can feel the taps from a long way away.

Bit then again, I want to fish a long rod, I like the idea so I found a company that developed rods for what I want to do. The guy who tests these rods is a artist at long line.

I’m not special, I just have a lot of fly casting experience zinging long line in the salt but that has NOTHING to do with honryu except the ergonomics of casting transmits to what I’m doing. Most of my quiver has been 4m rods +. I have a video of myself doing… I’ll find it and you watch, 4.5m rod, step across stream, almost every single cast is one single forward motion pinpoint target.

Not bragging, this is what I do, it’s what I know.

…and now I get to do this on a powerful river for big trout?

Heck yeah!

Video is like uh, more than 7 years?

Sebata san and a few others use long rods regularly. I would not discount the utility of a long rod. Designers have a challenge with physics. Wind resistance with a long rod comes into play, the drag of the rod through the air especially in the wind.

But this length is not easy, and that’s what I LOVE about it, the challenge of using a long rod, long line. It’s not easy. That’s where the lesson is.

It isn’t in easy.

I fish my Suimu and then goto a 3.6m and it disappears in my hand, so light.

I really like that people don’t like long rods and long lines.

I like figuring things out on my own.

That’s where I learn.

Your best teacher is yourself figuring it out by doing hard things. Go in the direction of resistance if you want to get better at this. Stop doing what everyone else says and do your own thing.

It is helpful to explain why you disagree if you want to educate.

The physical nature of deep water and cross currents diminishes our ability to:

  1. present our offering in every corner in a stretch of water
  2. If its deep enough…we may not ever be able to present in the fish’s strike zone
  3. Keep contact with our fly.
  4. move into or through the river to present(bank bound angler)

My comment…did not say I do not fish deep water with fixed line. What I am noting is that it is not practical. In the salt I fished water in a channel that is 15’ deep. It requires a lot of patience and you can do it, its just more effective to use other tools like spinning gear and lead.

With tenkara or fixed line… sink rate and current comes into play with deep water, and no matter the skill or patience of the angler there will be holds in a river that an angler just cant access or present with enough consistency to give results. The deeper the water, the more weight you need. Even the slowest moving water is a challenge if its deep enough. This is why its not a strong suit. Fixed line is not thorough or effective. With spinning gear I can probe all the water quickly and efficiently. Fixed line is not the most effective tool to all fishing situations.

I would consider deep water anything deeper than 4’. Depending on the amount of current. I feel that under most conditions most fish will not move that far vertically to take an offering. The only caveat to that is if the fish are feeding heavily on a hatch.

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True, there is no debate there.

I think its fair to challenge ourselves. It is fun!
There is a reason there are long rods…they have utility.

That video is like fantasy land. No foliage…what a dream. Most of the water I fish is so filled with trees bushes deadfall, etc…

I think its fair that the joy of casting and presenting is most of our motivation and priority. Thanks for sharing.

With your other notes on long line, I can understand the appeal and challenge, but also feel that under most circumstances longer line just makes things more challenging. Definitely a good skill to master, but I do feel that shorter line presentations can be more versatile. Again a lot of this could depend on the conditions/environment we fish.

I agree, that’s why I kept it brief in order to give you time to explain.

I’m not posting as an educator, nothing like that.

I’m having fun sharing my experiences, Paul Gaskell is a good educator if his lessons cover your topic.

I’m more of a meet the guy at the (gravel) bar and I’m discussing what I do in my language.

Instead of picking apart what you wrote I’ll just say that life is a series of choices.

I would not choose to fish a long rod in a tunnel stream.

I do not like to waste my time on the water either. I choose a good challenge that will reward me. I don’t attempt things thatI know I will fail. That happens all the time and it’s the best lesson but I layer success until I’m reaching for something that is difficult and continue till I figure it out, wether I will succeed or I should call it a day.

A long line on a long rod in the right place is best.

You started the conversation with let’s talk about long rods and pretty much you don’t like them, not good for tunnel streams.

I don’t think so either.

We agree on that.


Uh huh!

Agreed…well that is the most obvious, but also even in my first entry in there are things I note that are more critical in the choice.

It could be that the rod you are using is very unique, but just yesterday I casted my 5.3 and found it comparatively awkward. My Gm is tip heavy at that length and although I can fish it, it requires far more effort than other lengths on the same rod. An extra meter does get us extra reach, but that same reach can me attained by using our legs and moving.

I am not saying to discount that long rod are useful. They are actually far better at fighting fish than shorter rods. There is a lot of utility in them. I am just noting that with the benefits there are also some attributes that are limiting. Some of the subtle things that I can do with shorter rods would be really difficult with a longer rod. Mostly rod angle and manipulation subtleties.

Choose your rods wisely.

Dr. Tom can help.