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Of course, we fixed line anglers do not have the counter balance weight of the reel, backing and line to begin with but, adding these weights to a rod behind your casting hand will make a rod less Tip-Heavy…Karl.
Golfers have been using this idea for years, making a club head feel lighter by adding a little weight to the handle. Euro nymphing guys do the same thing.
With the exception of the long fixed line rods (5m+) my very personal and biased opinion is that if a tenkara rod feels tip heavy it’s, well, not a rod I’d ever, ever want own. (The phrase from an interview in another industry some years back comes to mind… “ineptly designed and shoddily manufactured”)
There are many tenkara rods that are a joy to cast because they are so incredibly light. That’s the path I’ve chosen…
James, I could not agree with you more! But the reality is we all, probably, have rods we like and fish that are more tip-heavy than we would like them to be.
Truth is, how we grip our rods has a huge influence on how tip-heavy they feel. Holding the butt of the grip in the palm of your hand puts 99 or so percent of the rod’s weight out on the tip-heavy side of the rod, and there is no getting around the fact that the longer a rod is, the more tip-heavy it will feel, no matter how well it is designed and how light the materials are that it is made with. The Laws of Physics can not be denied or repealed by anyone.
There are some prime rod builders who turn out top rate rods who add counterbalancing weight to their rod’s butts to make them feel light in our hands, and even though their rod is a couple ounces heavier in weight than rods made by the competition that will feel heaver in our hands than the weight added rods do in casting and fishing. Light weight in and of itself, while definitely helpful, is no guarantee of a tip-light feeling rod. It is how the rod’s weight is distributed over the length of the rod that determines how tip-heavy any given rod will feel.
The rod balance kits give anglers an opportunity to test and alter their rod’s balance point to test and enjoy better balanced rods for themselves at a fraction of the cost of buying a new rod, with no guarantee that the new rod will be any better than your other rods are unless the moment numbers are compared and taken into account - anything above 6 will feel increasingly tip-heavy. This is where Teton Tenkara’s Rod Charts are worth their weight in gold.
I fish a number of disciplines. Like, fly rod and reel, surfcasting spinning outfits, both of which are extremely much heavier and hand than a tenkara rod. I am positive they are tip heavy. I personally feel swing weight and rod balance to be a bunch of bs in real world application. Factor in what we are casting and there is a ton of force on the rod tips. Some Lures I cast and retrieve are 6 oz. Flyrod grains up to 410. On cast those make the system extremely tip heavy.
Getting to tenkara rods. What are we talking about? Most rods are under 3 oz…the line is negligible. I do agree 5m rods can be uncomfortable to employ tenkara embellishments. In general, if we stick to 3.6m and under the swing weight should never be a noticable factor when fishing any decent rod.
Eat your spinach…or build some arm strength if you find a tenkara rod fatiguing.
I find rod balance to be a lot of fuss and preocuption that really does not add a ton of value. I am willing to bet of we did a pepsi challenge with a number of 4m tenkara rods most folk would not be able to order them by swing weight.
This is a more refined version of the electrical tape handle on my 4.5M seiryu rod. While its nice and light 2+ oz without my “custom” handle, the added 3oz from the tape has drastically changed the feel of the rod for the better in my opinion. Also maybe its from a decade of competitive powerlifting and having strong forearms but a few of the rods I own like the shimano 44np and oni honryu 450 and the daiwa expert ll45m that are rated as fairly tip heavy just dont feel bad at all to me and I can fish them comfortably all day. They are some of my favorite rods to fish. Another example of the counter weight in effect is my oni type 1 with bamboo handle. At 4oz it is my heaviest tenkara rod but is one of the lightest feeling in the hand. Different strokes for different folks though. I fully understand the preference for light rods.
Dylan, that is a very good point I have been trying to make here for a long time now - if you move your hand up the rod grip to where you can place your first finger on the rod blank, most (if not all) of the tip-heavy feeling will go away. Plus, you will gain all the sensitivity that the graphite rod blank can provide. Cork and foam are insulators that mute the vibrations the graphite rod blank transmits so readily to the angler. The double-hump grip design evolved so the heel of the casting hand can ride in the valley between the two humps on the grip and the back of the grip can rest against the forearm, taking almost all pressure off of the wrist, giving the angler more control, power, comfort and better sensitivity with the first finger resting on the blank. The slight amount of distance lost by advancing the hand on the grip can be easily be gotten back with a little more tippet length.
As humans, we have an ability to become accustomed to almost anything in time. It is not that the anglers who complain about tip heavy rods are wimps, necessarily. You have to have the experience of the Joy you can experience when fishing with a well balanced rod to truly understand how wonderful it is. In a since it spoils you for fishing with all tip-heavy rods there after. Lighter rods are just more fun to fish with. Making a heavy rod Feel Lighter makes it more fun to fish with even if what is added to the rod to make it feel lighter makes the rod, in fact, Heavier.
Choking up and down on a rod handle is definitely something I do over an outing for different purposes. Most anglers I know, also do this. Sometimes it is done to just modify the reach of the rod. Sometimes it changes the ease of certain manipulations. I think all this stuff is pretty well documented. I like holding from the very end as i feel the hand wrist posture is more relaxed, which most definitely changes the balance to tip heavy. That is another reason why rod balance is a bit of a non consideration for me.
There are also many things to consider in rod selection that may be more important for some than swing weight. Flex profile for casting and rod durability and fish fighting attributes. I would consider those attributes as primary over swing weight. In terms of engineering we have to pick what is most important to us, we cannot have it all…and swing weight for me is trivial.
Shorter rods will naturally have less fatigue and frankly I feel we can do more with them in terms of manipulation.
Much of what we do is casting and manipulation. I do agree that if a rod is a pleasure to do both of those things then it is a great rod. Add in fish fighting attributes, then it is excellent. These attributes may not align with swing weight.
It would be interesting to quantify what tip heavy means in terms of actual stress on an angler. I would bet ease of casting and line pairing with a rod may be larger factors to fatigue.
I have found improper posture and casting form to affect more fatigue than most anything else, yet I never recall ever seeing a thread or artical on that topic. The fly fishing community loves to fixate on tackle and statistics. It is what fuels the commercial aspect of what we do. I think it is fair to consider some of what we are being fed, but we should also reflect and do our own evaluation and come to our own conclusions. There is so much more power in that avenue.
Very true. We don’t spend enough time discussing proper tenkara casting body position or kinesiology. Maybe it’s because we all think we are doing it correctly? I don’t know. I know that I don’t always. I wrote this in my Oni rod review back in 2013, but it bears repeating: “The Oni rod works perfectly with proper tenkara casting method – arm bent, elbow down and tight against your body, wrist inline with forearm, and imparting little wrist flexion/extension – a relaxed, unforced action.” I need to practice my tenkara casting body mechanics more. Thank you for reminding me!
I have 40 Tenkara Rods by 10 companies. Not sure of the original place of design or manufacture. They have differing varied lengths, weights, handles, points of balance. I have always been willing to adjust where I grip the handle and blank, how I grip the rod, to get the best action and results wherever I happen to be fishing. I’ve never felt there was a fixed, proper or specific way to hold a Tenkara Rod. I just ordered six of these. It will be interesting to see the effect on the various rods I use most, or even the rods that I used least.
Tom, Considering your occupation, it would be wonderful for you to write an article on this topic. Granted, I would rate tenkara as light impact compared to other disciplines, but just the same posture is everything…even in walking and running. I have horrible posture, when I fish and when I do not. Recently I have been fishing heavy flyrods in the 9 and 10 weight range. My casting mechanics need guidance and I have some injuries recently because of poor technique. In fact so many folk in my salt flyfishing forum are plagued with shoulder, elbow, and wrist injuries. The more efficiently we cast and fish is so critical to our longevity on the water and number of years we can enjoy this sport.