Tenkara rod sections spine alignment?

Rod spine/spline.
In my reading I have not seen mention of Tenkara rods and how their action is affected by each section being aligned according to each sections spine, I have commercially built a lot of rods including fly rods and the action is affected by aligning the guides to the “soft” or “hard” of the blank or sections of the blank. Has anyone marked their Tenkara rod sections and aligned the spine and tested?
Regards Howie,

Rod maker and builder here.

I have found that rods with more sections tend to be more accurate.

Longer sections and cheaper mass produced rods, not so much.

Try finding the spine in each section and marking it and compare it to a mixed or non marked deployed rod and see if you can tell the difference in flex and accuracy.

It’s not worth the effort after actually doing it.

Might be fun to try it yourself to see what you find.

Hi Adam,
Thanks for your reply, yes I marked the spine each section this morning but the rain came in and I haven’t had a chance to see if I can feel any difference in the action, I will report when I get a chance to cast it.
Cheers Howie

I use a tuna can to practice. There is a famous Japanese tenkara fisherman that wrote about it in his book. It’s an amazing skill to hone. I wrote a little on it and submitted the game at a tenkara summit with many people giving it a try.

Anyway, I like multi section rods, typically a shorter nesting rod for accuracy.

I would rather the wrong fly in the right place…

In building a glass or graphite fly rod, I spine the rod. I’ve had the opportunity to see rods rolled on a mandrel, Mark Steffen invited me to watch him roll the 1-weight we designed together in his kitchen.

Planing a bamboo exposed mortise rod? Heck yeah! The last rod I worked on was a node less exposed mortise rod (swelled butt section) corkless thing with gees, 70 pieces or so, a scarf rod.

Tenkara rods? More about fishing, tech, but people like talk, you might find traction.

1 Like

I am just beginning to do some rod building and this link I found interesting. Particularly the section on “truth”

As they say. Follow your bliss :hugs:

1 Like

Yup, basic stuff about what and how.

In bamboo, prevailing winds…

With tenkara?

Have fun!

So true.


The subject of spining rods has caused & continues to cause huge debate. The truth is that under the tension of the cast the rod will always bend according to the tension of the fly line against the guides and tiptop, the effect of the spine on a fully loaded rod is negligible. - So truly, it matters little (all respect to the great Don Green)

Do what you feel is best for your build, it’s you rod - follow your bliss.


Sage spines their fly rods on the straightest set.

I always spines my (planed rods) on the spine.

With a tenkara rod, how are you going to grip the rod with reference to the spine?

Flat spot on the cork for the thumb or a reference mark on the blank?

For me, when I’m fishing, it needs to be simple. Homework? Heck yeah, do the homework and reap the rewards.

1 Like

I have never given it much thought and I guess sort of enjoy the spine roulette.

As noted so much of angling nuances are just that… Micro potential advantages…all of which are condition dependent and may not be worth the effort to dial in.

I suspect that even if one were to mark an align a spine, that there may be some twisting during casting or fighting fish that may take that rod out of alignment. I guess it would be an interesting experiment, but suspect the difference might be incredibly hard to detect.

Some rod builders have some slop in their rod construction. Some rods of the same model have different overall lengths , different lengths in segment numbers, and different lengths of segment overlap. For all purposes…even within a model those rods are different rods…with differences in flex and bend profiles.

I try not to get hung up on those variances. Fishing is an organic and improvisational endeavor. Most of these rods are excellent and we have a crazy ability to adapt to any rod. We just intuitively change our casting stroke to whatever the rod and conditions are.


I think it is noble to measure a rod and identify its dna. I hope he writes about his findings in identifying and using the spine a tenkara rod.

That would be fun to read.

Very cool.

Hope you dive deep into it.

1 Like

Interesting observation. Can’t say I would agree or disagree. I do not have the observational skills of someone who has built rods.

However, I have generally believed that when comparing two different rods of the same length. For example, one rod has 4 or five sections, and the other rod with 7, 8 or 9 sections. It seemed like the rod with fewer sections would flex to a smoother curve. [due, I think, to it having fewer hard spots where sections overlap]. That to me seemed to be the smoother casting rod. I just kind of assumed it might also be more accurate, too, but did not really make any detailed observation weather it was or not.

Leading to a “Gedankenexperiment”, thought experiment. That perhaps the smoothest casting rod would be a one section rod. But of course a non collapsible 3.6m ~ 4m long rod could not be practically transported anywhere. But perhaps it would also be less accurate than a multi-section rod.

Your keener judgement of casting accuracy is probably much better than mine.

The Nissin Mini and V3 have so many sections and are extremely accurate. The Furaibo zoom, Sakura Kongo, all have more than most, it’s Opposite Day with them, more joints, less spine, more double areas, finer cloth, more careful engineering due to tolerances must be tighter.

It’s my observation, it isn’t my argument.

Casting accuracy game early on, wrong kebari, accuracy being far more important than matching the hatch.

I read and figured it out early on and have been focusing on that for years.

I rod that has the hinge points spread out all over the curve vs a rod that has four? It is also matrix exclusive, bamboo has metal ferrules bad, tip over butt ferrule less design more accurate or fiberglass ferrule on bamboo rod much better.

A tenkara rod with lots of joints? The engineer and craftsmanship must be a higher level on a fine rod for it to have a nice flex. I used only the Pocket V3 for a solid year of practice to prove to myself they were worthy of a hardcore genryu trip to Japan. They were and that’s what solidified my opinion on multiple section rods.

There is more but it’s not my argument, I don’t care to win anyone over or prove my point. It’s an observation from experience. The quality of the curve, the flex profile.

1 Like

Well I can safely say I am not able notice any difference in the rods performance with each section aligned or the sections randomly pulled out. On the positive I managed to land this little rainbow at little town lake 5 minutes from home.


Thanks for the experiment and the follow up. It is good to test ideas out, it often leads to discovery of something new.

Tenkara rods are definitely a different breed. I have owned one with a top section so soft, that it made it a real challenge to feel soft takes. The tip would just flex and absorb the shock of the take. I feel most rods, brands, and models operate perfectly and just require some casting stroke and hookset adjustments by the end user. I even bought a cheap 20 dollar rod and found it surprisingly fishable. Most of the rod banter is nuances of rod preferences which is a very personal thing.

I use a system to check the accuracy of a rod.

I try to make all things equal, same line type, same tippet, same reference fly, rod length plus two meters then I use a 50cm Masonite circle to hear the fly tick when it hits and a tuna can in the center.

I’ve been doing this for years.

It enables me to check the accuracy of a rod.

I use it to see what works.

I use it to check one rod against another.

It is not my idea, it is from an old Japanese book. I’ve been sharing these tenkara secrets for years with the help of my Japanese friends.

It has helped me to learn in as controlled manor, a method.

My web site is old, one of the oldest English language Japanese assisted sites on tenkara.

The small stream fly fishing site I made before it was the first one ever on the Internet. Started that one in 1996, that’s when I meet Fujioka-san. Obviously I’m proud of it but I really just do it for fun. All that stuff is date stamped.

I’ve always said, “want to know what someone is going to do in the future? look at their past.”

It’s a community site too.

Many names there, nearly all of them.

It’s fun to include everyone.

It’s what we do.


I agree.

Very few take a methodical approach towards the description of a rods performance. Dr. Tom Davis is an exception.

He does a great job.

I think most tenkara anglers are instant experts because it is a particularly effective method that helps people to catch fish so quickly, that combined with the Internet?

It’s pretty interesting to follow along…

I agree with this but there are also other bits that are often left out of the scientific analysis. Most testing (even your own) are performed in what we consider a laboratory environment. Ideal conditions…

Tom’s data is a super helpful guide. That data is awesome and help me choose rods to try.

What each angler finds as the dominant positive attribute may not be the same for another angler as the variation in local conditions/environment, fishing style, target species, and type of flies they cast.

The reason I note this…some rods might shine at throwing a #2 LL and unweighed kebari and be super accurate. That same rod may be overloaded by heavier lines and flies and may become sloppy. Another rod may not load properly unless the line is #3 or heavier with a mildly weighed kebari. Comparing the two rods might lead to misleading conclusions. Different rods shine for different uses and utility. The best we can do as individuals is our own testing for what we like and the kind of environments we fish.

As an example. I know a guy who was all about delicate presenting full flex rods and then he started fishing an area that was really windy and found he needed a different rod for those conditions. Sometimes the analysis of a rod takes some time and can only be determined on the water. For me this takes years.

Tenkara is awesome for this. My daughter was 8 when she first picked up a tenkara rod. She immediately was able to cast and present flies. I would agree the ramp up is minimal to have success.

Even 5 seasons in, I still feel like I am a novice though. I was fortunate to recently fish with Go Ishii, and it reinforced my suspicions that I am just at the beginning of my tenkara journey.


Very well said @Gressak.

I prefer a contribution.

Like Howie’s spinning a rod. Even though he can’t tell, he did it.

I’m out of things to contribute at this thread.

Time for me to write about minimalist travel and tenkara. I have been honing a kit and it’s working well. It’s the 5 year report on a specialty within my practice. I still have to draw up plans for the container to be made. Everything has to have at least two functions or it’s left behind. …and pocket nets. The Japanese use small nets, I do too. I have to detail that. I enjoy it.