Written by Jason
Anyone who has followed my writing probably already knows that my tenkara rod of choice is the Tenkara USA Ito. First and foremost, I love the action (I generally prefer softer rods) but my second favorite thing about it is that it’s a zoom rod.
If you’re not familiar with zoom rods, they are rods that can be adjusted to different lengths by simply sliding a section of the rod. For example, the Ito adjusts from 13’ to 14’ 7”. While tenkara rods are long by nature, they are already versatile enough to handle a variety of situations but zoom rods offer two unique advantages that I have come to really appreciate.
Extra Reach (or less reach)
If you’ve fished tenkara for any length of time, you’ve probably encountered a situation where a little extra reach would come in handy. Most of the time, you can position yourself to be closer to the fish, but sometimes this just isn’t possible and a slightly longer rod might just be the ticket. Or, maybe you’re in a time sensitive situation where it would make more sense to have a little more reach to make just a few casts to a fish you caught out of the corner of your eye without giving up your current position on a decent pod of fish.
I normally fish the Ito in its default 13’ position, then just extend it when I need the extra length and return it to the 13’ position when I’m done making the presentation to the one further away. Having the option of instantly zooming out to a longer length is convenient and eliminates the need to take the time to switch to a longer line or add more tippet.
Conversely, a zoom rod also allows you to shorten the rod in spots where you have a low canopy and need to cast under overhanging branches or just need to cast to a fish that’s a little closer. Whatever the situation, it’s nice to have the extra length when you need it and shorten it when you don’t.
Another nice advantage of zoom rods is the ability to pick up slack line when landing fish. The first thing I do when I hook a fish with my Ito is extend the rod to its 14’ 7” length. This essentially shortens the line and reduces the amount of hand lining I have to do. To me, the shorter the line, the easier it is to land a fish. And this feature really helps out if you’re fishing a line that’s longer than the rod. Hand lining can be a precarious endeavor and (in my opinion) the less of it you have to do, the better your chances are of getting that fish to the net.
Zoom rods aren’t necessary by any means, but they sure are nice. Theoretically, any tenkara could act as a zoom rod. You can collapse sections as needed but they rattle around a bit when casting and you can really only make the rod shorter, not longer. I prefer the solid lock between sections that a true zoom rod provides. Now, if someone could just invent a zoom rod that adjusts to three different lengths, we’d be all set! Ahem…Daniel? Are you reading this?