The Ito is Daniel’s favorite rod as well as that of many of the most experienced tenkara anglers. Yet, people are intimidated by its length. Listen to this episode to learn about what makes the Ito a favorite of so many anglers and why you should give it a try!
Landing a large brown on tenkara with the Ito
Facebook live video catching carp and bass with the Tenkara USA Ito
Unfortunately the Rip’Em & Lip’Em videos I mentioned are no longer available on Youtube, I’m trying to get the video files to share soon.
Mr. Sebata with the Ito
Shaun Lezotte with a large 29″ pike caught on tenkara
Me with a large size brown trout caught on the Ito (right after the header image for this podcast was taken)
This is Daniel Galhardo and you’re listening to the Tenkara Cast. A podcast about the simple Japanese method of fly fishing, tenkara. In the Tenkara Cast, we’ll be sharing information on techniques, history, philosophy, and tenkara stories from anglers all over the world. This podcast is brought to you by Tenkara USA, introducing tenkara outside of Japan since 2009. It’s only possible we create content such as this podcast and videos because of your support, so we thank you so very much for purchasing Tenkara USA rods, lines, and flies. I hope you enjoy learning more about the simple method of fly fishing.
Hey everyone, thanks for joining me again for another episode of the Tenkara Cast. It has just dawned on me that it is March 1st. We’re now on the third month of the year, and 2017 is flying by really, really fast. First of all, let me give you a little update about something very exciting that’s happening today and tomorrow morning, we have finished tenkara – the book. Yay! Wohoo! Yes, the book is now done and we’re gonna be… Jeremy and I are just… We’re revising the file and just making sure everything looks really, really sharp, and we’re sending it to the printer tomorrow morning. We’ve gone over and over again, and it’s looking really sharp. I’m very excited about this project finally coming to fruition as of March 1st, a couple of months behind the deadline that I had self-imposed here. But it is gonna be done quickly now.
The timeline that the printer has given me, it’s about two to three weeks. We are getting the book printed here in Denver, so there’s no extra transit time. As soon as it’s in our warehouse, we’ll ship it out to all of those of you who have participated in the Kickstarter campaign and backed the project. So I’m very excited the book is finally done, and it’s looking really sharp. I’m gonna thank you so much for your patience, but I think you will be very pleased with how it’s turned out. I’ve got a mock of the book here in my hands. 216 pages of pure goodness, it’s looking really sharp. All the QR codes are working, all the illustrations are done, and now we’re just sitting on it and sending the files to the printer tomorrow morning. The paper even has been ordered. The recycled paper that we’re using has been ordered already and it’s gonna get there to the printer pretty shortly.
So that’s been very exciting. I can’t believe two whole months went by and, for us to finally finish this. Much more work than I expected, it was like running a marathon over and over again, I think over the last couple of months. For those of you who are interested in the book, do keep an eye out on our website, social media and so forth. As soon as it’s available for sale, we’ll be posting it out there. It will ship sometime in March, March 21st, I would say, is like the ETA at the moment. So it just depends on the printer and that kind of thing, but these printers are printers that we’ve worked with for a lot of our projects and things tend to get done pretty quickly. So look out for that, and we’ll start creating the files for the e-book version and that kind of thing as well.
So that’s about the book. Now, let me get to what I’m gonna be talking about today, which, it is… This episode is about my favorite rod, the Ito. So the reason I decided to talk about the Ito right now and do an episode that is a little bit different from the episodes that I’ve done so far, and, in that I’m actually promoting a specific product in our line-up, is because of something that I noticed in the last week or so. So it was really interesting, we were pulling a lot of images for the book, a lot of the final images, and I realized that almost all of them, images that have me or friends, we have the Ito in our hands. That’s the rod that is in most photographs that I have taken, it seems like.
And at the same time, I had a little project where we had to do some forecasting for the rest of the year and look at our numbers. I knew this already, but it was like interesting to see the distinction here. The Ito is not our best-selling rod by far. The Ito is just not the one that we sell the most. So there’s this interesting discrepancy that made me think, I should really talk about this really weird discrepancy here and the fact that the Ito is my very favorite rod, it’s the favorite rod of a lot of the more experienced tenkara anglers that I know, but it is not our best-selling rod. And I think I know why. At least I can guess a few reasons why the Ito is not the best-selling rod. And I can talk about why the Ito is my favorite rod. That’s what I’m gonna be getting into on this episode here.
Let me talk first about why I think the Ito is not the best-selling rod that we have, and then I’m gonna talk about why it is my favorite and the favorite of a lot of people. So the Ito, for those of you who are not familiar, and I’m gonna put a link on our website, tenkarausa.com/podcast, but it’s also easily available on the shop page, of course. The Ito is our 13 foot or 14 feet, seven inches, rod. So you can fish it at two different lengths; it’s designed to be fished at those two lengths. The Ito is also the longest rod that we have in our line-up at Tenkara USA. So right there, given those numbers, I believe that the numbers are scary to a lot of people, 13 foot, 14 feet, seven inches. If you’re coming from a western fly fishing background, and you’re used to using a seven and a half to nine foot rod, you look at those numbers and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, that’s way too long.” If you’re new to fishing, of course it’s a little bit more intimidating. If you have seen the Ito in a store or at fly fishing shows, the in-door shows, we extend the rod and in some stores, you might not even be able to open the entire rod, but in a fly fishing shows, oftentimes, we have this black ceiling above us and it looks like the Ito’s was about to touch the sky. So all of those things combined, I think make it for a fairly intimidating, scary length of rod.
But I think anybody who has fished with the Ito will tell you that outside and when you’re actually fishing, it’s not nearly, it doesn’t feel nearly as long as it sounds like you will. And that’s like one of the interesting paradoxes here that we had this rod that sounds really long, but when you’re outside, you have a little bit more space, it’s an incredible asset. And that brings me up to the reason why the Ito is my favorite and why I think it is the favorite of a lot of people that get a chance to experience fishing with the Ito as well.
So, I’ve been asked the question, of course, many times of which one is your favorite rod? And for a while, I think I was very coy about saying which one was my favorite rod because I thought of the rods as my kids. I thought of them as having feelings and they’re gonna get hurt if I say which one is honestly my favorite, but those of you who know me probably know that the Ito is my favorite rod. And I’m no longer coy, I’m no longer shy about admitting my love for the Ito. It’s the rod that I take whatever I can, any place where I’m able to take the Ito, I will take it. And now I realize of course, that the other rods are not gonna have their hurt feelings or they’re feelings hurt, and if they do, I might do an episode about each one of them later, but this is the truth, the Ito is my favorite rod.
And I think the reason it is my favorite rod, first and foremost, it is the long length of the rod, the very long reach that it allows me to have. So oftentimes, when we were recommending rods to people, we usually recommend, “Get the longest rod you can for the kinds of waters you’re gonna be fishing.” And in this case, the Ito is the longest rod that I can take anywhere pretty much. And the reason we recommend the longest rod that you can take to the streams you’re gonna be fishing or to waters you’re gonna be fishing, is because a longer rod, I believe, allows you a little bit more versatility. Mostly in terms of reach and also the range of lines that you compare with it. But the reach, I think is a main one here. So let’s look at the Ito a little bit more in detail.
On the last episode, I talked about fishing tight streams with more like overhead canopy, and I talked about a couple of different techniques that you can use to getting those types of tight waters. And one of the things that I discussed, or two of the things that I discussed, one of them was that with tenkara, you don’t have a reel telling you where to hold your rod. You can always choke up on the grip. So the Ito, the collapse length of the Ito is 24 inches or so. And so that’s the first segment of the rod. When you’re fishing with it, at 13 feet long, which is what length you’re gonna be using for the most part, if you find yourself in slightly tight waters, you can hold up the rod higher on the handle, which is about 12 inches or so, so that’s gonna be roughly 12 feet long rod, or you can choke up on the grip even more and hold the rod at the very end of the first segment. That’s instantly gonna give you an 11-foot rod right there.
So all of a sudden, you have this 13-foot rod, again in tighter waters, 11-foot rod. And if you really want to, you also have the option of collapsing a segment, again, as I mentioned in the last episode on the tight streams, something that I haven’t really done much in many years of fishing, but you have the option. If you’re holding the rod above at the end of the first segment that’s gonna be 11 feet, collapse one of the segments into the rod, if you’re fishing from really tight waters, that’s gonna be two feet shorter, nine foot Tenkara rod right there. But then he opens up, or you’re getting to a different river, you can pull the rod out to 13 feet or to 14 feet seven inches. So the range that you have with the Ito is pretty enormous, you can fish the rod at a very long, very wide range of lengths.
So that to me, I think is one of the things that makes it one of my favorite rods as well, the versatility. The other thing is the reach by itself with the longer lengths. So, I should mention that I do take the Ito when I’m fishing big waters as well as some of the smaller waters that I fish close to home. Boulder Creek, which I mentioned many times in this podcast, 25 to maybe 40 feet in some places, but most part, it’s gonna be 25 feet across or so. I can reach on the other side of the stream in almost every part of it really well. Even though it does have some trees above in some areas, I find that I can just change my casting angles a little bit so that I can avoid the trees. And the cool thing about the longer rod too, you can minimize the amount of motion that you have to do in order to cast your line out, because the rod itself is gonna be such a long lever that you don’t have to move the rod as much to cast a line. So all of a sudden, I have this really cool thing, I have that versatility, the wide range of lengths, but then I can fish on this very, very difficult packets that nobody else can reach with the rod, which is the Ito.
So very often actually, one thing that I like to do when I’m fishing with somebody, especially if they have the shorter rods, I will take the long rod and then I know that I can reach pockets that they did not touch. So if I’m fishing behind somebody and I’m introducing them to tenkara for the first time, maybe I’ll give him a 12-foot rod, but then I’ll fish with the Ito and I can get into this little pockets that are secondary pockets and still catch fish as well. So that range and the ability to cast on the other side of currents, the other side of a streams in many cases, is phenomenal. Say if I’m fishing big rivers, oftentimes, there might be currents as well that are gonna be out of reach, I can reach those as well. Now, let me talk a little bit about the line length as well, because that gives us a wide range as well. They can fit in lot of different conditions. And the Ito, I think, allows you to pair a lot of different lengths of line really well with a rod. So, if I’m fishing close to home here and I’m using this 13 foot 14 foot seven inch rod, and the stream is 25 feet across in a lot of spots, even less in some areas, very often I will pair a line that is a little bit shorter than the rod, 11, 11 and a half foot line for example, plus three feet, I’ll tippet at the end of that.
So the line is gonna be… Total length of line is gonna be barely longer than the rod itself. And what that does is, it allows me to get the line and the fly, into the spots that are tight, without having to move my rod as much. I can also dap with that, I can lower the fly into certain areas, but I can also cast in other areas too, depending on what is above me and behind me and that thing. But I can fish in very small kinds of areas pretty effectively, with the long rod and a short line. As I mentioned on my other episode too on fishing tight waters, I usually like to use longer rods and a shorter line when I’m fishing tight waters. Because of that, I don’t have to move the line as much to get it to cast. And if I have a very short rod and I try to use a short line, then I’m not gonna have the reach that I might need in some places.
Then the other thing too, like when I’m going to big rivers, the Ito allows me to cast very long lines very well, so whereas the Sato, which is our next… One of our other rods, which can fish up to 12 feet, nine inches. With the Sato, I would say most people are gonna be comfortable casting up to 18-foot line, plus three or four feet of tippet, and that’s plenty for a lot of places. But if I’m fishing big rivers, like the Madison River or you name it, just think of something in large, and I wanna reach in this very difficult seams and keep the line off the water, the Ito allows me to cast even longer lines, if I still desire.
For the most part, I’m probably gonna use 18 to 20 foot line as well, but I have had instances where I wanted to have even more reach, and in that case I paired the Ito, used the Ito at 14 feet seven inches and then I used the line that was probably about 25 feet long plus four feet of tippet. And the reach that it gives me, allows me to cast on the other side of multiple currents. And in some rivers, like fairly good size rivers nearby here, like the Colorado, I can weigh it in a little bit deeper, and then I can cast on these little foam lines that are on the other side, on the other shore, that nobody really fishes effectively ’cause it’s so difficult to do. So that’s kind of a really cool thing about the Ito. It just gives you this long range of lines that you can pair with it as well. So the Ito is, it’s an interesting rod because of that.
And that brings up to the next thing that I wanted to talk about, which is being very intriguing to me, which is my experience when I’m teaching people and I put the Ito in their hands. So I had, like for example, my neighbor Allen, he bought a tenkara rod, he realized that I was living across the street from him, and we went fishing. And he had a 12-foot, that he bought, which is like our main suggestion. And we went to a stream that was not particularly large, it was actually the somewhere near Lions, and although it was a little bit more open, but not particularly large, and he started fishing with the one, he’s having fun, he’s catching a lot of fish, and that’s a perfectly adequate rod for that situation. But then I put the Ito in his hand and all of a sudden, he was giggling out loud, he was literally being like, “Oh-hoo, this is really fun.” He was cheering because he was able to reach very effectively on the other side of currents, with absolutely no line touching the water, whatsoever.
So right there, he had looked at the 12-foot rod that he bought at the store, he was skeptical even of a 12-foot rod, and that indicates the behavior of most of you who are listening to this episode, I think. You might be skeptical of even a 12-foot long rod, but then when you get to try a longer rod, where you get a little bit of experience with tenkara under your belt, then it’s not as intimidating as it might have sounded at a first glance. So the Ito tends to be a favorite second rod for a lot of people, I’d say, or it tends to be the most popular second tenkara rod that we sell to most people, ’cause you get used to the length of a rod and then you start fishing with it, you realize that 12-foot is perfectly adequate, but sometimes you wish you had a little bit more reach and then the Ito is that next step that you can take and get a longer rod to give you more reach. And of course, typically, that’s gonna be good if you’re fishing slightly more open waters. It doesn’t have to be big waters, but you do wanna have a little bit more room to fish comfortably. So anybody fishing in the western part of the country where we have this pine trees growing on the sides of the stream and tends to be a little bit more open in the middle, I highly recommend giving the Ito a try if you get a chance.
Lastly, I wanted to talk about fish sizes as well. We haven’t quite promoted the Ito as our big fish rod. We do use the Amago as the rod that we promote for people that are targeting bass and larger fish on a frequent basis. But what I have realized is that the Ito is the rod that I’m always taking when I’m targeting large fish. And almost all of the fish, the larger 20-plus inch fish that I have photos of, I have the Ito in my hand. So on our website, at tenkarausa.com/podcast, where I’m gonna be posting this episode, take a look at that episode page and I’m gonna put a video using the Ito to catch a couple of large fish, and I’m gonna put some photographs in there. And it’s an interesting rod because it’s… While I didn’t quite design it to have a huge amount of backbone and to be our big fish rod, it does an incredible job in bringing large fish in quickly. And part of that is because of the long length. I think you have this long lever that you can play with the fish, but I think the long length, what it does as well is, it forces the head of the fish to go up and catch air, and the fish get tired quickly. And you have this interesting bungee-cord. And at the same time, because the Ito is a softer rod, the fish is not gonna be feeling this really stiff pressure, you’re coaxing the fish on to your shore, as opposed to having this brutal force that keeps the fish from running.
So there’s a few things that I think happened that allow you to catch fish that are in really good size with the Ito. As a matter of fact, last year, we’re doing… I went fishing one day and we’re gonna fish one of the smaller streams close to home here. And that was during the spring, and we get to the water and the water is murky, it was running really high, it was like a run-off season. And we fished for a few minutes in the smaller stream when I’m using the Ito, not really catching anything, but then my friend Tim and I decided to just go see if we could go catch some carp and bass. And I’ve got the same rod, the Ito and I’m hooking… Hooked a pretty good size bass, maybe about five, six pound bass, and a few minutes later hooked a carp and actually put the videos on our… I went live on Facebook, with Facebook Live videos and landed those fish without a problem. If I find the videos, I’ll try to embed them on this podcast page as well. And that was a hoot, I was intending to fish a smaller stream, catch trout, I only took one rod out and we decided to change our minds, I didn’t have to worry about a second rod, took the Ito and caught carp and bass as well. So that versatility in terms of fish size is pretty cool. The Ito doesn’t feel like a very particularly robust rod when you’re catching smaller fish, but it does have what it takes to bring a large fish in pretty quickly.
In the other place, you’re gonna see the Ito too and I’ll try to find that as well. If you’re interested, there’s two TV show episodes that I did for the show called Lip ‘Em and or Rip ‘Em & Lip ‘Em. R-I-P and then the apostrophe E-M, and then same thing with lip ’em. And there’s two episodes and we’re catching a lot of 20-inch fish in the Eagle River here in Colorado, and we’re using the Ito, I think on almost all of those fish, so there you go. It catches large fish, handles them really well, very good rod for that. So that’s like… I talked a lot, it’s already 22 minutes mark on my recorder here. I intended to make this a short episode. I just wanted to tell you go buy the Ito, but I do love it. It’s a great rod. It’s always my first choice. The only times that I don’t take the Ito as my primary choice, I would say, is when I’m going fishing very tight streams that have a lot of canopy overhead. And sometimes I don’t take it if I’m traveling around the country and I have a smaller bag.
The Ito is a little bit longer, 24 inches, so there’s one suitcase that I like to carry with me to most places when I’m traveling for just a couple of days, and the Ito doesn’t fit on that very well. Sometimes I’ll carry it on, sometimes I’ll take the Sato, it just depends on how I’m packing. But I’d say those are almost the… Pretty much the only times I don’t take the Ito. If I’m fishing lakes, if I’m fishing big rivers, medium-sized streams, the Ito is probably the rod that you’ll see in my hands, and as well as the hands of a lot of the most experienced anglers in Japan as well.
There was actually this interesting story too. In 2013, I was fishing with Mr. Yuzo Sebata, who I think a lot of you are gonna recognize because he’s got the straw hat, the conical straw hat, and so we got a lot of photos of him on our website and so on. And one of the days, he wanted to fish with my rods, so I give him the Ito which I had been using throughout the day, and he immediately took a liking for it. He’s like, he had this beautiful facial expressions that made me feel very proud of the work that I did in designing the Ito. And he just started fishing with the Ito for the rest of the evening and had a good time with that one. And at the end of the trip, I gave him that rod. And a few days after I got back from Japan, I get an email or a call from one of his students and he wanted to buy several of the Ito for all of his students who are a little bit more experienced as well. And so I just got a bunch of those rods shipped to Japan and I would say that Ito is probably the most popular Tenkara USA rod in Japan as well. So that’s an interesting side note about the Ito as well. So if you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend you give it a try.
Feel free to take us up on our… I should mention this. I should probably mention this in every episode, feel free to take us up on our no qualms, no problems return policy. We do offer a really good return policy at Tenkara USA. Give the rod a try for 60 days and we can give you a full refund. We don’t care, and no questions asked, just give it a try. Honestly, I put the policy, a return policy in place for a reason and that’s to encourage people to give tenkara a try to begin with, but also to encourage you to give a try to the rod that you may wanna see if you like or not. And the Ito is one that I’d highly recommend to take us up on that offer. Fish it for sixty days, fishy heavy, get the rod through it spaces, and if you don’t like it, return it. The rods that get returned to us if they have been used, we just put them in our demo fleet and often times we’ll take him out with Project Healing Waters and other non-profit programs, so it’s not a problem. If you wanna give the rod a try, order online, give it a try for sixty days, but I think you’ll like it, I guarantee it, as a matter of fact.
Alright, well, thanks for listening to my long banter about the Ito. I hope you don’t mind, me promoting a specific product here in this episode, but it is a rod that I’d like to see more people trying because I think more people will enjoy Tenkara even more because of it. Alright, until the next time on the Tenkara Cast. The book is coming out soon, if you need more information about any of the things that I talked about today, tenkarausa.com/podcast and until later.
And as always, I’d like to thank our friend, Nick Ogawa Takénobu. You can find his music at takenobumusic.com, I’ll put a link on our website. This is a song called Fishing, I think very appropriate. It’s a song that made me learn about his work and totally fell in love with his music ever since. Thank him for letting us share his music here on the podcast. Take a look, he’s got four beautiful albums on his website, so enjoy the rest of the song and listen to it on your next drive when you go fishing.