Today I received three packages, one from TrailLite Designs with the angled version of the Ti Net, one from from Tenkara USA with the new Tenkara USA 13'-14'7" ITO and another one from Tenkara-Fishing with their 300 Tenkara rod, their furled camo line and foam line spools.
My Initial Toughts (after unpacking only):There is only one thing that came to mind when I opened the package from Thom at TrailLite Designs: WAY COOL! This is one sleek high tech net for us Tenkara enthusiasts and definitively the go-to net for anybody who is into backpacking or hiking in the high country. The design very straight forward and minimalistic. The handle is made out of carbon fibre and 12" long. The net hoop is titanium (yeah!) with a 9.5" diameter. The net comes in different colors (brown, white and black) and the mesh is very fine with 2mm holes (that is less than 1/10th of an inch). I got the brown net which goes well with the carbon fiber and titanium hoop. I don't have a mail scale, but TrailLite Designs' website says it is only 2.7 oz. The quality of the net appears to be good, the ends for the handle have a tight fitting black plastic plug. For you who have a Tenkara USA Tamo, the hoop of the Ti Net is slightly bigger, the handle a bit shorter but it is considerably lighter.
You might have noticed that I mentioned that this is the angled version, like a Japanese Tamo, but there is also a straight version. The angled version is available for purchase at TenkaraBum, the straight version at TrailLite Designs, both go for $115.
The Ti Net has been provided to my by TrailLite Designs free of charge.
When I opened the package for Tenkara-Fishing's new line of rods I couldn't help thinking that this is really a visually attractive rod. The blank is a high gloss (I know, some folks prefer matte blanks...) golden olive with transitions to silver and back to golden olive. This is a new rod in Tenkara-Fishing's line-up, it is 9'6", the shortest rod so far I had in my hands, it should perform well in tight quarters. If I had to categorize it based on my "wiggle" test, I would say that it is a slow 6:4. The collapsed length is 21" and as per Paul at Tenkara-Fishing, it weighs about 2.5 oz and is his go-to rod for backpacking. The grip is made of good quality cork rings with little filler. The butt plug appears to be aluminium, has a draining hole and slit that let's you unscrew it with a quarter. The craftsmanship appears to be good, the winding check sits tight against the cork and there is no epoxy spill on the cork (I used to build fly rods until I discovered Tenkara, so I am probably a bit more critical of the finish quality).
As per Paul, this rod will replace their 10' rod and should retail at about $90 which puts it from a price perspective somewhere between Tenkara USA Tenkara rods and Fountainhead Tenkara rods. A rod sock comes with the rod.
Also, Paul included a few other accessories he offers, namely their Foam Line Spool that looks like it's made of wood, but of course, it's foam. It is much smaller than Tenkara USA's line spool, 1 7/8" in diameter with an inside hole that let's you carry it on your tenkara rod tugged against the grip. Also, Tenkara-Fishing sent a 10' Cutthroat furled line in Camo. They are available in two colors, Camo and Hi-Vis (orange/red) and lengths, 10' and 11'6".
Tenkara-Fishing provided the 300, foam spools and furled line free of charge.
The ITO is a rod I have had an eye on since I heard that Daniel of Tenkara USA is working on a new "zoom" rod. This "zoom" function allows to lock one segment in place to fish the rod at either 13" or at 14"7' length (cool, eh?). The only other rod with a similar zoom function is the Shimano Mainstream ZE 40-45 which is a) about twice as expensive and b) very difficult to come by (you will have to order it from Japan). The ITO's zoom locks in two places, at the butt of the rod with a proprietary cap and at the handle segment. The ITO comes in a Tenkara USA's signature rod tube and rod sock with an embroidered Tenkara USA logo. The quality appears to be good as any other Tenkara USA rods I have seen so far, the cork is much better quality than on my Iwana 12' Series I. Speaking of the grip, this rod has a very long handle of almost 12" which allows you to hold the rod in different positions, depending on situation and comfort level. The finish is a visually appealing matte (here we go) with blue and black sections. Collapsed, it is 25.8", considerable longer than the other Tenkara USA rods. The winding check sits also tight at the grip and there is no epoxy spillage or bubbles. The weight is 4.1 oz which is hard to believe since it really feels lighter than that. As an comparison, the Tenkara USA Amago weights 3.5 oz and feels considerably heavier (I refer to my Amago lovingly as the big fish broom stick). One thing I should add here is that the 6:4 classification is a generous rating, it is definitively on the low end of 6:4. So do not expect an action similar to the Iwana but something closer to an Ayu.
The Tenkara USA ITO goes for $235.95 and is the most expensive Tenkara USA rod. But if you think about it, you really get two different rods with the zoom function.
I purchased the Tenkara USA ITO at a discounted price.
I will be testing this new equipment over the next few weeks during my trips to RMNP, my hunt for Colorado Grayling and Rio Grand Cutthroat as well as on a business trip to NYC that will involve some fishing in NJ on my day off. A comprehensive individual review post will be posted for each and I am very excited to put the new toys to good use.