Posted by Michael McFarland on February 15, 2014
It’s always interesting to try out new gear and push myself outside of my own comfort zone. I’m sure many of you are the same, in that we often find ourselves experimenting with new lines, flies, packs and rods. After maybe an hour or two though, we end up gravitating back towards our “tried and true”, putting the unfamiliar away to focus back on to the experience rather than the tangible. Well, in an attempt to break from my own tradition, I decided to leave all of my rods at home and force myself to fish only one rod, the Riverworks Tenkara ZX.
Okay, let’s start with the boring stuff, the specs: The Tenkara ZX measures about 11’ 10” including the lillian. It weighs 3.8 ounces and has a 24” balance point. It’s a very sleek design with a matte black finish and a smaller carbon fiber handle that makes it look like the Aston Martin of the Tenkara world. My first impressions were that I liked the look and overall feel of the rod but, the lack of a cork handle, coupled with the short length of the grip, initially told me that this rod would be a lot of “bark” but would have no “bite”. This could not be further from the truth.
The Riverworks Tenkara ZX is fast action rod with a 6:4 flex and I really liked the feel of the cast itself. There was none of the “creek” that we often hear or feel during our cast with other rods, as the ZX segments are very well fitted and balanced. This is one of the first rods that I’ve cast that actually feels like a single tapered rod rather than a series of collapsed segments. This translated right to the cast, as accuracy was not a concern using a number of leaders including tapered traditional, 4.5 level and my Rigs floating line. I did however, experience some accuracy issues with my lighter 2.5 level line, no doubt a result of the stiffer nature of the rod itself.
At first I thought that the handle was going to bother me. I have always used a rod with a cork handle, even in my traditional western gear. So I was skeptical, not only of the short length but also felt that once the grip got wet, I would regret not having that cork texture to maintain a solid hold. As luck would have it, the day I fished the Tenkara ZX, I was caught in a down pour. I switched to my 4.5 high vis. level line and fished many of the overhangs that were hiding nice plunge pools since they were protected from the heavier rain. Although I was soaked, at no time did I feel that the handle was a problem. And what about the shorter length? After reflecting on it, I thought that it was keeping me a bit more honest in my casting style in the same way that the grip on my Sage One manages to restrict my hand from sliding into a sloppier cast.
Overall, I really liked the Riverworks Tenkara ZX. Great rod, high tech materials and quality construction. While this isn’t the rod that I would recommend to beginners, simply because of its price point, I would highly recommend it to the more seasoned tenkara anglers out there. Add the fact that this is an American made, hand-crafted, limited annual production rod, and the Tenkara ZX should be considered a high profile addition to your existing tenkara and fly rod arsenal.