Lifting test on Tanuki XL-1 prototype
Building bamboo rods is my hobby. I made my first hand-crafted fixed line 4 ft bamboo rod when I was 9. Many years later, I built my first bamboo fly rod in 2001. I love to land fish with bamboo rods. I like to fish with a rod less than 7’3”. I rarely fish with bamboo rod longer than 8 ft because it feels heavy.
Tenkara rod is a fixed line rod like a bamboo rod. In order to cover more water, we use a longer rod. A longer rod put more pressure on the wrist. Tanuki XL-1's length is 13’3”. it is considered a honryu rod (honryu means main stream in Japanese; in this case it means long). Making a long rod that is 13 ft (4m) or longer makes demands on rod maker’s skills. The most import things of a long rod are ergonomics, casting accuracy, balance and handling of fish.
The new Tanuki XL-1 was designed to fill in the length gap between Tanuki 375 and Tanuki 425. Initially, I wanted the XL-1 to have similar actions and feeling of something between those two but I changed my mind later during the development of Tanuki 275. I wanted it to be a little lighter and softer than other Tanuki rods. The modern rod today is about using materials. A rod made with a higher module carbon fiber would be lighter and offers faster action. Higher module carbon is less flexible and brittle than a lower module. Making a long lighter and more flexible rod requires careful balance between two different directions. I worked closely with a rod engineer from the manufacture and built several prototypes. I took the initial prototype to Oni-School in June 2016, the feedback was that it was too soft except for Frank Nadell.
Finally, I took a trip to the factory to work on site with the rod engineer for about 10 days to build more prototypes. I took two prototypes to Tenkara Jam 2016 in North Carolina, to get feedbacks from the tenkara community there. It got overwhelming positive feedbacks, I continued to test at many fly fishing trade shows and other fishing related events all over the US for many months and even took it to Italy to test.