Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tenkara Times TRY 330 Review

I tested a new rod the past couple of weeks, and I like it!  Anthony Naples, who owns ThreeRivers Tenkara, sent me a Tenkara Times Try 330 6:4 to wring out.  I have some cool friends!  Those of you who know me well know that I get pretty set in my ways.  However, over the past few months I’ve fished more rods than I ever have before and it’s been a lot of fun as well as enlightening.

Tenkara USA 11' Iwana (top) and Tenkara Times TRY 330 6:4 (bottom).  The Iwana comes in a really nice hard rod tube (sadly discontinued), and the TRY 330 comes in a cool stretchy rod sock.

Small streams like this semi-desert creek are where the TRY 330 shines!

The small line holders from Tenkara Bum fit nicely on the handle of the TRY 330.

An unexpected 12" rainbow caught in the canyons on the Tenkara Times TRY 300.  

I took this little rod to two vastly different pieces of water.  While guiding Zen Fly Fishing Gear owners, Karin Miller and Adam Omernick, on the Cimarron River tailwater in the northern San Juan Mountains, I got a chance to try it on a comparatively big section of water.  The Cimarron River tailwater was running around 120 cfs, and was about 75 feet wide at the most.  It has countless washtub-size and smaller pockets and lengthy edges against tall grass.  The 12-16” browns and rainbows there like to hit dry-dropper rigs, so I wanted to see how a short, very lightweight rod would handle a 12’ RIGS floating line, 5’ of 5X tippet, and a #12 Yeager’s Neversink over a #16 purple Psycho Prince.  That’s a lot to ask from a 10’2” mid-flex rod that only weighs 2.2 ounces!  I wanted to see just how much the TRY 330 could handle.  I found that it took some work to get it to cast the 12’ floating line, and that 17-foot line is a little much for this rod.  It was a little difficult to bring fish to net with such a short rod and long line too.  It’ll work, but I think effective fishing on this size water is best left to 12’ or longer 6:4 rods, especially 6:4 rods on the stiff side of that rating. 

The second place I took the TRY 330 6:4 was a local semi-desert canyon, with a much smaller flow than the Cimarron River.  This was truly “small water” and from the rod description on Three River’s website, it was “perfect for small headwater streams that require precise casting in tight quarters”.  At 45 cfs and no more than 20’ across, this little creek is a typical canyon country tributary.  A trophy trout in it will go no more than 16”, and most good fish are around 12.  Navigation upstream on this creek requires fishing around and ducking through streamside narrowleaf cottonwoods and willows…lots of them.  I chose to go trad on this creek, and fished the TRY 330 with a 3.5 level line from Tenkara USA, about 4’ of tippet, and switched between an Amano Kebari and a Takayama Kebari, both size 12.  When I started fishing, I was using a 10’ medium presentation line, hand tied by Chris Stewart (and no longer available), but I found that this rod liked casting the 3.5 level line better, perhaps because it has stiffer tip sections than most mid-flex rods do.  This is a level line rod, and it performed flawlessly in that role.  While on this creek I also tried to cast a #10 Hale Bop Leech (think #10 bead head bugger), and it was an ugly cast at best.  This rod is best suited casting a 2.5-3.5 level line with 3-4 feet of tippet, with non-weighted flies.  It just so happens that’s about 90% of what I fish when I’m fishing alone.  Perfect.

The TRY 330 cast this self-tied #12 Takayama Sakasa Kebari perfectly on a 3.5 level line.

I performed a lot of side-by-side comparison to the only comparable rod I own, a Tenkara USA 11’ Iwana (rated by TUSA at 6:4).  This rod option is no longer available in the 11’ handle from Tenkara USA.  I’ve fished the Iwana A LOT, and the feel of it has become ingrained in my right hand and arm.  I know it well.  Here’s my take on how the two rods compare…

The TRY 330 is a slightly lighter weight, whispier rod.  It’s also just a bit shorter, but not enough to really become a factor in the negative.  The “feel” of a rod is a highly subjective thing, but I really like the feel of the TRY 330 over the Iwana.  I cast any tenkara rod with a rather quick, snappy cast and I like rods on the stiffer side of the spectrum.  Having a mid-flex rod with stiff tip sections gives me the best of both worlds…a responsive and sensitive rod that likes my snappy cast.  Those stiffer tip sections also allowed me to keep casting the TRY 330 in a moderate up-canyon breeze better than any 5:5 mid-flex rod I’ve used.  Another feature I prefer with the TRY 330 over the Iwana is the more deeply contoured, slightly shorter handle.  My hand migrated toward the butt end of the rod, where it felt balanced and comfortable.  The bottom cap on the TRY 330 has a tool slot for ease in removal, and although I do carry a couple of tools in my day pack that could be used on it, it would require taking off my day pack to do so.  This rod could use an improved bottom cap that has a knurled edge and no tool slot.  The two rods are similar in price, neither of which are a burden on the wallet, and both are a bargain.  The Iwana is a prettier rod, and if there’s one thing I would change on the TRY 330 (if I could) would be improved finish and an upgrade in cork quality.  Of course, those things come at a price, and the $129.00-$139.00 price tag would take a bit of a jump, I’m sure.

In all, the TRY 300 will spend a lot of time with me on the little creeks I fish, both in semi-desert canyons and high alpine headwaters.  I’ll send this rod back to Anthony with an agreement that he sells me one immediately!  You’ve got a great little rod in your inventory, Anthony, and I’ll bet Three Rivers Tenkara will sell a bunch of them.

Tenkara Times TRY 330 6:4
Length as tested:  10’2”
Weight as tested:  2.2 oz/61g
Segments:  7
Retail price:  Currently $129.00 from Three Rivers Tenkara

Tenkara USA 11’ Iwana 6:4
Length as tested:  10’6”
Weight as tested:  2.4 oz/69g
Segments:  8

Retail price:  $157.00

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