Big Fish Rods


Big fish rods – Yamame (top) and Amago (bottom)

When I first learned of tenkara I decided it would be great for hiking into small streams so my first rod was an 11′ Iwana.  After I started fishing tenkara on the South Fork and some other small creeks I wanted to fish the Cedar but didn’t want to use a western rod.   The problem with the Cedar is that there are some big trout in there, I’ve gotten them up to 20″ and figured that the little Iwana would not be able to handle it at all.   Thus, I started looking for a big fish tenkara rod.

TenkaraUSA has two options to chose from when looking for a rod that can frequently handle fish over 17″.   One is the 12′ Yamame and the other is the 13’6″ Amago.    The TenkaraUSA guide recommends the Yamame for most stream sizes but leaning towards smaller streams while the Amago is made for rivers with no canopy and larger rivers and is their big fish, big river rod.   Initially I opted for the Yamame since the Cedar is a mid-sized to small river but later I ended up also buying an Amago which I’ve found I use quite frequently now on the Cedar, the Middle Fork, the main Snoqualmie and the Yakima.


The Yamame is the only 7:3 action rod from TenkaraUSA and thus has a stiffer action than the Iwana and Amago rods.  It can be felt when first casting the rod and needs a bit more line to cast well.  I have used both a level 4.5 and a 12.5′ Moonlite Fly Fishing Shogun Line.   I like casting the slightly heavier Shogun line on this rod, it loads the rod up well and accurate casts are easy to make.

The Yamame is a 9 section rod that closes down to 21 1/4″  with a 10 1/2″ handle that feels about the same as the Iwana handle (see photo below).   The rod weighs in at 3.6 oz. and thus is the heaviest of the rods I currently own but still feels very light in hand.  The olive matte finish looks great and is good camo for the rod when under the trees.

On the Cedar the rainbows seem extra strong and the Yamame handles them great.  The average 11-13″ fish puts a good bend in the rod but it handles the 15-18″ rainbows very well.


Handle differences - Yamame (top) and Amago (bottom)

Handle differences – Yamame (top) and Amago (bottom)


The Amago is a 6:4 action rod so softer than the Yamame and feels very similar to the 12′ Iwana.   I usually cast this rod with a level 4.5 line, using both a 14′ line and a 22′ line for open water on the Snoqualmie.   I think that I could get up to a 28-30′ line with some practice which could make the Amago a great river sea-run cutthroat rod.

The Amago is a 10 section rod that closes down to 21 1/8″.   The 11″ handle is a bit different than the other TenkaraUSA rods and was designed to counterbalance the longer rod and be comfortable for a full day of fishing (see photo above for handle comparison).  I have to say, at first the handle felt noticeably different but now that I’ve gotten used to it I like it a lot. The rod weighs in at 3.5 oz. and thus is a bit lighter than the Yamame.    I’ve fished this rod for hours with without getting tired from using it.   The finish is black matte and has no glare at all making it great for open waters.

1175486_10151709433067530_998173809_nI purchased the Amago mainly to fish open water more effectively on the main Snoqualmie or the Yakima but I’ve also found that I use it quite a bit on the Cedar and Middle Fork since it handles the larger fish on these waters well.  I also found that the Amago works great in lakes since it can cast a longer line and get a bit more reach plus handle big browns and rainbows found there.   I’ve landed quite a few trout over 15″ on this rod with the largest being a 22″ fairly fat brown trout from Freestone Lake (the fish bit me hard so I never got a photo of it).

Having fished both of these which would I choose if I could only get one big fish rod?  I have to say, unless I was just on small water with big fish I’d go with the Amago.   The longer rod is great for larger water and it handles big fish just as well as the Yamame does.   If I needed a big fish rod for smaller water with a canopy then I’d go with the Yamame.   Either way, both are great big fish rods from TenkaraUSA and I can highly recommend both of them.