By: Andy Marks
Disassembled 3.3m Tenkara USA Hane rod with holder, line and rod and my tenkara box.
Imagine that Hane fell into the river, soaking it. Or, imagine the rod being used to fish Bacon Rind Creek from its bank on a recent 27℉ morning with a mist of ice drifting down the surrounding hills and down the creek to Gallatin below. The rod was not submerged, but when its segments were wiped, they left frost on my hood. Tenkara USA recommends drying its rod segments before storing. Extraneous segments deleted.
When I take the rod apart after days like this, the wet segments stick together. External wiping takes half the water. Rod segments should also be dry inside. I thought about using a rifle barrel cleaning rod, but it was thick and I wasn’t sure what it would do to the segments. Instead, I tried a segment of 17lb mono with one perfection loop at one end. I tucked the other end down the tube, then placed a paper towel in a ‘V’ shape in the loop and pulled. This failed because the 17lb mono had a mind of its own: it wasn’t straight and didn’t always feed down the tube. It also does not take up a little storage space by choice.
I switched to a 24″ segment of 20lb backing braid, with a perfection ring on one end and a ⅛” tungsten bead between the two stop knots in the other. Star with the smallest tube it will fit into and work up to the larger tubes, ending with the handle piece. Place the bead on the finished, narrow end of one tube and meet it on the other side. The bead easily overcomes the line’s attempts to climb the wet sides. Load the perfection ring with a ‘V’ shaped paper rod and gently pull it through the tube. Increase the size of the paper rod as you move to larger diameter segments so that it offers some resistance as you pull it. Inspect each tube by holding it up to a light. They will be shiny and clean. This will remove water, grains of sand, bits of pine needles, dust and anything else that may have accumulated. swipe unfinished end of clean pipe on finished end of the cleared stack and repeat. If a clear tube won’t slide over the stack, one of them is upside down.
The upper segment is usually solid: There are no internals to clean. The other segment will probably not slip over the stop lily joint. You may need to use the top segment as a swab of the other tube. Fold segment 1 into segment 2, pull, erase and repeat several times. The third segment may be large enough for a ⅛ diameter tungsten bead. If not, you need two buffer tools, one with a large bead and one with a 1/16” bead. My Hane and Amago rods are cleaned with a ⅛” bead.
When the rods you used are dry and clean, wipe them down. Notice how the segments slide more easily than when wet. This is a good thing.
The braid has no memory and is flexible. To apply the swab, hold the braid in the middle with one hand and the two ends with the other. Bring those extremes together and repeat until you have a series of folded segments maybe 1” in length. Place it in a small pill tube, write a red ticket like mine and seal it. Keep it. If the braid is wet, give it a chance to dry first. Thanks for reading.
Andy Marks: “I’m 65 years old, live in UT, fish in UT, in WY, Yellowstone and ID. I have been fly fishing for 2 and a half years now, I have 15 fly rods and 4 tenkara rods and since using the latter I have not touched the former.”