Karasu Rods: Backstory

Karasu from Discover Tenkara – Rods for Devotees who Value Quality


Yatagarasu emblem on black backgroundThe crow god “Yata-garasu” appears in many Eastern folklore cultures. In Japan, he was sent from the heavens to guide Emperor Jimmu to victory. Often drawn with three legs, the Yatagarasu or “eight-span crow” image also represents fearlessness.

This is the inspiration behind the performance and the look of our first Japanese-made rods:

Bold, smart, formidable…

If that strikes a chord with you, check them out on this link: Click Here 


We became tired of the “watered-down” tenkara available to westerners. The methods and equipment did not deliver the same exhilaration that we found in the best of Japanese tenkara…and although proud of our previous models, we had to bust our asses to stay on top of reject rates from Chinese-manufactured rods. There was a glass-ceiling to the in-house manufacturer experience and quality control of individual components available to us.

Because of this, most anglers don't have access to those truly exhilarating experiences enjoyed by top Japanese anglers - and lucky fools like us.

You deserve a completely different and better opportunity: where technique comes first AND you have the finest equipment that 100% supports your skill (rather than an adequate imitation of that experience).

Saying that will probably ruffle some feathers (pun intended as you’ll see below) in the tenkara and fly fishing industry… and that’s actually something we deliberately mark by choosing the name “KARASU”…

Amago on Karasu rod

When it stands alone, the word “Garasu” is pronounced “Karasu”; which means birds of the crow family. Today, these birds can violently divide opinion. Some folks enjoy their smart, bad-boy reputation. Others are irritated by them – or even hate the crows’ association with death on the battlefield (an idea probably partly imported from the West).

We believe it is better to be hated for what you are, than loved for what you are not; so perhaps KARASU is the perfect name?

(Find the Rods and Kazumi Saigo's Review Here)

Karasu Rod Made In Japan


A truly great tenkara rod is the result of correctly balancing the following vital performance factors:

  • Tip-recovery without “wobble” when casting… v. Tip-recovery without “kick-back” (so you can place your fly with pinpoint accuracy)
  • Easy-loading with the lightest tenkara level-linesv. Hook-set power (so you can hold casting line off the water at greater range YET still hook and land as many fish as rods that are too stiff to cast light lines)
  • Overall lightness..v. the correct balance-point to avoid forearm strain when fishing (so you can forget you are holding a rod and just immerse yourself in the placement and control of your fly)

On top of making the right choices to balance those forces, an exceptional tenkara rod must also:

  • Have great “rotational” recovery (not just linear recovery) if it is going to be used for any casting techniques other than a straight overhead stroke
  • Be manufactured to truly excellent standards of precision to ensure durability and fishing performance
  • Offer sensitive feedback to your hand through the handle for both casting control and letting you feel right down the line to your fly
  • Have smooth, progressive taper that maintains great strength through flexibility (while providing the power to cast longer, heavier lines when you force a deeper bend into the blank)

The number of sections and telescopic nature of tenkara rods, when combined with their length AND the lack of a counter-balancing reel AND their need to load with incredibly light lines – while being stiff enough to be used as a fishing rod…AND recover in linear and rotational planes…all those demands create a nearly impossible engineering challenge.

Iwana on Karasu Rod

It is only because of the incredible advances in carbon fibre cloth technology and unparalleled Japanese manufacturing excellence that the Karasu can meet these demands with a rod that will:

  • Cast the infamous #3 NYLON level line (equivalent to casting a #1.75 fluorocarbon line)…
  • Also cast 9-m+ of #4 level line, 2-m of tippet and a big, soft-hackle kebari with ease
  • Deliver a fantastic hook-set to landed fish ratio
  • Hold its form when side-casting under obstacles – so you have perfect control of your casting loops (a hurdle that stops some of the very best-loved elite Japanese light-line tenkara rods)
  • Feel as good as it looks

The Karasu comes in 3.6m (360) and 4.0m (400) models and each is designed for specific conditions:

The Karasu 360 is perfect for medium to small streams that often have some obstacles to your casting. Its side-casting performance is exceptional, the blank is incredibly light and sensitive – while retaining the characteristic Karasu hook-up and fish-landing performance. It does not out-gun smaller fish, casts super-light lines while it is still very comfortable handling larger wild trout in fast flowing water using the strength reserved in its deep bend.

The Karasu 400 is at home on larger rivers with fewer casting obstacles, its extra length makes it a joy to both cast with and hold aloft longer level lines across complex currents. You will find this a fantastic tool for fishing the longer #3 nylon (and other light level-lines) at distance with phenomenal drift-control and casting-accuracy.

Karasu Rod Separate Sections

Both models retain a characteristic “focused” feeling - where the blank responds to very small casting movements to deliver accurate loops. Their supple, sensitive tips enable the exceptional light-line casting performance, while the progressive taper ensures the high hook-up to landing ratio (and the power to cast heavier long-lines too).

Perhaps the best way to describe it is that these light rods feel sharp and focused – without being anything like a “stiff broom-stick”.

When you buy a Karasu, you become a member of a dedicated group of tenkara anglers – and to recognise that we’ve created the Karasu Owners Club. The club has its own Private Facebook Group for exclusive techniques tuition and user tips from me and JP at Discover Tenkara PLUS discussion, trip reports and Karasu “fish of the month” nominations from all Karasu Owners – including members of the expert Japanese testing team.

You can get yours by: Clicking Here


We could not have achieved any of these things without extensive input from experts within the Japanese tenkara community (including, but not limited to: Kazumi Saigo, Go Ishii, Kazuo Kurahashi and Italian/Japanese transplant Uberto Calligarich!). The direct testing and feedback from these folks - and also their help in dramatically increasing our own tenkara abilities - resulted in a list of demands for what it would take for a tenkara rod to be considered truly exceptional.

That list of demands meant we needed to shift to a specialised Japanese manufacturer for the Karasu…Not an easy task, but one which means every component is personally checked as it is produced.

As you know, in life, Quality Costs and we’re now paying between 3x or even 6x the cost that other tenkara brands pay to Chinese manufacturers for their rods.

But we never set out to make the cheapest tenkara rod on the market…we wanted to make the best and we are happy to pay for Quality.

At the same time, we aren’t going to simply multiply the manufactured cost by the standard factor that other folks use (that would result in a Thousand dollar-plus rod…). Instead we will keep the retail price as reasonable as we possibly can, while still accounting for excellence and the costs of distributing to the global tenkara community.

By doing things this way, we can deliver outstanding build quality and get the tiny details such as the dimensions and density of the handle exactly right to provide ultimate sensitivity AND achieve the perfect counter-balance for the rod in its fishing position.

It is through the expert testing and feedback that such small changes between earlier versions of handles (for example) and the final design have delivered stunning increases in performance.

And, unlike some specialist products manufactured overseas, you don’t have to worry about difficulties in sourcing spare parts (should you fall on your rod for instance). Spares will be readily from any supplier of the full rods.


You can make sure you get yours by Clicking Here


Check out the Public Facebook group “Tenkara in Focus” to see what people are saying about the Karasu: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TenkaraInFocus/


Here’s a sample of what elite testers think of the Karasu:

Always there is a kind of trade between casting [light lines] and ability of a rod to set the hook. The Karasu is an excellent balance between these things. It is not a really soft, full-flex rod – but no way is it “stiff” either. It has softness, but you only need small movement to cast or to set the hook. I didn’t lose a fish this whole session and I found that really exceptional

Uberto Calligarich

Just wanted to say thanks for letting me have the privilege of trying out your new line of rods. The Karasu definitely is a top-notch rod. I haven't fished too much with any rod other than Rinfu the last decade or so but it was a very easy transition, which means the Karasu rods cast light lines very well, and it actually allowed me to cast very well sideways. Something Rinfu's not very good at and proves the Karasu rods are built right with high quality carbon

Go Ishii


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