Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Fly Rod Review: An In-Depth Hands-On Look

Discovering the Aventik Zeno Tenkara Rod has been enlightening. Its unique features make it my top choice for tenkara fishing.

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In this Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Fly Rod Review, we’ll take a deep-dive look into the construction, componentry, and performance of the rod.

I’ve been fly fishing for 35 years now and have been guiding professionally for the last 15. I’ve seen, used, and abused a lot of different gear over the years. Rods, reels, lines, waders, bags…nothing is safe from the demands I put on my stuff.

This Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara rod is a newer offering from Avenitk Fishing, a low-price leader in decent quality fishing gear.

This rod utilizes similar componentry and materials as higher-priced “performance” rods on the market. The look, feel, and performance of the rods are generally comparable to those higher priced rods. This Zeno Tenkara rod also offers some fun, non-traditional aesthetics to set it apart.

Our Fly Rod Reviews:

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Aventik Zeno Fiberglass

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Why Trust My Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Fly Rod Review?

Not only do I get a lot of personal use out of my gear but, as a guide, I get to see how other people use the same gear, how user-friendly it is, and how different styles of fishing/casting compliment or detract from the equipment.

Guiding compresses a lot of equipment use into a short period. Also, let’s be honest…clients often don’t treat the equipment as well as we might. This gives a good, clear picture as to how long a piece of equipment might last for a normal-use angler like you.

Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Review: How I Reviewed & Tested The Rod

Of course I went to Aventik’s website to gather the listed data from the company. But I didn’t stop there. I also measured, weighed, and tested all equipment to compare to the website’s listed stats. Sometimes muy findings line up with theirs. Sometimes not.

Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Fly Rod

I also like to do some dryland casting…open grassy areas where controlled casts and measured distances are easy to set up and measure. This gives a good idea of the feel of the rod but not the complete picture.

Finally, I hit the water with the rod. There’s no better test than real-worl use test. Seeing how the equipment performs in real-world situations gives a pretty complete picture of how you can expect the equipment to perform for you.

Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Pros

While undergoing my review of Aventik’s Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara 10ft rod, I found plenty of things to like. Here are the most impressive:

Super Compact/Transportable

This isn’t something unique to the Aventik Zeno Fiberglass rod. The telescopic design on tenkara rods in general is pretty intuitive and convenient. As the tenkara mantra goes, stripping away all unnecessary components makes life easier and more enjoyable.

Nice Cork Grip

While cork, wood, foam, and other materials (even plastic) are all equally common on tenkara rods, this Zeno Fiberglass rod employs a soft cork grip. Maybe it’s because I’m not usually a tenkara fisherman, but I do appreciate the comforting feel of the cork grip.

Can’t Beat the Price

Why not try out that curiosity for tenkara with this rod? It’s incredibly attainable at this price…half to an eight of the price of other tenkara rods.

Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Cons

As with every piece of equipment, there will be some things to like and generally some things that may need improvement. Nothing is perfect nor does it work the same for every different individual fisherperson.

Not The Lightest Rod Available

At 3.2oz, this is definitely not the heaviest 10ft Tenkara rod out there. There are, however, A LOT of 10ft (and even 11ft) rods out there that are a bit lighter.

Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Fly Rod

It might be splitting hairs saying this 3.2oz rod is heavier than another 2.6oz rod but, then again, fishing tenkara…you’re spending most of your day with a raised/outstretched arm.

If you plan on doing a Google search on tenkara rod weights, often the lists will show weights (in grams or oz) and omit the lengths. You’ll see a lot of heavier rods listed, however, many tenkara rods are longer than the Zeno…11ft, 12ft, or even longer.

Soft Fiberglass Flex…Almost

Honestly, when I learned this was a fiberglass rod, I thought it would feel like absolute butter. My experience with fiberglass rods is flexy, smooth, easy casting and loading.

However, with this Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara rod, that wasn’t necessarily the case. The handle and butt section has some pretty decent stiffness…for a fiberglass rod. The feel of the middle and end of the rod is flexy and castable, but the handle/butt section took away from said feel.

There are a few factors at play here. First, the tenkara line/tipped setup doesn’t have a lot of weight behind it. It’s not going to aid in flexing the rod via the cast like a traditional rod/line. But then again, you don’t need it to when fishing tenkara. Still…the casting feel seemed just a touch off.

What’s In The Box?

When you order your Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara rod, here’s what you can expect to show up at your doorstep:

The Box

Your new Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara rod will show up directly from Aventik, Amazon (or another retailer) in a simple, small box. My rod box came inside of a larger corrugated cardboard box with air cushion padding.

Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Fly Rod

The box containing the rod is smaller than you might be looking for…mine was dark charcoal with a distressed look, was only 17x2x2″, and had a simple “Aventik” script on one side. Don’t mistake this small box for something else!

The Rod Tube

Upon opening the initial Aventik box, you’ll find the rod inside a small cylindrical plastic tube with pull-off stopper-style ends. It’s a fairly thin, clear plastic offering some protection but not much.

Inside the rod tube, you’ll clearly see the rod sock stitched with the model and length of the rod contained within (mine is green with black lettering).

Rod Sock

The rod sock itself is a soft, woven, stretchy material, likely polyester. The rod model, again, is clearly labeled on the outside of the sock.

The sock isn’t the type of rod sock most of us fisherpeople are familiar with. There is no open end and no drawstring closure. The rod is accessed via a reinforced hole in the side of the rod sock. Pulling the stretchy rod sock on the end will expose the rod inside for removal.

The Rod

The rod I received is a brilliant green color with a nice, light colored cork grip. The finish has a bit of a sheen to it..not super glossy but definitely not matte.

From the first impression, it appears to be quite similar to many other tenkara rods on the market. It has the traditional telescoping design with an end plug in the rod to keep all pieces in place for storage/transport.

Out of the box, it appears to be a decently built rod with some fun aesthetics.

Extras

There are a few fun extras inside the box. Who doesn’t like some free extras, right!?

  • Braided Tenkara line, 12ft
  • Nipper tool with hook file and fly-lining tool
  • Line Clips
  • 4 tenkara flies
  • Spare rod tip/second-from-tip section

Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Specs

Understanding the rod specs will give you a better picture of what the rod can handle and what situations the rod will excel in. This will also show how the rod can be expected to perform.

  • Available Lengths: 9ft and 10ft options
  • Action: Slow/soft 6/4 fiberglass action
  • Pieces: 10 pieces, telescoping
  • Blank Material: Multi-layer fiberglass
  • Measured Weight: 3.1 oz (without end plug)
  • Stripping Guides: N/A
  • Snake Guides: N/A
  • Reel Seat: N/A
  • Handle: Composite Cork
  • Rod Tube: Thin/clear PET plastic with stopper ends, no label
  • Rod Sock: Stretch woven polyester sock, labeled
  • Price: $59.99

Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Fly Rod Review: How The Rod Feels

Rod feel is one of those things that is important to understand before making an online purchase.

Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Fly Rod

Buying in-shop gets your hands on the rod and gives you some of the story, but not the full picture. This Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Rod review review showed me the following:

Overall Weight

The Aventik website has the 10ft Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara rod listed at 3.3oz. Our measurement showed that to be true…with the end plug left on.

When fishing this rod, of course, you’ll be fishing without the plug. Weighing the rod minus the plug gave a measurement of 3.1oz.

Casting Feel

Folks will usually seek out fiberglass rods for their inherently flexy, “slow” action making it easy to find the sweet spot for casting.

The tip and upper half of this rod have a definite “buttery” flex and feel, as you’d assume from a fiberglass blank. The butt section and lower half of the rod are a bit more stiff than I’d imagine they’d be.

This stiffer lower end adds some backbone for fighting larger fish, however, I felt it took away from that expected “silky” cast stroke one would expect from fiberglass.

This isn’t a big deal, especially at this price, as the lines you’ll be looking to cast aren’t very lengthy…10-20ft or so.

Action

Aventik lists the action on this Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Fly Rod as slow. After casting the 10ft model, I’d personally say it’s more of a “medium-slow.”

Again, the flexy tip felt as it should on a fiberglass blank. The lower end of the rod, however, was fairly stiff making the flex point a little higher up the rod than a “slow” rod.

Presentation

Decent presentations weren’t a problem for this Zeno 10ft Tenkara rod. Even with a stiffer-than-expected back cast feel, carrying the momentum forward and presenting the fly into the water first wasn’t difficult.

This helps the fly/flies penetrate into the water column and get into the strike zone quicker. Keeping that tenkara “triangle” (rod/line presentation pose) was also easily achievable.

The only note on the presentation is that this rod isn’t the lightest available. I did find my arm becoming fatigued after a while but this is also due to not having my “tenkara muscles” built up. I guess I should have been practicing with some high-stick-nymphing before receiving this rod.

Tip Sensitivity

The tip sensitivity on the Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara rod seemed to be a strong point for me. True to the fiberglass build, the tip on this rod is flexible and sensitive.

The sensitivity of the tip helped “feel” the drift easily. My tendency toward sometimes overly aggressive tenkara sets seemed to be helped (softened) by the flex of the tip as well.

Reach

With 10ft of rod length and 10 ft of braided line (+5-ish feet of tippet) was a little shorter than I’d like for our bigger western rivers. I could see this rod being perfect for smaller mountain streams and tighter cover.

Adding my 20ft line wasn’t a problem on this rod either, however, a longer rod would have most likely aided in the casting of the longer line.

For me, I’d prefer a longer rod and longer line specific for reaching further targets on our open rivers. For others, this 10ft reach will be just perfect.

Fighting Ability

The saving grace of the stiffer-than-expected backbone is its fish-fighting ability. Many fish caught on a tenkara rod are smaller and easily landed on any rod.

For larger fish, having a tenkara rod with some decent backbone is a plus.

With no reel on the rod, reaching the rod high and behind you is one way to scoop/net/grab a fish. You can also reach the rod behind you, grab the line, and pull fish in with the line itself.

Either way, having some stiffness in the lower end of the rod is going to make it much easier when it comes to bigger fish.

Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Warranty

Aventik gives you a 25-year guarantee on their rods on manufacturing defects and materials. This does not cover accidents. A replacement fee will apply to the latter.

Casting The Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara

Casting a tenkara rod isn’t a difficult proposition. The cast is usually a simple, short back cast and forward cast. Lines and rods aren’t long so there’s not much worry regarding long distances.

0-20 Feet

With a 10ft line and a 10ft rod, 0-20ft (actually a bit short of) is the sweet spot with this setup. You don’t need to be an expert caster but the lack of line weight at this distance means little flex on the rod. You won’t feel the cast well. I preferred to watch my back cast at this distance.

20-40 Feet

Adding my 20ft line made a longer reach possible. Again, with a stiffer backbone on the rod, the pullback force on the back cast needed to be a little more than I thought it would be.

The good news is that it’s tenkara and not overly complicated. Again, I simply watched my back cast to get the timing right until I began to understand the rod feel a bit better.

Other Rods That Compare To The Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara

If you’re considering the Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara rod you might have already done some research on some other comparable brands.

Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Fly Rod

The Wilson Creek Zoom is a carbon fiber rod blank. The effective fishing length is from 10 to 11ft, meaning you don’t have to fully extend the rod’s tip if you want a shorter 10ft rod or you can fully extend it to fish the full 11ft length.

The carbon fiber build of the Zoom is a little stiffer than the Zeno’s fiberglass build. It also comes in at $120 making it a bit more costly than the Zeno but it the Zoom comes with a much better rod case.

The Keiryu Ansel is another you might be considering. The Ansel is also a carbon fiber build with a much faster action profile than the Zoom or the Zeno.

The Ansel extends to 10.9ft in length and utilizes a grippy coating to the rod handle section…no cork or foam..to save weight. This rod feels much lighter than the Zoom or Zeno, comes with a good, solid rod case, and will cost you $180.

Who is the Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Fly Rod For?

Aventik, in general, focuses on getting decently-made products to the consumer at a big cost savings. This seems to serve the beginner fisherperson market well.

The Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara rod is no different. The solid build, the comfortable grip, the decent rod feel and, of course, the cost savings will appeal greatly to beginner tenkara fishers.

Someone who is looking for a backup tenkara rod would benefit from grabbing the Zeno Fiberglass tenkara rod as well. Yes, replacement tips are available and easy to change but, if you’ve got a multy-day backpacking trip or are traveling internationally, having an economical backup rod is a good idea.

This Zeno rod will probably also satisfy tenkara fishers that aren’t beginners but still relatively new in their journey. Again the cost-to-performace ratio is favorable.

This Zeno rod would still hold up to “main rod” standards for this demographic or at least a secondary rod in a different length/feel for different fishing situations.

Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Review: My Personal Thoughts

During my review of Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara rod, I put myself into a few different casting/fishing situations. I attempted to simulate different scenarios you might come across in a given day fishing tenkara.

As a traditional fly-caster, I found the cork grip comforting at first. It’s familiar, feels good in the hand, and adds good aesthetics to the rod. However, the longer I held the tenkara triangle pose, the more I thought I might actually like something lighter weight.

The action of the rod is, for me, a mix of good and just okay. The mid-to-tip section of the rod has good feel and flex as I’d expect from a fiberglass rod.

The handle/butt section-to-mid-rod felt a bit more stiff than I’d expected it to feel. There are two sides to this stiffness coin, however.

On one side,during the cast, the stiffness seemed a little much. The tenkara cast isn’t complicated though so it’s not a deal-killer. Short, light tenkara lines don’t add much weight like traditional fly lines do so there’s not a lot of help in the cast/flex of the rod from the line.

On the flip side, battling larger fish on a tenkara rod cand be a little tricky. Experienced tenkara fishers have it down but the stiffness of the Zeno’s lower end is a helpful positive when reaching the rod back to bring a larger fish to hand.

FAQs About Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Fly Rod

As with most things, getting a lot of answers can raise even more questions. Her are some regarding the Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Rod:

What is a good length for a tenkara rod?

12ft is pretty standard but there are many tenkara rod lengths for many different situations. 9-13ft rods are fairly common.

Can you catch big fish on a tenkara rod?

Absolutely. The technique is a bit different from traditional fly fishing but it’s most definitely doable.

Can you roll cast a tenkara rod?

Tenkara rods aren’t designed for a roll cast. There’s really not enough weight to setup or even the line itself to make a roll cast. Simple overhead or side casts are best. They don’t need much of a back cast.

How much tippet do you use on a tenkara setup?

3-6ft of tippet is common, depending on the water depth you’re fishing.

Can you fish tenkara on a lake?

Yes! Tenkara is a great way to fish lakes, especially mountain lakes.

Do you dead-drift your tenkara flies?

When presenting flies on a tenkara rod, you can dead drift, bounce/pulsate, twitch, or even add a retrieval of some sort to your flies.

Conclusion

My Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Fly Rod Review uncovered some strengths and some weaknesses in this rod. It seemed to work great in some situations and fall short in others.

Shop The Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Fly Rod

View the Aventik Zeno Fiberglass Tenkara Fly Rod and compare prices on AMAZON.

Aventik Zeno Fiberglass

In the end, this rod is a very economical rod that delivers moderate performance for anyone interested in getting into the tenkara game or expanding/diversifying their tenkara rod collection.

It’s not going to be the star of the show or, if you’re a more experienced tenkara fisher with multiple rods, it won’t be the main rod in the arsenal. It can, however, get your tenkara journey started or add depth to your collection at a fraction of the price of comparable rods.

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Born and raised in Billings, MT, Nic was blessed to be brought up in an outdoor-minded family. Fishing and hunting were a part of his familial culture. Blame it on my Aquarius birth or some divine design but, from as early as he can remember, he had to be near or in the water. Guiding since the early 2000s, Nic has thousands of hours of fly fishing and guiding experience and has helped hundreds of people get into the sport of fly fishing, or better their skills as anglers.

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