The Tenryu Rayz Alter rods are new this year. They were designed for fishing Areas (managed pay-to-fish lakes). In Japan, trout streams are closed to fishing in the winter but the Areas are open. Anglers who want to fish when the streams are closed fish the Areas.
Rods designed for Areas are softer than the stream rods. In the Areas, and lakes in general, anglers don't have to fight the current as well as the fish. The Areas do not have snags (downed trees, logs, etc) that you have to keep the fish out of. The trout in the areas are highly pressured, and smaller lures work better on pressured fish. Smaller lures require lighter lines, and lighter lines require softer rods.
The Alter rods are softer overall than the Tenryu Rayz, Rayz Integral or
Rayz Spectra stream rods. The rod tip in particular is noticeably
softer. The Rayz Alter RZA61L-T has a tubular tip. The Rayz Alter
RZA62UL-S has a very flexible solid tip (much like the tip on most
tenkara rods and high end Ajing rods). The RZA62UL-S is rated for a slightly lower maximum lure weight and line strength.
Tenryu had a series of blog entries about the new rods, starting from their initial product announcement in July of last year. As anyone who must rely on Google translations knows, written Japanese does not translate easily or well into English. At best, you can get a rough sense of the author's intentions.
What I took from the blog posts was that the Alter - a play on words in a sense combining "alternative" (to native stream rods) and "alter" (as in a change from Tenryu's previous Area rods) - has an underlying feeling of adult play. Society seems to think that children should play but adults should be serious. Reject that notion! Adults should play also.
That sense fits in well with the Areas in Japan. The fish are stocked, they're not native (generally rainbows but also browns), and in some areas they're huge. The whole setting isn't natural, it isn't "real" - it's play.
Most of Japan is mountainous. Most of the US isn't. Trout fishing in
Japan is limited to fairly high gradient mountain streams and the
man-made Areas. Trout fishing in the US is not nearly as limited. We
have many more natural lakes, and many more tailwaters (with large trout
but modest current), and meadow streams similar to the one shown above in the Wisconsin Driftless area that offer wonderful trout
fishing. We also have lots of warm water streams with little current and
little (and not so little) fish.
Not only that, we have thousands and thousands of lakes with sunfish and crappies. The softer action of the Tenryu Rayz Alter makes it a dandy rod for crappies!
And sunfish? Almost everywhere in the US that doesn't have trout has sunfish. The Alter is just an ideal rod for sunfish! If you are looking for a high end panfish rod, you won't find a better one.
If you take your fishing (and your play) seriously, and want a stillwater rod for which the emphasis is clearly on the highest quality rather than the lowest price, the Tenryu Rayz Alter is surely the nicest rod you'll find.
The Tenryu Rayz Alter grip shares features with the Rayz and Rayz Spectra rods. The reel seat rings are like those on the Rayz, while the hardwood burl reel seat and grip cap accent are like those on the Rayz Spectra. As with all the Rayz rods, the cork is top quality.
There has been a trend toward split grips on spinning and baitcasting rods. Some people love 'em, some hate 'em. Tenryu does make some rods with split grips - long salt water rods designed to cast lures long distances, where you really do need the extra leverage of a two handed cast. Casting ultra light lures with ultra light lines on ultra light rods does not require both hands, though. Tenryu trout rods are old school - one piece grips made from top quality cork.
The grip cap has the raised rubber ring to prevent scratches, the knurled spacer and the hardwood burl accent piece like those on the Rayz Spectra. The guides are titanium K guides with SiC inserts. Although the first guide is pretty tall, it is just short enough to fit in the Long Rod Case (as do all the Tenryu Rayz and Rayz Spectra spinning rods).
Each of the rod models in the Tenryu Rayz series of rods has it's own signature color (and not just for the wraps - in good light you can see that the blank is colored as well). The Rayz rods are green, the Rayz Integral are blue, the Rayz Spectra is purple and the Rayz Alter is red. The colors are subtle but distinct.
Model RZA61L-T RZA62UL-S
Type Area (lake) Area (lake)
Length 6'1" 6'2"
Sections 2 2
Breakdown Length 37 9/16" 38 1/2"
Rod Weight 2.5 oz 2.6 oz
Line Weight 1 - 5 lb 1 - 4 lb
Lure Weight 0* - 3/16 oz 0* to 1/8 oz
*Tenryu lists the lure weight as almost zero or approaching zero. On my first time out with the Tenryu Rayz Alter RZA61L-T I fished the Daiwa Presso Vega .4g and .8g spoons. I have to say the .8g spoons cast a lot better than the .4g spoons! I suspect the .4g spoons would have cast better if I'd had 1 lb test line, but that may be a bit extreme. Personally, I think the 2 lb Sunline Troutist Area Meister or Troutist Darkness is plenty light enough, and the .8g Vega spoons are exactly the same size as the .4g spoons. I think I will reserve the .4g spoons for fly rods or tenkara rods. With spinning rods I'll fish spoons that are .8g and heavier. The .8g Vega spoons cast well, and the Daiwa Adam, Lupin and 2.5g Crusader spoons will also work quite nicely with the Tenryu Rayz Alter. Floating minnow lures, like the smaller Daiwa Dr. Minnow or Yo-Zuri Pins minnow also work nicely. Heavy sinking minnows are better fished with the Tenryu stream rods (Spectra, Rayz and Rayz Integral).
The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.