The Tenryu Rayz Alter rods were introduced last year. They were designed for fishing Areas (managed pay-to-fish lakes). Rods designed for Areas are softer than rods designed for streams. 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 (and much softer than the Tenryu Lunakia 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.
The the Alter name seems to be a play on words, combining "alternative" (to native stream rods) and "alter" (as in a change from Tenryu's previous Area rods). The name 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 have miles and miles of streams that are stocked with 9-11" trout. That is a perfect size for the Tenryu Rayz Alter even if there is a bit of a current.
We also have lots of warm water streams with modest current and modest fish. If you fish in streams were there is room for a 6'1" or 6'2" rod, and where the fish are of modest size, these are just wonderful, fun rods.
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.
It seems there is a trend nowadays to use JDM ajing rods for sunfish. If you are fishing micro jigs I can understand that, but if you like fishing micro spoons like I do, I would recommend a Tenryu Rayz Alter in a heartbeat!
If you take your fishing (and your play) seriously, and want a stillwater (or slow water) 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.
Every year a friend and I go to Maine to fish for smallmouth bass. Most of the bass we catch are in the 14-17 inch range. However, I always like to take some time to fish different spots with smaller lures and lighter gear, going after redbreast sunfish and small (8") smallmouth bass. The Alter is the perfect rod for modest fish. It will cast the .8g Daiwa Vega or .9g Forest Marshal Tournament spoons well, and an 8" smallie puts up a nice fight. On this year's trip I was thinking how much fun the Alter was with the 8 inchers - and then I hooked one twice that length.
It was a longer fight, and I had to be well aware how much bend there was in the rod, but the Tenryu Rayz Alter handled it well. It's just a fun rod! Highly recommended.
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*-5g (3/16oz) 0*-4g (1/8oz)
*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 Daiwa Vega spoons cast well, as do the 2.5g and 4g Crusader spoons. The whole range of the Shimano Slim Swimmers is within the recommended lure range for the Tenryu Rayz Alter RZA61L-T, and all but the 5g spoons are within the recommended range for the RZA62L-S. The lighter spinners, like the Smith AR-S 2g, Niakis 3g and Palms 2.6g spinners will work well also. 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.