Because I get questions about fishing tenkara style, I pulled together some information. I also posted it on the Gone Fishing page so it is easy find to refer to.
For those unfamiliar with tenkara, it is a traditional Japanese method of fly-fishing. It reduces fly-fishing to three basic elements, a rod, a line and a fly. It has been used for centuries in Japan’s high mountain streams. Tenkara is all about simplicity. You focus on the fishing rather than the gear.
For brook trout fishing in the mountains I use the Tenkara USA Iwana in the 11′ length and 6:4 action. I use a 10′ 6″ traditional tenkara line attached to the tip of the rod with a simple girth hitch. I tie about 9″ of 4x tippet to the end of the line, then about 12-18″ of 5x or 6x tippet to that depending on the conditions.
Because it flexes so much in the upper section especially at the tip, it readily protect a light tippet. While the rod appears delicate, it has held up exceptionally well under the rigors of fishing, traveling, bush whacking and teaching.
As you will quickly discover, tenkara style fishing gives you incredible drag free drifts. Often three and four times as long as you might get with a conventional outfit. And those drag-free drifts are one of the most important elements for fishing success.
It is a great teaching tool. It makes teaching the basics very easy, getting the student on the water and fishing sooner. It allows the teacher and student to focus more on fishing technique and not have to work so much on line management and casting skills.
Tenkara doesn’t replace conventional fly fishing, however. There are fishing situations where long casts and heavier lines are required.
Here are some links with more information about tenkara.
- My column for the News Virginian (Waynesboro)
- A post and video by Ned Desmond on GoFishn.com
- A radio interview I did in Australia with Scott Levi, host of The BigFish program on ABC at the Fishers for Fish Habitat Forum.
Tenkara USA’s website, has a wealth of information. There you can find information on the origins and history of tenkara, video’s and diagrams of casting techniques.
In the spirit of full disclosure because I am a professional guide and instructor I get a professional discount from Tenkara USA. They did not compensate me for writing or posting this.