Any tenkara folks out there?

Brian Miller

Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Cutthwoat Twout
WFF Supporter
So, I'm confused: Ive mentioned two near-by creeks that he assumes hold 11-12, maybe 13", trout and he's getting recommendations for 11, 12 & 13' rods? I don't get it........:(
Tenkara rods are light and long. They let you reach over currents and rocks for amazing fly only presentations. On a small stream I catch way more fish with my long tenkara rod than a fly rod with line hitting the water.
I don't disagree that long rod-short line can be effective. However longer rods do present some challenges on small streams with overhanging branches and brush extending right to and over the water's edge. A line must be long enough that the rod can be held high enough so the bend of the entire rod fights the fish to avoid breaking the tippet or worse; the rod tip, and that there will be enough of a bend in the rod to grab the line so you can land the fish! From the TBum article mentioned above:
"Update 8/18/15 ...(when a friend hooks) a large fish, the fish will immediately pull the bend out of the rod, pull the rod tip down and break the tippet. I think you can keep your rod tip high enough if the line plus tippet is equal to the rod length but if it is substantially shorter than that you can't."
"Update 4/30/17 ..."I finally experienced what my friend had told me. He'd said with a short line the rod tip will be too low, so if a large fish takes (particularly near the end of a drift) you will not be able to get the rod tip up high enough fast enough to get a bend in the rod. He was right. I hooked what must have been a very nice fish, which immediately ran and I couldn't get the rod tip up - there was no slack in the line to permit it."


I have experienced this; holding my 13' mid-flex rod too low and had a nice fish break off before I could even react to set the hook (or moderate it) 1/4" below my tippet knot yesterday. In my case, it was for distance in one particular spot I couldn't reach because of the water's depth. A longer line or my 17' Keiryu rod would have been a better choice in that one spot.

On another occasion I lost a big Brookie in a small stream with an 8' 10' full-flex small stream zoom rod because there was too much flex in the rod and at the 8' length I couldn't move the rod far enough with overhead branches to get a solid hookset. But that rod is exciting and will manage and land chunky 13" fish in heavy current with a good hookset. Conversely I have a stiffer 8' 9.5' 11' tip-flex zoom rod that gets better hooksets in tight quarters but is unpleasant to cast a light level line at the 8' length, and will easily (and clumsily) launch dinks into the streamside brush until I get used to it.

That's why I asked about the size of the creeks and the creekside environments.
 

Skip Enge

Uck Uck Uck, bitches
I own and use a starter tenkara with a wooden hand held spool...For dink fishing in small creeks it is mucho fun...Bought some whisperlite hooks to bass ackwards tie some small dries...
 
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jwg

Active Member
There are two good creeks within an hour of where I live that are difficult to fish with a conventional fly rod. I'm thinking perhaps a tenkara rod would be better suited to such small streams. Fish wouldn't be much bigger than about 11'', a 13'' fish would be a jumbo. Both are streams where I'm sure I would rarely-if ever-see another fisherman.

Any advice for buying a rod, line configuration, etc? There is a ton of videos on the subject but not all are helpful and I'm sure some are just inaccurate. I see tenkara as a relief in summer from the usual waders, boots, fins, boat, anchor, depth finder and the other crap needed just for a few hours on the water.

I'll be going alone so I won't embarrass anyone!;)
I have a Tenkara bum traveler zoom rod. I'll post more later.
I also know the other choices I considered.
Are these creeks brushy or forested?
Finally I had best success w dry fly presentation or tiny indicator and nymph. I did not learn yet how to work kebabs flies
Jay
 

IveofIone

Active Member
WFF Supporter
The creeks I have in mind both flow through woodlands with lots of attendant brush. I can see where lifting a long rod to the 12:00 o'clock position might be a real problem. Wind is seldom an issue. Methinks that tenkara might be better suited for desert streams or meadow streams with a minimum of overhanging brush. I think I'll buy one anyway and learn how to use it then keep it in the rig in case I find a place to try it.

I am not willing to buy a high end tenkara rod that will see limited use. I would prefer to stay in the $150 range if I can find something decent for that. Also had hoped that this would be simple-a rod, a line and some flies but it sounds more involved than that and as usual, one size doesn't fit all.
 

flybill

Purveyor of fine hackle, wine & cigars!
WFF Supporter

I have an early version of this (the Iwana) and think this is what you would want. I would do the furled tapered line, which is like $20. The rod is a great price, I got mine with the line included. I wouldn't worry about flies, since I assume your fully stocked with flies. I've used small dries and nymphs.

Tenkara flies are very simple and could be tied fairly easily, although they are small. I use anything I would use on small rivers here in WA and MT.

The rod, case and one line would be in your budget! You might consider the level line too, but I think I made one myself. I will get mine out and post a picture or two.
 

Brian Miller

Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Cutthwoat Twout
WFF Supporter
The creeks I have in mind both flow through woodlands with lots of attendant brush. I can see where lifting a long rod to the 12:00 o'clock position might be a real problem. Wind is seldom an issue. Methinks that tenkara might be better suited for desert streams or meadow streams with a minimum of overhanging brush. I think I'll buy one anyway and learn how to use it then keep it in the rig in case I find a place to try it.

I am not willing to buy a high end tenkara rod that will see limited use. I would prefer to stay in the $150 range if I can find something decent for that. Also had hoped that this would be simple-a rod, a line and some flies but it sounds more involved than that and as usual, one size doesn't fit all.
You didn't mention the creeks' widths so for creeks from 8' about 15' wide, here are two rods I have personal experience with.
I have a super-light full flex 8' 8.5' 10' Tenkara Times Watershed 300Z. Casting distance from 14' to 18' when keeping a high rod tip. It's super easy and a dream to cast a #3 level fluorocarbon line at the 8' length (the shorter the rod, the less flex and tactile feedback or "feel" of the rod loading) and exciting when a 13" fish in a strong current is making the line sing like a bowed violin string by pulling it through the water under tension. When there is a low canopy of branches overhead, hooksets and the fight should be done laterally rather than vertically. Designed and sold in the Czech Republic, made in China, can take 10 days to receive the rod or accessories and parts, €139 EUR+ shipping. Add €10 for a hard rod tube. http://www.tenkaratimes.com/tenkara-gear-storefront/try-tenkara-rods.
Review @ http://tetontenkara.blogspot.com/2015/06/tenkara-times-watershed-330-64-another.html?m=1

The 8' 9.5' 11' (tip-flex @ 8', mid-flex @ 9' & 11') DRAGONtail Mizuchi zx340. Casting distance 14' to 20' when keeping a high rod tip. It's unpleasant to do an overhead cast with a level line at 8' (I can't feel the rod load; it's all timing) but good for hooksets and fighting fish in confined spaces. It will also cast far enough keeping a high rod tip to fish somewhat larger streams and will definitely handle bigger fish than I usually hook here on the wetside. Designed in the US by small stream anglers who fish a lot in SW ID and UT, sold in ID, made in China, $160, Great prices, 15% off for orders over $100 sale right now (coupon code "over100"). Rods, parts and accessories are at my door on day 3 after an order from DRAGONtail. https://dragontailtenkara.com/mizuchi-zx340-zoom-tenkara-rod/
Review @ http://tetontenkara.blogspot.com/2019/05/dragontail-mizuchi-zx340-collaboration.html?m=1

I have no experience with Tenkara USA. I hear they are good quality Chinese rods but when compared to DRAGONtail and Tenkara Times, IMHO they are expensive.

Speaking of reviews, over 140 highly detailed reviews can be found at http://tetontenkara.blogspot.com/?m=1
He loves to fish small streams

Recommended accessories,
  1. The most popular lines by far are a #3 (lighter) or #3.5 (slightly heavier) level line; lighter is generally better for less sag with a high rod tip for a direct connection to the fly. A 30 meter spool (enough to make 10+ lines) from DRAGONtail is about $15. Combine with the Mizuchi and get 15% off. Cut one line for each length of the rod. https://dragontailtenkara.com/dragontail-tenkara-level-line/
  2. Tippet rings, so you don't cut down the lines when changing tippet. https://dragontailtenkara.com/25-tippet-rings-2mm/
  3. Line holder spools (4-pack) for lines storage (fully rigged with tippet and fly attached); one for each line length - $12 https://dragontailtenkara.com/nirvana-tenkara-line-holder/
  4. Line winder - holder $10 for two. Much more convenient than spools when on the water, but you still need the spools. I have them on all of my rods. https://dragontailtenkara.com/tenkara-snap-on-line-winders/
 
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IveofIone

Active Member
WFF Supporter
Brian, lots of good information there, thanks for your help. It gives me some idea of what to look for both in a rod and the water I need to fish it in.

Freestone has some of these rods and is going to demo them for me the next time she comes over. We should be able to take them right to a creek and do some real time comparisons.

And thanks to all that took the time to write and make suggestions. Once things return to some semblance of order I'll cast a few on my home water and make a decision.
 

Krusty

Huge Erect Member
WFF Supporter
I fish those small mountain creeks with my redneck tenkara 6.5' Eagle Claw 3 wt flyrod and an old Perrine Automatic reel. It's easy to get through brush, the reel makes line control a breeze in these kind of creeks, and you're not going to be casting much. And no, you definitely won't like this $30 one piece glass rod on a lake or large stream, but it works great bucking brush.

In olden times we just called it dapping.
 
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bennysbuddy

the sultan of swing
WFF Supporter
I bought the couple of rods I have used on E-bay, the top three sections the one that seem to break I bought as repair kits from tenkara USA for ten bucks for the three sections . I seem to be a slow learner & have broke a couple of tips by trying to bend the rod into a question mark like shape while landing fish.
 

Brian Miller

Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Cutthwoat Twout
WFF Supporter
I seem to be a slow learner & have broke a couple of tips by trying to bend the rod into a question mark like shape while landing fish.
:eek: Thankfully I haven't done that yet. However I don't use tippet that's heavier than the mfg recommends.

I did have my 5X tippet broken 1/4" below the tippet knot a couple of days ago by a big grab before I could even react because my rod tip was too low and pointed too close to the direction of the fish trying to get some extra distance (doh!).

My 2nd Tenkara caught fish was a native Cutthroat about 16".
Like using a western rod I quickly learned to keep the rod (handle) vertically or laterally from 60° to 90° to the fish for the rod's best power curve, while leading and steering the fish to fight it.
It's astonishing how well the rod can fight a fish compared to a western rod. And the line was singing like a bowed violin string under tension as it was being dragged through the water.

Keep the elbow bent and not higher than the shoulder to quickly react to changes in direction.
1585193761132.png

After the fish tires, then you can bring the rod back to where you can grab the line to bring the fish to the net. (assumes line length = rod length or more,+ 3 1/2 feet of tippet)
1585194437601.png




Here's a saying from Tenkara angler Dr. Hisao Ishigaki about playing a fish...
"When the fish is strong, let it fight (the rod),
When the fish is weak, fight the fish (with the rod)"
It kind of reminds me of kuzushi (using an opponent's power against them) in Judo.
 

bennysbuddy

the sultan of swing
WFF Supporter
:eek: Thankfully I haven't done that yet. However I don't use tippet that's heavier than the mfg recommends.

I did have my 5X tippet broken 1/4" below the tippet knot a couple of days ago by a big grab before I could even react because my rod tip was too low and pointed too close to the direction of the fish trying to get some extra distance (doh!).

My 2nd Tenkara caught fish was a native Cutthroat about 16".
Like using a western rod I quickly learned to keep the rod (handle) vertically or laterally from 60° to 90° to the fish for the rod's best power curve, while leading and steering the fish to fight it.
It's astonishing how well the rod can fight a fish compared to a western rod. And the line was singing like a bowed violin string under tension as it was being dragged through the water.

Keep the elbow bent and not higher than the shoulder to quickly react to changes in direction.
View attachment 231241
Beyond the 90 degree has been my undoing
After the fish tires, then you can bring the rod back to where you can grab the line to bring the fish to the net. (assumes line length = rod length or more,+ 3 1/2 feet of tippet)
View attachment 231244




Here's a saying from Tenkara angler Dr. Hisao Ishigaki about playing a fish...
"When the fish is strong, let it fight (the rod),
When the fish is weak, fight the fish (with the rod)"
It kind of reminds me of kuzushi (using an opponent's power against them) in Judo.
 

Josh

dead in the water
WFF Moderator
Ive,

I was given a TenkaraUSA Rhodo for christmas a few years back. It's got the advantage of being able to adjust to three different lengths.


I will likely always prefer a regular rod. But I've used the Tenkara a fair amount. I have to admit that I've caught some really nice fish with it as well. Here are a few thoughts:

Advantages:

- So light. It weighs almost nothing. I frequently take it on hikes where I'm not going specifically to fish in case I decide that I want to drop a line in a little creek. Tenkara, tippet, and a handful of flies makes for a pretty small package.

- Really quick to set up. I have a line winder on my rod and leave a line/fly on it. I can have it out and be fishing before I even got the sections together and reel attached on a regular fly line. Breaking down is the same, makes it really nice to hike between locations when you can just collapse the rod instead of threading 9" of graphite through tight trees/bushes.

- Long reach is really nice to get to holes across a small creek or past currents with no drag or line adjustment.

- When nymphing, you essentially have a euro nymph setup and it is just as deadly as those are for natural underwater presentation.

- Small fish feel surprisingly fun on what is, essentially, a really thin fly rod.

Disadvantages:

- Casting kinda sucks. I mean, you can get things where you want them to go, but it's not all that fun compared to a reg fly line. Wind kills dry fly casting. Maybe I'm just crappy at it.

- No reel means fixed length line. This limits what you can reach from a single spot where you are standing. Even on the small creeks I like to fish, there are often a few long pools to try and cast up to the top of or drift to the bottom of. Tenkara can't really do this. Sure, you can change the length of your tenkara line, and I carry a couple different ones with me. But honestly, I don't usually bother and just accept the limitations. I'm honestly not sure how or why people would fish bigger water with a tenkara. Seems like it would be super annoying. (to each their own though)

- Long rods can be annoying on our overgrown PNW creeks. I usually fish a ~7'6 3wt. So having a 8'10-9'6 tenkara can really get in the way of branches etc. To say nothing of the more traditional 12' lengths.

- Long rods, no reel, and tight creeks make it surprisingly annoying to land fish. You can't just reel into the leader (or closer) and then reach the fish. The rod is 9-12' the line is 10-20 feet and you have to keep the rod away from branches above you. It's really kind of frustrating sometimes.

- Snagging up is super annoying. Anyone who has fished subsurface in the PNW much knows that you're going to snag up on logs, branches, rocks, etc from time to time. With a regular rod you just point it to take pressure off the rod and pull to snap the tippet, all the force stays on the line/reel. But if you do that with a tenkara rod, all the pressure is on the rod itself. And because of the telescopic nature of these rods, you risk jamming the sections together if you point-and-pull. Or, even worse, pulling one through the lower section and breaking the rod. So you have to figure out a way to get your hand onto the line itself and pull that way. Most of the time it works, but I often wonder if I'm going to get snagged up somewhere that I can't reach the line without a swim in a deep hole.

-----

Overall, it's a fun way to catch a few fish that isn't the same as a regular fly rod. I don't think it's any better or any more pure or any of that BS. But it can be a neat change of pace and it does have some advantages to go with it's drawbacks. Feel free to ask here or DM if you've got more questions. I'm no expert, but I have put some time into it.
 

Brian Miller

Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Cutthwoat Twout
WFF Supporter
- No reel means fixed length line. This limits what you can reach from a single spot where you are standing. Even on the small creeks I like to fish, there are often a few long pools to try and cast up to the top of or drift to the bottom of. Tenkara can't really do this. Sure, you can change the length of your tenkara line, and I carry a couple different ones with me. But honestly, I don't usually bother and just accept the limitations.
Excellent Post Josh! That's how I broke my tippet on the fish mentioned above because it was too deep to wade close enough. Some guys carry multiple spools, polyleaders or versa-tips, etc. It takes much less time for me to rig a longer line than changing spools, or about the same as a tip or polyleader. Patience is not one of my sterling qualities but it won't happen again for me.
- Snagging up is super annoying. Anyone who has fished subsurface in the PNW much knows that you're going to snag up on logs, branches, rocks, etc from time to time. With a regular rod you just point it to take pressure off the rod and pull to snap the tippet, all the force stays on the line/reel. But if you do that with a tenkara rod, all the pressure is on the rod itself. And because of the telescopic nature of these rods, you risk jamming the sections together if you point-and-pull. Or, even worse, pulling one through the lower section and breaking the rod. So you have to figure out a way to get your hand onto the line itself and pull that way. Most of the time it works, but I often wonder if I'm going to get snagged up somewhere that I can't reach the line without a swim in a deep hole.
Trees too! :oops: I just wade a few feet closer, collapse the rod, and pull back the line straight back while keeping my thumb over the handle section opening to keep all of the rod sections safely nested.

For me, "the tug is really the drug" with a Tenkara rod.
 
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IveofIone

Active Member
WFF Supporter
The cost of level tenkara flouro carbon surprised me at $20 for 20 meters. That seems pretty steep for what is essentially .012-.013" tippet material. Are you guys using these custom lines?
 

Brian Miller

Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Cutthwoat Twout
WFF Supporter
A 30 meter spool (enough to make 10+ lines) from DRAGONtail is about $15. A Hi-Vis orange or yellow-chartreuse is important for helping track the drift with a tight line. Over the last 2 1/2 years I have made 2 or 3 lines of different lengths each for 4 "zoom rods" from 1 spool of fluoro with no need for replacements due to wear and tear yet because I put tippet rings on each line. I finally bought a second spool to carry in the field "just in case" I need to replace one or need a longer or shorter length.
 
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