Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tenkara: the first cast

I cast the Tenkara rod for the first time tonight. I had a few issues, but I'm pretty sure most of them were my fault.

For starters, I tried to use a knotted leader likeI normally use for fly fishing. On the western rig, they turn over really well. On the tenkara, not so much. I made a 13' knotted leader, using 2x/4x/6x. Cast after cast the leader just piled up.

I thought that the leader might not have enough backbone to transfer the power from the rod to the fly to turn over properly, so I upped the ante to 1x/3x/6x. That worked better, but still not that good. I think that I have some twisted furled leaders floating around and I'm going to try them. If that doesn't work, I'll just break down and buy one.

One thing that I noticed as the sun went down is that the leader was very hard to see. It's not so bad with the typical fly rig, as you have the visible fly line, but tonight I saw the tip of my rod and if I didn't see the ripples from the fly entering the water, I had no idea were it was. So either I need a more visible leader material, or no late night tenkara for me.

I tried a few slingshot casts and these worked real well; it was just the overhand cast that was problematic.

But after casting this, I can see how this would work on smaller streams. The length of the rod can help you cast over/under/around obstacles better than a 7' fly rod can, as well as not having a large loop to worry about.

Drag free drifts are a lot easier with the tenkara rod. The added length enables you to keep more line off of the water, making the drag free drift almost foolproof. There were many times that there was only an inch or two of the line after the fly in the water, the rest was in the air.

I also noticed with this rod, you really feel a lot more with it than a typical fly rod. I was watching the tip during the drifts and you could see it vibrating from the slight current in the water, many times feeling it through the rod as well. I was curious how I would detect a take since I didn't have a finger on the line. I think that as long as the line is fairly tight, you will detect all but the gentlest take. I guess I'll need to find some takers to try that theory.

Day One down and no casualties. After using it for an hour or so, I'm even more intrigued. I really can't wait to get one on and see how a fight is.

More to come!


  1. Try Streamside Leaders if you decide to go out and buy one. They make good products in a bunch of different colors (should help you visually track the line). I'm not affiliated, just a user and fan. Wrote some reviews on my blog if you find the time.

  2. Thanks for the tip. I took a look at your post, for $13 you can't go wrong.

  3. Knotted leaders work just fine, but you have to make them with fluorocarbon instead of mono. Mono just doesn't have the density to overcome the wind resistance from the cast.

    Agree with you completely on the need for hi-vis. Hi-vis fluorocarbon is the best of both worlds.

    The fight on a tenkara rod is fantastic. You'll see.

  4. Forgot to mention, your leader needs to be heavier as well. Start with .013" fluorocarbon and work down from there. Start with 0x for a lighter weight leader for more delicate presentation if there's no breeze.

  5. Thanks TB. I was thinking of going to a thicker mono, but was afraid that the 03x and higher stuff would be way too stiff to cast properly. I'll take a trip to the "big box" and grab some fluoro.