Tenkara fishing...

3:08 a.m. on November 27, 2015 (EST)
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Hi everyone...

So have any of you ever tried the Japanese method of fly fishing, called Tenkara?  It is much like fly fishing but just using a rod, line and a fly, no reel.  You can get telescopic rods that pack down very small so it is an intriguing way to fish for backpackers.

Snakey

7:39 a.m. on November 27, 2015 (EST)
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The price of the gear has kept me from trying it. The videos I've watched of the Japanese masters seems to imply amazing, pin point, control for fly placement. Of course they are masters :)

Still, it looks like a great way to fish small creeks or riverbanks where hitting your target is really important.

7:53 a.m. on November 27, 2015 (EST)
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Sounds interesting...I am heading to YouTube right now.

10:36 a.m. on November 27, 2015 (EST)
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Just carry a some line and lures. Cut a willow switch for a rod. When the fishing is good in the backcountry a hand line is all you need. Use some weight to get it away from shore.

7:08 p.m. on November 27, 2015 (EST)
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I'm already spoiled to regular flyfishing and don't need anymore gear, but I often fish small creeks or short distances and you do not need a reel to do that.

The compactness of the Tenkara rod does lend itself very well to backpack fishing, and once you can harvest your own food on your trips it opens up more possibilities to you both in terms of skill development & having a new activity to partake in, as well as a survival option.

At least, that's how I see it.

7:33 a.m. on November 28, 2015 (EST)
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I have a 5 piece Daiwa minispin rig and made a custom carrying case for it.  That fits in my packs just fine and I totally agree that catching fish makes a trip better. Longer trips especially are improved with fresh meat.

The pin point targeting is why I'd like to get one of these tenkara set ups eventually. With my current rod, casting is not very accurate, though I guess maybe the rod is fine and I'm the problem :)

11:24 a.m. on November 28, 2015 (EST)
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I have been watching the videos on this and there are some that seem informative while others are just hype to buy the products.  I have trouble understanding just how you would "reel in" a fish without the reel and why not the reel.  A fly reel can't be that heavy....right?

4:57 p.m. on November 28, 2015 (EST)
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Snakey said:

I have been watching the videos on this and there are some that seem informative while others are just hype to buy the products.  I have trouble understanding just how you would "reel in" a fish without the reel and why not the reel.  A fly reel can't be that heavy....right?

 The Tenkara rod is in many respects just a telescopic cane pole (packable version), to "reel in" fish you could just raise the rod tip straight up to draw the line towards you...if your line is just a little longer than the pole - or you can strip (pull) line between your fingers and just let it pile up at your feet.

There should be plenty of fly fishing videos that demonstrate stripping line.

Fly reels are not heavy - you are correct, but they are mostly used for storing the line on while you are not fishing. When I am fly fishing I pull off the amount of line I want to work with and I will make quite a few casts in any given location without reeling it back on the reel between casts. To bring the line back in you strip (pull) the line in using just your hands and let the fly line coil up at your feet  - or float on the water if you are wade fishing.

 

4:59 p.m. on November 28, 2015 (EST)
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LoneStranger said:

I have a 5 piece Daiwa minispin rig and made a custom carrying case for it.  That fits in my packs just fine and I totally agree that catching fish makes a trip better. Longer trips especially are improved with fresh meat.

The pin point targeting is why I'd like to get one of these tenkara set ups eventually. With my current rod, casting is not very accurate, though I guess maybe the rod is fine and I'm the problem :)

 I love those little types of spinning rigs, and finding live bait usually isn't very hard out in the wilderness.

7:35 p.m. on December 1, 2015 (EST)
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I have been tenkara fishing for about 2 years or so now. For backpacking I absolutely love it and wish i would have done it sooner. I havnt picked up any other rod in that time either.

a stick or any other makeshift pole, and even a regular fly rod are no comparison to a purpose built tenkara rod. I had a cheap $10 one off ebay, and i liked the principle so i bought a mid range one for 170. Night and day difference.

a tenkara rod has a fly rod like action but is unique in its own right. 

reasons i like it:

total setup weighs 3.6 ounces , minus the weight of a handful of flies. 3.6 is the rod, 16ish ft of line, and a line keeper for when the rod is collapsed. 

length collapsed is 13 inches, length extended is 11.6ft

all line is kept off the water allowing for perfect drag free presentation 

its simple. Dead simple. Rod, line, fly. 

I have caught more fish with this rod than ever in my life. Even in places with super spooky trout where anglers leaving moments before me tried every trick in the book. And boom first time or two flies hit thr water i have a fish. been happen like this for me every time just about.

The downsides:

last rod section is very very very fragile. So extra caution is needed. Cheap to replace though. I boight several for $10 a piece and always have a spare with me on a long trip. I have only broken 1 in 2 years. Was on a week long trip in cranberry wilderness kn day 5.

Tenkara shines when u can visually see the fish. I find it difficult in dark/dirty etc water. Reason is the line is rather short so you cant do long drifts. Basically i guess it doesnt matter if u can see them or not but you need a specific target area. It was born on crystal clear mountain streams and inow ser why.

If anyone here wants to try it out; I have a cheap rod i can ship to you. It is cheap but will give you the idea.

10:59 p.m. on December 1, 2015 (EST)
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heard of it never tried it,but one day I'm sure I'll try it one day. A cool piece of gear that actually works is the Emmrod fishing rods.

2:00 a.m. on December 2, 2015 (EST)
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I have am Emmrod as well. Used to think I loved it, now its been downgraded to "like it" category.  Emmrod is definitely indestructible though.

12:20 p.m. on December 2, 2015 (EST)
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I looked into the Emmrods and found that they don't cast very far...but not having the Tenkara to compare I cannot put one against the other.  I like the fact that the Tenkara keeps the line off the water.  I can find all sorts of video on Tenkara fishing, with them hooking fish but not landing them.  The video always seems to cut away and show the fish in the fisherman's hand.  It seems that you may have trouble landing fish...not sure though.  Also, you don't see many of them fishing from shore.  I really don't want to get in the water as most places I have been near the water is cold as hell, the water too swift, dangerous footing and just plainly un-accessible. The long rod may help from the shore though.

I have thought about a simple hand line with a bobber, especially when fishing to get food, but I think that in many states that would be illegal.   

3:02 p.m. on December 2, 2015 (EST)
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I had some trouble landing them at first. but as with most things there is a certain skill set you have to develop. It didnt take me too long to get the hang of it, maybe like 6-8 fish or so Over a week.

Tenkara isnt about casting far. Its about pinpoint accuracy and 100% perfect presentation.

I have no trouble fishing from shore but tou do have to be mindful.

i can cast about 20 yards with my emmrod packer.

2:33 a.m. on December 3, 2015 (EST)
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with the Emmrod I went ultra lite and added weight or larger lure to get good distance. I use braided line and other micro lines so I can put 8lb-10lb line on a ul reel so I can take on larger fish I just gotta work a bit more.

7:45 a.m. on December 3, 2015 (EST)
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in comparison i can get about 15-20ft comfortably with perfect presentation, can push it to 20-30ft but i start getting line on the water and presentation suffers immensely with my tenkara Setup.

i am far from an expert but have really enjoyed it so far. I have also started using only 3 flies and have learned that the fly color/design as so prominent in regular fly fishing really doesnt matter. I learned that "matching the hatch" is completely bogus. Western fly rods just dont give you a natural presentation so you are forced to match the hatch to improve success.

I use a gold ribbed hare's ear, an olive green wooly bugger, and a dr ishagaki classic sry/wet fly with reverse hackle. 90% is with the hares ear

I have truly surprised myself being able to catch some monsters and truly skitish/wary wild trout. 

I have found tenkara to be lacking on large rivers, more specifically my specific setup. My setup is geared for small streams and brooks mainly, like no more than 20-30ft wide. A typical judge for me is if my rod tip wont reach to about the middle then its not an ideal location. Not saying it wont work, but it shines in areas it was designed for.

8:57 a.m. on December 3, 2015 (EST)
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Looked over the site as well as the videos and am intrigued by this system. Watching this conversation with interest...Christmas is around the corner and now I am torn.

9:47 a.m. on December 3, 2015 (EST)
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Thanks for sharing all that detail TheRambler. Your experience seems to go along with what I've found via my research and really underscores the main thing tenkara seems to be about; targeted, clean, shorter range casts. If I was devoting more time to fishing this would totally be something I'd get into.

As is, I'm a backpacker hoping to score some fresh fish for dinner so that means casting into whatever water I find. Here that is often larger rivers or ponds rather than creeks so the longer range of spin casting is more flexible. Pretty certain I'd have a hard time fly casting from a canoe as well :)

My money is going elsewhere right now, but I keep an eye on sales so sooner or later I'll give in I'm sure.

10:08 a.m. on December 3, 2015 (EST)
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This is the rod I have used for the last 10 years.
pole.jpg
Weighs 8oz and telescopes to 6'. I have used it both with and with out a reel. 
Seems to work best for the situations I find myself in.

1:22 p.m. on December 3, 2015 (EST)
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Thanks Rambler. I'm glad you are enjoying the Tenkara so much, I appreciate your input & experience. 

In regular fly fishing when we want to keep the line off the water, such as when nyphing, we use a technique called High Sticking. This is a very old technique that was developed by folks using very long rods and short lines fishing small streams.

Another technique to keep the line off the water is Dappling or Dapping where you hold the rod tip almost straight up and present a fly to a small pool or eddy from a hidden position, say behind a log or some rocks.

4:48 p.m. on December 3, 2015 (EST)
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I'm going to try this eventually.

I recently tried hand-lining and caught a nice fish with the technique but it's not near as efficient as Tenkara.

If interested check out the video from my fall Colorado trip at :57 for the casting and again at about 1:27 for my goofy excited catch of a tasty trout:

 

9:35 a.m. on December 4, 2015 (EST)
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Cool Pat, thanks!

6:02 p.m. on December 4, 2015 (EST)
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Yes Mike i am familiar with those techniques. Essentially tenkara is a rod designed to do those types of things exclusively.

its by no means a be all do all rod or style of fishing Though. It excels at some things and falls far short in others. Its really nice because its so light and compact that i can bring it with me all the time even if i am not taking a dedicated fishing trip. 4-5oz and i have a complete setup with me.

if your using a regular flyrod with only about 10-15ft of line off the rod your essentially tenkara fishing at that point.  The only real sifference at that point is no reel, and the tenkara rods are far more flexible, almost double so.

12:30 p.m. on December 5, 2015 (EST)
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Hey guys (and Gals)

I found a site that is very informative and breaks down the Tenkara rather nicely.  The site has all sorts of diagrams ect...

http://www.allfishingbuy.com/Tenkara-Rods.htm

Just thought you may like it...

Snakey

5:20 p.m. on December 6, 2015 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

Yes Mike i am familiar with those techniques. Essentially tenkara is a rod designed to do those types of things exclusively.

its by no means a be all do all rod or style of fishing Though. It excels at some things and falls far short in others. Its really nice because its so light and compact that i can bring it with me all the time even if i am not taking a dedicated fishing trip. 4-5oz and i have a complete setup with me.

if your using a regular flyrod with only about 10-15ft of line off the rod your essentially tenkara fishing at that point.  The only real sifference at that point is no reel, and the tenkara rods are far more flexible, almost double so.

 Yes, sometimes I work with very short lines because I like fishing small tight spots, always have for some reason. My short game is definitely better than my long game, I have never excelled at distance casting. I'm sure part of that is simply the topography or the southeast vs being out west or offshore.

10:39 a.m. on December 13, 2015 (EST)
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I have a traditional, western fly rod setup but since transitioning to Tenkara, my western setup sees little use.  I have brought to net many trout ranging from 4 inches to 20 inches using Tenkara.  I've fished small creeks, sometimes no wider than 2 to 3 feet all the way up to large rivers.  I'm waiting for the arrival of a Keiryu rod which I will be fishing in a Tenkara fashion when I fish the Gallatin, Madison and Yellowstone rivers next year in Bozeman.  That rod is designed to handle fish in the 18 to 20+ inch range without using a reel.  I have also used Tenkara to fish for bass and panfish which it works very well.  

Compactness and portability are paramount to me when I fish.  All of my rods weigh under three ounces.  I have one rod which weighs 1.5 ounces.  All behave differently.  Two rods are designed to cast furled lines and three other rods I own are designed specifically for casting level lines.  These rods are not used for dapping but that can be used in that manner under certain circumstances.  

The main reason Tenkara is so effective in mountain stream fishing is the ability to achieve the drag free drift that so many western fly rods have difficulty achieving due to the presence of the fly line lying upon the surface of the water.  High stick nymphing is a method which allows the angler to keep the fly line off the water.  A thingamabobber or indicator is used which lets the angler know if a fish is taking the fly.  It does work but the relatively heavy fly line still affects the drift.  With Tenkara, the lines that are employed are so light, keeping them off the water is inherent in the design.  An indicator is not needed because the furled lines and level line are dyed in a hi vis color scheme, usually orange or chartreuse.  Any movement of the line, however, slight usually means a fish is taking the fly.  It is very easy to recognize once the angler has landed a few fish.  I forgot to add, a tippet (fancy word for leader) of 2 to 4 pound test nylon or flourocarbon is connected to the end of the line, usually 3 feet, and the fly of your choosing is tied to the end of the tippet.    This method of fishing doesn't replace all others, but, if you hike/backpack, like to carry minimal amounts of gear, want to catch a fish to eat (provided you are in a fishable area) this could be an option to explore.  Here's some of the fish caught using Tenkara methods:

 


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6:49 a.m. on December 31, 2015 (EST)
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Bead head Tenkara flies I tied recently.  Should be good at getting fish that are a bit deeper in the river.

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