Sunday, May 2, 2010

More on Tenkara Nymphing

I have been playing around with several Tenkara rods for the last few weeks.  Since there has not been much dry fly activity going on (at least not for me), my experiences with fishing Tenkara has mostly been a subsurface one.  I'd like to share a few early observations:

Tenkara rods work well for several styles of nymphing.  All of the nymphing I have done have been tight line methods meaning fishing without an indicator.  Being an avid follower of European techniques over the last few years, the Czech or Polish style of nymphing was the first method I tried.  This method works very well with Tenkara since you have little to no fly line past the rod tip wen fishing in this manner.  My first concern was being able to handle two or three heavy flies on a rod with such a light tip.  As it turns out, this poses no problem at all.  In fact I think that ulta soft tip may actually help more than hurt by giving you that extra split second to react before the fish ejects the fly. The extra length that these rods provide is definitely a benefit.  With a 11'-13' rod you can cover a lot of water.  My experiences to date have shown this is a very effective method of nymph fishing with this type of set up.

One issue that you have to take into consideration is how to handle retrieving flies that become snagged on the bottom.  I don't think you want to apply too much pressure or violent jerking with these rods, nor do you want to pull straight back on them.  As long as you can grab your leader you can just break them off.  But even 5X tippet resisted my efforts to break off by applying tension solely with the rod.  Often you can collapse the rod to get a hand hold on you leader.  A snag on a drift when the flies are on the bottom 13 feet away with deep angry water in between you and your leader is an interesting dilema.

I'll post more on this subject in the days to come.  Next I'll talk about a typical leader set up for this style of fishing.


  1. Nice to see more tenkara posts. I'm really finding my Iwana pretty versatile. I've been fishing nymphs too and it's been very effective. Just went out with dries over the weekend (for panfish, not trout) and had an absolute blast! Looking forward to your next installment about tenkara.

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  3. oops...
    The tenkara posts have been the most popular posts by far. Your not alone in looking for more information on this style of fishing. I plan on doing a lot more on tenkara in the future. Right know I am trying to research traditional tenkara flies. Other than a 1/2 dozen patterns there is surprisingly little information on a fishing method that is centuries old.

  4. Glad to see your posting on the Tenkara system! I'm really strongly considering picking up one of their rods as I have a ton of medium and small sized water in the mountains to my west and this looks like it would be a hell of a lot of fun!

  5. You really need to try this. I am getting hooked on this very quickly. It is an absolutely deadly system for small and medium sized waters. This summer I'll be bringing the rods out west to give them a shot on some "real water". I still have not tested the system against a large fish that decides to take off down stream. With no way to play out additional line its going to be interesting. But so far every large fish caught has fought in close. We'll see...

  6. I recently purchased an 11' Stonefly Tenkara rod from Fountainhead. After fishing it exclusively for about a couple of months now (great rod!), I have to agree with JerseyAngler- it is an absolutely deadly method for the small to medium streams we have here in Vermont. I am easily seeing twice as many hookups as compared to my conventional western gear, and a lot less hassle (no fly line wrapped around my legs, or other line management issues). Also, the casting efficiency and accuracy is so much higher in Tenkara that I find myself spending much more time FISHING than CASTING.

    I've also noticed that I am connecting with considerably more large fish than with my 3wt or 5wt conventional rods, and hookups with 16"-20" browns are becoming oddly common for me ;)

    Tenkara is not a magic wand, it can't do everything (lakes, big rivers, etc., would pose some problems, and trout above 15" are definitely a challenge in fast water), but in it's comfort zone of small to medium pocket water, I think it surpasses western equipment by a considerable degree.