Recently I received a new tenkara rod from Tenkara USA. I was somewhat skeptical at first considering I’ve been a pretty hard core fly fisherman for several years now. Tenkara rods have been around in the USA for only a few years but when they first hit the scene they were seen largely as a fad to fade as quickly as they appeared. If you didn’t already guess by the name, tenkara is actually an ancient from of fly fishing originating in Japan. However recently here in the US, more and more trout guides have made complete transformations from guiding streams and rivers using traditional fly rods to exclusively tenkara rods in large part just due to the simplicity from start to finish.
Beginners completely new to fly fishing, can be fishing tenkara in no time and catching fish even quicker. I can attest to this with complete confidence because my wife caught her first fish since we have been together on my tenkara rod in about ten minutes of fishing. I was amazed to say the least. Spinning rods, spin-cast rods, and God forbid a bait-caster, are complete and utter enigma’s in her hands but tenkara came to her as duck to water. She is actually asking me to fish now! She won’t let me post the picture of her and her first fish, a bluegill, because she says she doesn’t look cute, but maybe one day she will.
Tenkara rods have no reels. They are simply a rod with a special tenkara line attached to the tip followed by a tippet at the end that connects to the fly. Think of them as a very nice cane pole with much more sensitivity and fish fighting power. Since there is no reel with the function of a drag system to fight a bigger fish, the drag is found in the flexibility of the rod like a rubber band. It bends and bends the more the fish pulls then comes back to shape as the fish plays out. So far I’ve only caught large bluegills and crappie but each fish, regardless of size, feel like a whale.
The actual technique of tenkara is very simple. Bring the rod back to about 2:00 then snap the rod forward to the 10:00 position, just like a fly rod, then just lay the rod down pointing to where you want the fly to land upon the cast. After a few attempts, you should have it down. From there, just make the fly look buggy using the rod tip and slight wrist action. This advice is coming from fishing flat water and not a stream or river. Just like in traditional fly fishing, flat water vs moving water are two different things with different styles for both. Look for more pictures and a few published articles about my tenkara experience over the summer coming out soon. If you have any questions about tenkara, please feel free to contact me, or just post a comment.