While some anglers seem to have gone into hibernation and are sitting at their fly-tying vices this time of year, tenkara anglers have some major advantages to get in the winter fly-fishing game. Ice can bring havoc to fly rods, lines and reels, but tenkara rods are perfectly suited to handle icy conditions that traditional fly-fishing rigs cannot. Because a tenkara rod uses a fixed line only attached at the tip there are no guides or reels for ice to collect on, which puts us in the driver’s seat.
Winter tenkara fishing can be a lot of fun if you prepare yourself, so let’s discuss what to expect and we’ll give you some tips that will make your next trip more successful.
Essay by: Joel St. Marie
Local water travels from many places on the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Small creeks from the headwaters above meander through the meadows, forest, and the high alpine. Icy water runs as the snow melts and is met with the bubbling hot spring water heated by the geothermal cauldron beneath the Earth’s crust. Spring fed rivers snake the open lands of the caldera and carve the deep gorge as it makes its way beneath the table lands and beyond.
I’ve been fortunate to explore the local outdoors on many levels as an outdoor enthusiast; as a climber, biker, fisherman, hiker, photographer, skier and more. Often revisiting the same area multiple times depending on the activity or adventure. The gorge is one of these places I first explored as a climber nearly 25 years ago with one thing on my mind; to climb the steep pocketed cliffs above. The gorge offers miles of exploring other than climbing as well. On bike you are limited to the the few roads that allow access to the gorge. On foot is another option and has its many advantages to exploring this historic destination.
Essay by: Dennis Vander Houwen
Whole wheat bread with a glob of peanut butter on one side and a wash of jelly on the other. PBJ’s never let you down. Adding a banana from the bunch, I grab my water bottle, and load my lunch into my small backpack along with my simple tackle and my Tenkara USA Sato rod and I am out the door. Gone fishing. In about 40 minutes I will see an old friend.
In the car I tap on Colorado Public Radio. Ironically, they are talking about the increase in people taking up fly-fishing in Colorado. It is an interview with a familiar voice, John Gierach. The topic is about the effect of more people taking up fly-fishing than ever before. I have my fingers crossed John will mention tenkara or talk briefly about stream etiquette, but my hopes are dashed. It is still a good interview and he has a new book out that I have now added to my reading list. I shut off the radio. Silence gives me room to think.
We hope you’re enjoying our new website! This year we have been working on improving the way we present you the tenkara gear and content that we create. The new platform is allowing us to organize things in ways to help you make your decisions on what gear to buy, as well as to help you learn what you’ll need to start fly-fishing simply.
One thing we just started doing is organizing collections of tenkara gear based on what you may be looking for. Whether you are looking for a tenkara rod for beginners or for tenkara gear for backpacking, we got you covered. Visit our new Tenkara Collections page.
– Tenkara Rods for Beginners, browse for the gear you will want if you are looking at getting started with fly-fishing
– Tenkara Gear for Backpacking, the ideal tenkara gear and fly-fishing rod for backcountry adventures, backpacking and more.
– Tenkara Gear for Big Fish, if you are often targeting bass with tenkara, or other large fish, look no further. Here’s the gear you will need for catching large fish with tenkara
– Tenkara Gear for Small Streams, are you planning to tenkara fish in small streams with a lot of cover? Here’s the gear you will want if you are fishing small headwaters, streams in the Appalachians and other places.
Tenkara Community Submitted Content
Essay by: Cheri Felix
To be honest, I just started fishing a few months ago. I used to know the exact number of days (it’s been about 60) but that started to get weird. In the beginning, I would go to Boulder Creek twice in one day. I’d go to areas where there are less trees to catch my line on. And then I worked my way up to the more dense areas of the creek.
In the early days, I’d only go with my husband and then gradually I started going solo. I watched the knot tying videos and I tried to actually listen to my husband when he showed me, but I tend to get distracted. Then I realized that in the worst case scenario, I could come home to get another fly tied on if I needed to.
Since then, I’ve cast a wider net (see what I did there?) and ventured to a place below Jamestown and also into Clear Creek canyon and along the I-70 (I know. Sounds so romantic). I’ve learned that tenkara fishing Rocky Mountain National Park isn’t like fishing along the Popo Agie in Wyoming. I’ve tested my patience in Wyoming on a tiny part of the Laramie River and will test it again when we go to Montana in a few weeks.
Living in Lyons, Colorado is a wonderful thing. Walking two blocks to the St. Vrain river to drop a fly in the water is certainly a privilege, and one I don’t take for granted. But the town stretch – like many easily accessible Front Range rivers in Colorado – sees a good deal of pressure, particularly in the summer months. Which means it’s time to head up into the local high country, the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
Tenkara fishing to me is inextricably linked with moving through the mountain wilderness. It is so complimentary to hiking and scrambling around in the alpine, it’s almost silly. Here in the Indian Peaks there is an abundance of low volume, high gradient streams full of trout. And then there’s the high alpine lakes. The tenkara lake fishing is phenomenal, and the whole area is tailor-made for this simple method of fly-fishing.
Trip Report by: Brad Trumbo
Dust billowed as my buddy Derek and I traveled an old gravel road through western Augusta County, Virginia. An interesting feature of many streams draining the George Washington National Forest is the myriad small flood control reservoirs which sever wild brook trout streams, isolating populations to the extreme headwaters in many cases. The water behind one such reservoir was our destination.
Many of these reservoirs are well known and stocked with hatchery trout, our destination included. Yet, the volume of fishermen that frequent this reservoir scarcely acknowledges the disguised trailhead leading into one of Appalachia’s wild brook trout strongholds.
Parking under a canopy of sycamore and maple, a lush carpet of jewelweed and poison ivy greeted us, the trail barely noticeable through the greenery. Embarking on the short hike to the river, we immediately noticed brookies darting for cover as we tramped across a shallow riffle. “It’s gonna be a good day!” I remarked, smugly.
Hi I’m Jen, I help manage the social media for Tenkara USA. I usually hang back behind the scenes, but Daniel has asked me to come on here and give you guys an idea about what it’s like to tenkara in my neck of the woods, in Idaho, where I live. I will write a couple of posts for you this summer, but for now we’ll start with tenkara in the Sawtooth Mountains.
A few years ago we decided to sell our home in Colorado and relocated to rural southeast Idaho for a number of reasons, but mainly the fishing opportunities are what caught our eye. Not that Colorado doesn’t have great fisheries, but after living there for a couple of decades we were excited to explore new waters.
World class fishing is literally in every direction from us. The South Fork of the Snake River is our “home water” and flows south. Just north we have Harriman, Henry’s Fork and Yellowstone (and Montana). To our east the Tetons (and Wyoming), and to our west the Sawtooths. We had not explored central Idaho and done tenkara in the Sawtooth Range yet, so we set out to change that.
Since we were trying to keep the packing simple, I chose to only take my Tenkara USA Hane this time. At only 15″ closed and extending out to a length of 10′ 10″, it’s a great option for an all-around adventure rod.
Driving west into the center of Idaho doesn’t initially look very promising. First we had to get through the high desert and home of Idaho National Laboratory (nuclear facilities), so believe me when I say it’s pretty bleak. But as soon as we got to the foothills of the Sawtooths the landscape changed rather quickly from short desert sage shrubs and grasslands, to tall pines and flowing crystal water. You instantly know you’re in the right place, and it’s perfect tenkara water.
While the larger rivers in the foothills are muddy from runoff this time of the year, it’s the little creeks and streams that we were looking for. The higher you go, the smaller and clearer the water becomes. It’s also where the trout are spookiest, so we had to be clever and really watch our approach.
It was really helpful to have the white colored Hane in the open pockets, blending in with the backdrop of the sky instead of looking like a spooky shadow above the water. Our tenacious efforts were rewarded with a few smaller cutthroat gems from skinnier water and a some beefier beauties from the deeper pockets. It turns out the Hane was a terrific rod for tenkara in the Sawtooth mountains, especially as we focused on some of the smaller waters this time.
We only touched a small fraction of the water up there, but it was a great inaugural trip and we will definitely be returning for more. Plus, I didn’t catch a golden trout yet – I know they’re in there!
(If you want to learn more about tenkara fishing in Idaho and tenkara in the Sawtooths, listen to Daniel’s podcast episode on tenkara fishing in Idaho with Chris Hunt.)
Tenkara USA had its origins in San Francisco, California. San Francisco is by no means a fly-fishing destination, but that’s where I lived when tenkara came to me. The best opportunities for tenkara were in the Sierra Nevada. Every opportunity I got, I would make the drive to different parts of the Sierras, exploring its diverse waters as I tested rods, made short films on tenkara and just all around had fun learning tenkara.
Margaret fishing tenkara, Sierra Nevada, California
Because it is such a huge area, Sierra tenkara fishing is unique and varied, and as such the ideal Sierra tenkara rod might vary depending on the focus of your fishing. You can find small waters choked up with trees along the foothills and in some nooks of the mountain range, but you can also find wide open waters with large boulders and few trees, big rivers with calm waters, and tiny meandering meadow streams. This post can not cover every situation possible, so we will paint the Sierra in broad strokes this time as we recommend tenkara rods to consider to fish in the Sierras. Down the road will narrow it down to more specific areas.
Our main recommendation if you’re in California or Nevada and regularly fish different parts of the Sierra Nevada would be our longer rods. This would especially include the Ito, our longest adjustable tenkara rod if you know you like fishing the bigger waters, or the Sato or Iwana, both great all-arounder tenkara rods that travel well from small waters to big, and targeting small to large fish of the Sierras.