One of the most common questions we get at Tenkara USA is, “What is the difference between the kinds of lines for my tenkara rod?” or at least some variation on that theme. First off, I want to say that line choice is largely a matter of personal preference. There aren’t a lot of situations where one tenkara line will work and another absolutely won’t, but they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I’d like to discuss our different options, what I like about each, and why you may want to use one over the other.
I’ll start with the tapered nylon lines. These are probably the lines most of our customers start with, as they’re what comes with our starter kit. There are good reasons for that. The tapered nylon lines offer a lot of features that make things easy for new tenkara anglers. First, the nature of a tapered line makes the transition of energy to turn the line over a bit smoother. They’re just a pretty easy line to cast. Continue reading
Written by Martin Montejano
While the summer wains, some of the flows throughout the watershed may start to dissipate. Tenkara fishing tailwaters will often offer more opportunities for fishing during the transition into fall.
Consistent temperatures and flows, especially when regulated by a dam, often provide a great environment for trout all year long. I generally save these waters for later in the summer when the fishing slows down in the rest of the watershed. One of the biggest challenges on the tailwaters in my area is the size of the water. I will admit that I have often struggled to catch fish in the wide, open runs that hold very little tells as to where fish might be. Over the seasons, I have found a few tips that have helped me to catch fish in these types of waters.
Dividing the water into smaller currents tends to help. After observing flows and currents, it’s much easier to manage a section that you know is within your casting range than trying to blindly fish the entire width of a river. Doing this can help take some guesswork out of where to cast, especially if you can see some activity from fish within the flows.
If you are lucky enough to find boulders or a large pool at the end of some riffles, this is also a great area to float a fly through. Fish in bigger waters still look for the same shelter and food sources as ones in smaller waters.
Areas near boulders and deep pools often have slack water next to them. The calmer water and slower flows present an easier option when trying to find trout in big, open rivers. It also allows for more options as far as presentation. In a previous article, I talked about Gyakubiki, a surface presentation that involves skating the fly towards a structure or bank. This can still be an effective presentation on more open waters while fish may be sipping flies off the surface, but it will still pose the same challenges in setting the hook.
While timing can play a big role in when a surface presentation can be used effectively on larger rivers, a subsurface presentation will often be the best way to entice trout in these types of waters. In a similar concept to the aforementioned Gyakubiki, Yokobiki can be utilized by drifting a fly under the surface, then slowly pulling it toward the closest bank. You’ll want the kebari to sink a bit before it drifts past you, then while holding the rod tip parallel to the water and down current, slight movements of the rod tip back toward the bank will cause the fly to swim sideways across the flows, toward the bank. Setting the hook while performing this presentation can be tricky. The timing of the strike may come while you have tension in the line, making it difficult to get a good set, but just be sure to pull toward the bank and not upstream when a fish does strike.
In the last article, I talked about utilizing the Leisenring lift while fishing deeper pools. This presentation is still a viable option when you are fortunate enough to find a deeper pocket of water on the river. Sometimes the best way to position when fishing these pools will be to stand upstream and to let the fly dive down in the current, then lift out of the pool. This can present the same issues of setting the hook as Yokobiki had. With standing more toward the center of the river, pulling the rod tip towards the sides will offer better hooksets than if you were to pull the rod tip vertically and back upstream. One thing to note is that the fly will tend to move along the path of the tippet while it is submerged, which may pull the kebari away from the fish’s mouth, so plan your hooksets accordingly.
These wide tailwaters often hold bigger, stronger fish. And with that, a new challenge as you try to bring one to hand! When you have a fish on the end of the line, control will be one of the key things to remember. Keeping the rod tip parallel or closer to the water will allow the fish to stay deeper in the current. Doing this can help prevent the fish from jumping but may also make it more difficult to fight your catch. Be sure to switch sides of the rod to play the fish while you’re trying to bring it in, and don’t be afraid to move downstream and toward the bank to bring it into more manageable flows! Be sure to bring a net with you and revive the fish before releasing it back into the river. Good fish handling skills will help ensure a healthy watershed, and others will be able to enjoy fishing the river as well!
While the seasons change and summer turns into fall, and fall into winter, these tailwater fisheries may remain active! Some may even host a run of salmon as they make their way upstream to spawn. Be sure to follow local regulations for the rivers, and be aware of redds that may be present as you fish.
The fish in these big open waters often have more access to a variety of insects, making it difficult to key in on what they may be snacking on. And, with more pressure from other anglers, they can become picky and skeptical of what floats by them. Be sure to try different presentations and approaches as you fish bigger waters.
The previous articles I have written all hold different ways to present the kebari in various situations. Be sure to check out all of them, from “Dry Fly Fishing Season” and “Into the Mountains” to “Familiar Waters” and “Go With the Flow,” as I have tried to cover as many different types of water and techniques as I could and I hope it helps you get out there and enjoy fishing with tenkara!
Martin Montejano is a Northern California-based fixed-line angler. From spring-fed creeks in the mountains to rivers that run through deep-cut valleys, he fishes a multitude of waters in and around the Sierra Nevadas.
You can follow along as he shares his adventures and experiences at @sagehearttenkara on Instagram.
Martin’s favorite TUSA rod is the ITO™ 13′ / 14’7″ (adjustable)
Written by Martin Montejano
The flows on one of my favorite rivers are just about perfect, the fish are biting, and they should be hanging in the stretches of riffles and deep pools until the end of the season!
While I plan to spend most of my time over the next few months fishing around the boulders and cobbles that line the bed and banks of the river, I will be reinstating a few practices that I’ve found to be helpful on tenkara waters with stronger currents.
While the month of June offered great fishing in higher elevation creeks, some of those tributaries’ flows are starting to drop, and the fish are moving lower in the watershed. For the time being, I am back to fishing some of the more familiar waters in my area.
Coming back to the creeks I fish regularly helps shift my perspective from going after smaller fish to practicing some presentations and habits for fishing bigger waters in the next few months. While the creeks don’t often hold big trout, knowing popular holding spots for fish helps me to practice different tenkara techniques.
Tenkara is who we are.
Hello! Welcome to the second edition of a little series we’ve put together to help you get to know our wonderful crew. Tenkara USA has always been a tight-knit team of responsive anglers dedicated to sharing tenkara, and while we work with outside firms for some other aspects of our business (such as fulfillment) and count on supporters at events, the team we’re highlighting here is our close-knit in-house staff with whom you’re likely to interact when you reach out. While it’s true that our founder Daniel Galhardo has taken a step back from the helm, our main team is together and we’re happy to help you with all things tenkara.
Meet John Geer, Dealer and Customer Services
John Geer brings decades of fly-fishing with him. He works with our dealer network and Tenkara Guide Network, manages our repair department, and supports TJ in customer service.
Written by Martin Montejano
As Spring turns into Summer and the last of the snow in the higher elevations begins to melt away, I redirect my focus to the smaller streams and creeks nestled in mountains. Long drives up windy roads offer gorgeous scenic views leading to quiet and often isolated tenkara fishing spots.
Whether the stream is lined with trees and bushes or winds its way through an open meadow, I always recommend taking a stealthy approach. Extra precautions and planning of your movements while on the water will bring you more success when the streams may be crystal clear. Whenever you can, avoid getting in the water. I often try to stay around the outside of the pools and move through them after they have been fished. Try to avoid crossing the creek if you can, but when necessary, cross in a shallow set of riffles after you have cast into all the spots that may hold fish near where you’re crossing. Doing this will help to mask your movements and avoid spooking fish in nearby pools before you get a chance to fish them.
Dry fly fishing season is upon us! Watching a trout snatch a snack off the top of the water is just about as exciting as it gets! While rod and reel fly fishing utilizes dry flies, fixed-line fishing brings some advantages when it comes to fishing the surface.
There’s a certain approach I like to take while the activity on a stream is hot and the fish are willing to come up for their food. But, as I imagine most anglers do, I usually start with a dead drift. A gentle cast to avoid spooking fish, followed by a short drift in a seam or foam line may be just enough to get a bite. Be sure to keep the rod tip high and the line off the water if you can, as it may keep a feeding fish from rising to that tasty-looking fly with the weird, bright string attached to it.
Tenkara is who we are.
Hello! Welcome to the first edition of a little series we’ve put together to help you get to know our wonderful crew. Tenkara USA has always been a tight-knit team of responsive anglers dedicated to sharing tenkara, and while we work with outside firms for some other aspects of our business (such as fulfillment) and count on supporters at events, the team we’re highlighting here is our close-knit in-house staff with whom you’re likely to interact when you reach out. While it’s true that our founder Daniel Galhardo has taken a step back from the helm, our main team is together and we’re happy to help you with all things tenkara. If you’ve ever called us, emailed, or even been to our booth at a fly fishing show there is a good chance you’ve talked with TJ. He’s also super creative and fun to work with, so we thought he would be the perfect person to start this off.
TJ has been working with us since 2011 and is in charge of customer service, and works behind the scenes helping to make sure products are available for you. His jolly smile and friendly connection with customers help ensure Tenkara USA continues its reputation for terrific customer service!
Hey everyone, happy March. Can you believe there’s only a couple more weeks until the official first day of Spring on March 20th?! The days are getting noticeably longer, and warmer, and that means the big thaw has started or will start soon for many of us here in the Northern Hemisphere.
As far as spring tenkara fishing opportunities go, the name of the game is TIMING. Some of our favorite creeks and rivers are starting to open up and although we’re not quite out of the woods yet for cold dips and moisture, if you time your fishing right you can catch some warm afternoons, and hopefully bug hatches too. It’s also time to get your gear ready.
Your Guide to Winter Tenkara Fishing
Written by Jen Kugler Hansen
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.
We have put together a 17 minute video that goes through everything you need to learn to start tenkara fishing.
In this How-to tenkara video, I go through every step of the way to get you hooking fish with your tenkara rod, line and fly.
Over the weekend I created my longest video/podcast episode for the Tenkara Cast yet. This time I cover everything about tenkara nets (also known as tenkara “tamo”): where do they come from, how they are made, how to use a tenkara net, and how to make your own. I go into a lot of detail into every aspect of tenkara nets in this episode. The episode clocks in at over one hour and twenty minutes, so I also added timestamps of different sections if you’re interested in one area over another.
Please check out a new episode of the Tenkara Cast, in which I discuss my method for covering water, stealth, and fishing in windy conditions. In this episode I also do a 5-minute guided meditation in the end, something a bit out there (as tenkara may be anyways) and hope that it helps someone in these crazy days we are living.
The Tenkara Cast is available via your favorite podcasting app, and now also on Spotify.
NOTE: Our warehouse is still open, but it will be closed for one day on Friday, April 10th. Orders need to be placed by Thursday at 11am MST to avoid delays in shipments. Shipping resumes on Monday, April 13th, but the situation continues to evolve, so get a rod on sale while you can.