5 Tips for Avoiding Frustrations with Tenkara + Colorado Trout Unlimited & Greenback Cutthroat

Visit Colorado Trout Unlimited to get involved

July 16, 2018

Learn some tips to help you avoid frustrations on your next tenkara outing and also listen to a conversation with Colorado Trout Unlimited to learn about their challenges and how to get involved.
The main tips covered:
1) Learn: spend some time learning the knots you will use with your tenkara setup and how to properly cast with your tenkara rod (videos below)

With this episode we are doing a soft relaunch of the Tenkara Cast. Starting now, episodes will be more focused on giving you practical tips and advice to help you on your next tenkara outings,. In addition, in every episode Daniel will spend a few minutes talking to a different chapter of Trout Unlimited across the United States (www.tu.org)to find out what challenges location chapters are focusing their attention on, what their main projects are and how you can get involved with your local TU chapter.

Referenced in this episode:
Colorado Trout Unlimited
Takenobu Music
#TenkaraTunes playlists in Spotify
This episode on avoiding frustrations contains material covered in Daniel’s book: tenkara – the book
Line Management:
Spiral the line around the tenkara rod to prevent it from snagging on branches along the way in more open terrain:
Tenkara line management: Spiral the line around the tenkara rod to prevent it from snagging on branches along the way in more open terrain

Loose coils, helpful for moving short distances through some, but not a lot, of brush:
tenkara line management: loose coils for short distances 

Learn how to cast with tenkara:

Learn the knot used for tenkara:

Transcript for this episode:


This is Daniel Galhardo, and you’re listening to the Tenkara Cast, the podcast about a simple Japanese method of fly fishing, tenkara. In the Tenkara Cast, I’ll be sharing information with you on techniques, history, gear, and philosophies as well as tenkara stories from anglers all over the world. This podcast is brought to you by Tenkara USA, introducing tenkara outside of Japan since 2009. It is only possible we create content such as this podcast and all the videos that we create because of your support. So we thank you so very much for purchasing Tenkara USA rods, lines, and flies. I hope you enjoy learning more about the simple Japanese method of fly fishing, tenkara.

Welcome back to another episode of the Tenkara Cast. My name is Daniel, and I’m here to share everything I know about tenkara with you. So I’ve been doing this podcast for over two years now, that’s over 50 different episodes on anything from techniques to a little bit of the history to philosophy and even talk to Takenobu, who provides a lot of the music that we use in this podcast and in our videos.

So I’ve covered a whole lot of different topics, and I’ve gotten a lot of really great feedback and I should say that I thank you very much all of you who leave reviews in iTunes, who also engage with me, who ask questions, who provide any comments. Those comments, those questions, those reviews, those really kind of energize me to keep creating this podcast, so I appreciate you listening. And I kinda wanted to do something a little bit different now because we’ve done over 50 episodes, we’ve got a fair amount of data.

And I was looking at the statistics on our podcast the other day and I realized that the most popular ones are those podcast episodes where I give you some practical advice that you can use when you go fishing and for your time outdoors. So I kinda figured let’s start focusing a little bit more on practical tips that can help you with your fishing. That’s one of the little changes that I wanna do for future episodes is to give you some good information that you can apply to fishing. I’m also gonna be covering some destinations. My hope is to talk a little bit more about destinations as well as the how-to Tenkara kind of stuff in future episodes.

But another change that I have planned for this podcast is something that I envisioned a little while ago, and something that I’m very excited about. So going forward in the next several episodes, if not all of them, going forward at every episode of The Tenkara Cast, I’m gonna start by talking with somebody from different chapters of Trout Unlimited across the country. If you’re not familiar, Trout Unlimited is a non-profit organization that focuses on trout conservation around the United States. And we have been supporters of theirs from day one before I even launched Tenkara USA. We join 1% for the planet, which is essentially a set on stone commitment that we’re gonna donate 1% of our sales, all of our revenue, to environmental organizations. And because we’re a fly fishing company, the main beneficiary every year has been Trout Unlimited. We donate 1% of every single rod sold, every line, every fly goes to pretty much TU, almost I’d say over 90% of our donations have been to them.

So what I wanna do is start talking to different chapters because Trout Unlimited is a very interesting organization in the way that they’re organized. It’s a national group, and they have a national headquarters up in Washington DC, but they also have local chapters that focus on local issues, local waters, local projects. And I wanna talk to representatives or people that are involved with different chapters, whether it’s a state kind of chapter. Oftentimes there’s a state group, or a very local chapter, and I wanna talk about what challenges they’re facing, what projects they’re working on, what is it that they’re doing, and also how you can get involved. So I kind of thought, most of our listeners are from all over the country, actually all over the world. But I’ll start here for now. And I wanted to introduce you to your local chapter, your local issues, as well as what’s going on nationally.

So for this first podcast with Trout Unlimited, I’m gonna be talking to Dan Omasta, who is the Grassroots Coordinator at Trout Unlimited in Colorado, so the Colorado Trout Unlimited. And I got an email the other day from them. They were asking for some volunteers for a Greenback Cutthroat project that they have going on. Dan was the one that was organizing that, and I thought it would be a good place to start, right here at home. We are based in Boulder, Colorado. I thought I’ll start here and then start going out into different parts of the country. So Dan and I had a good conversation about the Colorado challenges and the projects that are being worked on by CEO TU and also ways that you can get involved. So that’s the first part of the podcast today, and then I’m gonna go on to share some tips with you. And today’s podcast episode is gonna cover five different ways to avoid frustrations while Tenkara fishing. So stay tuned, Dan and I talk for about 17 to 20 minutes, and then I’m gonna talk with you about tips with Tenkara.

If you wanna skip ahead to the Tenkara tips for today, you can go to 22 minutes and 30 seconds.

Conversation with Dan Omasta from Colorado Trout Unlimited

Daniel Galhardo: Dan, if you don’t mind could you introduce yourself, your name and what you do with Trout Unlimited?

Dan Omasta: Sure. So, my name is Dan Omasta and I’m the Grassroots Coordinator for Colorado Trout Unlimited. And that job takes a lot of different forms, but mostly I’ll spend my days working on chapters around the state to coordinate various funding and river conservation projects.

DG: So you’re working for Colorado Trout Unlimited, right?

DO: Yes.

DG: And why don’t you tell us just at a brief glance, what are some of the most important projects that Colorado Trout Unlimited is working on currently?

DO: Sure, so there’s a lot of important projects happening around the state on a variety of levels. One of the obvious ones is our native trout campaign and we work throughout Colorado to support projects on the ground and support our partners like CPW and US Forest Service to restore native trout species to their home waters. Other things that we do is work on the advocacy side of things. This year was a big one for policies at the state and federal level, so we were part of a coalition of groups who actively supported the CPW fee bill and their future conservation act.

DO: So what that will do is increase funding for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and their ability to maintain public lands and fisheries. So we work a lot on that level. And then some other important projects going on besides those two things are stream management planning, working with partners and local communities to identify resource gaps and needs and be able to leverage dollars and find those resources in order to protect river health but also help our partners in the agricultural world get by in times like this, with droughts and help them improve infrastructure that’s both good for their bottom line and the health of the fishery. So we’re kind of spread out all over the place, and of course, there is our youth education and community engagement pieces as well, which we’re very proud of.

DG: Oh yeah, definitely Colorado Trout Unlimited has been doing a ton and that’s actually why Tenkara USA is a big sponsor. We’ve been supporting Colorado Trout Unlimited. Since we moved the company here about six years ago, there’s definitely a lot of issues going on. You guys have your fingers in a lot of different things, and you definitely need a ton of help from everybody you can get, I’m sure. If you can tell our listeners because this is gonna be the first episode where we introduce Trout Unlimited and trying to have TU chapters come and talk to us. Can you tell us a little bit about TU and how TU is organized? ‘Cause it’s got a very interesting model with all the different chapters across the country. Would you mind spending a couple of minutes on that?

DO: Sure. We’re definitely grateful for the support of Tenkara and we couldn’t make the impact that we do without support of businesses like you guys as well as volunteers on the ground so definitely thank you for that. The organization of Trout Unlimited, the mission is to conserve, protect, and restore watersheds throughout the country, and the way they do that is a mix of TU staff placed in strategic areas all around the country who are working directly with community stakeholders on the ground to implement a wide variety of projects, so native trout or agricultural improvements as I mentioned earlier.

DO: On the flip side of that, you have chapters and state councils, so I work for Colorado Trout Unlimited and in the state of Colorado, we have 24 chapters in communities throughout the state and those chapters are run fully by volunteers and they reflect really the priorities of each area. And so some chapters focus a lot on youth education, other chapters are really focused on native trout or water quality, so it’s a really great organization. We’re able to leverage a lot of anglers. We’ve got close to 12,000 members just here in Colorado, and so we’re really proud of the work that our volunteers and supporters get done.

DG: Yeah, absolutely, and it’s been really cool to connect with a lot of chapters around the country as I kind of travel and do presentations, just to see how passionate everybody is about their local watersheds, the issues that really are important in the areas and I think having the structure with chapters and it can prioritize different projects. It’s really unique and it’s a very cool model, I think. So thank you guys for keeping the work going, make sure that we get our trout streams protected. We need an organization like TU. TU is the biggest organization. It focuses on preserving and protecting trout habitat, so that’s really, really important work for anybody who’s interested in fishing, of course. Now, tell me a little bit more about the reason I contacted you is because I saw the email that came from you guys, where you’re working with the native trout of Colorado and the greenback cutthroat. Could you tell us a little bit more about the greenback cutthroat and it’s… What are the current challenges, where they exist, and what is it that Colorado Trout Unlimited is trying to do at the moment?

DO: Sure. So the brief history on the greenback cutthroat trout is that it used to be endemic to the South Platte River basin all the way from just outside of Jefferson, Colorado, kind of by Fairplay, all the way to Rocky Mountain National Park and the [12:38] ____ river there. And so over centuries of certain land use decisions, so hard rock mining, timber harvests, a lot of damming of native habitat, these fish have really struggled to survive in their home waters. And so in 1937, the fish was actually declared extinct. What biologists didn’t know at the time is that in the 1880s, there was an entrepreneur by the name of JC Jones, who had stocked fish from the South Platte Basin into a few of his ponds along Bear Creek just outside of Colorado Springs. And the fish he took from the South Platte happened to be native greenback cutthroat. So what happened was over time, his fishing business went away, the ponds and the fish kinda maintained themselves. And so unknown to CPW biologists, there was a true lineage of greenbacks.

DO: There is a little bit of confusion, and I’ll take a step back here. These fish, like I said, were declared extinct in 1937, but were thought to be rediscovered in the Arkansas and South Platte River Basins in the 1950s. And since that time, biologists have concentrated efforts on reviving the species of fish that they thought were the native greenback. And so over time, this fish has been… What they thought was the greenback has been repeatedly stocked throughout waters on the front range. In 2012, however, a study by scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder, they found that the pure genetics of the greenback were isolated to those ponds just outside of Bear Creek and Bear Creek itself.

DO: So only about three and a half miles of stream with about 750 fish left. And they identified those genetics using museum specimens that had been shipped back east from early settlers. And so since 2012, CPW, the US Forest Service, Western Native Trout Initiative, TU and a whole number of other groups have been working together to implement projects that help recover habitat and populations for this federally listed species.

DG: That’s quite an amazing history right there. And that’s kinda how [chuckle] I think a lot of native trout kinda tend to get lost but it was kind of amazing for me to learn about the confusion with the Westslope cutthroat and the greenbacks. I think that’s the one that has a confusion with, right? The Westslope slope or was it a different one? Yeah.

DO: Correct. Yeah, so starting in the 1870s, there was a big push to… Well stocking efforts really ramped up in Colorado. And so there were a lot of cutthroats, Colorado River cutthroats that were imported over the divide and placed into rivers. And so that was actually… You asked, “What are the challenges they face?” That’s a big one today, is hybridization of the species, so that’s certainly something that is a threat to greenbacks. And there are some characteristic differences between the two lineages but for a long time, even CPW biologists thought they were stocking the right fish. So it’s certainly an ongoing process…

DG: And that’s a very recent thing, isn’t it? ‘Cause I came… My first visit to Colorado, I think it was in 2010. And I went out to Rocky Mountain National Park in search of greenback cutthroat ’cause I never caught one. And then later I think I had learned that… I don’t think it was the same year even. [chuckle] I learned that it was no longer the case. Is that a very recent discovery that they were not the same fish?

DO: Yeah. Yup, since 2012.

DG: Yeah. Okay, yeah.

DO: So there’s gonna be a lot of disappointed anglers [chuckle] who think they’ve checked off the greenback off their native trout list, who will have to come back to Colorado now.

DG: Yeah, that’s definitely me. But I think we have to give them a chance [chuckle] to recover first, right? So like you mentioned 750. Do we have any idea what their numbers are nowadays?

DO: Sure, so there’s certainly over a few thousand now. The recovery process, these fish are in a few lakes up by Cameron Pass, and that’s one of those lakes in particular, is the CPW uses for spawning, wild spawning of these fish seems to do a lot better in raising more fry that are then put into other habitats. And so right now these fish are in Bear Creek and then Herman Gulch and Dry Gulch and then the lake I mentioned, which is Zimmerman Lake. And so those are the only current populations. There’s a few test sites but those are the main populations right now. And so I’d say there’s probably between three and 4,000 fish or so and Colorado Parks and Wildlife would have more accurate numbers after their recent tests this spring, but that’s probably about what we’re looking at.

DG: Nice, and now that’s good to see that there’s been a good number of them taking hold. Hopefully, they’ll continue to flourish. And Dan, if you don’t mind telling our listeners what are the best ways for, especially new anglers who are getting into the sport, we think, we have a lot of people who are new to fly fishing and they might be looking at ways to getting involved to help protect trout habitat, protect watersheds. What are the best ways for people to get involved with Trout Unlimited and trout stream conservation?

DO: Oh, that’s a great question. So you’re right, it’s really exciting to see the growth of fly fishing and the amount of new anglers that are getting into it, and I think you’ve mentioned a really important aspect of that. Coming into the sport, it’s really important as anglers for us to take care of these watersheds and these places that we enjoy fishing. And so a great way right off the bat is to join Trout Unlimited, to get involved with your local chapter because they’re gonna have opportunities right there in your own community, whether it’s helping to take kids out fishing, or working within their schools to teach kind of the science and math sides of fisheries, all the way to planting willows and monitoring water quality. Those are great ways to get involved. Just being outside and the basic principles of leave no trace and picking up the trash we see along rivers, doing our small part. I think we can all make a big impact as anglers. There’s so many of us in Colorado, and really keeping a watchful eye too on the policies that we’re seeing at the state and federal levels. We, in this country, we are really privileged to have access to the public lands that we do.

DG: Nice and just one last thing, I love everything that you mentioned, I think a little direct action can have a big impact. And we’re definitely keeping a good, close eye on public lands, access, and issues that are going on right now. So thanks for bringing that up. And if anybody wants to get involved with the greenback Trout Unlimited initiative or other initiatives here in Colorado, is there a website they should go to or how do they find the best way to get involved with TU?

DO: Sure, so the best way to get involved is by visiting our website www.coloradotu.org and from there, you’ll be able to find your local chapters, get the latest information on fishing around the state, as well as important campaigns like native trout or public land. So there’s something there for everyone, wide variety of backgrounds. So if you’re interested in getting involved, I’m pretty sure that we can find a good place for you within Trout Unlimited. So yeah, that would be the best way.

DG: Excellent. Well, thanks so much, Dan. Thanks for making the time for speaking to our listeners about all the issues facing Colorado Trout Unlimited. And I appreciate you making the time to talk to us.

DO: Well, thank you for having me and thank you for doing what you do.

5 Tips to Help You Avoid Frustrations with Tenkara, Daniel Galhardo

I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Dan Omasta and learning about Colorado Trout Unlimited, as well as the projects going on here and the greenback cutthroat. So hopefully, you get involved with them in the near future here. Now, this next part of the podcast is some very practical tips to help you avoid frustrations next time you go tenkara fishing. I have noticed over the course of years, when I take people fishing that yes, tenkara is super simple to learn, very easy to teach but the only thing that usually kinda gets in the way of people having a really good time is little frustrations along the way.

And most of them are very quick, they’re quickly dealt with, and that’s just part of fishing. There’s gonna be frustrations, regardless of what we do, regardless of how good we are and one thing that we have to keep in mind is just to kinda let those go. [chuckle] Even myself, Doctor Ishigaki… Whoever it is, we still get the line tangled on a rod once in a while and we still get snagged on branches and so forth. As a matter of fact, a few weeks ago, I was doing the podcast episodes in Japan, and I had a day off tenkara fishing in Hokkaido, and we get into this really small stream and it was fishing a bunch and Doctor Ishigaki, and a guy that was with us, they pointed me to this one really good-looking pool and they tell me to fish it and they wanna meet a fish and me, myself, alone as they watched and as I kinda got my rod set up and extended it, my first cast right into a branch those over hanging over the pool.

And, I couldn’t get it out, had to break the line and they wouldn’t let me go, walk to the branch even though I could have because I would have spooked the fish, so I get my tippet replaced fly, and do one cast into the pool successfully, and for some odd reason, I get my second cast into the same freaking branch. [chuckle] And it was actually very, very frustrating, but it happens. I try to kinda let it go. It was particularly frustrating only because they were watching because they wouldn’t let me go get it, and ’cause it was the only really good-looking pool in that little stretch, but attitude, it kinda goes a long way and that’s just part of it. But there are several things that you can do to avoid little frustrations including the snag that I personally had.

There’s ways to avoid that or at least minimize it. So that’s what I’m going to be covering here today. Five different practical ways to avoid little frustrations. So the first one is gonna be to learn, especially knots in casting. Of course, it’s easier said than done. There’s a lot of things to learn. So learning is a very broad category, but these are the two things that I really want you to learn before you go fishing next time. One of them is knots. If you’re not very comfortable with your knot, get a piece of yarn and understand the knot. And do it 10, 15, 20 times, as many times as you need to at home before you go fishing next time.

DG: Because knots are just one of those things you have to learn, you have to do ’em when you go fishing. You do not wanna spend your time trying to learn a knot next time you go fishing. So learning the knot is a very, very important way to avoid frustrations. And this is probably [chuckle] the main advice if you’re just starting in fly fishing period, you may not already have the knot kind of figured out, spend a little bit of time watching a YouTube channel, get a piece of yarn, replicate the knot at home before you go fishing, and maybe do it a few times with the actual lines that you’re gonna be using, ’cause using yarn and using the lines, it’s gonna feel different. And the other thing to learn is casting. Of course, this one just kinda requires practice, it just requires time but I think it’s really important that you learn how to cast properly and by properly, I mean mostly the overhead cast that we share on our YouTube page as well as on our website tenkarausa.com.

I went fishing with a buddy of mine the other day and I kinda noticed that he was kind of winging the casting. He was doing a little bit more of a roll cast. And the very strong limitation on that is when you get into tighter spots. We were fishing in a pretty small stream with a lot of trees all over the place. And if you’re kinda trying to do a roll where you’re just kinda punch the line forward instead of doing more of a up and down kind of cast, it’s really difficult to have a lot of control and precision over your cast. So what I would recommend is that you watch the videos on our page on how to cast, and usually the main cast is gonna be up and down and your moving just your elbow, and the main cast is gonna be moving the rod back to 12 o’clock, and then on a forward cast 2 o’clock, depending on where you’re looking from or 2:30, and just kinda gonna drop the line.

But then, once you kinda learn the cast, it’s really easy to modify just enough so that you can cast it over your right shoulder, over your left shoulder with the line over the stream and the motion isn’t gonna be exactly the same, but just in different planes. So go ahead and spend some time mastering that kind of overhead cast and that’s gonna give you the most precision to avoid tangles and that kind of thing. So spend a little bit of time learning the knots and the casting. And as I mentioned, tangles, tangles are probably the second most frustrating thing that happen in fly fishing. And tangles are just gonna be part of it, but there are several things that are gonna help you avoid them and then are gonna help you deal with it. So first of all, let’s avoid tangles, right?

So when I talk about tangles, it’s usually I’m talking about specifically the line tangling on the rod or tangling onto itself, just becoming a little bit of a knotted mass. One thing that I have noticed, is that most of the time, I mean there’s a few different things that cause tangle but one of the most common causes that I’ve seen is when people are moving their arm forward during their cast. Your typical cast as I mentioned on a previous little minute here, you’re gonna move the arm up and down from your elbow and sometimes when you move your arm forward, that’s gonna make the line travel in such a way that it might hit the rod itself or the fly might hit other parts of the line and then it’s gonna get tangled up.

If you avoid moving arm forward, that’s gonna help you minimize tangles to a certain extent. Wind can also do it, so you always have to be a little bit aware if you’re trying to cast against the wind, you have to be a little bit more forceful with your cast, on a forward cast especially. So that’s also gonna help you minimize tangles. It’s not gonna eliminate them, but it’s gonna help minimize them. But here’s one tip that’s probably gonna be worth listening to this whole podcast, [chuckle] and this is something that I shared in my book and I’ve shared in this presentation that I gave on minimizing frustrations. If you ever catch yourself tangling on the rod, let’s say you cast and the fly hits the rod itself and then it gets tangled up a little bit, here’s something very important, at all cost avoid pointing the rod down towards the stream, avoid shaking it. All you wanna do is immediately point the rod up, straight up, so you get caught on the rod, stop, point the rod straight up. I’d say eight or nine out of 10 times the line is gonna come down, it’s gonna slide down the blank of the rod possibly right up to your hand and then you just have to pull it and free it.

If that doesn’t work, collapse the rod, and then bring the tip or the tangle close to you. So this is also very important, sometimes I see people doing two things, usually when they tangle up on the rod. They either start pointing it down, hopefully that’s gonna go away, it usually doesn’t, it gets worse or they’re gonna shake it, trying to get rid of it, it’s gonna get worse. And the other thing that they do is that they leave the rod fully extended and then they start putting it back on the ground and then it go up to the tip, the problem with that is that it can also cause breakages. So point the rod up. If that doesn’t bring the line right to your hand, collapse the rod, bring the tangle closest to you, put the rod under your arm, that’s usually what I do and then you can work on the tangle really close to you, as opposed to out there where the rod is kinda susceptible to breakages and that kind of thing. So that’s my second tip, avoiding, minimizing, and then dealing with tangles on the rod or on the line.

The third thing that is gonna help you avoid frustrations a little bit is dealing with snags. I actually did an episode, a four episode on snags quite a while ago, and so I’m not gonna cover that super deeply here, I’m gonna point you to the other episode. If you go tenkarausa.com/podcast you’re gonna find it, the episode on Tangles and Snags. But I’m gonna repeat myself a little bit here. The main thing is to have awareness of your surroundings, that’s the best way to minimize snags. Every time you move a step up or downstream, every time you move a little bit or you change your body position, take a look over your shoulders, over your head and in front of you, to see what are the potential snags around you and work on avoiding them. So let’s say you cast in a pool in front of you and you have this beautiful drift but towards the end of the drift, there’s a branch. Get in the habit of picking up your casting before it gets to that branch that’s gonna snag your fly. When you move, if you notice that there’s a big branch right over your head or right behind you, modify your cast a little bit so you cast over your right shoulder, over your left shoulder. If there’s a big branch kind of sticking out over far upstream from you, maybe you have to do a over the stream kinda cast. So you just have to modify your cast so then instead it’s, of being over your head, you gonna keep the rod tip over the stream to minimize that potential snag.

So with time you’re gonna develop more awareness, it’s gonna be much more intuitive, it’s gonna be something you don’t have to think about so much but as you’re learning, highly encourage you to take a moment, every time you move a little bit, take a look at the branches behind you, and then I guess working on avoiding them. If you do get caught, just repeating myself a little bit, the first thing I do, shake the rod kind of briskly but not very forcefully, so it’s a very snappy, kinda quick shaking of the rod to try to get the fly out of the snag. If that doesn’t work, I’ll collapse that rod and pull on the line and usually I’ll wiggle the line, kinda like flying a kite a few times up and down really rapidly. If that doesn’t work, maybe you have to break it, but work on collapsing the rod if you have to retrieve the fly that way.

Another little tip for you here on minimizing frustrations is during the setup. When you’re setting up, I’ve shared this in a lot of the videos that I’ve created over the years, the first thing you wanna be aware of is that to avoid breakages, you wanna keep the tip of the rod, the little hard tip inside the kinda main handle segment. So all you’re gonna do is you’re gonna put your hands on the opening of the rod, tilt the rod a little bit to expose the lillian, the little braided material on the tip, and then you’re gonna put your finger in there to get the hard part of the rod inside as you’re tying your line to it or untying it at the end of the day. That’s gonna prevent breakages. But here’s a little tip that I haven’t shared in too many places. After you’ve tied your line, pull the line out of the spool. As you start extending the rod, I have heard of quite a few people complaining that as they start extending the rod, their line starts getting caught in grasses, a little brush in front of them because the rod is extending up to 12 feet so it’s gonna… If you let the line go with the tip of the rod, those branches and grasses 10 feet away, they might snag up your line then you have to go and figure out how to get rid of it.

So here’s one little tip that’s gonna help you. As you extend the rod and the line is already tied to the tip, keep the line, the longer length of the line loose through one of your hands. So just picture the line is tied, let’s say I’m extending the rod with my right hand, I’m gonna keep the line loosely in-between a couple of my fingers so that the line is with me at all times and it’s gonna be really close to the rod itself as it’s extended. And it’s not gonna be forming the belly underneath the tip of the rod that’s gonna get caught on branches and that kind of thing.

So that’s a very important tip when you set up, keep the tip inside, extend it, leave the line running in your hand, make sure to not grab the line [chuckle] strongly. I’ve seen that before. People start extending it, but they’re actually pinching the line with their hand. So the tip starts bending and I haven’t seen it break yet, but it always make me feel like it’s gonna break, so just keep the line very loose in your hand, but not loose enough that it’s gonna form a big belly on the tip of the rod. And the last tip for today is in terms of line management. Line management can be a source of frustration for a lot of people, and there are several different ways to minimize those frustrations.

So first of all, let me talk a little bit about how I manage line in-between spots when I go fishing. So let’s say I’m fishing and I want to move spots, I want to just move 20 yards up stream. I go through a little bit of a decision-making process of pros and cons. It’s very intuitive, but what I do is, okay, if I’m gonna be moving a very short distance and through fairly open terrain, all I’m gonna be doing is leaving the rod open. And if I have a line that is longer than a rod, I might make some loose… Very large loose coils with my line, and I’m talking about coils that are probably 20 inches in diameter roughly, very large loose coils that I’m gonna hold in my hand with the handle of the rod, so that’s when I’m moving short distances through open terrain.

And usually what I do with the flies, I just put the tip of the fly, the tip of the hook on to my core candle, so that I prevent if the line gets cut on a lower branch along the way or something, I prevent getting snagged with the hook on my finger. So I just do that, and get to the next spot, let go of the loose coil, get the fly out, and I’m ready to fish again. But if I’m gonna be moving, let’s say, through some trees. If they’re relatively open tree terrain, so big pine trees where the branches are high and I see a lot of room to navigate, the next thing that I’m gonna be doing, I might be doing the same thing. If it’s not a very long distance, I’m gonna keep the rod extended, make the coils, but here’s a little tip that’s gonna help you.

When you start moving through the trees, you’re navigating with the rod in front of you. You’re just pointing the rod through the opening in the trees, but what you wanna do is just spiral the line around the rod. I’m gonna put a picture on the Tenkara USA podcast page for this episode, showing you what that looks like, but all you have to do is pull the line tight, so it’s parallel to the rod, shake the rod so that the tip of the rod is gonna make a circle. I need a direction, and that’s gonna make the lines pile around the rod. And rather than having a little bit of a belly, a little bit of an opening between the rod and the line, which can get caught on little branches and that kinda thing, that spiral line is just gonna stay nice and flush with the rod avoiding snags.

So, that’s when I’m moving through open tree terrain, not for a very long distance. The next thing that I want to do with line management, if I’m gonna be moving a slightly longer distance… Actually, let’s say a short distance, but a little bit more tree cover. The next thing that I usually do, collapse the rod and then I have those same loose coils, but it’s gonna be more coils, 20 inches in diameter roughly with the fly punctured onto the cork. But I’m just gonna keep the… If it’s not gonna be a long distance, it’s very open terrain, I’m not gonna be moving through up and down rocks and that kinda thing, that’s one easy way to do it. Get to the next spot, hopefully all the coils come out neatly. The only downside with that is that the more coils you have in your hand, the more likely you are for those coils to get tangled up, for them to knot it themselves. And that’s super frustrating when that happens, so I don’t do that one very often.

It’s actually kinda rare that I do it. Usually what I do is the next step, which is what I also do if I’m moving in any longer distance, anything maybe more than 20 yards. If I’m moving through up and down terrain, if I’m moving pretty much a lot of times, [chuckle] what I do next is use a Keeper, so that’s a very simple thing. That’s pretty much the only accessory that I highly recommend people have is a spool kinda system to manage their line. You can also have something on the rod. We do have the little rod ties that you can put on the rod, so you can wind the line around them. I find that the Keeper tends to work a little bit better ’cause they can also remove the line when I need to or when I want to. But in any case, there’s a little bit of a calculation you have to do here. How much time is it gonna take for you to wind the line around a Keeper and is that worth avoiding any potential tangles? And usually it is.

So, I’ve tied myself multiple times. If I’m using a line a little bit longer than my rods, so let’s say I’m using about 15 feet of line, 4 feet of tippet, and then I have the fly. It actually takes me 14 seconds to wind the line around a Keeper. It might take you 20, maybe 30 seconds and then you get to the other side, it’s gonna take another 30 seconds to unspool the line and get the line out of the Keeper and start casting again. So we’re locking 30 seconds either way, one minute of total time that you have to do to put the line on around a Keeper. If you have to deal with a tangle, they can take five minutes, it can take 10 minutes, or it might have to require you to redo your line. So it’s a little bit of a calculation on the pros and cons and the cost benefit here, “Is it worth it?” And usually, I find that it absolutely is worth putting the line around a Keeper, especially if you’re gonna be going through terrain that has more branches and bush, and you have to do any kind of bushwhacking, or when you’re gonna be moving longer distance. So that’s my last tip for today on ways to avoid frustrations, which is in terms of line management, how to go about it.

And the main tip here is to use a Keeper to manage your line when going between spots. So hopefully that’ll help you next time you go tenkara fishing. I tried to cover a lot of the things that… The main things that I find give people little frustrations. Just a little recap, first one, learning knots and learn how to cast properly. Second one is gonna be how to avoid snags. Just have good awareness of where the branches are, where the potential snags are gonna be. Third one is gonna be how to avoid and then how to deal with tangles, especially tangles on the rod where you wanna point the rod up and the line come down to your hand. So just avoid the temptation of pointing the rod down and shaking it. So that’s number three.

And then when you’re setting up, have the rod tip inside as you extend the line. The line is loosely running between your hands and the last tip, the fifth tip on avoiding frustrations is in terms of line management. And I went through the steps that I usually use when I’m moving around. But the main tip here is take your time, take your 20 seconds to wind the line around a Keeper and then 20 seconds to unwind it. And that’s gonna usually avoid the frustration of dealing with tangles and knotted lines and that kind of thing. Hopefully that helped you with your fishing, or hopefully that helps you next time you go fishing. And stay tuned for the next episode of Tenkara Cast. I’m gonna be talking to you some other chapter of Trout Unlimited and try to bring you some good information for your time outdoors and your time tenkara fishing. Thanks for listening. Take your time to give us a review if you liked this episode. I’d love to have a review from you in iTunes and send us a comment, or questions, or any advice that you might have for other listeners on how to avoid frustrations while tenkara fishing.


As always, I’d like to specially thank Nick Ogawa Takénobu. You can find his music at takenobumusic.com as well as our Spotify playlists. In Spotify, just look up Tenkara and you should find Tenkara tunes with a lot of Takénobu’s music. You’ll find any information referenced in this podcast at tenkarausa.com/podcast. Just find the link to this podcast episode and you’ll find any photos, links, or any information referenced right there. This song is called Voyage Across the Sea by Takénobu.

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