Before we start, we should share a couple of notes:
1) You may use any fly you wish. We like talking about and using tenkara flies, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Dry flies work great with tenkara since there is no drag on the line; nymphs are also used in tenkara and the tight line allows for very sensitive takes.
2) You may find the word kebari, or sakasa kebari in this page and other tenkara websites. Kebari is the Japanese word for “fly”, where “ke” means hair, and “bari” is the word for hook, so “haired hook”. Sakasa is the Japanese term for “reverse”. So, a sakasa kebari is one of the characteristic “reverse hackle” flies, such as the Amano kebari, the Ishigaki kebari, the Oki kebari, or the Takayama kebari, all of which are sakasa style.

On our website we offer only 4 tenkara fly patterns for sale. These are the only flies used by Tenkara USA founder, Daniel Galhardo, which he learned from different teachers (Amano and Ishigaki), learned from visiting Japan (Takayama), or created himself based on elements in flies by different teachers (Oki).

While some tenkara anglers strictly adhere to only one fly pattern, like Mr. Amano who never changes sizes, colors or shape of his flies. We felt 4 was a good number, 3 sizes, and 2 colors.

takayama kebari tenkara fly
ishigaki kebari
amano kebari tenkara fly
oki kebari tenkara fly


We subscribe to the theory that fishing is extremely simple, and that a person can successfully fish with one fly pattern, whatever pattern they choose. But, we also really like tenkara flies, their history, the stories they represent and just their looks. Tenkara flies come in different shapes, colors, sizes and with unique details about each of them. Here we cover many interest aspects of tenkara flies: the types of tenkara flies, the known geographic origin of some flies, and lastly we give you a gallery of tenkara flies to give you an idea of how interesting tenkara flies can be if you see flies as its own hobby.

Tying Tenkara Flies

  • How to tie tenkara flies: The Ishigaki...tenkara fly tying, tying the ishigaki kebari tenkara fly

    How to tie tenkara flies: The Ishigaki...

    How to tie tenkara flies : The Ishigaki Kebari™ Materials: 1) Size 12 hook (this can vary according to preference, size 12 is the one Ishigaki uses most often) 2)...

  • Mr. Yoshida ties a Kenbane tenkara flyMr. Yoshida ties the kenbane kebari or alula tenkara fly

    Mr. Yoshida ties a Kenbane tenkara fly

    Mr. Takashi Yoshida is an innovative fly tyer based in Japan. Here he shows how to tie a tenkara fly using the Alula feather of a pheasant, known in Japanese as the...

  • Hiroto Sasaki, Tying a Tenkara Fly Without...Tying a tenkara fly without a vise

    Hiroto Sasaki, Tying a Tenkara Fly Without...

    Our favorite thing about this video is the way Mr. Sasaki finishes off his tenkara fly. Watch him tie his fly without a vise, and then the unique technique he uses to...

  • Yuzo Sebata Tying Tenkara Flies, StreamsideStreamside fly-tying with Mr. Yuzo Sebata

    Yuzo Sebata Tying Tenkara Flies, Streamside

    Mr. Yuzo Sebata is one of the most well-known tenkara anglers in Japan. He keeps his fly-fishing simple and enjoys backpacking in the mountains of Japan catching trout...

  • Tenkara Fly-tying Video Series: Royal ConradTenkara fly-tying with Steve Conrad

    Tenkara Fly-tying Video Series: Royal Conrad

    In 3 minutes tenkara guide, and McGuckin’s tenkara guru, Steve Conrad will show you how to tie a very effective tenkara fly, the Royal Conrad...

  • Fly-tying with Allison MarriottAllison Marriott tenkara fly tying

    Fly-tying with Allison Marriott

    Allison Marriott is a fly-fishing guide and fly-tying instructor in the Boulder, Colorado area, working for Rocky Mountain Anglers fly shop. As part of our Tenkara...

  • Fly-tying without a visetenkara fly tying without a vise

    Fly-tying without a vise

    John Geer shows us how to tie flies without a vise. That’s simple fly-tying...

  • Simple kebari with Allen SeagravesTenkara fly-tying video series with Allen Seagraves

    Simple kebari with Allen Seagraves

    Allen Seagraves, a tenkara guide based in Boulder, Colorado, shows us how to tie a simple kebari...

  • Chartreuse Black Kebari with Mark BolsonChartreuse Black Kebari

    Chartreuse Black Kebari with Mark Bolson

    Tenkara Fly-Tying Video Series In this video Mark Bolson shows us how to tie a tenkara fly (kebari) he calls the Chartreuse Black Kebari...

Tenkara fly types, analyzed by Mr. Fujioka

Due to the research and interest of Mr. Yoshikazu Fujioka, from the website “My Best Mountain Streams”, we have been able to learn a lot about tenkara flies, their geographic origins and some of their history.

Mr. Fujioka is our tenkara fly teacher, our tenkara kebari sensei, and also helped us put together our current selection of flies. Over the years he has researched and collected traditional tenkara flies from different regions of Japan. Now, Fujioka sensei gives us a very nice, yet, tenkara-like simple, analysis of tenkara flies. Like classifying western flies into “dry”, “wet”, “nymphs”, etc, his analysis focuses specifically on tenkara flies and what pattern styles are commonly found in the hands of tenkara anglers. These should serve as a good foundation to better understanding tenkara flies (if one chooses to, understanding this is not really necessary to be a successful angler).

While the most characteristic tenkara flies are the so-called “sakasa kebari”, or reverse hackle flies, those are not the only type of fly used in tenkara, and as shown in his graphic chart, even the sakasa kebari come in different forms and with different characteristics (soft hackle/stiff hackle, thick body/thin body and short/long hackle).

Typically, an experienced tenkara angler will use one pattern only. Over time, an angler will acquire preferences for a specific fly type, and will have his “go-to” fly.  Not all tenkara anglers use the same fly as each other, but each one tends to stick with only one style. Some may believe a fly with soft hackle will be more “fluid”, softer and thus may be more attractive; other people may believe a stiffer hackle facing forward is better at attracting fish. Yet, others will tie any fly they find to be the simplest and quickest to tie. This is what Fujioka sensei shows in his analysis of tenkara flies.

Geographic origin of some tenkara flies

Also inspired by Mr. Fujioka and his study of the origin of tenkara flies, we placed known tenkara flies on an interactive map. You can zoom in and out and click on the flies to see what they look like.

Unique tenkara flies

Tenkara flies allow us to share fascinating aspects of the tenkara story. Two flies that have intrigued those taking up tenkara are the Mamushi Kebari and the Zenmai Kebari.
Mamushi kebari snake skin fly tenkara
Mamushi Kebari
Mamushi is a type of poisonous snake found in Japan. In 2010 Daniel was visiting a small mountain village in Japan when he learned about Mr. Hirata, who owned a small tackle shop and had become famous for tying the Mamushi kebari, or snake-skin fly. Mr. Hirata captured the highly poisonous snake and skinned it to use the segments of the snake skin to tie his flies. The snake skin segments, he thought, provided just the right type of reflection to be highly attractive to fish.

Zenmai kebari flowering fern tenkara flyZenmai Kebari

Another fly that has captured the interest of folks is the fly we shared on our blog a few years ago, and which we learned from Mr. Fujioka’s website. It is a fly tied using the fuzz from the body of the flowering ferns, a.k.a. zenmai (Osmunda sp.). The fleece-type of material from the ferns was historically used to make threads and clothing due to its waterproof quality. Someone decided to use that material as dubbing for their flies. The Osmunda ferns grow in many countries around the world and flower in the Spring, so people have also attempted to use this material outside of Japan.

Tenkara Fly Gallery

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