First Tenkara Trip

Well, a while back I ordered a Tenkara Fly Rod from TenkaraUSA . I went with the Ebisu 12-ft rod. The Ebisu is a medium weight rod with a unique Pine Wood grip.

I’m sure most everyone has learned about the Tenkara fly fishing style by now – I published a post previuosly with a nice Tenkara write-up done by Chris Stewart. The post was called Tenkara Fly Fishing?. Chris does a great job of describing and explaining Tenkara. So I won’t attempt to repeat it all here. The TenkaraUSA website is also a great resource with articles, videos and an active forum.
Briefly though; a Tenkara rod is a telescoping fly rod, (usually longer than a typical fly rod) and it uses no reel. The line is simply attached to the end of the rod. And yes – you do cast, you don’t just dap.

I decided to go to a small northwest PA wild trout stream. This particular little stream tumbles along at the bottom of it’s own steep-sided valley, forming a series of shallow runs and occasional deep pools.
The steep hill-sides, boulders and deadfalls make traveling a little treacherous. There are trout here – but on this day the water is low, the terrain makes stealth difficult and I’m trying to use a 12-ft fly rod. This was perhaps not the best place to try the new Tenkara rod. If you ever want to remember what it felt like when you first started fly fishing then take a 12-ft fly rod out on a small brushy stream.


So how was the Tenkara? Well…it was the first trip so I can’t say too much. Here are a few thoughts though. Firstly, When you have the space, you can cast wonderfully with a Tenkara rod. The casting stroke is different than regular fly rod – and I haven’t perfected it – but after a bit, I was doing okay and casting with a some accuracy. Secondly, and contrary to what I had thought, the Tenkara rod is not great for dapping – in fact a regular fly rod is better for this. The reason is that with a Tenkara rod you cannot reel in the line to change its length. To really dap effectively you would have to change the line from the 10-ft line to something more like 4-ft or so. This could be done, but I wouldn’t want to have to change back and forth between the long line and the dapping line as I moved along the stream. As a fly-fisherman, you need to be aware of your surroundings. As a Tenkara fly-fisherman you need to be even more aware. Casting a 12-ft rod, in a wooded environment can be tricky – you really need to look above and behind you to avoid constant hang-ups. Hook-sets can be tricky too – a flick of the wrist, with a 12-ft rod, can send you rod tip into the overhanging branches pretty fast.

So what about the fish catching? I’d love to report on all the trout that I caught, but as fate would have it…But I did catch a beautiful Creek Chub. I never thought I’d post a picture of a chub on my fly fishing blog. But it was my first fish on a Tenkara rod. So here it is.
reflection 2

6 Comments on First Tenkara Trip

  1. A good read, I thought to myself after looking at the creek chub but before reading why you posted the image, that is was a particularly good photo even if it was of a creek chub. Let us know how this style progresses for you. Take care.

    • Thanks for the comments! Well I figured if I was going to post a pic of a chub, that it better at least be a decent picture! I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how the Tenkara develops for me. I’d love to make it out your way (maybe next year) – it seems like it would be a great place for the Tenkara rod, and a great place to trout fish in general.

  2. Chris Stewart // December 12, 2009 at 10:28 AM // Reply

    Congratulations on your first tenkara fish (my first on one of my tenkara rods was a bluegill just about that size). There will be many more. Also, as you get more used to the rod, you will think less that casting a 12′ rod can be tricky, and more that getting as good a drift with a 7′ rod can be tricky.

    • Hey Chris,

      Hopefully I’ll get used to that 12′ rod. I think I should have tried a less “brushy” stream for the first Tenkara trip. I am looking forward to getting out with the Ebisu again real soon – I have visions of Tenkara Fish dancing in my head.

what say you?