A while back I tested out a couple of the tenkara lines being made by John Vetterli (of Tenkara Guides in UT). These lines are based on the line design of Eiji Yamakawa of Japan. They are a tapered fluorocarbon “furled” line. I put “furled” in quotes because they are not constructed the same as most furled lines that you’ll find. Rather than being made by a single diameter line which is furled upon itself in various configurations to create a tapered line, these are tapered by using various diameter lines in series. The result is a lighter more supple line than most.
So how do they fish? I fished a 32′ and a 16′ model from John (I haven’t had a chance to fish the hi-viz nylon one yet). A quick word here – I wanted to test these lines out as dry fly lines mostly, so after a few casts with the lines to see how they floated alone, I greased them up with Loon Payette floatant. The lines floated superbly after being treated with the floatant. Most other furled lines that I’ve tried are either too heavy or too stiff, or both, for my liking. These lines are much lighter than other commercially available lines (that I’ve seen), and are fairly supple. They are also very easy to cast, perhaps easier than casting a level line, but that’s subjective.
Casting the 16′ line was effortless and intuitive. The 32′ line took a little more focus. Mostly because I’m not used to casting that much line on a tenkara rod. But after a few minutes casting I got adjusted to the 32′ line. Though I have to say I cannot imagine fishing with that much line in general – it’s castable but I wonder about subsurface strike detection, and hook set (especially subsurface) at that distance. Plus most places that I fish are much too small for that much line. Also with the 32′ line I was not able to get any sort of tuck cast to power a wetfly into the water. The line always hit first with a softly descending fly following. Great for dry flies – maybe not so much if you’re trying to get a fly deeper. My thoughts on the 32′ line is that it casts very nicely and could be great for dry fly fishing, maybe especially for lakes.
In general I preferred the shorter (16′) line. I was able to cast and mend (aerial and otherwise) with it nicely. So it worked great for traditional tenkara techniques (line off of the water) as well as western-style dry fly fishing (line on the water). The 16′ or maybe a 20′ line could easily become my go-to dry fly tenkara line. For me, the advantage of these lines over level line mono-filament fluorocarbon lines, for dry fly fishing is that with a treatment of floatant they float beautifully. If you’ve ever tried to fish dry flies at a distance with a flurocarbon level line or a heavy furled line you’ll know the problem. You cast out, hold the line off of the water (in tenkara style) and the line sags and drags the dry fly back toward you. A floating line eliminates this problem. Rather than hold the line off of the water you can just let it lay on the water, and use mends. Essentially you’re now doing western-style dry fly fishing with a tenkara rod – but it works. So as a traditional tenkara line or as a dry-fly line these lines can do a nice job.
In short, finding your favorite rod and line combo is a very personal thing, the only way to find what you really like is to experiment with different combinations. If you’ve been unhappy with furled tenkara lines, you may like these lines much better than what you’ve tried in the past.
He offers 2 flurocarbon versions:
The Senesi Series Eddie Line which is a line built to Eiji (Eddie) Yamakawa’s specs. The line is all clear fluorocarbon with loop end on tip section for loop to loop connections.
The Sempai Series Johnny Line which is available with a hi-viz tip section and tippet ring or all clear fluorocarbon and tippet ring.
Also he can make a hi-viz nylon Amnesia specifically for a floating line: Amnesia lines are $20 up to 24 ft. 22 bucks for 28-32 ft. Plus $3.00 shipping
Here is a pricing breakdown for the fluorocarbon lines:
$3.00 shipping CONUS
Disclosure: I was provided with the lines to test free of charge.