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Top 10 Must-Know Tips

Seriously, if you don't look at anything else, check these out. These are the top 10 tips compiled from all the tips shared with us over years. Our look may be new, but our knowledge comes from a community of people who love Tenkara and love to share.

  1. Don't Overspend - Seriously!

  2. Think About Where You're Heading

  3. Use the Right Line

  4. Drive for Show, but Putt for Dough

  5. Protect the Rod and Tip

  6. Wind or No Wind - that is the Question

  7. To Whip or Not to Whip

  8. Keep Equipment in the Same Place

  9. It's All About the Tip Baby

  10. Frustration - This Too Shall Pass 

BONUS TIP - Make Sure It's Dry



Don't Overspend - Seriously!

Your first rod should be able to catch the fish you want it to catch and not cost an arm and leg. When starting our with Tenkara it is easy to get caught up in the hype and all the amazing equipment out there. I have spent hundreds only to find out a $60 rod was just as good. Buy a rod that serves your budget, allows you to enjoy the sport and not obsess over something happening to the rod as you learn. Here you can see a fully set up rod with a fully equipped bag - all in for less that $84


Think About Where You're Heading

You will hear me repeat this over and over, don't get caught up in the hype and over spend - See Tip #1. Always pick a rod that suits the type of water and fish that you are chasing. Heading out with the wrong rod, whether it's oversized or undersized can have a profound impact on your excursion. Plan ahead.


Use the Right Line

Fishing line, is fishing line, is fishing line... NO, it's not!  Mono is certainly stronger but the fly just doesn't roll over as well. You can certainly use found materials laying around your tacklebox to build out the lines, but there is no substitute for fly line and actual tippet. They do their job very well and it will have an impact on effective targeting, delivery and presentation of the fly - which ALL have an impact on action and catching.


Drive for Show, but Putt for Dough

If you're a golfer, you know know this saying well. It means, yes, you look really cool hitting the pooh out of the ball off the tee with your driver, but the money is always made with the accuracy of the putting on the green. The same holds true for fishing the Tenkara Way. Don't worry about the casting distance; first concentrate on delivering accurate and consistent casting with quality presentation. When you master that, everything else will fall in place. Then you can work up to longer cast and still have the accuracy and presentation  needed to catch the fish.

BONUS TIP: Always work to ensure the the fly lands on the water first.


Protect the Rod and Tip

It seems intuitive to protect the rod, but a Tenkara rod (especially the tip) can be easily jammed or broken. Unlike traditional fishing set ups with rod and reel where the rod is solid, or maybe a single breakdown point for easier storage, almost all modern Tenkara rods telescope to open. This can lead to damage when not done correctly. Always use two hands to extend the Tenkara rod and only extend one section at a time.  Always start with the tip gently pull it into place until snug and then move to the next section. Never force any part or section of the rod into place. When collapsing the rod, never force any section down and always work in reverse order starting nearest the handle and working eventually back to the tip.

BONUS TIP: When tying to the lillian, never expose more than the lillian on the rod. Keep everything but the lillian inside so the tip is protected against breakage.


Wind or No Wind, that is the Question

Furled line and wind often do not mix due to the lighter weight and for a new Tenkara fisherman it can cause unneeded frustration. It's almost always windy where I fish, so it is seldom on my rod. Choose a level line or a fusion line (a wait forward floating line will work) as you are learning the art and methods of casting. Furled line really should only be used in extremely protected and shallow waters where fish are super spooky.

BONUS TIP: In the beginning do not make a tippet longer than 5 ft or have a fusion line, level line, or furled line that is longer than your rod.


To Whip or Not To Whip

This is one of the biggest mistakes both novices and experienced Tenkara fisherman make. When you are going through the motion of casting, we have a natural tendency (usually based on other styles of fishing) to "whip" the line and fly hard as we bring it forward to present on the water. This is absolutely the wring way to cast. Your motion from 10 o'clock back to 12 o'clock then back to 10 o'clock should be a smooth and almost seamless motion. If you are hearing a whipping or whooshing sound, you are moving back and forth in the casting motion far too fast. When you whip the line, the cast is often shortened losing accuracy and it usually present the line in the water first landing your fly last. When correctly done, it should be silent. As you move from 10 to 12 and back to 10 for the cast, there should be a light (sometimes very light) pull of the line indicating it has reached full potential, it is at that moment you should bring it forward for the cast and presentation on the water with a fluid motion... and never a whip.

BONUS TIP: Practice casting to see what the minimum effort needed is to cast and then work to stick close to it. 


Keep Equipment in the Same Place

There are several items you will take off your rod every time you go fishing, always keep them in the same place so you know where they are and that they are safe. A couple of examples are the rod plug and line spool. When you remove the rod plug, always put it in the same place for safe keeping. Whether that is your shirt pocket, or a specific pocket in your bag, always keep it in the same place. That said, when you are out there, you often will find the right spot (usually based on convenience) for different tools that are used or may be used such as clippers or forceps, don't move them around. Keep them in the same spot every time and if you feel like there is a place for them that will be easier to get to, change it and make a decision to keep it or move it back. You should be able to instinctively go to them in time of need. Whether in your bag, or on the bag/strap, there is nothing worse than needing a tool only to realize you can't find it.


Yeah, It's All About the Tip Baby

Some rods come with extra tips, some don't. If you're buying a rod that doesn't provide extra tips, buy extra the tips on your own. Some rods are built heavier than others, but you usually sacrifice strength for sensitivity. This means big fish will do a snap-a-doodle on your fishy stick tip. Be prepared! Tips are cheaper than rods and easy to change. In the end, you don't want your day to end because of a broken tip.


Most extra tips can be carried in your bag, in a small tube where it can remain until needed. It may be 1 trip, or 20, but when it snaps and you have that tip at the ready, it will save the day.


Frustration - This Too Shall Pass

There will be times of frustration. Just roll with it. I promise it will pass. 

When I first started fishing the  Tenkara Way, there were many challenges and frustrations. You might feel this way too, but don't give up. The challenges you face are not endemic to the Tenkara Way of fishing–they’re just part of the natural learning curve of leaving your comfort zone. Whether you are a seasoned fly angler, or you might be a complete newcomer to fly fishing, you will undoubtedly hit a few bumps in the road that might make you question if the Tenkara Way of fishing is a good fit for you. Face them head on and smile.

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Low Cost Equipment
Tippet Line
Bonus Tip


Make Sure it's Dry

If you store a Tenkara rod while it is still wet – often you will find the finish on the surface of that rod will begin to break down. Often you will see bubbling and/or mold. Once you have made it back to your camp or home, extend the rod to ensure it is dry. If any sections feel damp, take the time to break down the rod and allow the sections to dry in a well ventilated area.

Note: If you find some sand or grit inside the rod sections, over time it will wear away at it causing a weak spot where you will often see breakage without being warranted. The best way to address this is to break down the sections very carefully, rinse them all in a shower (do not soak them in a tub) and then allow the sections to dry in a well ventilated area.

OK, there you have it. Those are what we feel are the top tips (at least right now). If you have any you would like to share please don't hesitate to reach out and let us and the community know.

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