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Below you will see an outline of basic techniques needed to get you started on your Tenkara journey. We do not go into the infinite details often outlined in other "traditional" Tenkara sites or blogs.


Let's be clear, it's not because we don't believe in the fundamentals or traditions of Tenkara, that's actually what drew us to this method of fishing, it's because when fishing in the warm waters of the southern US, we often have to adapt our style and approach due to location and condition.


We also believe this adaptive nature speaks to the beauty and effectiveness of fishing the Tenkara way regardless of where you choose to practice it.


Look to our journal for upcoming entries outlining the adaptive approaches we have taken as we apply the Tenkara way of fishing to the southern warm waters of the US... and beyond. 

Setting Up Your Tenkara Rod

Setting Up Your Rod

Learning how to set up a Tenkara rod can be frustrating at minimum, but more importantly can cost you money if you don’t know the steps or handle the rod the right way. The reason I say this is, because unknown to most new Tenkara anglers, the time most accidents and/or breakage occurs is during the set-up (tying to the lillian cord) or the expansion and collapsing of the rod sections before and after use.


So let's talk quickly about the number one rule to remember when it comes to handling any Tenkara rod. Anytime you are attaching or removing your tippit line (the first section of line that you attach to the lillian) NEVER (seriously never) have the rod extended and the rod tip exposed outside the handle-section of the rod. Meaning, leave the rod collapsed all the way down and simply allow the lillian cord to be exposed and nothing else.


Don't even expose the end of the Tenkara rod (the tip) where the lillian cord is attached. This is the most vulnerable area to breakage and the most vulnerable time. Check out this quick video showing you how to tie a fly line to the lillian.

So that brings us to the next part of this rule... expanding and collapsing the Tenkara rod.

Let's Talk the Proper Way to Extend/Collapse a Tenkara Rod

Extend/Collapse the Rod

When you extend the rod, do it in sequence from thinnest section to the the thickest section. Take your time to do this correctly and don't use too much force. Often, as anglers we get to the waters edge and start moving faster and from muscle memory to get everything set up so we can drop a line in the water. When you open, or closing a Tenkara rod, you should never be on "auto-pilot". Be engaged and mindful of what you are doing or it could cost you a rod and fishing trip.


For collapsing the rod start with the HANDLE/BUTT section first and work from thickest to thinnest. When collapsing each section, always hold the rod blank really close to each joint – especially for the thinner sections. If you grip the blank too far from the joint, the rod can bend and snap as you push the sections towards each other.

Casting and Balance

Casting and Balance
  1. After The rod is extended hold the rod in your dominant hand.

  2. Place your hand on the grip with the index finger pointed up making the number one along the backbone of the rod or center line of the grip

  3. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly offset from the axis of your body. You want to be in a comfortable or balanced position.

  4. Raise the rod up with your using your wrist and elbow. You elbow should stay tucked in close to the side of your body. At this point, if you look at your hand, you should see the your hand making the number one sign.

  5.  Don't allow your wrist to roll to the side.

  6. Hold the rod at approximately the 10:00 position.

  7. Lift the rod using your wrist action to the 12:00 o1 o'clock position and that will be your back cast. If there is line on the rod you can feel the line load whenever you feel a slight pull backwards. This is when you know to move your arm back to the 10:00 position in your forward cast.​​​​

    NOTE: The two main mistakes that cause problems at this basic level are:

    1. A casting an arc that is too wide 

    2. Overpowering the cast (and/or gripping the rod handle WAY too tight)

      • The first mistake is sending a wide arc cast. This will prevent a proper Tenkara fly casting loop from forming with most Tenkara rods and line setups that are used. The end result is what many call a “puddling" or what I call "wadding" of casting line that lands way short of the target and is just a blog of line hitting the water.

      • The second mistake just simply overpowering the cast itself which will either cause tangles and tailing loops. Sometimes it's even worse, it will cause the cast to fly out to full range and then bounce back and land way short of the targeted area again. When and if that rebound happens, it can just go downhill from there – because, as you get more frustrated, you start pushing the rod (casting harder) which makes it bounce even more. So you cast again and force it harder eventually just creating a self-fulfilling problem. If continued, over casting can eventually even break the tip.

      • When you see this happening, take a step back, evaluate (HONESTLY) what is happening, and make small adjustments.

  8. During the forward cast point your finger and the rod in the direction that you want the line to go. 

  9. It helps to pick a spot in the yard or on the body of water that you want your fly to land in order to practice accuracy.

  10. Practice this motion using a slight elbow movement to support the wrist action used in Tenkara.


This there you have it. a basic cast. Now get out there and give it a go.

One last quick note: There are many different casts that you can perform fly fishing depending on water and wind condition, as well as, cover and interference from tree limbs close to the edge of the bodies of water. This is a very basic overhand cast that will get you started. Once you understand the feel and release points, all the others will be easier to master.


Everything we do here is about spreading empowering others with knowledge and skills to fish the Tenkara way.


So, as you work to continually develop your skills, look to us for additional images and videos to help you understand how unique locations and situations require unique approaches for warm water Tenkara fishing.


Lastly, let us know if there are any specific skills we can help with by connecting with us via email or social media and we might just make your request our topic of the week.

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