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An Introduction to Tenkara Fly Fishing

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Mike Roden fishing the Wharfe with a Tenkara setup Mike Roden fishing the Wharfe with a Tenkara setup

From a modest start Tenkara fly fishing is now growing in awareness and popularity, both in the UK and across Europe; Mike Roden of Sportfish tells all…


As well as the growth in this discipline of the sport here are now an ever increasing band of enthusiasts for whom Tenkara is the only method of fly fishing. For most, however, it will be in additional string to their bow to compliment the more common rod, reel and line set up.

There are a number of very good reasons why everyone who fly fishes - or wants to fly fish - should look seriously at Tenkara though and, more importantly, why they should have a go!

From the experienced to the complete beginner Tenkara has something to offer. First and foremost it’s the superb presentation that can be achieved due, in the main, to the fact that you don’t have a heavy fly line on the water that always creates drag. When dry fly fishing for example, the only thing in touch with the water is your fly, it cannot possibly drag! The casting process itself is much easier than the demanding techniques associated with a rod, reel and line. Anyone (and I do mean anyone) can be effectively fly fishing a river after a very short time practicing the casting technique, which is very intuitive.

So what do you need to start Tenkara fly fishing? Well, firstly the two things you don’t need are a reel and a fly line!

Sportfish carry a range of rods from Tenkara Centre UK; these start at 8ft and go up to 13ft to cover most fishing situations. You also require a leader of some type – level line, tapered leader or a furled leader, then simply add between 3 to 5ft of tippet. Your choice of leader will depend upon the fishing conditions you encounter, but your first option should always be level line as this can produce the very best drag-free presentation, although other options may be better if the wind picks up.

Tenkara rods come in a choice of actions typically from 5:5 to 6:4 to 7:3. This sounds complicated but is in fact very simple – 6:4 just means that 60% of the rod is stiffer and 40% softer. The length of the rod is not directly related to the size of river more the height of any canopy – low canopy means you will use a shorter rod to cast underneath the overhanging branches.

A popular and versatile set up would be:

A Masu 11ft 7:3 action rod and a leader pack, which contains a length of level line and furled leader to match the rod and two spools of tippet material all available from Sportfish for only £116.98. Just add your usual river fly patterns and you can start fishing!

View all of our Tenkara tackle range HERE

I will be doing a couple of Tenkara workshops with Sportfish on 08 and 09 September on a lovely beat on the River Usk near Crickhowell in Wales. I can assure you of a great couple of days where I will be able to show you the full range of products and the variety of fishing techniques available to the Tenkara fly-fisher.

To find out more details or book a place on the course click HERE

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tenkara, Mike Roden

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