Written by Jason
Many people might not realize this but I was actually the first person to suggest using EZ Keepers on tenkara rods as a line storage solution. That’s right. Check out the video I did here more than two years ago.
At the time, I thought it was a brilliant solution. And apparently, many other people did too because I now see photos of tenkara rods with EZ Keepers on them all over the internet. But anyone who has fished with me in the last year has noticed that they’re conspicuously absent from my rods. I gave up on the idea of using EZ Keepers a long time ago and returned to using spools.
It’s not that I think that it was a bad idea. The logic behind it at least was sound—a line storage system that is integrated with the rod and doesn’t rely on a separate piece of gear to keep track of. But after using them for a while, I discovered some clear disadvantages of EZ Keepers that lead me back to line spools.
Disadvantages of EZ Keepers
- They’re kinky! In some other context, this might be a good thing but not when it comes to tenkara lines. Winding a line around EZ Keepers produces kinks in the line which are more difficult to straighten out than the comparatively slight memory caused by winding the line around a round object like a spool. To me, this was the deal breaker.
- They’re tricky. Rather than simple wrapping your line around the EZ Keepers in an elipse, you have to wrap it in a figure-8 over and under each hook (otherwise when you take the line off, it can easily tangle). This is not only a more awkward motion than simply wrapping in a circle (which is more natural), but makes it easy to miss a wrap. Then, you have to back up and do it again. If you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing, you might miss several wraps just winding one line. No thanks.
- They leave your fly homeless. After you’ve wound your line, there isn’t really a good way to store the fly. If the length of your line is just right, you could secure the hook in the O-rings of the EZ keepers but this is a rare event. You could add an extra O-ring to the rod and then slide it to the right position and slip your hook between it and the rod but this is a little too much finagling for me. Or, you could stick the hook in the cork handle of the rod. No way! I’ve never liked giving my nice cork handles death by a thousand pricks (even with my western fly rods). In short, there isn’t really a good or simple way to keep your fly from just dangling there, waiting to be snatched up by a branch lying in wait.
- They leave your line homeless. I usually carry two or three lines with me. The problem with EZ Keepers is what to do with a spare line once you’ve removed it? You could wind it up and put it in your pack or pocket. But that opens you up to more tangles. Plus, I like to leave a fly pre-rigged on my lines so that doesn’t really work. Or, you could carry extra spools to store the line. But then if you wanted to switch lines, you’d have to first unwind the from the EZ Keeper, then wind it on to a spare spool. At that point, doesn’t is just make sense to use spools in lieu of the EZ Keepers?
- They send out the wrong message. OK, this one is less practical and more philosophical than the others but I don’t like the perception EZ Keepers create. They make tenkara rods look like, yes, “crappie rods” or “cane poles” that those who don’t really understand tenkara compare it to. I don’t want to do anything to perpetuate that stereotype.
After using the EZ Keepers for quite a while, I realized that spools just made more sense for me. Since they’re round, they don’t produce kinks in the line, they have notches to securely hold the fly (no matter the line length), and don’t take any more time to wrap than EZ Keepers. I have the perfect pocket in the front of my chest pack to keep my spool. It’s stretch mesh which holds it securely, yet always keeps it at hand.
It’s funny how things come full circle sometimes. But experimentation and trying different things is all part of the fun.
Further comments by Daniel
I should note that we could easily offer these if they were a good solution. I agree with Jason the reasoning for them was solid in that it is a system integrated into the rod. But as he writes, there are several drawbacks which kept me from believing in them. The line holders we decided to offer are ubiquitous in Japan, and I found there were reasons. Not only do the line holders allow for different line lengths to be carried, they also allow for the line to be completely removed from the rod once you are done fishing. Not having a bunch of line sticking outside the rod prevents snags from happening (I know of at least 2 rods broken by customers walking with the rod when the line snagged a branch and broke the tip).
Time after time whenever I would show the line holders to someone in person it would win them over. But, as I noticed how people were using them in the field I realized that there were a few quick tips I needed to share on the best way to use the tenkara line holders. The line holder is a very quick and efficient system to use if you look at the tips below.