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Tenkara

How tenkara works

In tenkara one just uses a rod, line and fly. A fixed length of line connects to the tip of the telescopic rod. Casting the fly to where you think the fish are is very quick to learn and intuitive. Landing the fish even more so. Watch the video below to find out more and read through the page to learn more.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

tenkara

the book

Order here
After years of learning tenkara directly from the masters, Daniel's much anticipated book is finally shipping! At 216 pages, this book will show you all you need to tenkara, and the stories in its pages will take you along Daniel's journey of learning tenkara.

book-mockup_Cover_SmallNow shipping.

 

In tenkara–the book, Tenkara USA founder Daniel Galhardo shows just how simple fly-fishing can be. This book is a complete guide to the techniques, gear, history and philosophy of tenkara, the Japanese method of fly-fishing. It is also a manifesto on fly-fishing simplicity.
An angler picking up a tenkara rod for the first time will find this book’s concepts well laid out and intuitive. The experienced angler will appreciate the simpler approach to fly-fishing and the advanced techniques shared in the book.
tenkara – the book was designed to be interactive and take advantage of all the resources we have created over the years. Throughout the book, readers will find QR (quick read) codes that will give access to the videos, podcast episodes and other complementary information to the chapters at hand.
Watch a short video about tenkara – the book

Order now, $24

Kudo

Product Highlight

Complete tenkara set:
  • Best-selling adjustable tenkara rod: Rhodo
  • 2 spools of line, line holder and 1 free set of flies

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Tenkara gear

You need a tenkara rod, a tenkara line and tippet, and flies. A line holder to store your line, and a set of forceps (to remove flies caught deeper in a fish's mouth) and nippers (to cut your tippet and line) are also handy to have. Read below for the gear you need to start fishing.

rod
Tenkara Rods
There are multiple options for tenkara rods. While each has a place where it will be most suitable, depending on how open the stream is and the size of fish targeted, we can say any rod will work well and any tenkara rod is suitable for beginners. We recommend getting the longest rod you can for the stream you fish. Tenkara rods are 12ft long on average; some of our rods feature a patent-pending adjustable system, which allows you to fish them at 2 or three lengths. Shop for tenkara rod, or read reviews.
tenkara line
Tenkara Lines
There are two types of lines used in tenkara: tenkara tapered lines and tenkara level lines. Either will be used by itself with 4ft of tippet at the end. Which line you will use is a matter of personal preference; we like to recommend you try both in the beginning if you can. Tapered lines have a fixed length, are super easy to setup and cast softly. Level lines come in spools of 65ft and can be cut to length. At the end of the line you tie about 4ft of tippet (we recommend 5X tippet).
Shop for tenkara lines.
tenkara fly
Tenkara Flies
Any fly, including any western fly, can be used with a tenkara rod. Dry flies work superbly with the long reach and drag-free drifts allowed by the rods, and nymphs work great with the tight lines. While not all tenkara flies have a reverse hackle (sakasa style), those are the most typical style flies. We have found the "sakasa" style flies, or sakasa kebari, to be very versatile and work in a tremendous amount of conditions. We only offer flies we use ourselves and know they work. Shop for tenkara flies.

 
 
 

How to use a tenkara rod

Opening a tenkara rod

1) Remove rod plug. Tilt rod down slightly to expose the tenkara rod tip.
2) Keeping the hard tip of the rod inside the main segment, expose the braided tip material (the lillian), attach line to rod tip. (keeping the hard tip inside will prevent a broken tenkara rod)
3) Once your line is attached, hold rod handle segment near the opening with one hand. With the other hand pull the tenkara rod tip, and each subsequent segment out, sliding them out between your fingers. Starting with the tip pull each piece out completely until next segment comes out and becomes snug. Do this in order. Pieces should feel snug, not overly tight.

Closing a tenkara rod

To collapse the tenkara rod, simply start by pushing the segments back into the handle, in order, starting with the thickest segment first and making your way to the tip of the rod. You may leave your tenkara line tied to the rod tip, and, when you have collapsed the entire rod, wind the line around a tenkara line holder and move on to the next stop. If you’re ready to pack up for the rest of the day, pull the tag end of your line to remove the line from the rod and stow both away.

Should you have any problems with your tenkara rod, take a look at the rod troubleshooting page for easy solutions to common problems.

How to use a tenkara rod

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Casting and techniques

grip_transparentCasting with tenkara is very intuitive, you will get it after just a few casts. The basic concept is that you will move your rod tip back quickly, stop at the vertical position (12 o'clock) to throw the line back and make the rod flex. And, then move the rod tip forward, stopping at roughly 10 o'clock in front of you. making your line move forward and the fly hit the target. Having an index finger on top of the handle helps stop at the vertical position more naturally and improves accuracy. Watch the video below for more information on how to cast with tenkara.

Tenkara casting becomes very obvious when you have a rod in hand, it is a bit similar to throwing a ball at a target, your brain does most of the work after a few attempts. The videos below will show you how to cast with tenkara as well as techniques for using your tenkara fly and also how to land fish with tenkara.

  • How to cast with tenkara tenkara-shirt

    How to cast with tenkara

    Casting with tenkara is not difficult. In fact, we find it to be a very intuitive thing to do. Learn how to cast tenkara in this video with Daniel Galhardo. Remember to...

  • Techniques for tenkara Tenkara techniques

    Techniques for tenkara

    Tenkara places more emphasis on technique rather than gear. One way to simplify is to reduce the number of fly choices and try different techniques. In Japan I’ve...

  • Pause-and-drift technique and landing Pause-and-drift technique for tenkara

    Pause-and-drift technique and landing

    Here’s a good video shot at Mossy Creek, Virginia, demonstrating the effective use of the pause-and-drift technique for tenkara. It also perfectly illustrates how...

Knots for tenkara

Knots are just one of those things, no matter how experienced you are, you may have to learn and practice. But, don't worry, there are only 3 knots you really need to learn: (1) a girth hitch to connect your tapered line to rod tip, (2) the double-loop slip knot for tippet to various places (the level line to rod tip can be seen as a variation of this with one fewer loop). And, finally, (3) the blood knot to connect two lines together should you need to.

Girth Hitch,tying line to tenkara rod
Tenkara tapered line to rod tip: GIRTH HITCH
Very easy knot, fold loop over line and pull line through it. That gives you a hitch, which you will slide over the soft tip of the rod (called the "lillian") and tighten against a stopper knot at the tip of the rod. *Always leave the hard tip of the rod inside the main part of the rod to prevent breakage.
tying tippet to tenkara level line
Tippet to level line, tippet to end of tapered line, or tippet to fly: DOUBLE-LOOP SLIP KNOT
Make a loop, then two small loops at the base of that, and finally pass the tag end of your tippet through the two small loops only from the back towards you. Practice this one a few times at home, it is a very easy and simple knot but can be tied incorrectly at first. The video will help.
fly
 Level line to tenkara rod is a variation of the Double-loop Slip Knot, minus one loop:
This knot can be tied almost identically to the double-loop slip knot. Make a loop, then a smaller loop at the base of it and pass your tag through the small loop only. We recommend tying a stopper knot at the two ends of your level line before connecting it to the rod or tippet to line.


The blood knot is useful for connecting two lines together, for example if you decide to cut your main level line to shorten it (do not cut the tapered line), and later you wish the level line was longer again, you can connect them together with a blood knot. Or, if your tippet gets too short, you can tie more tippet to it with a blood knot. All you do is make the lines parallel, turn the line 3 times around on one side, pass the end through the middle, then turn the line 3 times on the other side and pass the tag end through the middle in the opposite direction, and pull on the lines.

Blood knot to connect two lines together

Tenkara Knot videos

 

  • Knots for Tenkara, Setting up and Rigging... How to setup and rig your tenkara rod

    Knots for Tenkara, Setting up and Rigging...

    Learn the “one knot” you need for tenkara. By using the fisherman’s knot in this video you can tie your tenkara line to your tenkara rod, tippet to the...

  • Tenkara Knot: one knot for tippet to... Tippet to tenkara line

    Tenkara Knot: one knot for tippet to...

    Learn how to tie the “Double-Loop slip knot” for tenkara, one very simple tenkara knot that  can be used to tie your tippet to tenkara line and tippet to...

How to tie tenkara flies

While you can purchase tenkara flies and we make that easy, tying tenkara flies is one of the easiest ways to get into fly-tying and can be a fun hobby too. A tenkara fly, or kebari, is often tied with the simplest of materials: a hook, sewing thread, and a feather (hackle). The tenkara fly embodies the spirit of tenkara in its simplicity and effectiveness. Learn how to tie tenkara flies.

  • Yuzo Sebata Tying Tenkara Flies, Streamside Streamside fly-tying with Mr. Yuzo Sebata

    Yuzo Sebata Tying Tenkara Flies, Streamside

    Mr. Yuzo Sebata is one of the most well-known tenkara anglers in Japan. He keeps his fly-fishing simple and enjoys backpacking in the mountains of Japan catching trout...

  • Tenkara Fly-tying Video Series: Royal Conrad Tenkara fly-tying with Steve Conrad

    Tenkara Fly-tying Video Series: Royal Conrad

    In 3 minutes tenkara guide, and McGuckin’s tenkara guru, Steve Conrad will show you how to tie a very effective tenkara fly, the Royal Conrad...

  • Fly-tying with Allison Marriott Allison Marriott tenkara fly tying

    Fly-tying with Allison Marriott

    Allison Marriott is a fly-fishing guide and fly-tying instructor in the Boulder, Colorado area, working for Rocky Mountain Anglers fly shop. As part of our Tenkara...

Tenkara Fly-tying Kits

Fly-tying is also pretty simple. We have put together two tenkara fly-tying kit options with all that you need to tie tenkara flies and nothing you don't. The kits have enough hooks to tie 50 flies and will pay for themselves very quickly compared to purchasing flies.

tenkara fly-tying kit, basicBasic Kit, $95

Great beginner vise, spring-action clamp style, requires no adjustment for hook size. Imported.

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Fly Tying kit, upgradedUpgraded Kit, $145

High-end pedestal-style vise, non-rotary. Made by Peak Fishing, in Loveland, Colorado.

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Listen to our Podcast

The Tenkara Cast is a podcast hosted by Daniel Galhardo. It covers stories, techniques, philosophy and other information that will inspire you to keep your fly-fishing simple and explore the outdoors. Sharing the tenkara story™

  • Eclipse and Tenkara Summit tenkara cast RMNP Tenkara Summit podcast

    Eclipse and Tenkara Summit

    The last few weeks has been a whirlwind that left me with no time to record some thoughts. We finished our road trip, then hosted some guests from Japan to go see the...

  • VanLife and Bass fishing Tenkara Cast Vanlife and Bass Fishing podcast by Tenkara USA

    VanLife and Bass fishing

    Daniel has hit the road to spread tenkara and is currently living the not-so-glamorous “van life” with his wife and their husky. In this episode Daniel turns...

  • tenkara in the Driftless Region with Mike... Driftless tenkara

    tenkara in the Driftless Region with Mike...

    Daniel talks to tenkara guide Mike Warren about tenkara fly-fishing in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin. About tenkara guide Mike Warren tenkara in the Driftless trip...

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