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Questions and Answers

On November 2, 2014
Comments (72)

Tenkara FAQ questions and answerPlease ask any questions you may have about tenkara. It doesn’t matter if it’s been answered before, if you’re not easily finding it, I’ll be happy to answer it here. Ask away!
Of course, feel free to continue calling us at 888.483.6527 or emailing us at

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» About tenkara, How to tenkara, How-To's, Tenkara Technique, Tenkara tips » Questions and Answers

72 Responses to Questions and Answers

  1. Michaela says:


    Has there been any reports of damage to a Tenkara rod using a bead head kebari?

    • Michaela, yes, some. We don’t have hard numbers but it seems like a decent number of breakages may be caused by heavy fly with bead heads hitting the rod. This can cause nicks on the rods that weaken them and subsequently cause breakages.

      • Michaela says:


        Thanks for the information ,I thought that it could be a problem but was not sure until now.If I were to use a bead head I would cast side ways and avoid overhead casts. I dont use weighted flies , I was just curious.

      • Mark J Carr says:

        This is a flaw in your casting, not in the rig. The cast motion ought to be drawing with your rod tip in the sky an elongated oval in the sky between the 10 and 12 o’clock positions. Not doing so–drawing a straight line–poses larger dangers than just hitting the rod with the bead. The real danger is hooking your ear with the fly–and not just in the case of a bead head.

        This is true in fly fishing with a reel, too, perhaps even more so. That’s because of the greater speed on the part of the fly when you bring your back-cast forward. ZOOOOM. Spey casting–watch out!!.

        Safety first–always wear glasses and a hat when fishing of any sort.

  2. Shubhendu K says:

    Hi Daniel,
    I saw your video on the visit to sansui where you showed us the various fixed line rods and i realised that the rod i have is not a Tenkara rod. Can you please help me identify it and tell me what it can be used for?
    It has 360 written on it and some japanese.. there is no cork grip and there are 8 segments with a red lillian at the tip of it. How much weight do you reckon it could take?

    • Shubhendu, there are several rods that are telescopic with lillian and 360(cm) in length. Most commonly the grip less rods have been designed to be used with bait, hence no need for a handle since it’s not designed to be repeatedly cast. Most likely it’s what they call a “keiryu” rod, which literally means stream but is used with bait and float. As for weight, it’s impossible for me to tell but most are designed with the 1/2kg fish in mind, should be fine with a fish in the 1kg range, not designed for targeting very large fish.

      • shubhendu K says:

        Wow thanks Daniel!
        I was actually just going to post here saying that i managed to figure out that the rod is a Keiryu rod. I know i gave very little information about it but sadly thats all i had. I did not know the weigt capacity. I had actually mistakedly caught a carp on it. luckily the rod is intact. Ill now get a suitable tippet. Thanks!!

  3. Dave Rosset says:


    When tying Sakasa Kebari type flies, how do you judge how long the hackle feather should be? Is it based on hook gap, hook length, or just an educated eye ball?


    • Dave,
      Unlike in western fly-tying, in tenkara I have never heard any of the experienced anglers talk about proportions in their flies. With that being said, some hackle lengths will just look off, either too long or way too short. It is really just an educated guess, but is venture to say about hook shank length seems to work fairly well for most hooks.

      • Dave Rosset says:


        I’ve watched a few videos on here and elsewhere, and that is what I suspected. I’ve been tying western fies for 25+ years so proportions are in grained. Tenkara fly tying and fishing seems almost just too simple. I keep thinking there has to be more. But that is why I find it so appealing.


  4. Adam says:

    If tenkara rods were devloped and birthed in this year, 2014, and in America- what do you think they would look like? Having no prior existence anywhere, what would a telescopic, fixed-line fishing rod look, cast, and action be?

    • I believe they could look like the Sato, which has some innovative features…or, perhaps they would be a broomstick designed to handle carp rather than trout and they certainly wouldn’t be called tenkara.

      • adam says:

        No laser guided fly system? Just kidding of course. thank you for bringing tenkara explosion here. Glad it doesnt look any other way. the iwanna is like the rod that never ages, always here, never tobe dismissed, the rod that paved its way into say temkarafanatics hearts

        • How could I not think of laser-guided fly systems???? Maybe I’m just not that good at that whole future visioning thing….3D printed rods too, with embedded social media screens and some version of Siri “Siri, where are the fish now?”

  5. Brian Larson says:


    Okay I don’t expect you to have the answer to the worlds oldest question. So more realistically, have you stuck to the traditional flies or have you tried say a Killer Bug?

    • Brian, I have found that the “traditional” tenkara flies to be incredibly versatile flies. I have nothing against any flies, not at all, and will use whatever finds its way into my box (e.g. when people give me flies, or if I find flies on the trees, I’ll use them. Here’s a fun experience to illustrate that:
      Many flies created in western fly-fishing are great flies, but over years of fly-fishing I have found that they are too specialized, and as only do one thing well. The Killer Bug is obviously a great fly, many people talk about it. But, in my opinion it will sink well but is not fished on the surface very well. On my post above, the parachute adams I used is a great fly and I used to use it a lot, but it only does one thing well: float. If I want to sink it, it is harder.
      Tenkara flies, in my opinion, can be fished in a variety of water columns and in a variety of ways, without changing flies. . They fish well on the surface or deeper. Further, they offer motion, which most flies don’t offer.
      So, I have stuck to the well-known sakasa kebari style flies because they offer me versatility, and that means fewer patterns to carry with me.

  6. John Y. says:

    I loved your Part 3 video where you talked about fishing the Eagle River. How about the Frying Pan? Guides would say you can’t catch fish there without mysis shrimp or size 22 RS2s and split shot under an indicator, unless there’s a green drake hatch going on. Have you “one-fly” fished there?

    • John, I did fish the Frying Pan for an afternoon and caught a couple of good fish. No hatch that I remember. I wasn’t there for very long…

      • John Y. says:

        Thanks Daniel. Looking forward to chatting with you at the ISE show in Denver. I bought myself one of the IWANA 12′ rods for Christmas and I need some advice on level lines and knots. Can’t wait to get out there and use it on Clear Creek!

  7. Cory G. says:

    Hello Daniel,

    I am interested in the “one fly” philosophy. But more to do with you others come about choosing their one fly. Can you expand on how the masters came to their one? I imagine that some will pick one through trial and error and some may just pick one and say “This is it.” Also, is there a kebari that seems to have more of a following/reputation?

    Off topic will TenkaraUSA be at the Lynnwood Fly Fishing Show coming up in Feb?


    • Cory,
      That’s a great question. I think for the most part there was a certain amount of experimentation by all the experienced tenkara anglers in Japan. I don’t think they have quickly said “this is it”, but rather were taught a simple fly and probably very slowly incrementally made slight changes to their flies. For what I have gathered it has been more tiny changes of a pattern rather than trying different patterns and settling on one. Mr. Amano’s fly for example, is not too different from Dr. Ishigaki’s, but he feels Dr. Ishigaki could be better off with a slightly larger hook and more hackled flies. That seemed to indicate the pattern was not a point of difference, but rather small elements of a fly.
      And, yes, we will be at the Lynnwood Show!

  8. David says:

    Hi Daniel,

    Happy New Year!

    The whole simplicity idea intrigues me and suits my approach to most of life. Less is more, keep it simple (though it really never is). I have a slew of western style gear but want to give tenkara a try. I fish a variety of rivers. Large like the west branch Delaware to much smaller and narrower. Is there such a rod that can handle the bigger fish as well as the small waters?

    Will you be at the somerset, nj fly fishing show at the end of the month? If so I may have to bring some money with me!

  9. Tim says:

    Hi Daniel, I have two questions regarding the tenkara masters that you have met and interviewed. First, have any of them ever tried western fly fishing tackle and rods and have they told you what they thought about them, i.e., do they hate traditional rods, never use them, or do they appreciate any advantages of them? Second, we know from your writings about the tradition of tenkara in Japan and how tenkara was born there, but do most fisherman in Japan (or all?) use tenkara only or are there just a few remaining traditionalists and most guys use western tackle?

    • Tim, Mr Sakakibara and Dr Ishigaki have tried western fly tackle. Sakakibara said tenkara just matches his personality best. Ishigaki didnt use it long, too many things to accomplish what he could with tenkara. For the most part other teachers have not fished western and since i was focused on learning tenkara I didn’t ask many questions about their thoughts with western.
      Most fishermen in Japan probably don’t use tenkara actually, bait fishing and lure fishing are by far more common. When it comes to fly-fishing, western was until recent the most popular but it’s thought tenkara has started surpassing western in recent times.

  10. Timothy says:

    I am getting started in tenkara and am curious if you have heard of a fly being made with thistle down or squirrel fur as either dubbing or the hackle. Thanks for any info you have.

  11. Edward Taylor says:

    Daniel, it looks like you are catching some large trout in Argentina. I was wondering which rod you are catching the big ones on?

  12. Ronn says:

    Hello, Daniel. Any updates on the Tenkara Summit in Estes Park in September? Looking forward to heading that way and learning lots. While the Driftless streams here in WIsconsin offer lots of opportunities, I am excited about the challenges of fishing in the Rockies. Thanks.

    • Ronn,
      The Summit is all set to take place in Estes Park at the YMCA on September 19th. The page will remain the same ( More details will be available there in April.

  13. stephen says:

    Hi Daniel,
    Love the presentation of the web site, videos, ect.- totally pro.
    Very curious: where are your rods being manufactured, as well as the line materials, flies, ect?

  14. David says:

    As I live in the UK, I have been eagerly waiting for the digital version of your magazine. Scheduled for Feb/March, it is now April but nothing has changed yet. Can you give an idea of when it will happen?

    • David, we are almost there. We are having to rebuild a part of our site to allow for digital downloads. Should be any day now and I’ll announce it here. Fingers crossed for next week.

  15. Jeff says:


    I live in Central Pennsylvania and I was wondering if you ever had a booth at the Fly Fishing Show in Lancaster, PA?

  16. James says:

    I’ve got a question. Is it even possible to cast a line of 4o’ length? I read that someone tied together a 15′ and a 20′ line. Then if you add a 5′ tippet it’s in the 40′ range.

    • James, yes, it is possible. However, it is not a very practical length for fishing purposes and it is very difficult to cast. It takes a while to get used to it.

  17. Tim says:

    Tim Plunkett
    Does anyone know what type of line Mr. Sabata uses! Brand, weight, thickness, length? Looks like a western fluorocarbon floating line, kind of heavy.

  18. David says:

    Is it common to break the end of the tip off while attaching the line. Third time I used the rod 1/2 inch of the end came off. Might have been a flaw in the tip looking under a loop. I cut the red cord off the broken tip piece, slipped the tip back into the cord, and super glued it place. don’t know if it is a proper repair, but it worked for the rest of the evening.

    • David, it is common to happen once, but it is very easy to prevent tip breakages.
      1) Expose only the red “lillian” yarn, but leave the the hard tip of the rod inside the handle segment
      2) For good measure, plug it with a finger so the hard tip doesn’t come out by accident
      3) tie or untie your line.
      Please watch this video to see how that works, and how to fix it if you snap it by accident:

  19. Hans says:

    ? does the AMAGO rod come with a sock and {hard} tube and what lenght line is recommended ? – Thanks
    1 Oct 2015

    • Hi Hans,
      Yes, all our rods now come with the sock and hard tube. For the Amago we like to recommend the tapered line or the heavier 4.5 lines, but it will cast the lighter 3.5 level lines fine too.

  20. Brad Smith says:

    Would you recommend connecting level line to tippet using perfection loops?

  21. Brad Smith says:

    Just received my Rhodo…can’t wait to get out there. I’m probably overthinking this, but with 3 rod length options, what kind of line length should I use?

    • I like 10ft in relatively tight areas, slightly less in super tight streams. And 12 to 15ft in wider streams. 3-4 ft of tippet at the end

      • Brad Smith says:

        Thank you Daniel for the advice! Given what I’m hearing about the Rhodo, it should be perfect for the Smoky Mountains! Can’t wait!!

  22. Brad Smith says:

    Great podcasts/videos on long line casting in big water! I’ve been looking to explore longer line use…thanks for sharing the wisdom. I noticed in your video you have a nice looking sling satchel. It seems to lay nicely on the side without getting in the way and appears very simple in design. Where did you get it?

  23. Dillon says:

    Hi Daniel,
    I am pretty new to western fly fishing (1 year) and have found that I spend most of my time fishing small streams in Colorado for small trout, or for small bass or bluegill. I feel over gunned with my 5 weight rod and I’m really interested in Tenkara. My only reason for hesitation is that the light and delicate nature of Tenkara seems to put some limits on fly selection. With a rod like a 12 ft iwana, which seems to be a great rod to get into Tenkara, could I still cast small foam hoppers and stimulators ( size 12-6), or small beadhead nymphs (16-20)? Maybe a dry- dropper combo? My favorite fly for these streams is a size 16 stimulator or humpy and I rarely actully fish nymphs, but I like to be able to have the option to use them. Is Tenkara a good fit for this fishing? Is an Iwana a good choice or something stronger like an amago for the bigger flies?

    • Dillon, you will love the Iwana. It’s a great rod and will work fine for that. The casting with the larger foam hoppers will be a bit more challenging, but we are not talking casting them 50ft away so you can ms bags it just fine. For the larger flies is just recommend the tapered line or the 4.5 level line. The casting will be more open/lob instead of some of the casting I may show in videos, but it will work just fine.

  24. Kade says:

    Hi Daniel,
    I love your videos on building tenkara nets and am in love with the simple, elegant style of Tankara nets. Taking it back one step, can you please explain how to choose an appropriate branch to start the process? I’m especially wondering about the diameter and lengths of the branches that will make the hoop.
    Thank you

    • Hey Kade, there is no exact formula. But, in order of importance, in my experience so far, you want to find a branch that:
      1) forms a + symbol; avoid Y-shaped branches. You will city the middle and the arms that now form a T will be the hoop.
      2) the diameter of the hoop arms should be about that of a thin sharpie pen/ or a slightly fatter than a #2 pencil when the bark is off. Too fat and it will be hard to work with and bend; too think and it won’t have the necessary strength. With the bark on I select ones that are just about my pinky finger diameter.
      3) the diameter of the handle should be ergonomic for you to hold, not too thick but not too thin. Think the diameter of a rod handle. Also, keep in mind it will be a bit thinner when you remove the bark. I shoot for somewhere near the diameter of my index finger and thumb when I touch them. If you go thicker you can carve to make thinner. It’s hard to get this one wrong as there is a good range.
      4) before cutting try to bend the arms that will form the hoop into a circle. If too difficult to do maybe branches are too thick. If too easy it could be too thin. But making the circle will give you a good idea that they will be long enough and will work. You want them to overlap by at least about 10inches beyond the desired hoop diameter since you will need to splice then.
      That’s most what I can think of.

      • Kade says:

        Perfect!! This is exactly the information I needed. The net you use is the “Pause and Drift” video is amazing. I’m no longer happy with my bamboo-framed rubber net.

        One last question. The net mesh you sell is 24cm and 27cm. Does that refer to the diameter of the mesh basket? If so, that equates to a difference of about 1.2 inches between the two. Do you have a preference, or notice a significant difference, between nets made with the two different sizes?

        • Kade, there is a difference. It is noticeable. I generally prefer the 27cm. It is the diameter of the opening and should match the frame size to look nice. If it is too small it will look stretched, if too big it will look bunched up.

          • Kade says:

            Great. Thank you for your insight. I appreciate your willingness to help. A+ for phenomenal customer service.

  25. Liam says:

    Hello Daniel,
    I’d just like to thank you for introducing Tenkara to North America. Several months ago I found out about Tenkara and was very intrigued by it’s simplicity and effectiveness. It is amazing how it has evolved over the years from being exactly as it is used for trout the mountain streams of japan to being adapted to catch warmwater fish like bass and panfish, migratories like salmon and great lakes steelhead, and even tropical and saltwater fish. Fixed line fly fishing is a seemingly ever adaptable tool and one of the most interesting points for me is the endless possibilities when it comes to innovation. I could go on forever about how amazing the Tenkara community is, thanks to your company there is a wealth of information online regarding tenkara rods, lines, flies and techniques. I anxiously await the opening of trout season here in southern Ontario and my opportunities to try tenkara for small stream brook trout and also in our warmwaters for panfish.
    Best of wishes for you and your company,

  26. Paolo says:

    Hi Daniel,

    I am just back from some trout fishing in the Catskill, New York, and stopping by a fly-fishing store, I got a verbal introduction to the Tenkara rods. Although I understand the idea and watched a few videos about it, I can’t figure out if a Tenkara rod would be usable from the bank of a river with a lot of trees and shrubs in the back of the angler. In other words, in all the videos, there is plenty of space behind the angler to cast and especially to retrieve. With such long rod, how is it possible to have the space to cast and retrieve? Also, which Tenkara rod you would recommend to buy for fishing trouts in the length of 10 to 18 inches with a very tight room to operate?

    Thank you.

    • Paolo, mostly one looks for the opening and areas with fewer branches. It’s actually pretty easy to get a hang of it since you don’t have tons of line. There are also techniques, such as holding above the handle, or using shorter lines that help. And of course, if you are always in very tight areas then we have developed the Rhodo tenkara rod, which can be fished at 8’10”, and if you are holding above the handle then it is about 7ft long.
      Any of our rods will work well for trout 10 to 18″. But, the Rhodo is our main recommendation for tight spaces:

  27. TONY KIRK says:




  28. karin higashi says:

    i just bought an iwana rod and was wondering if it’s better to use a tapered or level leader. thank you for your help. it is much appreciated.

    • Hey Karin, it’s really a matter of personal preferences. Some people like the tapered line others prefer the level line. I’d say if you are new to fly-fishing try the tapered line first and then move on to the level line later if you see a need to experiment with different line lengths.

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