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Tenkara Flies on Wednesdays: Masami Tanaka’s Flies

On August 8, 2012
Comments (7)

written by Jason
Masami Tanaka tying at the Tenkara Summit

Masami Tanaka tying at the Tenkara Summit

In a recent post, I wrote about some of the flies I got from the Tenkara Summit.  One of the featured tiers was Japanese tenkara angler Masami Tanaka.  Tanaka-san’s flies are very interesting.  Unlike many tenkara flies that use all natural materials and muted colors, he uses sparkle braid to give his flies a flashy appearance.

Tenkara Fly by Masami Tanaka


For some flies, he wraps sparkle braid the full length of the body.  But another variation he does is to just wrap it at the head of the fly where most people would wrap thread to build up a head.  This makes for a mostly muted fly with a small “hot spot” of flash–just enough to give it a nice attractor quality.

Tenkara Fly by Masami Tanaka


Tenkara Fly by Masami Tanaka

While I normally don’t use synthetic materials in my tenkara flies, I really like the idea of adding a little flash to the head of the fly and will be experimenting with this design.  Tanaka-san’s flies are another testament to the great diversity of tenkara fly patterns.

How have you incorporated synthetics into your tenkara flies?

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7 Responses to Tenkara Flies on Wednesdays: Masami Tanaka’s Flies

  1. Is sparkle braid the same as krystal flash? I, like you, prefer natural materials but I have tied a number of flies utilizing krystal flash in the body like the first fly pictured, as a tail and in the hackle (i.e. green hornet s.k.). I think flies with these kinds of materials are great because as they move through the water they catch the light in various ways almost like a signal mirror. The flash is enough to get a fish’s attention but not necessarily scare them upon closer inspection.

    • Jason Klass says:

      Hi Chris, no, it’s not the same as Krystal Flash. It’s kind of a “woven” rope of Krystal Flash. Though you could probably use KF to the same effect.

  2. Phil says:

    I’ve become a big fan of tying traditional sakasa style kebari using v-rib for the bodies. Just looks fantastic and is a tad more durable than just thread.

    Another thing I’ve been doing using using rabbit dubbing with some antron to dub a collar behind the hackle. Adds a bit of sparkle and traps a little air bubble if dubbed loosely.

    Though I cant say I catch anymore fish with these than I do with a regular thread body or using a peacock herl collar.

  3. I substitute peacock lucent chenille (micro) for peacock herl on sakasa kebaris. I really like the way it looks and it’s much more durable.

  4. I got one of his flies too. It has a green flash on it though. I can’t wait to fish it, after I look at it enough and figure out what its made of!

  5. Phil says:


    Its a mixed bag where I tie off the flies v-rib or not.

    Sometimes I’ll tie it off just as you say, right behind the hackle. Though I do this method the least as It sometimes collapses and points the hackle more forward than I like.

    Usually speaking, when I tie something with v-rib, it has a collar, usually peacock, and I finish off the fly by whipping right behind the collar. At first I didnt like seeing the thread between the v-rib and collar, but now I sorta like it. Also gives you the opportunity to add one more strip of segmentation by either matching or mismatching a color.

    Lastly, Ive been experimenting with something a bit less traditional, though I have seen Sakakibara Masami do it in one of his tying videos. Essentially tie in the bodycollar, then wrap up through the hackle toward the eye, and finish the fly in a traditional western sense at the head. I feel it gives the hackle a bit more durability and I find myself wrapping through the hackle more often than not now. Finishing on the head with reverse hackle can be tricky, so I either wet the hackle and slick it back or use one of those metal hackle gaurds to hold it out of the way while I whip finish.

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