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Tenkara Level Lines and Larger Streams

On December 3, 2009
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There has been much discussion about, and a long wait for “the other” line used in tenkara fly-fishing, the tenkara level line. In tenkara, two types of lines are used: traditional tenkara lines (furled and tapered), and tenkara level lines (level). Traditional tenkara lines have always been our preferred choice of line, for they offer the absolutely most delicate presentations of any type of fly-fishing, are a delight to cast, and keep things simple. However, we can’t ignore the utility of tenkara level lines, which are less expensive, may be cast against wind a bit more easily, and,most importantly in our opinion, can be cut to the desired length depending on river size.

Tenkara level lines make it possible to very effectively fish water that is some 30 to even 40ft away, yet, because the line is so much lighter than any Western fly line (including 00-wt lines) and because of the use of a very long rod, the line can be kept entirely off the water at a considerable distance. This means that only tippet and fly will touch the water when fished properly.

Please watch our new video, which shows Tenkara USA founder fishing a larger stream/river, in the Sierra Nevada, California.

Use of Western fly-lines with tenkara – not suggested!

We have seen many people suggesting, experimenting, and even selling lengths of western fly-lines to be used in conjunction with tenkara rods. This is highly discouraged as it would take away one of the great advantages of tenkara fly-fishing, namely, the ability to cast and fish a very light line. Even a 00-wt line is too thick and heavy, actually, at least about twice too heavy for a tenkara rod.  Yes, a western fly-line would be even easier to cast, simply because it’s so heavy and it would overload tenkara rods. However, once cast a western fly-line would be immediately dragged back to right below the rod tip as soon as it’s cast, greatly reducing the distance one may fish. It would also make the splashing, and pick-up noise that happens with western fly-fishing, thus spooking fish. A western fly-line would also have not good way to attach to the tip of a tenkara rod, and the use of a transition loop with those lines would create a very noticeable hinging effect.

If we felt it a western fly-line could be a good product, we would sell it on our site. We could simply buy a bunch of used fly line, start a “fly line recycling program”, or even buy it new in bulk, and make money off it. But, we are here to introduce what has been tried and works well, typically what is traditional tenkara. After decades of evolution and experimentation in Japan with modern materials, tenkara anglers have settled for traditional tenkara lines, and tenkara level lines for a reason.

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