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PA Fly Fishing

Some states define fly-fishing as using a "fly-rod, fly-reel and flies". The use of a reel should not be a defining aspect of fly-fishing.
This forum is a place to share information about how certain states define "fly-fishing" for the purpose of "fly-fishing only" waters. And, if you contact a state for clarification, how would they treat tenkara? (e.g. Connecticut defines fly-fishing as using "fly-reel", one of our users, Mr. Hackney, contacted the Connecticut authority for clarification, and they said Tenkara IS fly-fishing, see more in first post).

PA Fly Fishing

Postby sholgate » Sat Aug 01, 2009 2:03 pm

Pa Fish and Boat Commission defines Fly Fishing as....

# Fishing may be done with artificial flies and streamers constructed of natural or synthetic materials, so long as all flies are constructed in a normal fashion on a single hook with components wound on or about the hook. Anything other than these items is prohibited.

# Fishing must be done with tackle limited to fly rods, fly reels, and fly line with a maximum of 18 feet in leader material or monofilament line attached. Spinning, spincast, and casting rods and reels are prohibited.

So I believe that you could use a Tenkara Rig in a Fly Fishing only regulations area legally. BUT do watch and keep your line length under 18'.
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Re: PA Fly Fishing

Postby CM_Stewart » Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:05 am

sholgate wrote:Pa Fish and Boat Commission defines Fly Fishing as....

# Fishing must be done with tackle limited to fly rods, fly reels, and fly line with a maximum of 18 feet in leader material or monofilament line attached.


I think it would be a lot safer to write to them and ask specifically. I would probably describe tenkara equipment as a long, telescopic fly rod that does not use a reel, and its "fly line" is essentially a leader of less than 18' tied directly to the rod tip. Refer them to the tenkara video (for some reason, the youtube version plays better for me) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N40BOFYKR38

You might also contact Michael Hackney (via PM from this forum) to ask how he persuaded the Connecticut authorities to allow tenkara in fly fishing only areas. Connecticut's regulations are almost identical to Pennsylvania's.

I may be cynical, but somehow I think this is a case where it would be easier to get permission than forgiveness. If a warden writes you up for the wrong equipment, I don't think a judge is going to overrule him, but if you can convince the Commission that tenkara clearly meets the spirit of the fly-fishing-only regs, they may not require you to actually have a reel or traditional fly line (which Czech nymphers have but don't use, and Czech nymphing is clearly legal in Pa. - and if they don't have to USE it, why do they have to HAVE it?).
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Re: PA Fly Fishing

Postby Tenkara USA » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:07 pm

Officially legal in PA:

On Sep 8, 2009, at 12:17, "Bridi, Jeffrey" <email omitted > wrote:

Mr. Galhardo, 

The regulations were written long ago with the traditional practice of fly-fishing in mind.  The intent of the regulation is to restrict fishing to use of tied flies as the terminal tackle.  The style of fishing that you describe would fall under the definition of “fly-fishing” for our purposes.  Thank you for contacting the Commission.

 

Jeff Bridi

Law Enforcement

 

From: Daniel @ Tenkara USA
Sent: Tuesday, September 08, 2009 1:19 PM
To: Bridi, Jeffrey
Subject: PA Fly-fishing definition and tenkara fly-fishing

 
Dear Mr. Jeff Bridi,

Thank you for taking my call today.  

As mentioned, my company is introducing a traditional form of fly-fishing from Japan, called tenkara. It’s a very pure and delicate style of fly-fishing, which uses no reel, just a 12  to 15 ft rod, tenkara fly-line (of the same length as the rod, usually 12ft) and fly. It is cast exactly like a western fly rod, where the line must cast the fly. I recently did an interview for PaFlyFish.com (http://www.paflyfish.com/modules/smarts ... ?itemid=86). And more information on tenkara can be found on our website, http://www.tenkarausa.com/about.php , videos: http://www.tenkarausa.com/video.php

There has been some questions by anglers in your state on whether tenkara would fall under the definition of fly-fishing for “fly-fishing only waters”. Primarily because no reel is used, and because the fly line is different from a western pvc-coated fly-line, it’s rather a furled fly-line, a type of fly-line that has been used for centuries in the UK and in Japan.
In reading the Pennsylvania state regulations, fly-fishing is defined as:

• Fishing must be done with tackle limited to fly rods, fly reels, and fly line with a maximum of 18 feet in leader material or monofilament line attached. Spinning, spincast, and casting rods and reels are prohibited. (http://www.fish.state.pa.us/fishpub/sum ... mplete.pdf).
I understand the main objective of these regulations is to ensure people are not using spin gear, and bait in these waters in order to ensure a fair practice of fishing and to further limit fishing to using a fly which is cast by using the line not additional weight. In tenkara the line used is what casts the fly forward and is therefore a fly-line and the maximum length of leader will be under 18ft, and a fly is used. 
By strict interpretation, would tenkara fly-fishing be considered legal in fly-fish only areas?

I’d really appreciate a response so we can ensure tenkara fly anglers are abiding by your state’s regulations.
 
Best regards,

 

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Re: PA Fly Fishing

Postby sholgate » Sat Oct 17, 2009 10:28 am

Awesome news, thanks.
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Re: PA Fly Fishing

Postby Anthony » Fri May 11, 2012 7:49 am

Just an update. I just got off the phone with PA Fish Commission law enforcement for the region in which I often fish.

They said - that tenkara is NOT legal in Fly Fishing Only water. I asked if it was because of the lack of a reel and they said that yes that was the reason. So whether this is the official State stance - that all enforcement officers would use - I can't say for sure.

I'm going to write a letter to Harrisburg to see if I can get a more general statement from the higher-ups.

But I figure if the local office, that is located near where I want to fish says No, then I ought to abide with that until I hear otherwise.
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Re: PA Fly Fishing

Postby Daniel @ Tenkara USA » Fri May 11, 2012 8:11 am

Anthony,

I'm a bit confused as PA was a state that I contacted early on and had the email response above stating it is a legal form of fly-fishing.
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Re: PA Fly Fishing

Postby Anthony » Fri May 11, 2012 8:45 am

I know Daniel - I hate to muddy the water on this. The info that I got was from a regional director though and not just a patrol officer. I am going to draft a letter to the State offices in Harrisburg - perhaps I can get a response in writing with a signature, from somebody near the top of the food chain.

I feel a little dubious of the response that I got on the phone too. I'm hoping that it is just a problem of internal communication for the PA fish commission. But since the office I spoke with is very near where I fish I figured they were the place to check in with.

When I hear anything more from somebody higher up I'll post what I learn.
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Re: PA Fly Fishing

Postby rmcworthing » Sat May 12, 2012 7:11 am

Anthony wrote:I know Daniel - I hate to muddy the water on this. The info that I got was from a regional director though and not just a patrol officer. I am going to draft a letter to the State offices in Harrisburg - perhaps I can get a response in writing with a signature, from somebody near the top of the food chain.

I feel a little dubious of the response that I got on the phone too. I'm hoping that it is just a problem of internal communication for the PA fish commission. But since the office I spoke with is very near where I fish I figured they were the place to check in with.

When I hear anything more from somebody higher up I'll post what I learn.


Anthony,

I might recommend including a very brief inquiry as to the intent of the law.

As Daniel alluded to earlier, and as the PA authority confirmed in their response, the intent of the majority of these laws lies primarily in the terminal tackle. Specificially, atrificial lures result in a far lower C&R mortality compared to bait. Even more specifically, artificial flies result in the lowest mortality. In the vast majority of situations, these laws were pushed through via a partnership between government wildlife biologists and local fly fishing groups.

If you look at the intent of the law, Tenkara meets or exceeds that intent in every aspect.

For more on the science behind C&R and the reason fly fishing only waters exist (with published references), check out our C&R post:

http://tenkaraguides.com/the-science-of-catch-and-release/
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Re: PA Fly Fishing

Postby Anthony » Sat May 12, 2012 10:16 am

Rob - I certainly agree with that sentiment. I would add that I think single hook artificial lures (i.e. spinners without treble hooks, etc) should be allowed on all waters and that C&R "fly fishing only" is a tad elitist. But that's just my personal feelings.

Regarding Tenkara on FFO water - I wouldn't be surprised if some of the resistance isn't due to the fact that tenkara gear is seen as an advantage over western gear. That somehow the longer rod and light line is almost like "cheating". You know what I mean? That if other fly fisherman have to struggle with that fish-spooking heavy fly line then a tenkara set-up is an unfair advantage over those traditional western anglers.

And in a way that's true I guess.
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Re: PA Fly Fishing

Postby CM_Stewart » Sat May 12, 2012 10:38 am

Your local office may not have the authority to go by anything that isn't written in the book in black and white. This will require a ruling from the state commission.

I am sure the intent in PA is NOT to just regulate the terminal tackle. PA even regulates the maximum length of the leader. Their regulations are designed so that you cannot use spinning line and a weighted nymph with a fly rod and fly reel, or a bubble and fly with a spinning rod. Perfectly legal terminal tackle, illegal delivery mechanism. It is an attempt to regulate the method of fishing. Regulations like this do nothing to dispel the notion that fly fishing is elitist. Worse, it reserves the best water for for people who fish they way they do - not with flies, but with fly reels. What possible sense does that make?

I strongly suspect that the early acceptance from various state game and fish departments was based on reason - most at the time had never heard of tenkara, and on its face allowing tenkara if FFO waters is clearly reasonable. Now that more people have been exposed to tenkara, more people have formed opinions based on something other than reason. I would not be surprised to see a bit of a backlash in more than a few states - certainly all the ones who's current regs specify use of a fly reel. There will be a need to lobby the various state commissions to specifically allow tenkara in their written regs.
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