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Tapered vs. Level Lines

Discussion of tenkara lines, tippets, etc...

Tapered vs. Level Lines

Postby CM_Stewart » Wed Apr 15, 2009 3:59 am

First, contratulations on starting TenkaraUSA! I cannot tell you how happy I am that there is now a source of tenkara gear and information here in the US. I've combed through as many of the Japanese tenkara websites as I could find. The few that are in English are pretty basic, and the Google or Babelfish translations are pretty bad. At first, basic is good, but after fishing tenkara style for a while, you'll want a bit more detail on technique, tips and tricks - or at least I do. I hope your blog and this forum will be a source for that.

I also hope that it will be a magnet for the tenkara fishermen that are scattered around the US. I know there are some here, because from time to time I run across a post on one of the various fly fishing forums, but there really hasn't been a critical mass yet.

From various Japanese websites, I have noticed that there are two "schools" of tenkara fishing in Japan - Tapered Line Tenkara and Level Line Tenkara. I notice from your product line-up that you are a tapered line fisherman. It turns out I'm a level line fisherman. I look forward to some knock down, drag out, but ultimately "agree to disagree" discussions of lines here!
CM_Stewart
 

Re: Tapered vs. Level Lines

Postby Guest » Wed Apr 15, 2009 10:10 pm

I can think of a few advantages to tapered furled lines over the level (i.e. fluorocarbon) lines.
The most obvious is the ease of casting with them. Like in fly-fishing you need something to help cast the weightless fly. Of course, if you are mostly dappling, then casting is not really the major thing, but if you want to be able to get 25 ft it does come in very handy.
The lines also have almost no memory, and any memory they have is easy to get rid of by gently stretching the line.
No wind knots, and any accidental tangle knots are easier to undo. on a furled line.
.....I'll try thinking of some more. But for fluorocarbon I think the main advantage is the invisibility to the fish. Would love to hear what advantages you find with fluorocarbon.
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Re: Tapered vs. Level Lines

Postby CM_Stewart » Fri Apr 17, 2009 4:24 am

What you say about furled lines is all true. They are easier to cast, they have no memory, they don't get wind knots, etc. When I first started tenkara fishing, I fished with lines furled with mono, UNI-Thread, polypropylene thread (it floats without treatment), even horsehair. I watched some videos by Tenkara.com in Japan - which have since been uploaded to YouTube. The videos all have a serious weakness, I believe, in that you cannot see his line as he casts and fishes. However, you can watch his rod position and can often see where he catches the fish. He can keep his fly in tiny eddies, which would only be possible by keeping all of his line off the water so the current between him and the eddy can't grab it and pull his fly out of the eddy. I couldn't do that with the lines I was using, so I tried lighter and lighter lines and eventually went to level lines. I started with 14# test mono and then switched to 15# test fluorocarbon.

So far, I prefer the fluorocarbon, for several reasons. Invisibility to fish is not one of the reasons, in fact I use a very bright pink line that is about as hi-vis as you can get. (I have trouble seeing my line against a dark background or in low light conditions unless it is very bright). The main advantages of fluorocarbon, in my mind, is that it is denser than mono, so for a given weight it has a smaller cross section and thus there is less wind resistance; and it is also stiffer so it turns over better. Furled lines made with mono are even less dense than a solid mono line of the same weight would be, so to overcome wind resistance in casting, they have to be heavier. I want to fish with the lightest line I can cast. On a calm day that's fluorocarbon. With a bit of a breeze, however, my fluorocarbon line is really too light and my casting accuracy is shot. Then I switch to a heavier line. My heavy lines are furled. I haven't yet tried a heavier fluorocarbon, though in theory it should work.

So, furled line? Fluoro line? The bottom line is that they are both compromises. In my view neither has all the advantages or all the disadvantages. I carry and fish with both, choosing which to use depending on the conditions. Different people prefer different lines, and I can't say which is "better." I fish with fluorocarbon when I can and furled line when I have to. Others fish with furled lines when they can - and never HAVE to fish with fluorocarbon at all! Try both.
CM_Stewart
 

Re: Tapered vs. Level Lines

Postby Higuchi » Mon Apr 20, 2009 1:31 pm

Hello,

I am very happy to find the fourum about tenkara in USA.

I had been tried several lines including tapered horsehair, tapered knitting fluorocarbon, tapered single fluorocarbon line, level nylpn, level fluorocarbon and, most recently, titanium metal fiber lines! I totally agree with the comments of Stewart. Non of them is ideal. I usualy bring sevral lines and choice depend on the condition of the points including strength of wind, river width, environed by trees, rockes....

Most important factor, I think, about the tenkara line is the weight of the line. If the line have light weight, the take water of the fly will be softer and the fly movement just after landing will be natural. In TENKARA, generally, the line must keep out of water and invite the fish bite by moving umbrella of the fly. The light weigt line causes less draw during the invitation, too. But, in retern, the cast will be more difficult requiring firm lod and skills.
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Re: Tapered vs. Level Lines

Postby CM_Stewart » Mon Apr 20, 2009 4:06 pm

I have never tried furled (tapered knitting) fluorocarbon or single tapered fluorocarbon. I did try a 12' tapered mono leader, and could cast it only if there was no breeze at all. The problem I have is that all of the tapered leaders here in the US, whether mono or fluorocarbon, are either clear or very light green. I can't see them against a forest background, and if I can't see my line as I cast I can't see where my fly is.

In your opinion, what weight of line is too light even for an experienced caster? I was surprised at how much heavier the 15# test fluorocarbon is than the 14# test mono, and I think I might want to try an even lighter fluorocarbon line. Do you think 10# test (.26mm diameter) is too light to cast?

Also, do I understand correctly that a firm rod is necessary to cast a very light line? If so, it would confirm something I noticed when I first became interested in this type of fishing. I have an old 9' bamboo flyrod that may have belonged to my grandfather. It is very whippy. I tried to use it but I just couldn't cast a light line at all. My 9' 8 weight graphite rod, which is much stiffer, worked nicely (although I soon decided it was too short and too stiff). I believe that the light level lines are much too light to load the rod, so the bend you get in the rod while casting is the mass of the rod "loading" itself - like when you wiggle a rod back and forth in the store to check the action, and if a very whippy rod keeps flexing back and forth when you end the cast it kills the forward momentum of the very light line. Do you think that is correct?

I enjoy trying different lines and trying to get the best match between the rod and the line, but I still have very much to learn.
CM_Stewart
 

Re: Tapered vs. Level Lines

Postby Higuchi » Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:37 pm

Hi,

One thing about visibility, you may use a fly with white hackle and white body which may improve visibility in some degree. Another method is to use partly pink nylon line (5cm) between main leader and tippet.

My diameter of florocarbon level line is 0.310mm or thicker. The size might be a kind of standard. But the .26mm diameter is interesting. I saw in a video that a master (Mr. takekabu) use around 0.28 mm dia "nylon level line". He cast the nylon 10meter line (!) using only 3meter super stiff rod!
It is controversial in literature, but I believe that stiff rod is prefereable for casting light and long line form my experimence. The stiff rod might be easier to make hard edged poweful backcast which might one of the most important tip to use light line.
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Re: Tapered vs. Level Lines

Postby Kanga » Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:54 pm

I was curious on how you attach the level lines to the tenkara rod. It seems pretty obvious with the furled line, which comes with a braided loop pre-attached. Do you also have to use a similar braided loop with the level line to attach to the rod tip? So, would you tie a loop on the fluorocarbon then loop-to-loop the braided line to the flurocarbon?
Kanga
 

Re: Tapered vs. Level Lines

Postby CM_Stewart » Tue Apr 21, 2009 4:54 am

Yes, the attachment is the same. I tie a perfection loop in the fluorocarbon or mono line, and loop to loop it with a braided connector to attach it to the rod. I don't have the braided Spectra that Daniel uses for loop attachment between the line and the rod, so I just use a short length of regular braided Dacron fly line backing tied to form a surgeon's loop about 2" long. (I'm really not like Daniel. His approach is "what is the best material for the job" mine is "what have I got laying around the house that just might work." )
CM_Stewart
 

Re: Tapered vs. Level Lines

Postby Daniel @ Tenkara USA » Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:12 pm

Chris, thank you for sending the fluorocarbon so I could try it. I'm glad to have tried it after fishing furled lines exclusively for so long. However, I'll admit I'm still not quite a convert, though maybe I just didn't get it yet.
To ponder on your question:
CM_Stewart wrote:do I understand correctly that a firm rod is necessary to cast a very light line? ...My 9' 8 weight graphite rod, which is much stiffer, worked nicely (although I soon decided it was too short and too stiff). I believe that the light level lines are much too light to load the rod, so the bend you get in the rod while casting is the mass of the rod "loading" itself - like when you wiggle a rod back and forth in the store to check the action, and if a very whippy rod keeps flexing back and forth when you end the cast it kills the forward momentum of the very light line. Do you think that is correct?
I was using a 5:5/6:4 rod (the exact same as one you have), and I always felt a vibration coming through my hands when loading the rod, and after several dozen casts it became a bit of a distraction. As you mentioned previously, I think fluorocarbon may be a bit too heavy for a slow rod (e.g. the cane rod you mentioned), I plan to try a faster rod tomorrow to see how that works out. Do you feel an uncomfortable, springy vibration on the rods when casting with fluoro?

For casting, I found fluoro was not that powerful and didn’t turnover flies very nicely. A furled line effortlessly turns flies and long tippets over, but sometimes I had a hard time with the fluoro. Again, this could just be the rod I was using. If I'm primarily dapping, then yes, I can see that being the way to go, especially because I could have a very short line, and keep the fly right where I want it while the rod stays at a low angle. Also, the memory in the line (even though it was less than I expected it would be) seemed to make it spring back a little bit when I cast.

One thing that suprised me was the invisibility of the lines, even, or especially, the brighter ones. It has been a long time since I dealt with mono or fluoro as the main fishing line. With the furled line, no matter which color (green or clear), I have always been able to see the line in pretty much every condition I have faced so far. Today, when trying the fluorocarbon on some casting ponds (no overhead canopy, surrounded by trees, with light and trees reflecting on the water at 4pm), I had an incredibly hard time seeing the lines, especially using polarized sunglasses. I tried several colors (golden, disappearing pink, clear and pink), to my surprise the golden line was the hardest to see even being only 12 ft away from me, it literally disappered. I tried the furled to compare, and had no problem at all. I still have to try other light conditions to compare though

I don't want to have the final word on this, but I guess I just don't quite get it yet.
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Re: Tapered vs. Level Lines

Postby CM_Stewart » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:01 am

Daniel, I'm not trying to convert you. :lol: I found something I liked and wanted to share - besides, I've posted enough on other forums about golden Stren and trying fluorocarbon that I thought you should at least try it because someone may ask you to compare it to your furled lines.

You are certainly right that the furled lines turn over a fly more easily.

I'll have to wait until I go fishing next to comment on the "springy vibration." I'll have to think about it as I'm casting. Isn't it great when having to do more research means going fishing?
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