No,  it’s not a new Computer game. It’s an ancient form of fishing, possibly the father of modern fly fishing and the key is simplicity and simplicity and simplicity…  The Japanese, students of simplicity and contemporary thinking translate Tenkara  as “fishing from the skies/heavens”. 

In our world Tenkara fly fishing is the true, skelitonized form of and simplistic methodology of putting fish on the table without bells, whistles and exorbitant attacks on your finances and checking accounts.  It truly is fly fishing and nothing else.  Add a stream, hopefully laden with trout, and other river species and enjoy nature.  There I have used simplicity five times.

Tenkara dates back over two centuries. No massive fishing tackle box, no devoteing a room to you hobby, no 40,000 dollar speedboat with twin 300’s on it.   You are equipped with only a rod, line, and fly.   it brings fishing back to the basics. Whether you're an experienced fly angler or new to the sport, we'll walk you through what you need to get started.  

Tenkara, strips fishing down to its most basic elements: a rod, a line, and a fly.  It is a form of fishing specifically used to target trout in Japanese mountain streams.  But, on this side of the Pacific, and now the atlantic where it has been catching on over the last decade or so, it’s less about the target species and setting and more about the equipment. 

You can be in it for under two hundred dollars and some beginners can get into it for a quarter of that.

Tenkara gear consists of a long, ultralight, telescoping rod; specialized fly line and tippet; and a simple fly, of which there are only a handful of varieties. One could make the argument that it’s more like cane pole fishing than modern fly fishing, and therein lies its simplicity.

Step One  —   CHOOSING A ROD   

  • Selecting a Tenkara rod, offers several choices. What kind of fishing you plan on doing. If you’re looking for a rod that you can slip in your pocket or your day pack, Nissan Pocket Mini from TenkaraBum, which is a 9 to 11 foot rod that weighs no more than a couple ounces and collapses to less than 10 inches in length. 

  • If you’re chasing big trout or salmon in larger rivers, you’ll want something more akin to the Rocky from Tenkara Rod Co., which is designed for bigger fish and bigger water than most typical tenkara rods. In the United States, Tenkara USA is the granddaddy of rods, having sold the first rods in the country in 2009Dragontail is another major tenkara rod player in the US market.

Images Courtesy of Tenkara USA


Setting up your tenkara rod is almost as simple as fishing with it. 

  • A small piece of fixed line should be attached to the extreme tip of your rod. This is called the lillian. To set up your rod, you need to carefully tie a stop knot (overhand or figure-eight, for example) at the end of the lilian. 
  • Then take the tenkara line—which you need to purchase separately, or if you bought a package, that came with your rod—and tie a double overhand knot above the knot on the lilian. 
  • As you tie these knots, be especially careful not to exert pressure on the tip of the rod, as it can easily break if it is forced against the side of the pole. 
  • The next step is to attach the tippet—usually a two-to-four-foot length of light line—to the end of the main line. Many companies will ship line with loops or rings built into the line to simply the process and reduce the number of knots you have to tie. 
  • If a loop or ring is not provided, use a double surgeon’s knot to accomplish this. Finally, attach your fly to the end of the tippet using a surgeon’s knot. A traditional tenkara line holder or rod clipscan be used to store your line, without disconnecting it, as you move between fishing spots. Tenkara Rod Co.Tenkara USA, and a number of other companies offer online video tutorials that show you, step by step, how to set up your tenkara rod.

Step-Three  Choosing Flies

  • When it comes to flies, you’ll find that the selection for tenkara is much smaller and much less elaborate than the flies you might use in a modern fly fishing rig. That’s not to say you can’t use such flies, it would just stray from traditional tenkara methods. 
  • Plenty of places out there carry tenkara-specific flies, including the larger tenkara merchants mentioned above. Places like Badger Tenkara and The Fly Stop are also good places to check out for tenkara flies. If you’re interested in tying your own flies, there are plenty of resources and tutorials out there on the Internet from experts like Tenkara Bum.
  • https://blog.tenkarausa.com/how-to-tie-tenkara-flies/

How To Choose A Tenkara Fly

  •  Size 12 tenkara flies are a good starting point, not too big, not too small. The  Amano  and the Ishigaki  kebab are easy go-to flies. The Amano will have more movement under water.  
  • Larger flies, like our size 8 Oki, will be more easily seen by fish, so they may be good for faster running water. The Oki  is a great fly choice when the water is running a bit fast, or perhaps if it is a bit murky.
  • Size 16 flies, the smallest we carry, like the Takayama  tend to be good when nothing else seems to have worked. Or, if you notice fish might be rising very subtly and perhaps even coming for your large flies but not taking them. 
  • All Tenkara USA flies are tied on barbless hooks. The tenkara rods are very good at keeping tension on the line and keeping the flies hooked. Barbless hooks are much easier to remove from fish, but also from thumbs, eyes and clothing. 

Hit The Water!

  • You may be well served to check out some casting tutorials on line, and if you’re new to fishing, read up on how and where to target certain species. But the point of tenkara is its simplicity and to get you out on the water. If you’re serious about stream fishing for trout, you may want to consider some wading gear, but you can just as easily fish from the shore line, given the long length of tenkara rods and lines. Good luck!