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Five Tenkara fly fishing techniques that really work

Written by Fiona

December 13 2016

Tenkara fly fishing is popular in Alaska because it lets anglers focus on trout instead of fussing with gear. Whether you’re new to this timeless style of stalking fish or you’ve already mastered tying the perfect kebari, you’ll appreciate a quick rundown of easy and productive techniques from my guest writer Jon Clark.

These five tips can really help you get the most out of your fixed line fly fishing experience.

1 Sometimes, level beats furled

A furled tenkara line lets you finesse presentation into a fine art, and its tapered twist can perfect your turnover. Sometimes, its length options are too limited and its bulky taper interferes with casting on a windy day.

In these situations, a level line wins. You can also count on straight fluorocarbon line to keep you off the water and reduce drag, so include it in your small but effective set of must-have gear.

2 Sometimes, long beats short

The short line holds its place as a fundamental part of tenkara gear for good reason. It’s easy to cast and gives you powerful control over placement. Sometimes, you need the reach of a long line, but know how to handle it.

Ease up on the power of your throw and go with a back cast stop at 12 o’clock. Keep your forward cast stop high so that your fly hits the water before your line.

3 The Wind Can Be Your Friend

Don’t give up when the breeze turns into a stiff wind. One of my favourite tenkara tricks, the blowline technique, can keep you on the water for hours. Put the wind at your back and pull your rod up so that the fly clears the water.

When wind catches the line, guide the fly just above your target and then lower the rod. We don’t promise accuracy with this method, but it can turn into a real trip-saver.

4 If it’s not working, quit trying

When a dead drift doesn’t work, try a swing down and across stream. If the trout keep ignoring you, entice them with a little sutebari by casting around them and then throwing to target.

Minimum gear choices keep options simple, so you can switch techniques as fast as that trout turns away. Ask me why I enjoy tenkara so much, and I have to say because it gives me the freedom to quit doing what isn’t working.

5 Let go and get lost

It takes a little time to get used to fishing without a reel. The experience is surprisingly liberating and that’s one of the reasons that fixed line fishing earns such a respected place on the water.

You’re not making decisions based on gear, so you’re in a mental zone that’s not rattled by technical clutter. Let go, get lost and set yourself free to experience the zone and zen that define tenkara fly fishing.

Just like you, I’m always working on my techniques at No See Um Lodge in Alaska. Our Tenkara Guides guides know that the best fixed line fishing tips come from your experiences on different waters, so we share some comments with the community of fellow anglers. Your ideas might help us all release our inner tenkara masters.


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