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Beginner Tenkara
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Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
Beginner Tenkara on 12/29/2011 08:06:47 MST Print View

So I want to begin to incorporate more activities in with my backpacking, and I think that Tenkara fishing could be something fun to try.

To start out, I know basically nothing about fishing. I have read some threads here and looked at a couple of sites, TenkaraBum and TenkaraTalk, so I have some thoughts on what I may need. One of the things that I like about Tenkara, over Western, is that I can try it out cheaply and buy a nicer rod and what not later when I know I enjoy it.

So I need a rod. I am in the SE, currently located in South Carolina. I am still looking around for good rivers to fish in the GA, SC, NC area that I can also incorporate into backpacking, so if anyone knows of good areas, please feel free to mention them. But for that area, what would be a good rod length? I have been looking at the Caddis Fly 330 because of the price and length. Would 11' be a good decision? Also, I will hopefully be moving to Colorado in the fall for school. Would an 11' rod still be a good choice when I make that move? This is less important to me, because by then, I will probably be more willing to upgrade rods anyways.

Along with gear, I need to learn how to fly fish. My dad and some relatives fly fish in the NC area and know of Tenkara, but none of them fish this style, so they should be able to help, but I'm not sure how much. Plus, it would be easier to learn without driving a couple of hours to do it. What are good ways to learn how to fly fish using a Tenkara rod? And while it is being discussed, are there any others out there that fish Tenkara in the South Carolina area?

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
To start... on 12/29/2011 09:25:14 MST Print View

To start with, get the book "Curtis Creek Manifesto". It's a great comic-style book that gives the basics of fly fishing, and 90% of it applies directly to Tenkara style fly fishing.

The things you need to learn are:

Where are the fish? They tend to hang out in certain spots in a river or lake, and you can spend a lot of time fishing empty water if you don't know where to look.

How do I cast this thing? You need to be able to cast your fly to where the fish are.

How can I get to a good casting spot without scaring the fish? You need to learn how to approach a stream stealthily from the fish's perspective.

These three things are far more important that what length your fly rod should be - skill is more important by a long shot than equipment! (Where have I heard that before???)

It will take some time to get all these right, so don't expect instant success. If you just want fish to eat, get a spin-casting outfit and Berkeley's artificially scented neon-colored bait!

Good luck!

Edited by grampa on 12/29/2011 09:26:12 MST.

Paul Gibson
(pgibson) - F

Locale: SW Idaho
Re: Beginner Tenkara on 12/29/2011 14:02:20 MST Print View

Chris,Tenkara is a great choice for fishing the small mountain steams there in SC. An 11 or 10 foot rod will work fine for you in a lot of areas that you could fish both there and in Colorado when you move. If you get to where you are fishing larger rivers or get out on some of the alpine lakes in CO then you may want a to pick up a longer rod, though one of the best time I had on a lake this last summer was with one of our 9 foot rods. Like Stephen said the catching more fish curve comes in more with your knowledge than the specific equipment. The better you get at stalking the fish and learning how to present the fly in the right places the more fish you will catch, not the better the rod. The good news is that Tenkara is easy to get the hang of and start catching fish right away.

There is a good basic book out on Tenkara that stands as a good intro to fly fishing as well covers a range of topics specific to Tenkara. Give a quick search for it on Amazon, you should find it for under $15



Arrowhead Equipment

Kevin Kelleher
(Softouch) - F

Locale: Blue Ridge Mountains
Tenkara info on 12/30/2011 08:12:49 MST Print View


Tenkara is a perfect match for backpacking. I think a 11-foot rod is the right one to start with and the Caddis 330 is fine. With it you can fish tight streams and do fine on larger rivers and ponds. I'd equip it with a furled line to start with and just add 5x tippet. Pick up a few size 12 or 14 flies (maybe a Parachut Adams and a Prince Nymph) and go try it out.

I appreciate Paul giving my book "Tenkara: Radically Simple Ultralight Fly Fishing", a plug. I think it is a pretty good introduction to fly fishing as well as tenkara, if I do say so. The hints about backpacking with tenkara are likely worth the price too. And since it is the only book about tenkara in English...

My interest in Tenkara came from backpacking with reliable lightweight gear. I think those on this forum who have tried it will agree it is a match. Most important though is to just have fun with it. You'll learn what you need to know as you go along.

Tight Lines,

Kevin Kelleher

Edited by Softouch on 12/30/2011 08:13:58 MST.

Jeffrey McConnell
easy to pick up on 12/31/2011 13:31:21 MST Print View

Hey Chris,

From one beginner to another, I think it would work out great for you. I just went out with my rod for the first time. I have no previous fly fishing experience. After about 30 minutes of casting I had it down pretty well. I did go out with a friend (western fly fisher) who helped me out a bit, but I found it was pretty easy to pick up and learn. I'd feel really comfortable going out on my own now. I think after one trip with an experienced friend/family member and you'd do just as well. I even caught a fish on my first trip out with the rod. I found a lot of helpful info on the tenkarausa website as well as on the other sites you mentioned. For what its worth I have a 12' rod and fished a very small stream today and it worked out great.

Edited by Catalyst on 12/31/2011 13:34:21 MST.

Craig Price
(skeets) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne, Australia
tips on 12/31/2011 21:07:14 MST Print View

my tips -
sure, ask advice like you are doing, read some threads/articles, and watch some videos, but don't do this not too long - you can't learn it all by book.
most importantly, above all, just go out and try it. take note of anything that works, and if nothing goes rights, go back to the forums and videos etc for advice and information, see if you can work out what you aren't doing or what you are doing wrong. fishing is hunting, and there are skills and knowledge that can't be easily obtained other than by trying and seeing what works for you. there are plenty of fish, so if you don't hook up, it's normally you.
still, be prepared to blank out some trips and more often early, but don't get discouraged, try to learn from it - what didn't work, where not to fish etc. use the forums, but a lot of the advice on a forum can be anecdotal and and sometimes misleading
if possible, get out with someone else who is experienced, and watch them closely, ask questions all day. having someone experienced show you some of the ropes can short circuit the process by years and make it more enjoyable. paying a guide for a day might seem expensive but can give you a leg up that would take many many trips to learn on your own.
remember that it's fun - don't get serious, go for the calm state of mind, and enjoy. and don't get caught in the gear trap - the less gear you have, the better you fish and less time you spend fiddling with the tackle.
have a great 2012

Edited by skeets on 12/31/2011 21:09:49 MST.

Brian Hall
Chattooga on 01/02/2012 13:04:20 MST Print View

Chris, I'm also from SC and do all of my backpacking in SC, NC, and GA. Check out some of the trails around the Chattooga River. The Bartram, Foothills, and Chattooga River trails all run along the Chattooga at some point. The best time of year to go is winter if you want to miss the crowds. There are a few spots that can get pretty crowded when the weather is nice. The Chattooga has some areas that are stocked, and other areas that are wild. Check out this link to Chris Wallace's blog for the Fork Mountain Loop on the Chattooga:

Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
Thanks on 01/02/2012 14:24:02 MST Print View

Thanks for all the tips. Especially about know how. I will be getting those books along with the gear. I understand the need for knowledge more than expensive gear, so plan to soak up as much of that as I can. I should be making the necessary purchases soon and then getting out to learn by doing.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
One more tip on 01/02/2012 16:05:57 MST Print View

Check the forums at Tenkara USA - if you post a request to find someone in your area you could get together with for some initial pointers, etc, you'd get a big jump on technique of casting,etc.

Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
One More Question on 01/15/2012 18:31:59 MST Print View

I'm very excited about getting around to making this new purchase and get started. I have one more question about getting the gear to get started.

I want to go ahead and start fishing during the next couple of months, when it will still be a bit cold.

From discussions with traditional fly fishers, it sounds like I should expect some wading. I'm wondering how necessary this is, and if it is, a lightweight way to go about staying warm while wading. Cost is an important part to me.

What I am thinking about doing is going with a calf length neoprene sock. This should allow my legs to stay warm at least up to a certain point. Should this be warm enough or enough coverage?

It seems like another option would be to use some waders. Would waders be necessary for most small streams in the southeast?

Thanks for all the help everyone. It is much appreciated.

Craig Price
(skeets) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne, Australia
beginning on 01/20/2012 21:38:19 MST Print View

Chris, Pm me and I am happy to help with advice if you still want it.


Kyle Crawford

Locale: SouthEast
Tenkara on 02/11/2012 02:05:43 MST Print View

Brian is right about the areas surrounding the Foothills and Chattooga trails. I'm from SC also and these are probably some of your best bets. If you don't mind a short drive, Pisgah is really close and I've heard it has some good fishing as well.

Scott Truong

Locale: Vancouver, BC
RE: Waders on 02/11/2012 14:02:49 MST Print View

Not exactly ultralight backpackable, but light waders.

I don't know where you're fishing, but I think waders are awesome, you can get into all sorts of runs, pools, riffles etc and not bound by shore.

I have the LL Bean ultralight footsock waders. I think they're like $79. I think they are great. Very comfortable, breathable and so far (first year) has held up fine.

The thing is you have to buy wading boots. If you're not going through rough river bottoms (gravel OK), you could try to get a larger sized (big footed buddy) pair of mesh runners etc and use them. Glue some felt on the bottom or hammer in some spikes or not. Wear a pair of wool socks over the neoprene booties to protect them from the shoes.

For backpacking, try your rain pants tucked and duct taped to a pair of goretex or neoprene socks. (?).. I've wondered the same thing. I doubt you'll wade above your waist. I'd look at fleece long underwear. I bought a pair from MEC here in Canada for $29 CDN than work awesome for warmth.

Be careful though, pretty addictive territory you're entering.

Edited by elf773 on 02/11/2012 14:09:52 MST.

Daniel Bell

Locale: US Southwest
Tenkara on 02/11/2012 23:35:34 MST Print View

+1 on the Curtis Creek Manifesto. Great book.
Two years ago I brought both a spin rod/lure set up and a Tenkara rod (TenkaraUSA Yamame). It was a transition year for me. Last year I brought only the tenkara rod and don’t plan on looking back. I'm completely hooked (pun intended) on this style of fishing now. You just have to commit to it, allow yourself to be frustrated while you figure it out, and enjoy the pay-off afterwards.

I love spending the day wading up the middle of a small stream with a Tenkara rod, then high-tailing it back to camp just before dark. I plan my trips around it.
Last year I wore neoprene socks with trail runners then changed into dry smartwool socks after. This summer I'm planning to bring an extra pair of trail runners (Merrell Moab Ventilators?) as “wet shoes” with the neoprene socks, just for fishing.
Some pics from last summer, all from So. Colorado (all fish were released. I'm also planning on bringing a net next summer, so I don't need to handle them so much just for a photo...):



perfect stream


Edited by danbell on 02/12/2012 00:01:12 MST.

Yuri R
(Yazon) - F

Tenkara on lakes on 02/15/2012 11:41:13 MST Print View

Can Tenkara be productive on lakes? I know they are great for streams where water is moving, but there are so many lakes in Sierras...

if yes - what is the strategy for lakes?

Edited by Yazon on 02/15/2012 11:46:50 MST.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Beginner Tenkara on 02/15/2012 12:05:43 MST Print View

The Tenkara Bum site posted a tenkara alpine lake fishing article by Jason Klass:

Paul Gibson
(pgibson) - F

Locale: SW Idaho
Re: Tenkara on lakes on 02/15/2012 13:46:43 MST Print View

Hey Yuri,

Absolutely! Tenkara can be very effective on alpine lakes. The article that Thom posted by Jason is a great reference to look at. In the Article that Jason wrote he talks about how many alpine lake fish will circulate the perimeter of the lake in search of food that is falling or being blown into the water.

There are a couple things to consider in getting into a good spot to fish Tenkara (or any other fly fishing for that matter) on a lake. Look at the terrain and see if you can determine which way the wind is or will be blowing across the lake most of the time. Fish get conditioned to looking for food in the same areas. The down wind side of the lake is where many terrestrial insect will collect in the surface film. If you can position on this side of the lake you will likely find a higher concentration of fish. With the crystal clear water found in most high alpine lakes you should also consider if your casting a shadow and if you might be sticking out like a sore thumb relative to the terrain around you. Just as much...if not more you want to work on your stealth approach to fishing Tenkara in a lake than you do in a stream. Flowing water and currents can help to hide your movement in a stream, you loose that on a lake.

As far as the actual fishing goes, try small terrestrials like ants and smaller hoppers, that you can twitch lightly with all of your line off the water. Don't cast right at a fish that you spot but just ahead of them, try landing the fly soft at first and add more forcefulness to the land if your not getting their attention, especially with larger flies like the hoppers. Wet flies like Sakasa Kebrais and Akiyamago Hayashi Kebaris work very well for me as well, cast them out let them sink and then slowly twitch the rod as you raise it to bring it up for your next cast.

I have a small wright up on Tenkara on a lake on our photo page: As well as a number of pictures from various Tenkara trips to alpine lakes here in Idaho.


Arrowhead Equipment

Jason Amick
(isneer) - F
Re on 06/11/2012 05:15:13 MDT Print View

Looking seen beautiful images. I am missing partner since couple of years because I none of friends is passionate about it.