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Spinner fishing vs Tenkara fishing.
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Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
Spinner fishing vs Tenkara fishing. on 08/28/2012 10:16:29 MDT Print View

I recently found this rod:

and if I get these trekking poles and the rod I can ditch 0.6 lbs off my pack.

The trout in the Sierra Nevada aren't really huge and I usually end up catching too many of them in certain sections.

If you are just doing this for food then a Tenkara rod would work in a lot of situations - especially if you can SEE the fish.

The only thing I'm concerned about is that I'm VERY proficient with a spin rod.

I often talk to fly fisherman and find that I'm catching 2:1 to what they are catching.

So I think the switch would be long and painful.


Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Tenkara on 08/28/2012 10:49:40 MDT Print View


We have used Tenkaras (including the one you show that goes on the trekking pole) in the Sierra for the last two years with great success. We usually fish trout for dinner and have had no problems getting fish during our weeklong treks on the JMT. Before that we used spin casting and flyfishing (with reel) setups. In some lakes the spin casting was way more successful than flyfishing, but it didn't really matter as we were only fishing for food and could get enough fish either way. So nowadays we only bring our Tenkaras.


Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Spin v Tenkara on 08/29/2012 07:54:54 MDT Print View


In lakes spinning gear allows you to cover much more water than any flyfishing setup, at no cost in surface v subsurface action. You can always attach a ginked dry fly to your spinning rig. The advantage is even more pronounced if you are fishing lakes with trees right up to the water line, as is often the case in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, as spinning rods need no backcast room. I keep putting a lightweight spinning rig on my wish list; simply haven't got around to it. If you fish for fun (as I do most of the time, releasing fish) it really makes no difference. If you are fishing for food, you'll do much better with a spinning rod.


Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Easy Button on 08/29/2012 08:35:35 MDT Print View

I have been scoping out the Tenkara set ups, eagerly longing for a really cool, light set that will work great. The videos, in particular, make it look great. It's like a singlespeed mountain bike: light, fast, effective and boiled-down to essentials. Also, expensiverish.

Two things after my latest trip that have given me some pause are the long Tenkara poles I saw some carrying (while our collapsible rods were tucked away inside packs) and the fact that the lightweight spinning set up just turned out to be so versatile for us: "sierra fly/bobber", kastmaster into the wind, bottom-weighted float bait 25' down, the fun and action of retrieve lure fishing and the fun and enjoyment of detangl...well forget that last one, but the spinning rods sure performed well for us in the Sierra this year.

Curt Peterson
(curtpeterson) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Spinner fishing vs Tenkara fishing on 08/29/2012 08:40:15 MDT Print View

Richard nailed it. It's all about what you're willing to compromise.

The spinning setup - in particular the fly and bubble - is the most successful backcountry setup I've ever seen. I routinely outfish even the fly float tubers and I'm not a magician by any means. More options for what you fish with and way, way more range than any other setup. That said, it's by far the heaviest and least pack-friendly. Also, high quality telescopic rods are very hard to find. I have 3 and none are ideal.

Western fly fishing is sort of a middle ground, depending on how much you geek out on the gear. It can be very light and in the right hands it can have pretty good range. I fish in the Cascades, though, and a backcast is nearly impossible on the lakes out here. Alder, huckleberries, or huge trees all conspire to eat your fly before it ever gets to the water.

Tenkara is a blast, but it's pretty limited on the lakes in my opinion. Most Cascade lakes, at least, have limited shore access so unless the fish are all within 30 feet of the one or two spots you can get to the water, you're out of luck. Of course it's so light and easy to pack that it's an easy decision to take it.

This summer I've been (gasp) taking a UL spinning setup AND a Tenkara rod. Only adds 3 ounces to my fishing setup to include the Tenkara and if I do get fortunate enough to hit the right water it's much more fun to fish with. I'm going on a 6 day trip to the Enchantments in a couple weeks. There's enough open water up there that I expect both rigs to do very well.

Gotta figure out what you are willing to live with - lightweight with limited range or superb range at a x4+ weight penalty.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Spinner fishing vs Tenkara fishing on 08/29/2012 22:25:22 MDT Print View

The Exceptional Tenkara Fisher: Here.

A little verbose, but the crux is summarized in

"...the 160 fish I released over the day, which amounted to 90 fish released on wet flies and another 70 fish released on dry flies over about 6 hours of fishing on a 3 acre lake."

Edited by greg23 on 08/29/2012 22:34:09 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Spinner fishing vs Tenkara fishing. on 08/29/2012 22:46:55 MDT Print View

I am a spinner guy too. Just use what you are comfortable with.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Hand Line on 12/13/2012 07:08:35 MST Print View

I've had some success with hand lines using spoons and spinners. You can't cast very far, but that often doesn't matter.
Saves weight and space if you think you aren't going to be doing a lot of fishing.

Fly fishing is another matter and works much better with a 9' or longer rod.

I haven't tried the trekking pole/fishing rod concept yet.

Antti Peltola
(anttipeltola) - F
Re: Spinner fishing vs Tenkara fishing. on 12/28/2012 02:30:11 MST Print View

I use old Shakespeare telescopic UL setup, it's more than enough for me. Weight is around 300g + lures.

I do consider it an luxury equipment which I can easily live without, so if that weight matters I leave it home.

"I've had some success with hand lines using spoons and spinners. You can't cast very far, but that often doesn't matter. "

This was commonly used by Finnish soldiers patrolling behind enemy lines during the WW2, so it's true ultra lightweight option :) Besides spinners and spoons, I have also used the bubble + 5-7 flies with that. It requires a big bubble and/or an extra weight but it works. Never caught anything big with that, but where I hike there is always a risk of getting relatively big northern pike, how to handle that without cutting the line into fingers? Or is this really not a big problem?

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Hand LInes on 12/31/2012 15:56:36 MST Print View

Regarding hand lines cutting your skin with big fish.

When I do salt water fishing from my sea kayak with a land line, I always wear leather gloves of some sort. I have landed big bluefish, stripers and weakfish this way.

I would not attempt to use my hands to hold the line otherwise.
Cheap light cotton or nylon gloves would probably do fine with larger fresh water fish in a pinch.

On a side note, I probably won't be doing much hand line fishing on backpacking trips ever sense I discovered tenkara.
My full tenkara kit weighs less than 6 oz with rod, line, flies and tools. It is more flexible and fun for backpacking trips.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Another possibilty on 01/05/2013 08:53:12 MST Print View

Another possibility that I have considered is to carry a small ultralight fixed line rod, but something with a little more power than what would be considered a tenkara rod.

A hera/carp style rod maybe? You could still use it for tenkara, but could also use nymphs, lures and even bait.

Might be a good choice for those that don't want to be limited to tenkara or fly fishing.
A pole like the one linked below with 20+ feet of line and tippet attached would allow your whole fishing kit to be just a few ounces.
Bring a few flies and a couple different lures and be prepared for a variety of fishing options.

Carbon Fishing Pole

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Tenkara on 01/07/2013 15:33:59 MST Print View

I wound up ordering the Fountainhead 360 Caddis tenkara rod and can hardly wait for it to arrive. I don't think I personally would take fishing gear backpacking if I had not discovered tenkara. Even with a fly box and some tools the whole outfit is about 6 ounces and if I went really bare bones I could probably get it pretty close to 4 ounces.

The out of state (California) fishing license for my JMT hike will cost almost as much as my whole tenkara outfit. Given that I hope I catch some fish on the trip.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Hand LInes on 01/07/2013 15:53:04 MST Print View

Thread drift.

Steven: My rule in sea kayaks is 15-pound test. Because there's stuff out there (Alaska, Baja) I DON'T want to catch. That said, when I've hand-lined, yes, I either use gloves or step up to MUCH bigger line except for a 15-pound test leader that functions as my safety release mechanism.

I'm not good enough to land silver salmon on 6-pound test, but I can on 15-pound. I've also got tuna in Baja on 15-pound. Small tuna.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Salt Water fish from a kayak on 01/07/2013 16:10:05 MST Print View

I use more than 20 lb test when I salt water fish when I hand line from a kayak, but use a 10 or 12 lb leader.
I usually use 10 lb with 6 lb leader with a steel tip when I use a pole. I figure the pole helps absorb some of the shock form the bigger fish and the steel absorbs the sharp teeth of some species.

I never catch anything bigger than striped bass in the bays and estuaries I fish, NY Harbor, Hudson River, not yet anyway:-)

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
To fish UL on 01/07/2013 16:20:45 MST Print View

Oh, and on the subject of UL fishing,
If you pack minimally, this will help you fish UL.
The Ebira rod quiver is perfect.

Tenkara Accessories

Edited by brooklynkayak on 01/07/2013 16:24:42 MST.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: To fish UL on 01/07/2013 17:12:29 MST Print View

The cuben version of the Ebira rod quiver is lighter and 5 cents cheaper :)

Mine should be arriving this week!

Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
ul set ups on 01/07/2013 17:45:29 MST Print View

I'm pretty serious about my fishing, and when I take off to go fishing, I'm usually working hard to find or get to very inaccessible lakes that are off trail and hard to reach, all with the goal of larger fish. If I am on a long trip, its even more important to me to be totally prepared. Here's my setup(s); the easy, short trips, I might just bring a pack fly rod, and then an UL spinning reel with 3 or 4 spinners or spoons, and a bubble or two. For the full on trips, I bring both pack fly rod, and an UL spin rod, with a full compliment of flies and lures for each. Even with all this gear, I'm still maybe bringing 1 1-1/2lbs of gear. The whole reason to go lighter is so that I can enjoy this facet of my hiking! Awesome to have it all at my fingertips!
Spin fishing is deadly, and with the bubble and fly its almost shameful how succesfull you can be! But there is nothing better than sitting up on a flat granite boulder at lakeside, and casting down to cruising trout. When the winds are down, and the fish are hungry, I can easily outfish most spin fisherman. But when the wind is up, or the trees close, the spin rig with 2 or 4lb line is hands down a wicked way to work a lake or a stream. You can just hammer them.
Take whatever path you choose, just so long as you get out there!


Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
A not so serious fisherman on 01/08/2013 13:37:32 MST Print View

For those times when you are out to backpack and maybe get a little fishing in at times, tenkara and other fixed line poles or even hand line fishing makes more sense than carrying a full rig with reel and other gear.

I personally don't find a reel on my pole as that much of an advantage to justify the weight on long overnight backpacking trips.

Car camping or a short hike to a lake maybe, but not for casual fishing.

I used to never carry fishing gear when backpacking until I figured out I could keep down to 4 ounces.

And if you do backpack in areas where fish are biting, you can pack in less food and supplement your meals with caught fish.

Many areas guarantee fish for every meal if you do a little fishing. I know from a 10 day Yellowstone trip in which I ate trout at every meal and I was just using a cheap little kids pole and only had two spoon lures.

Paul Gibson
(pgibson) - F

Locale: SW Idaho
Tenkara on 01/08/2013 18:07:26 MST Print View

Having gone from spin to fly to spin with fly and bubble to Tenkara. After fishing a number of remote alpine lakes in both Idaho and Utah as well as lots of streams and rivers I am beyond sold on the capability and effectiveness of Tenkara for fishing for backpacking.



cut from Sawtooth's 2

I have pulled fish to about 23" with Tenkara rods all on gear that totals about 3.5 ounces in my pack. I think you can definitely do some serious fishing with a tenkara rod.

Toby Salz
(tobysalz) - M
tenkara on 01/10/2013 09:29:57 MST Print View

paul -- what kind of set-up are using that weighs 3.5 oz? i've always used a spin set-up for backpacking, but 3.5 oz is attractive.