The further I go on my tenkara journey, the more I realize I'm traveling in a circle. I'm coming back to the way I fished before I met Dr. Ishigaki.
I'd started fixed line fishing almost two years earlier, first with crappie rods and then with a tenkara rod. I started with a cast of three flies, a CDC & Elk, a winged wet fly and an unweighted yarn bodied nymph. I caught a lot of fish, mostly on the dry and the nymph.
My initial line length, rod tip to point fly, was 1.5x rod length. Rod tip to the dry was no more than a foot longer than the rod. When I switched to tenkara from loop rod (crappie rod) fishing, I mostly fished a single fly, but kept the rod tip to fly length 1' longer than the rod. Dr. Ishigaki changed my rig, lengthening the Hi-Vis line to 1' longer than the rod, plus a meter of tippet. I could cast further but the drifts weren't as good.
A recent Discover Tenkara blog post on a hybrid method and magic fly for grayling reminded me of my earliest rig. They left off the dry, fishing a tungsten bead head on point and a fluorescent orange Ishigaki fly as a dropper. The "fluoro-gaki" (my term, probably too irreverent for them to have thought of) caught much more than it's share, making it the magic fly. In their accompanying drawing, the end of the Hi-Vis line was just barely above the water's surface (to which I concur, it provides excellent strike indication).
My Timely Tip is to reinstate the CDC & Elk. It also provides excellent strike indication, disappearing in a flash (or a splash - even in the dead of winter). Shorten the Hi-Vis line to 3' shorter than the rod. Add 3' of 4X tippet, 18" of 5X and 18" of 6X to the point fly.
You now have 6' of leader beyond the Hi-Vis, but it's tapered, which will help turnover. What also helps is a size 18 tungsten bead head nymph on point. If you go over size 18, switch to brass or your dry will be wet.
Use an unweighted wingless wet for a middle dropper, - sparse to minimize wind resistance or yarn bodied to give it some weight for casting. Leave the tag end of the 5X-6X knot long for this dropper or tie the 6X NZ style around the bend.
The 4X is too heavy, so tie the CDC & Elk on a few inches of 5X, which is tied around the 4X leader, the knot tightened and snugged down to the 4X - 5X junction knot (same concept as tippet to tenkara line attachment).
This rig allows you to fish 3 levels of the water column and gives the fish a choice of entree. Having the dry as a floating indicator changes the way the wet and nymph drift. Keeping a tight line to a single nymph pulls the nymph towards you. Suspended under a dry that pull is reduced.
The cost is more tangles.
I guess a second tip is that a size 14 CDC & Elk will work even in the winter, at least on smaller freestone streams and at least on days warm enough for me to want to fish.
If you are out of CDC & Elk, jd_smith ties a nice one. You can buy them here: jd_smith's Tenkara Flies
The Little Dark Kebari makes a good fly for the middle dropper. Charcoal yarn body and starling hackle, tied small and sparse.
I have 5 starling skins left, and for the special will throw in a package of Little Dark Kebari Yarn. That's a $9.50 value for $7.00. If ordered today before 2 PM EST, US buyers will get a free upgrade to Priority Mail (2-3 day) shipping for the standard $3 charge. Not a bad deal for $10
Click this link for the TenBum's Timely Tips Special