Keiryu Starter Kit for Kids

The Keiryu Starter Kit for Kids has what you need to get your kids started with either bait fishing or fly fishing. There's no point getting your daughter or son a Barbie Rod or a Ninja Turtles rod that they will outgrow in a year or two. The Keiryu Starter Kit for kids will get them started with a bobber and worms for bluegills in the local pond and also let them transition to fishing streams for either sunfish or trout, depending on where you live.

If you want to get them started in fly fishing, the kit will do that as well. And unlike a Barbie Rod, this is a kit that I suspect some adults will buy for themselves. It is a versatile fishing kit for anyone just starting out.

The Kids Tenkara Starter Kit (Kids Kit) has be extremely popular - to the point where I can't keep the rods in stock. The Keiryu Starter Kit for Kids offers a couple advantages over the original Kids Tenkara Kit.

From the very beginning, TenkaraBum has advocated fishing with the longest rod you can get away with. For adults, the limiting factor is generally how wide or how overgrown the streams are. For kids there is another factor - how heavy or unwieldy is the rod?

Several people with experience in teaching kids tenkara fishing have told me that younger kids just naturally hold a tenkara rod with both hands. The rods I had chosen for the Kids Kit were short - initially 8' and now 9' and 10'. Short rods were chosen so the kids could cast and fish one handed, just the way you do.

The more I fish with two handed rods, though, the more I am convinced that it offers some significant advantages - you can fish with a longer rod, providing longer casts, better drifts, less sense of tip heaviness and much less stress on the joints. I started thinking that the same advantages would apply to a Keiryu Starter Kit for Kids.

At a Fly Fishing Show early this year, a customer stopped by to talk rods. His seven or eight year old son was with him. Out of curiosity, I handed his son a Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 450 soft, a rod that is light, inexpensive and capable. I asked him if he liked it. He did! He held it and "cast" it with both hands. He handled it well, with no hint that it was too heavy or too unwieldy. I had thought it might be a good keiryu rod for kids. Seeing how easily he handled it confirmed my belief.

When Dr. Ishigaki in 2009 said he liked tenkara because it was "simple" we all just assumed he was comparing it to western fly fishing. Instead, I think he was comparing it to keiryu bait fishing. Keiryu fishing isn't difficult, but it is more complex than tenkara.

I had thought that watching yarn markers (and keeping them above the water's surface) might be a bit much for kids. I have seen a few Japanese videos where people were keiryu fishing with floats rather than yarn markers, and I thought that would be a much easier approach.

Owner makes a Trout Ball Float set that comes with a line, a float, a split shot and four hooks. It is sold for fishing in pay-to-fish trout parks, where people with little or no experience can go out and catch fish. Sounds like just the thing for kids!

What's even better, it's simple. The hooks are snelled. The end of the snell has a loop. The end of the main line has a clip swivel (visible just to the upper left of the green circle in the package). All you have to do is hook the loop end of the snell into the swivel clip and you're good to go. The snelled hooks we used as kids probably had 20# test line on them. These don't. It's 5X - just about what you'd choose if you snelled them yourself.

You do have to tie a loop in the other end of the line so you can use a girth hitch attachment to the lillian.  I would cut about a foot off the line before doing so - I think it's a bit too long for small anglers.

The best thing about the set is the float, which is much easier to reposition than a Thingamabobber. Just run the line through the little black tube that comes with the kit and then stick the point of the float through the black tube, trapping the line.To move it, pull the float out of the tube, move the tube and put the float back in it. Done.

Unfortunately, there are some things I dislike about the set. First, the line is a nasty nylon that will tangle at any opportunity. If the line does get horribly tangled, replace it with the 5X tippet that comes with the kit. Second, the sinker included is lead, which is illegal to sell in NY. I will replace it with a Dinsmore non-lead BB shot (which I also do in the Owner Keiryu Rigs).

I think yarn markers may be more effective than a float in terms of sensitivity and also in stealth. Thousands of fly fishermen use 3/4" Thingamabobbers, though, and they must catch fish or they'd stop making Thingamabobbers! The float included in the set is the same 3/4" diameter, and is very easy to see. I've used it with one BB shot, which seems about the right amount of weight to use. You might not want to use it when streams are very low and clear, but it obviously didn't scare this stocked rainbow.

Although I haven't caught any huge fish with the Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 450 soft, the rod can handle pretty good sized fish. This 14" brown put a very satisfying bend in the rod but certainly didn't tax it.

Initially, I had planned to make the Keiryu Starter Kit for Kids specifically a keiryu fishing kit rather than a dual use keiyru-tenkara kit. I suspect most kids in the US start fishing with a bobber and worms for sunfish in ponds or lakes. I know I did. When I first started fishing for trout in streams with my dad, I fished with salmon eggs or spinners. Looking back, I remember catching fish with salmon eggs and I remember losing a lot of spinners to snags. I also remember that the first year of fly fishing was incredibly frustrating, with the ratio of trees caught to fish caught probably approaching 50 to 1. Fishing with bait was a lot more fun - I caught fish rather than trees.

Not long ago, though, I polled the members of the Keiryu Anglers Facebook Page, which is a page for people who use keiryu rods to share experiences and discuss keiryu fishing in general. Most of the people who responded use their keiryu rods to fish with flies more than with bait. Anyone reading that page (or this one, for that matter) is more likely to be a fly fisherman than a bait fisherman. It just made sense to expand the Keiryu Starter Kit for Kids to include tenkara as well as keiryu - to allow fishing with flies as well as fishing with bait.

Keiryu Starter Kit for Kids

With that in mind, in addition to the rod and the float and hooks set, the Keiryu Starter Kit for Kids also comes with a length of size 4 tenkara line, a spool of 5X tippet, a pair of Fuji EZ Keepers and a Minimalist Fly Box with three flies. Essentially, it is the Kid's Tenkara Starter Kit with a longer rod more suitable for keiryu fishing and a keiryu rig with float and hooks.

Please note: The Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui does not come with a rod sock. The medium rod case fits the rod.

Keiryu Starter Kit for Kids

Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 450 soft

Owner Trout Ball Float set (float, line, split shot, 4 snelled hooks)

14' Size 4 tenkara line

5X Maxima tippet

Fuji EZ Keepers

Minimalist Fly Box

Three flies (tied on barbless hooks)


If fishing with a small child, be sure he or she does not put the tip plug in his or her mouth. It could be a choking hazard.

The hooks are VERY sharp. Please provide eye protection and adequate supervision. 

The hooks in the Owner Ball Float set have barbs. Barbless hooks are safer, but barbed hooks are more effective for holding bait on the hook and for landing hooked fish. It is up to you to decide whether to bend down the barbs on the Owner hooks for safety or leave them up for effectiveness. Either way, please be exceedingly careful that your child does not get hooked. The flies were tied on barbless hooks.

I cannot list here all the dangers associated with fishing. However, studies show that most accidents occur at home, so to be safe you should probably stay away from home. If you're not going to be home, you might as well go fishing and might as well take your kids with you (saves on babysitters). I am sure all sorts of bad things can (and will) happen if you never go fishing.

Be careful. (That was adequate warning when we were kids. It ought to be adequate warning now.)


Sales have been disappointing, but even more dissapointing was the nasty line that came with the trout ball float rigs! It would be much better to make up your own line with two different strengths of tippet material and a package of Nakazima Ball Floats. If you are interested in a pretty basic keiryu starter kit for kids (or for yourself for smaller streams) let me know and I will work up a suitable kit for you.

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Walk softly and carry a long stick. - Teddy Roosevelt (almost)

Tenkara has no strict rules. Enjoy tenkara in your own way.
- Eiji Yamakawa

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin


The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.