A kids tenkara kit just seems like a natural. Kirk Deeter of Field & Stream believes tenkara is the best way to teach kids fly fishing. I agree.
It may be that the "simplicity" factor of tenkara is overhyped, but when it comes to learning a new skill, simple is better. Casting is pretty intuitive. If you tell a child the goal "see if you can get the fly over there," they'll modify their casting stroke on their own until they find something that works. It probably won't take very long.
Landing a fish is just as intuitive. Experienced fly fishermen frequently ask "how do you bring in the fish with no reel." A kid automatically just raises the rod and the fish comes in. Seen through a child's eyes, tenkara is indeed pretty simple.
Line control, certainly one of the more complex aspects of fly fishing, couldn't be easier. If there is too much slack in the line, raise the rod tip. That's about it.
There are a couple points on which Kirk Deeter and I would probably disagree. First, I'm sure he sees tenkara as a stepping stone on the path to fly fishing. I think for more than a few kids it could be the end in itself. Many kids will go on to fly fishing, but I suspect some of those will come back to tenkara.
When they make the switch from tenkara to fly fishing, the number of fish they catch will probably go down. (Not having line in the water causing drag really is a dramatic advantage.) Mature fly fishermen and women may tell you it's really all about the joy of being outdoors and that actually catching fish is secondary. For kids, many of whom are outdoors a lot anyway, it really is about catching fish.
The second point on which I suspect we disagree is on the choice of rod. Most people would probably choose a regular tenkara rod for kids. That would be an 11' or 12' rod! I would definitely choose a smaller rod, and the 7'10" Shimotsuke Kiyotaki rod is not a bad choice, particularly for younger children. Older children could handle an 11' tenkara rod, but for younger kids it is a bit long and a bit heavy. Jeffry Gottfried, who teaches kids tenkara fishing in his Educational Recreational Adventures program in Portland, OR. tells me that the kids cast the rods two handed. A friend who is teaching his kids tenkara says the same thing. For a smaller child, even an 11' rod is a big rod.
I have done a bit of two-handed casting with the Daiwa 53MF, which for me is a BIG rod. What I hadn't thought of beforehand, but noticed almost immediately when fishing with the rod, is that you effectively lose two feet of the length because of where your hands are on the rod and in relation to your body (with the rear hand near your waist). For a kid, that might be a foot and a half. Take a foot and a half away from an 11' Iwana (which is really only 10'6" to begin with) and effectively, you have a 9' rod.
Why not just start with a short rod to begin with? Especially because the shorter rod is a lot lighter and has a smaller grip that will better fit a child's hand? That way you can teach one handed casting and your kid can learn from watching you.
I am sure some people still think you need a longer rod for tenkara, but I have done a fair amount of fishing with rods of 9' and less. I've still caught a lot of fish. There are more fish within casting distance of an 8' rod than you realize. (Read the testimonials on the Soyokaze page! People wouldn't be saying those things if they didn't catch any fish!)
Also, the rods are not cheap little wimpy things. They will handle much larger fish than most people realize. In light of the catch shown below, which by the way is the largest fish I have ever caught while tenkara fishing, hooked and landed on the 7'10" Kiyotaki, my wife suggested that I change the name from Kid's Kit to Junior Kit or Shorty Kit, something that sounds less dismissive. Maybe even "(Too Good to be Just a) Kid's Kit."
I kind of like the name Kid's Kit, though so for now it will stay. Still, do not underestimate the effectiveness of the rod included in the kit. It is a serious rod for serious fishermen, no matter how young they are. That said, I know that more than a few of the buyers are adults buying the kit for themselves. That's fine with me (I figure they are kids at heart).
I also know that some experienced tenkara fishermen are looking at the kit, or more specifically the Kiyotaki 24 as a rod well suited for the the smallest and brushiest of streams - and it truly is. In fact, the rod is in Dave Hughes' new second edition of Trout From Small Streams. The small streams that he really enjoys fishing are too small for traditional tenkara rods. He bought a Kid's Kit and uses the Kiyotaki 24!
The Kids Tenkara Kit comes with the 7'10" Shimotsuke Kiyotaki rod, a size 4 level line the length of the rod, a pair of EZ Keepers, a spool of 5X tippet, and three flies in a kid sized fly box.
I've chosen to package a size 4 line with the kids tenkara kit because the slightly heavier line will be easier to cast. There will be plenty of time later on to graduate to a lighter line.
For the EZ Keepers, I use one of the shorter O rings on the forward Keeper and one of the longer ones doubled as the fly keeper between the two EZ Keepers. John Vetterli of the Tenkara Guides in Salt Lake City, who has taught tenkara to kids, tells me that the EZ Keepers are a bit more secure in holding the fly than the round line holders I package with the adult's Tenkara Starter Kit. That's important when fishing with kids. The EZ Keepers are also better at holding the rod tip safely inside the rod when the rod gets put down.
The flies will be whatever I have on hand on the day I receive the order. (They really do all work.)Kid's Kit (with Kiyotaki 24)- $105
For a while I put together a Kid's Kit with a Kiyotaki 27, a slightly longer rod for slightly older kids. It was well received and I sold a lot of them. I've found a much better rod, though. The Nissin Kosansui 270 is an 8'10" rod that is neither too long nor too heavy for kids (just 1.4 ounces) but is every bit the rod adults would want for tiny, overgrown trout streams.
A dual purpose kit just makes sense.
The Small Stream Kit comes
with the Kosansui 270 rod, a full spool of Sunline size 3.5 level line and
a pair of EZ keepers (which will be much appreciated by brush-busting
small stream afficianados). Because most small stream anglers will already have tippet and flies, they are not included in this kit.
It's priced a bit higher than the Kid's Kit, but it has a much nicer rod (made in Japan), and a full spool of line. I think you'll agree that for what you get it's worth every penny.Small Stream Kit - $149
International shipments require additional postage. Please click the appropriate button below.
Kiyotaki made in Korea, Kosansui made in Japan.
For every kit sold, more than $6.75 will go to fisheries conservation.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what's a video worth? How many words would it take for me to convey how easy it is for a kid to fish with a kid-sized rod? The kid in the following video is fishing with a Soyokaze, which is no longer available, but it could just as easily have been a Kiyotaki 24 or Kosansui 270.
Payment is through PayPal but you don't need to have a PayPal account. You can use your credit card.
Domestic shipping is $6 via priority mail 2-3 day delivery (additional $2 for each additional kit). International shipping, via international first class, is an additional $5 to Canada and $11 to other countries.
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 sharp. Please provide eye protection and adequate supervision.
I would recommend bending down the barbs on the flies. Some fish will wriggle off the hook, but if your child hooks himself (or you) it will make removing the hook much less traumatic.
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.)
Tenkara has no strict rules. Enjoy tenkara in your own way.
- Eiji Yamakawa
|Last week I ordered the kids tenkara kit for my 6 year old's birthday. I knew he was a little young, but thought we would give it a go anyway. We went out for the first time today and I have to say the rod was perfect for him and my other boys who went along.
Here is a short youtube clip showing him with a 15-16" cutthroat that he hooked.
Thanks for your time and research into what really works.
Lucas I, Idaho
|That starter kit and a pair of polarized glasses is the best fishing investment I've made, ever! Being able to easily sight-fish with the glasses, cast precisely, and give a convincing presentation kept my son's interest better than any other fishing we've done. We watched numerous other kids try to catch fish by dragging worms and tiny spinners over them to no avail.
My son would wait for them to get discouraged, then take their place and catch the same fish one after another. We caught 4 species on the new rod on the first night of the trip.
I think dad has caught the tenkara bug. It was the most tangle and frustration free day I've ever had fishing with kids, and I liked being able to be on the water in 5 minutes - including instructing my son on how to use the rod. I'm definitely going to get a big kids rod for myself!
Jens H, Washington
Got my kids kit today in the mail and showed it to a couple of our guides here at the shop. They flipped out. Think this will be a perfect outfit not just for kids, but for people brush busting the small feeder streams we have an abundance of here in CO. Can't wait to try it out.
Thanks for the great service.
Robert T, Colorado
| I recently purchased the kids rod kit from you. I spent 3 hours today fishing a mountain steam in the Cascades in Washington state and had the most fun fishing that I ever had. 47 cutthroat, 43 on one fly before I lost it. The smaller rod made the 8-12 inch fish feel a bit bigger, the rod handled them well. Thanks for supplying me with the awesome product!
Matt B, Washington
So, my 10 year old LOVES this rod! So far it's only been Bluegills from the pond but she is HOOKED. Next up will be some brook trout in the Shenandoah National park. I actually fished for trout for the first time exclusively with this rod today and had a blast. Same fly all day, lost count of the fish caught and many were similar to this one attached.
Jeff S, Virginia
|I bought a couple Tenkara kids starter kits from you earlier in the summer and we've been having a blast with them on smaller streams in the Wallowa Mountains and Columbia River Gorge here in Oregon.
The rods have been a total game changer for family fishing. Will send pics of brookies, cutthroat and rainbows in scenic locations soon. Each rod has hauled in at least 200-300 beautiful fish up to 14". My 6 year old had a 36 brookie day on one of the most beautiful stretches of granite strewn high incline alpine streams you've ever seen in Eagle Cap Wilderness a couple weeks ago.
Thanks for doing what you do!
Rick L, Oregon