Small Stream Tenkara
Starter Kits

The Small Stream Tenkara Starter Kits have what you need to start tenkara fishing in small streams. You don't need much, but for small brushy or overgrown streams you really do need a short rod.

It has been quite a while now since I wrote Rethinking Rod Choice - Many. Some things haven't changed - a short rod really does make a lot of sense if you want to fish small streams; and some things have changed - the outfit that once insisted tenkara rods were 11' or longer now sells a 9' rod. Even Daiwa introduced a 9' tenkara rod for 2015 (don't think the Japanese don't know what we are doing over here).

I was reminded of the value of short rods when Dave Hughes sent me a copy of his latest book, Trout from Small Streams, second edition. He included a chapter on tenkara, and in it wrote some very interesting things about what he calls "downsized tenkara" - tenkara fishing with downsized rods for really small streams.

Two of his favorite rods for small, brushy streams are a Soyokaze 27 and a Kiyotaki 24, both well known to TenkaraBum readers and customers.  The Soyokaze was discontinued by Daiwa some time ago and has become virtually unobtainable (the people who have them rarely part with them). Last year, I introduced the Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 270 as the best replacement I'd yet found for the Soyokaze 27.

For months now, I have been building the Small Stream Tenkara Starter Kits around the Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 270. It is currently out of stock, not only at TenkaraBum but also at Nissin.

Perhaps this is the time to introduce a Good, Better, Best approach to the Small Stream Tenkara Starter Kits. The "Good" is based on the Shimotsuke Kiyotaki 27, the "Better" is based on the Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 270 and the "Best" is based on the Nissin Pro Spec 320 6:4. All three rods are 9', although the Pro Spec is adjustable for length and can also be fished at 10'4".

If you want to hook the king of the stream, you'll need a short rod.

In addition to the rod, the Small Streams Tenkara Starter Kit comes with a spool of Nissin Oni Line, in the 3.5 size. For really small streams and very short lines, where you need pinpoint accuracy, size 3 might be just a little light but a size 4 line is a little too heavy.

I know some people prefer furled lines for small stream work. They cite the precise casting that a heavier line provides. In my view, although casting is important, the drift is even more important than the cast. Lighter lines give you better drifts. If you miss your target, the light line doesn't spook the fish and you can always cast again. Watch Tom's video one more time, paying particular attention to the surface of the pond. The light line doesn't even make a ripple. You can't do that with a furled line!

The kit also comes with a pair of EZ Keepers rather than the round Tenkara Line Holders that I package in the other starter kits. In really small streams, you will probably spend a lot more time walking - and brush busting - and the EZ Keepers are quicker and easier than winding a line on the line holders.

Whichever rod you choose, this is a simple kit for small stream fishing. (And don't think for a second that all small streams are trout streams.)


Small Stream Tenkara Starter Kit with Shimotsuke Kiyotaki 27
Out of stock


Small Stream Tenkara Starter Kit with Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 270 - $125


Small Stream Tenkara Starter Kit with Nissin Pro Spec 320 6:4 - $205

You never know just what you'll find in a small stream.


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Rod Case

None of the Japanese rod companies provide a hard case with their rods.  The Kosansui does not even come with a rod sock. Although I do offer rod socks, for the Small Stream Tenkara Starter Kit I think it makes more sense to get one of the light, inexpensive, rod cases I learned about from a Japanese tenkara angler. The case weighs just 2.3 ounces and costs just $10.

Medium Rod Case - $10

Streamside Tools

Most people who will buy the Small Stream Tenkara Starter Kit already fly fish and thus have the streamside tools they need. Most, but not all. If you are new to the sport, at a minimum you will need nippers and clamps (also called hemostats or forceps)

Dr. Spring Creek Clamp - $14
Magnetic Gear Release - $9
Dr. Slick Angled Nippers - $10.00


If you don't already have tippet (or if you need more) I can highly recommend the Varivas Super Tippet Master Spec. It is premium tippet, made in Japan, and comes on 50 meter spools. For the Nissin rod (as well as most tenkara rods) I would recommend 5X.

Varivas Super Tippet - $14

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


Included in the Small Stream Tenkara Starter Kit

Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui or

Shimotsuke Kiyotaki 27 or

Nissin Pro Spec 320 6:4

Nissin Oni Line 3.5

Fuji EZ Keepers

"Of course, there's the overriding philosophy that it's more fun to catch fish on a method that works than it is to not catch fish on a rig that's more approved."

excerpt from Trout from Small Streams 2nd Edition

Dave H, Oregon

I really like this rod! If casts equally well as my Soyokaze 270 but weighs almost 10 g less! Its tip section is just a little stiffer than the Soyokaze. It is much nicer in aesthetics than the Kiyotaki 270 and is just as capable. It is such a pleasure to use that I think that if you are looking for a nice small stream rod, you should seriously consider this one.

Tom D, Idaho
Teton Tenkara blog

Had a blast with the small stream kit today! Redspotted sunfish, crappie, redbreast sunfish, dollar sunfish, longear sunfish, and spotted bass were all taken on the rod.

Jeff R, Texas

I've had the Nissin Fine Mode Kosansui 270 for a couple weeks now and it's been great for small/brushy streams where my 12' rod was just too long. Able to power the larger resident Cuts in fast currents and away from snags, but a fun fight with the little guys too. Also killing it (pun intended) with the killer kebaris I tied from your one-fly kit! Thanks!

Adam B, Washington

...the Fine Mode 270. I must say I'm very impressed, I fished with it this past weekend and it handled fish up to 13" with ease!!! Very fun rod, it's quickly became my favorite! Thanks!

Forrest B, Virginia

Thanks for running TenkaraBum the way you do, it's helped me get a lot of enjoyment out of fishing and now my boy will too.

Aric W, Colorado

I finally got a chance recently to use my small stream starter set rod in the Iowa Driftless area. As you likely know fly fishing the small streams in the Driftless can be a challenge. I can't imagine a more perfect outfit for fishing Iowa trout.

Pete L, Iowa