Tenkara knots and rigging are about as simple as the fishing. Only a few knots are needed and the rigging is pretty straight forward.
"How do you attach the line to the rod?" is still the most frequent question I get at the various fly fishing shows I go to.
Let me start out by saying there are other ways to attach the line to the rod and the tippet to the line. I use the methods described below because they work and they are the simplest I've found.
After cutting a line to the length you want, I would suggest tying a figure 8 knot in each end of the line, and then cutting the tag ends to about 1/8" to insure the knots don't come undone. At this point, it doesn't matter which end of the line will be the tippet end or the rod end, as they are exactly the same. That will soon change.
Then tie an over hand knot around the main part of the line.
Tighten the overhand knot to form a loop. At this point, what you have is essentially an arbor knot (although with a figure 8 knot instead of an overhand knot on the tag end).
Hold the rod between your elbow and your side so that only the lillian is showing beyond the grip section. The rod tip should stay inside the grip section. Insert the lillian (the red cord glued to the end of the rod) through the loop twice.
Tighten the loop onto the lillian. It should be pretty tight. If tightened sufficiently, it will not even slip down to the knot at the end of the lillian after a full day of fishing. Truth be told, if you use level lines you don't really need the knot at the end of your lillian. Connected properly, it won't slip.
Before you tighten the loop, fold the end of the lillian back down to where you can hold the end of the lillian and the rod tip together with your thumb and forefinger, and have your thumb and forefinger braced on the end of the grip section. When everything is braced so that the rod tip cannot possibly be pulled sideways, tighten the loop by pulling the line in the direction the rod is pointing, not at an angle..
The photo below is large because it is important.
To remove the line, again hold the end of the lillian and the rod tip
between your thumb and forefinger while holding the end of the grip
section with your other fingers. Grasp the figure 8 knot on the tag end
of the attachment knot and pull it directly in line with the rod. It
should loosen the attachment knot enough to take it off the lillian.
Again, be very careful that you do not pull the rod tip towards the
After you take the line off you can pull out the arbor knot, but you certainly don't have to, and can leave the loop in place for your next outing. This end of the line will probably have a permanent bend in it, so if you do pull out the arbor knot, use the same end each time.
To attach the tippet to the line, you can use just about any knot you use to tie on your fly. Tie the tippet around the main part of the line just as you would tie it around the wire that forms the hook eye. (The photo shows much thicker mono than you'd use for a tippet. My cell phone camera won't capture 5x or 6x tippet.)
If you are using a very light line (size 2 or 2.5) a figure 8 knot will not be large enough to hold the tippet on securely. For those lines, I would recommend either a perfection loop or a tippet ring.
Tenkara has no strict rules. Enjoy tenkara in your own way.
- Eiji Yamakawa