Tenkara tippet is a bit of a misnomer, I guess, as you don't need special tippet for tenkara. You do need tippet, though, even though it never seems to get included in the rod, line and fly "necessities." Although different anglers use different lengths of tippet, I generally use between 3 and 4 feet of tippet. Traditional tenkara wet flies will turn over just fine even if you tie the tippet directly to the line. You don't have to worry about the step from the relatively thick line to the relatively thin tippet being too great.
Most people who come to tenkara from a long history of fly fishing will already have a favorite tippet material. There's no need to change from what you've used for years. Whatever you use now will work, although it is highly recommended that you use a light tippet. Fountainhead recommends tippet with a breaking strength of 4 lbs or less. Tenkara USA recommends 7 lbs or less.
Personally, I think 7 lbs is too strong. I have done enough ultralight spin fishing with 4 and 6 lb test line and know that it is much harder to break off a snag than you would expect. I doubt a rod would survive a steady pull on 7 lb test if you hooked a large enough fish that did not want to stop, and you didn't give up the fight and just point your rod straight at the fish to let it break the tippet. The Varivas 5x has a breaking strength of 4.7 lbs and I would not use anything stronger than that except perhaps with the Daiwa LT44SF, which is a very beefy rod. I understand Daiwa recommends tippet with a breaking strength of 6 lbs or less.
The reason for light tippet is that without a reel, you cannot let fish run against a drag system. In tenkara the line is tied firmly to the rod tip, and as a fish tries to run it meets gradually increasing resistance as the rod bends into its stiffer middle and butt sections. If the fish is strong enough, though, eventually something is going to break. You don't want it to be the rod. Your tippet is the weak link that has to be built into the system. Tenkara rods are very supple, and are very good at protecting light tippets. Light tippets are very good at protecting tenkara rods. Tippets have to be very light if you want to protect horsehair lines, though, which is why I also stock the 7x Varivas Super Tippet.
Maxima Clear is a medium soft tippet material that comes on 25 meter spools. It's rated breaking strength is lower than Varivas, but at $4.25 per 25-meter spool it does offer a pretty good value.
Maxima 4x Clear Tippet 4 lb - $4.25
Maxima 5x Clear Tippet 3 lb - $4.25
Maxima 6x Clear Tippet 2 lb - $4.25
Varivas has replaced their Super Tippet with Super Tippet Master Spec. It now has a much stronger rated breaking strength. Their 5X, which had been rated at 3.9 pounds is now rated at 4.7 pounds. It is a premium quality tippet material at a premium price. The spools hold 50 meters (compared to 25 or 30 for most other brands). Varivas Super Tippet Master Spec spools are color coded, and have color coded retainers to make it easier to get the right one if you have several on a post.
Varivas 5x Super Tippet Master Spec 4.7 lb - $14.00
Varivas 6x Super Tippet Master Spec 3.5 lb - $14.00
Varivas 7x Super Tippet Master Spec 2.5 lb - $14.00
Varivas Master Spec is also available in fluorocarbon. Although I generally use nylon tippets, many anglers prefer fluorocarbon when fishing wet flies and nymphs. Fluorocarbon's greater density does make it sink better than nylon, and the refractive index is much closer to that of water so fluorocarbon is less visible. 30 meter spool.
Varivas Super Tippet Master Spec Fluorocarbon - $14
I think fly fishermen and tenkara anglers are generally pretty environmentally conscious and try to be considerate of the anglers who will follow them. The monoMASTER is a simple solution to the problem of how to keep used tippet out of our streams and I really do think it would help if more anglers carried one.
monoMASTER - $15.00
Payment is through PayPal but you don't need to have a PayPal account. You can use your credit card. PayPal payments will be made to chris at tenkarabum dot com. Credit card statements will read CM Stewart.
Domestic shipping is $3. International shipping is an additional $5 to Canada and $7 to other countries.
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