UK Tenkara Syndicate

by Dave Southall
(East Yorkshire, UK)

Spring 2013 saw the formation of a 'Tenkara Only Syndicate' to fish several small, previously unfitted, moorland streams near Sheffield in the north of England (virtually all fishing in the UK is in private control).

Syndicate members had a preview of the streams on the 12th of April followed by an inaugural dinner. Despite snow drifts remaining after a very cold, snowy winter the streams looked good.

I managed my first visit on the 8th of May, a cool, showery day with a moderate breeze, but with fish clearly visible in the very low, clear water conditions. Three of us explored two of the streams (West End & Derwent), looking, chatting & occasionally fishing (only one angler at a time fishing whilst the others watched & encouraged).

We caught twenty one lovely little wild brown trout up to ten inches (seven each) on a range of dry flies including Parachute Olive, Stimulator & Foam Beetle, whilst we missed or dropped off quite a few more. It was a delightful day with great scenery, great company & fun fishing for truly wild fish in challenging conditions.

Tenkara is exploding in popularity in the UK: not surprising in view of its elegant simplicity. In the June 2013 issue of Fly Fishing & Fly Tying Magazine I had my third Tenkara article published, extolling the presentational superiority of Tenkara compared with conventional gear.

Tenkara is a really wonderful way to fish. It's such a shame that some unenlightened fly fishers condemn it as not being true fly fishing or believe it to be just a 'flash in the pan'.

Comments for UK Tenkara Syndicate

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May 09, 2013
Flash in the Pan?
by: TenkaraBum

Considering that fly fishing with a tight line (tied to the rod tip) is at least 2000 years old, while fishing with a running line (using guides and a reel) has been around for perhaps one tenth that time, and that tight line fishing is making a comeback, one wonders which method is really the "flash in the pan?"

And human nature being what it is, I am certain that fishermen with their loop rods scoffed at the newfangled rods with rings and winches and declared that it wasn't really fly fishing.

As more fly fishermen see it in action, and see their friends try it and like it, the resistance will fade I believe until only the casting instructors and those who feel the need to justify the thousands of dollars worth of short, stiff rods and fancy reels sitting in their closets will remain in opposition.

Congratulations on the tenkara syndicate. It looks like wonderful water.

May 20, 2013
by: Dg in walkley

I'm very interested in your report. I'm in the same part of the world and I think it couldn't be more perfect for this style of fishing in this area.

May 21, 2013
Re your interest
by: Dave Southall

If you are interested in joining contact John Pearson or Paul Gaskell at

Cheers & tight lines, Dave

Jun 15, 2013
Hot and Cold.
by: Dek

I tend to blow hot and cold regarding Tenkara fishing.

Hot, after catching many more Trout or Grayling than usual.

Cold, after a day catching much more vegetation than is usual with the traditional rod.
A couple of hours under the bushes and trees on the Upper Don, South Yorks, for instance, caused me to revert to the old 8 footer, even though I had caught a handful of trout on the Tenkara.
Following my more recent outings, which have been admittedly to "easy" stocked water on the Derbyshire Derwent, I am beginning to warm up to almost full time Tenkara-ing again.

I am comfortable Nymph or Bug fishing with the Tenkara, but haven't yet found a combination of Leader/Tippet length suitable, (for me) when Dry Fly fishing.

I probably make the Leader too long to be correctly controlled. Not a problem fishing deep Nymphs I find.

I have attempted to follow Dave Southall's Leader/Tippet set ups, but I am a 'slow learner' and must try harder!

I am hoping to "Tenkara" wild Trout/ Grayling water on the Mid Tees next week and will try to move my feet nearer to the fish instead of lazily lengthening the Leader.

Jun 15, 2013
Dry Fly tippet set up
by: Dave Southallymous

Try a level line 3' shorter than the rod then make a tapered tippet of 8" 0.25mm copolymer, 8" 0.2mm copolymer & 2' of 5x, 6x or 7x tippet (5x for big flies & 7x for tiny flies).
You should find this will cast well with dry flies.

Dave Southall

Jun 15, 2013
Tippet Set Up
by: TenkaraBum

With a line / tippet of that length you should also be able to keep all the line AND all the tippet off the water. No drag!

Jun 16, 2013
by: DEK

Thanks for the advice regarding Leaders Dave and Tenkarabum.
I must discipline myself not to try "reaching' too far to those temptingly rising fish, where wading is risky, or would cause too much commotion.
I will also play around making various tapers of Furled Leaders.
I have a home made DIY Furling Jig, so can make Furled Leaders for only a few pence each. That will keep me busy for a while!

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

"Study to be quiet." - Izaak Walton 1653

"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." Col. Robert Venables 1662


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

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