Confessions Of A Keiryu Angler

by John V.
(3rd rock from the sun)

Keiryu rods: Nissin 450ZX stiff and Diawa Kiyose 36SF

Keiryu rods: Nissin 450ZX stiff and Diawa Kiyose 36SF

Here we are, the first posting of Japanese keiryu fishing methods in the USA.

I have spent the past 8 months learning about Japanese keiryu fishing methods and how it all works. Below are some insights on how to build a keiryu fishing rig and how it works.

The rig I will describe here is built specifically for a Nissin 450ZX Stiff keiryu rod.

Most keiryu anglers use a line/rig the same length as the rod or 1-2 ft shorter. It is all about the tight line and drift control just like tenkara.

My rig is a standard keiryu rig as used in Japan.

This rig is about 13' long.

Line is 4X Varivas fluorocarbon tippet.

4 line indicators made of bright polypropolene yarn tied on to the line using a surgeons knot tied with the yarn. That makes it so that the indicators can be easily adjusted along the length of the line.

Gamakatsu eyeless hook snelled directly onto the main line

You don't have to snell an eyeless hook. You can use any type of eyed hooks you want. I just decided to stick to the Japanese method and use snelled hooks.

1 BB split shot.

Attachment to lillian is the same slip knot used for level line tenkara lines.

I am using heavier line and weight than a standard Japanese keiryu rig. I am fishing a large deep river with high spring flows right now. In smaller streams, most Japanese keiryu anglers are using 5-6X lines with lighter weights.

How it all works:

The rod: Rods designed for keiryu fishing have a slightly different flex characteristic than a tenkara rod. Although many keiryu rods will work amazingly well for tenkara fishing methods, tenkara rods may not work so well for casting super light keiryu lines with weights attached. Keiryu fishing is just as specialized as tenkara and just as refined from centuries of tradition and evolution. Best to use a rod built for the task.

Weight is about 8 inches above the hook.

Yarn line indicators are spaced about 4-6 inches apart and the lowest indicator is placed just above the water surface. You adjust where the indicators are to get the bait to the desired depth. No yarn in the water.

The indicators are not really strike indicators. They just help you see where your line is in the water.

Bait: You can use any kind of bait you want. Traditionally, live aquatic insects are used. Just pick up a few large rocks and harvest your bait. You could use salmon eggs, worms etc. I have been using some Berkley Powerbait stuff while I get the hang of casting the keiryu rig. I keep flinging the live insect baits off the hook.

The cast is quite different. I find it easiest to use 2 hands with the big Nissin 450ZX. It is kind of a slow spey type cast.

You drift your bait just as you would a kebari. Same fishing tactics are used. Accurate bait cast is essential. This is not a huck it anywhere in the water and wait. It is very active fishing just like tenkara.

I have found that keiryu fishing is equally as challenging as tenkara. I have personally been using keiryu methods in the big rivers. I know that keiryu anglers in Japan fish small mountain streams but I prefer tenkara for that.

Will I be hanging up my tenkara rod and become a bait fisherman?

No, I am interested in learning more about the other Japanese fixed line fishing methods. Contrary to popular thought, you can enjoy more than one form of fishing. There is nothing wrong with a tenkara angler doing some bait fishing when the mood strikes.

Return to Your Keiryu Stories.

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

"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

As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.


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