First Tenkara Fishing Trip

by Joe Leal
(Novato, California)

Dad and his tenkara rod

Dad and his tenkara rod

Not only was this horsepack trip my first outing with my new Tenkara 12' Iwana, it was my oldest daughter's first true backcountry camping/fishing trip as well. We got packed into the John Muir Wilderness @ Bear Creek, in the Sierra Nevada mountains. This is my third visit to Bear Creek, and my daughter's first, obviously. She has been learning to fly fish with me, and she told me that she wanted to fish for golden trout, California's state fish. I couldn't think of a better place to take her to catch goldens. After arriving at our campsite on a Monday, we spent the first day setting up camp and relaxing. Tuesday thru Friday were our all day fishing days. Saturday, the packer would return to take us out.

My Tenkara USA rod arrived about 1 1/2 weeks before our trip. I spent almost every day in the backyard, practicing my casting and trying different lines and lengths on the rod. I was yearning for moving water to try the rod, but that had to wait. I promised myself that even though I brought 2 regular fly rods with me, I would only use the Tenkara rod to fish. I never regretted my choice. The long rod took some getting used to, backcasts, leading the fly and such, but after 1/2 hour, I felt that I was getting exactly what I was looking for.

What a PERFECT way to fish for trout!!!! I always especially loved smaller trout streams, and this rod and method of fishing has proved to be a godsend for me. I tried a level Hi-Vis flouro line the first day (courtesy of some bum from New York), a tapered, furled line on Tuesday, a hand tied Hi-vis mono line on Thursday (same bum). All these lines were rod length. On Friday, I tried a level and furled line, both 2 ft shorter than rod length. Tippet length was about 2-3 ft in most cases. 5x and 6x. I could not believe the accuracy and the delicate presentation possible with the Tenkara rod. I pretty much stayed with a dry fly most of the time, since goldens are good surface feeders, and I wanted to be able to see the path of the fly easier. The Hi-Vis lines helped tremendously. What an exciting feeling to feel a fish on a Tenkara rod!!!

I am going on a trip right after Labor Day to Kings Canyon National Park to test the rod and best learn its characteristics. This rod will need several trips for me to try my usual trout fishing techniques(dry,wet,nymph,swing,skitter,etc) except to use my new Tenkara rod.

I found that the level and furled lines require different casting strokes and timing, but that will come with experience. I tried to use the lightest line possible, but sometimes the wind proved to be too strong and made me change to a heavier line to present the fly properly. After this Tenkara experience, I seriously doubt that I will use my 9ft/4wt. fly rod very much. Getting used to landing fish in a slightly different manner and controlling the fish were different than a regular fly rod. I had no problems, however.

I wish I had heard/learned about Tenkara rods and techniques several years ago, but such is life!!! I can see myself using the Tenkara rod exclusively for my trout fishing from now on, and I truly think that could be a good thing in my life. I will post pictures and reports as they occur. Long live Tenkara!!

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“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..." -
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