Japanese line sizes are given in 号 (pronounced like "go" with the o held a little longer than normal, and written in English as go, goh or gou). The following table gives the equivalent diameters in mm and inches.
The definitions are exact, but to meet the Japan Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association (JAFTMA) standard, the line must measure between the next lower and next higher number. Thus, while a size 3 line is supposed to measure exactly .285mm, to meet the standard it only needs to be thicker than .26mm and thinner than .31mm. Thus, not all size 3 line is the same.
Converting Japanese line sizes to pounds breaking strength is pretty straightforward for lines of the diameter of tenkara line. Just multiply the Japanese line size by 4. Thus, size 3 line is about 12 lb test. Size 4 line is about 16 lb test. The actual breaking strength may not be exact, but you can bet it is closer than the stated breaking strength on US line packages.
YGK hi-vis fluorocarbon is available in sizes 1.5 and 2! Big shout out to Paul N for finding it. Regular readers of TenkaraBum.com know that I am a fan of light lines and generally recommended using the lightest line you can get away with. Truly light fluorocarbon lines that are are truly hi-vis have not been available to US tenkara anglers for years.
YGK fluorocarbon line is not sold as tenkara line in Japan. (Why would that stop me?) It's a saltwater fishing line, as was the bright orange hi-vis fluorocarbon that Sunline sold years ago - before they introduced their current tenkara line and dropped the 1.5 and 2 sizes. I certainly hope YGK does not follow suit!
Because it is a salt water line rather than a tenkara line, it comes with 150 meters per spool rather than 20 or 30 meters. Truly, 150 meters is probably more line than you'll use for the rest of your life, but it is worth having if you like light lines and delicate presentations - or if you fish with any of the seiryu rods.
Very light lines are a bit harder to cast but are much easier to hold off the surface. When a delicate presentation is required, a light line is required.
YGK Fluorescent Orange Fluorocarbon Tenkara Line
150m spool - $25
The Sunline Hi-Vis fluorocarbon line is fluorescent orange and it is so bright it almost glows. When I took it out the first time, I was very concerned that it might be so bright that it would scare the fish.
It doesn't. I had one of my best days ever - bringing 33 wild browns to hand, and missing at least that many. I think the reason for the good day was that it was so easy to see even subtle takes.
I'm still a bit slow, and I missed lots of fish, but I think I wouldn't even have seen most of those subtle takes with a less visible line.
Twitches or hesitations that I would have thought were just variations in current speed or my own hand movements often turned out to be fish.
The key to fishing this line, or any tenkara line for
that matter, is to keep the line off the water. I can't emphasize that
enough. Paul Gaskell and John Pearson of Discover Tenkara emphasize it even more than I do. Their research shows a 700% increase in fish caught just by keeping the colored line off the water AT ALL TIMES - even letting the line fall on the water and then immediately picking it up dramatically hurt the catch rate.
Keeping your line off the water is not just about minimizing drag or not scaring fish. If you are fishing wet flies or nymphs and your line is in the water, you will not be able to see the subtle takes. They are often so subtle that the amount of line movement they generate is truly unnoticeable if the line is in the water.
When I first started using the Sunline fluorescent orange line it was sold as a salt water fishing line. To my knowledge no one else in or out of Japan was using it as a tenkara line. I wrote about how visible it was and how it improved my catch. It wasn't terribly long before Sunline started selling an orange tenkara line.
It is now packaged on 30
meter spools (just under 33 yards) and is available in sizes 3, 3.5, 4, and 4.5.
In general, I prefer the size 3 line, but it does depend on the rod you use, the fly you use and if there is a bit of a breeze. For most 7:3 rods, for particularly wind resistant flies or when fishing in a breeze, size 3.5 or 4 will work better. You might even want to go to a size 4.5 line for stiff rods like the Daiwa Keiryu-X or when fishing heavy nymphs, or as I learned at the Oni School, when fishing on a particularly windy day. I had thought that Oni only fished very light lines, but he fished a size 4.5 line for two out of the three days.
Sunline Fluorescent Orange Fluorocarbon Tenkara Line
30 Meter spool - $18.00
The Nissin Oni Line is a hi-vis fluorocarbon line was designed in collaboration with Masami Sakakibara, "Tenkara no Oni." It comes in two colors, an extremely bright fluorescent orange and a pink that is considerably more visible than Nissin's previous pink line or Daiwa's pink line. The Nissin Oni Line also comes in 5 sizes, the fairly standard 3, 3.5 and 4 but also in a 2.5, which is just ideal for all of the softer tenkara rods and the seiryu rods, and 4.5, which is ideal for particularly stiff rods and for particularly windy days.
The orange is a slightly different color than the Sunline orange, so it will be easy to tell them apart. If you fish with different line sizes, whether for different rods or different fishing conditions, I would highly recommend standardizing your lines so that all of your size 3 lines are one color, your 3.5 lines another, your size 4 lines another, etc.
With the addition of the two new colors of Nissin Oni Line, you can very easily have a different color for every line in your collection. If you have all five line sizes, I would choose the Oni Line for size 4.5 and also for size 2.5, because the difference between sizes 2.5 and 4.5 will be obvious.
The Nissin Oni lines come on 20 meter spools, which is less line than for the other brands, but the price is lower as well at $18
Nissin Oni Fluorescent Orange or Pink Fluorocarbon Line
20 meter spool - $18
Fluorescent chartreuse. 50m line per spool.
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The charge for international shipping depends on the destination country, the weight of the package, the overall length of the package and the value of the package.
International purchases may be subject to import duties and taxes. I cannot keep track of all import regulations in all countries written in all languages. Understanding and paying import duties and taxes is the responsibility of the buyer.
TenkaraBum.com no longer ships to the UK. The new VAT regulations are too onerous for a one-man shop that rarely ships anything to the UK anyway. I apologize.
In many cases, my standard shipping (USPS First Class) is just as fast as Priority Mail - but not always. If you want your line or other small items to be mailed via Priority Mail (normally 2-3 day delivery anywhere in the US) there is an extra fee of $4. If you order a rod at the same time as the line, do not add the $4 because rods are already shipped via Priority Mail.