Keiryu Markers

Keiyu anglers use a much thinner line than tenkara anglers, thin enough that even if it was hi-vis, you wouldn't be able to see it. To indicate strikes, they use "markers" that are placed on the line above the water's surface. Since the markers are not intended to suspend the fly, they do not have to be nearly as large as the indicators western fly fishermen use. They only have to be large enough to see. Also, because they are in the air rather than floating on the water's surface, there is no hinging effect at the indicator. This gives the angler a straight line from the rod tip to the hook for maximum sensitivity.

Keiryu markers on line with stream in background

There are two main types of markers. One type is just a knot of polypro yarn around the line. The other is a little rigid plastic flag that is threaded onto the line. I have tried both and much prefer the yarn markers. A knot of yarn weighs much less than the plastic marker, which is just heavy enough to contribute to line sag.

The markers can be adjusted easily. I try to fish just off the bottom, but the bottom is almost never smooth. If you never feel your split shot (or bead head fly) bump a rock then you aren't deep enough. If it bumps frequently, it will probably get snagged. Moving the markers is so easy that it is not a problem to adjust your depth frequently.

Because keiryu markers are above the water's surface, and your entire line is essentially tippet material, you are much less likely to spook even highly pressured fish. I have had atlantic salmon parr and warpaint shiners leap out of the water to try to eat the lowest marker, and I've had trout hit a marker when I let it get down onto the surface. It's clear to me that the markers do not scare fish.

For fishing with weighted nymphs or split shot, where you want your nymph or shot bouncing along the bottom, the yarn indicators are nicer than using a hi-vis line because the depth from fly to marker can be changed in an instant, just sliding the markers up or down the line. The knot shown below makes them easy to move, but they will stay put after you move them. (If you find they still slide, take three turns through the loop rather than two.)

A hi-vis line works nicely if you are fishing an unweighted worm in shallow water, where you can use line sag as a strike indicator. If you are using weight and fishing deep, the markers are more sensitive and easier to adjust for depth.

Also, in low light conditions, the markers are really much more visible than any tenkara line.

Illustration showing how to tie on markers

On the back of the package is an illustration showing a method for tying the markers onto the line. The illustration to the left is similar but I find it easier to tie. It is just as effective in creating a knot that you can move but will stay where you put it. I generally cut the tag ends to about 1/4" or a bit less. If that makes them too small for you to see easily, leave them a bit longer the next time. Shorter tag ends will be less susceptible to being blown around by a breeze, and will also allow you to fish with a smaller split shot.

There are a couple situations for which I will cut the tag ends extremely short, essentially leaving only the knot.

Keiryu marker knots with tag ends trimmed

One situation is when tenkara fishing with a weighted fly in a stream where the water depth will vary from spot to spot. You want to keep hi-vis tenkara line above the surface at all times, as it will alert the fish. Keeping your fly near the bottom and your hi-vis line above the surface can mean needing to change the length of your tippet frequently.

Using heavy fluorocarbon tippet as your tenkara line and keiryu marker knots for strike detection is a much easier solution. Heavy fluorocarbon tippet is clear and does not alert the fish. Marker knots can be slid up or down the line easily. You will want to cut the tag ends short to minimize wind resistance, though. The marker knots in the above photo worked extremely well with a standard killer bug (copper wire underbody but no additional weight) but created too much wind resistance to cast an unweighted fly effectively.

Owner Pro Markers (card)

Owner Pro Markers on card

The Owner Pro Markers (card)  package contains fifty pre-cut markers - 10 each in fluorescent pink, yellow, white, orange, and chartreuse.

Each pre-cut marker is about 3" long and is just knotted around the line. The illustration on the back of the package shows just a simple overhand knot, although I would suggest using the knot illustrated above with the Pro Markers on the spools. You will still be able to move the marker when you want to, but it will be a bit less likely to move by itself.

After you tie the marker around the line, the standard practice is to cut the tag ends relatively short. They don't  need to be longer than about 1/4 to 1/2 inch to be visible. If they are longer they will cause more wind resistance, which will require a heavier weight to be able to make the cast and your line will be more affected by any breeze.

Smallmouth bass on side of boat with markers on line in the background

Orange, pink and chartreuse markers are extremely visible, particularly if you use more than one color at a time (upper right in photo)

Because the markers are pre-cut they are very convenient to use. Perhaps the biggest advantage the Pro Markers have over the Bright Markers, though, is that you can very easily use markers of different colors. All the colors are quite visible, but using more than one color at a time really makes them stand out against any background.

Both illustrations on the page show three markers about 8" apart. I now use four (two each of two different colors, alternating), with the markers closer together. If they are far apart I find it easier to lose them in the background.

Owner Pro Markers (card) - $3.50


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