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Name Your Kebari

by Les Albjerg
(Caldwell, Idaho)

Caught on Keeper Kebari

Caught on Keeper Kebari

TenkaraBum to me is not only about the gear, but also about pushing the envelope. That said, Tenkara traditionally is about a fixed line rod, a basic line, and a kebari. So, I would love to hear from the readers what kebari you like to fish and why.

I will begin. The kebari I most often fish with is the Keeper Kebari. I have tied it on hooks from size 6 to 8. One of my favorite hooks has been a size 7 carp hook that I bought on sale from England. I have used black and peacock yarn. The trout seem to almost always just slam this fly. I have had very few subtle takes. It has been a great smallmouth bass fly. It is the fly I caught my first carp on.

So, name your Kebari!

Comments for Name Your Kebari

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Mar 19, 2018
"Rooster" Kebari
by: John Evans

I guess this is more of a general-type of tenkara fly, and it certainly will not please the purist, but I enjoy Kebari-type flies tied with dry fly "rooster" hackles rather than the soft hackles. I know the soft hackles impart more movement, but I just find that I like the dry-fly hackles better, for the most part. The "rooster" kebari flies float for a while till they get water-logged, and then they behave more like wet flies. The fish strike both types of hackles, and I haven't found much difference in my own fishing with unweighted patterns.

Mar 19, 2018
Rooster hackled kebari
by: Chris Stewart

Actually, John, it would please the purists quite a lot. Many of the regional tenkara patterns in Japan were tied with stiff hackles. Somehow, the only patterns that got introduced to the US initially were the sakasa kebari, and most of those were tied with soft hackles. Most tenkara flies in Japan are not sakasa kebari! I suspect that's what got introduced here because they were unusual, and contributed to the exotic appeal of tenkara.

The Ishigaki kebari is (or should be) tied with rooster hackle. Initially, I included rooster hackle in the kits, switching to soft hackles only when the feathers-in-the-hair craze made Whiting 100's unobtainable.

The stiff hackled flies are only starting to be referenced over here, but rest assured you are in good company. The people who prefer the stiff hackled flies like the fact that they provide a better "anchor," allowing you to keep your line tighter, and will keep the fly stationary in an eddy if you are casting upstream into the eddy. They also are better at skating when you finish a downstream presentation.

Without the tail and without the floatant, a "dry fly" makes very effective wet fly.

Mar 19, 2018
Stiff Hackles
by: Les Albjerg

John - I tie my "Rattlesnake" Kebari with stiff hackled grizzly or white hackle. I just haven't fished it that much, Once I am catching fish on the "Keeper Kebari", it is hard to change flies!

The guys over at "Tenkara In Focus" have a really nice chart of the different Kebari in a sort of algorithm form that is very educational.

This week I am going to tie up some size 6 Keeper Kebari with a beadhead for steelhead fishing next month. I think they will be a close enough intimation to a stonefly to work really well. Steelhead where I fish really go after stonefly nymphs.

Mar 19, 2018
Simple box fillers
by: Jeff D

I most often fish the simplest kebaris, based on the Ishigaki kebari. Just thread and a hackle. I tie both stiff and soft hackle in a darker brown and a very light cream, and in a large (size 12) and a small (18 or 20).

Mar 19, 2018
Feeling Better about My Rooster Kebari
by: John Evans

Well, there you go! In doing some on-line research, I noticed that tenkara-style flies have been tied with all kinds of hackles, so I'm feeling better about my choice. I even saw a YouTube video where a Japanese angler tied some great-looking flies with a really stiff portion of a pheasant wing. I don't think my tying skills will allow me to do that yet, but it does illustrate the wide varieties of hackles that are used. I can only guess that the original tenkara anglers used whatever feathers they could lay their hands on--and figured out how to make it work!

Mar 26, 2018
Two favorites
by: David

Last summer I became quite fond of the Katayama Etsuji fuzzy kebari. It's tied with off white or cream color wool body, peacock herl & grizzly hackle. Often with green or orange thread or whatever you prefer. It is usually a jun kebari, meaning hackle is toward the hook bend. Or a futsu kebari, the hackle sticks straight out. Most often the Ishigaki barcode stealth kebari are futsu style kebari, not sakasa kebari style. Do a google search with - 片山悦二のファジー毛鉤 - you'll find images of them. Or look for the Daiwa kebari set. It's the lighter colored one marked 春用, for spring.

Another is a clone of a Tenkara no Oni kebari. Cahill or pale yellow thread body, silk works well. Some black dubbing behind the hackle. Hackle can be soft or stiff, light or dark color. Tied on how ever you like, jun or futsu style most often or even sakasa style if you'd prefer.

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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..." -
Col. Robert Venables 1662

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


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

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