English Fixed Line Masters

I don’t usually post links to Tenkara Angler here, (Spamming forums and Facebook groups isn’t my style). That said, we published an article by Jonathan Antunez today that I think the 10 Color members may enjoy.

I don’t know if I would have the patience to read all of those books from the 16 & 1700s, but I’m happy to read some of his “Cliff’s Notes” on the subject…


I enjoyed the mention of early fishing reels. I’m wondering how the earliest reels would have worked, and in time, how they came to be attached to nearly every fishing pole.


Micheal, thank you for bringing this to our attention very much. I really enjoyed reading it. The point that rang most true for me was choosing a line length to match the average width of the stream you are fishing, which has little to do with the length of the rod you are casting.

Speaking of casting, or the lack there of in my case - As I use the Bow-And-Arrow-Cast a lot, I often fish lines 3 or more feet shorter than the rod is long. Back in the time you are speaking of, fixed line anglers, I’m sure, mostly avoided tight foliage angling conditions, as I am sure most prefer to do today. But, sometimes you have to fish what is available to you, thick or not. In these kinds of conditions, hand lining a fish in on a long line isn’t much of a problem. But finding the room to raise your rod high enough to reach your line can be impossible.

Where long lines are appropriate, using a Strip-In Technique will give much better line control and remove a lot of the drama from hand lining in fish, regardless of how long the line is. This is the same way Western Rod and Reel fly fishermen handle the line when they do not want to wind their line back on the reel: Get a hold of the line with your free hand and transfer it to your rod hand (which takes all the stress off of the rod), grab the line above your rod hand and pull it up and away an arm length at a time until the fish is close enough to net or release. You can do this as fast or slow as you desire, and you maintain line control and possession with hand and finger tension on the line while allowing the line to slide through your rod hand when necessary until you may have to put a green fish back on the rod. When that happens, you will need to start all over again by getting control of the line and your fish again.

Tip-Down Side-Pressure with the rod allows you to Steer the fish in the direction you want the fish to go with 180 degree rod change angles parallel to the water rod angles, which disorient and confuse the fish. The fish’s natural instinct is to go in the opposite direction from the hook and line pressure. Make the fish fight the current till you run out of line and rod length, then do a180 degree rod switch to force the fish to go in the opposite direction. Keeping the rod low and parallel to the water will force the fish to swim into the shore, making it easy for you to get a hold of your line to strip in the fish using the rod’s powerful Butt Section. With the rod held vertically, the tip is too weak to apply much pressure and the mid section is not strong enough to apply much more pressure as this video will demonstrate:

As can be seen in the video, the rod tip is mostly straight exerting very little pressure. But moving the butt/bottom of rod grip forward, you can get the rod into its Power Curve, bringing the butt’s power into play. Putting the rod on the horizontal makes it easier to make the rod movements that gets the most out of the rod’s power. Sorry about the delay - I ran out of battery power and had to charge. The Far and Fine they were talking about back in those days was not nearly as far as it is with todays tackle…Karl.

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The book “The History of Angling” by Charles Chenevix Trench has some really great info on this topic. Its a good resource. Some images in there I have never found in any other book on the subject of Angling. Another book I recommend is Andrew Herds, " The Fly". Great stuff there too. Thanks for reading my article. I appreciate it.


@troutrageous1 Thank you for posting. I would say you should always post articles you think we would enjoy. It is a great article and find that Johnathan shares with us.

It just goes to show there is so much in this world has been already established. There really is nothing new, just cycles and concepts that may seem novel and new. Sometimes technology and techniques get replaced and forgotten.

It has me reflecting on a visit I had a few years ago to the natural history museum in NYC. We know man has been on this planet for a while, but it puts things into context when you see items early man has touched and we see dates set next to them. So much lost technology and technique between then an now, and we as modern creatures are probably the most ill equipped to survive in the natural world.

Sorry for the bad snapshots, but these were tools built between 300,000 -100,000 BC.

This is the one that haunts me. The one on the bottom that looks like a serrated knife. Like a modern butter knife. Those were dated around 100,000 BC.

So conservatively all these items were engineered by human hand over 100,000 years ago. How many of us have the skills and techniques that these tool builders and hunters possessed? What have evolved into? For being here for 100,000 years we sure have not made much progress in technology. Sort of funny and weird to think that most of the technology we use today was developed within the last 200 years.


Awesome stuff Jonathan.

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It’s nice to read about someone else using the strip-in technique!
I never use hand to hand anymore as the control of strip-in (especially with larger fish!) is so much better.
Takes literally just a minute to learn and makes long line tenkara a snap.

When I first began using a Tenkara rod, I was the butt of jokes from the hard core steelheaders at my local FFI (Fly Fishers International) club when giving fishing trip reports. But after I showed the guys some pics of some of the larger fish I was catching they asked me to do a Tenkara presentation, and was later asked to repeat it for a state-wide FFI (Fly Fishers International) fair and a club on the other side of the state. I researched this topic a little to include in the brief “history” portion of the presentation because Tenkara and European fixed line fishing developed during the same time period and were very similar but evolved independently of each other because of locally sourced materials. Native English oak, ash, cedar, maple and more exotic woods like greenheart that became available as the British Empire expanded were heavier than bamboo and even after burning out the center they couldn’t make strong rods light enough to use at longer lengths.
So a wire loop was fitted to the end of the rod for a running line, and then a wooden spool with a metal ring that fitted over the fisherman’s thumb to hold the line. “Barkers Delight: The Art of Angling” by Thomas Barker, in 1659(?) described the “winch” attached to the rod. I used this picture that depicted the “winch” in the presentation to poke a little fun back at the steelheader jokesters.

Robert Seymour, Waltonizing or – Green-land Fishermen, c.1830