I know it’s not at all tenkara. As a life long fisherman I’ve kayak fished ocean and lakes for the last 25 years. Lately I’ve been thinking about using my kayak to access high water areas, anchor off and fish these mostly inaccessible inlets and outlets. What say you about using tenkara in conjunction with a kayak?

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A Tenkara buddy has tried a float tube in an alpine lake with a TBum 40 and a Suntech GM53. He believes that not having a reel to allow the fish to run cost him some nice fish unbuttoned.

Same with a long-time angling buddy that said in 2019 with a 3.9 meter 6:4 rod, fish rocketing out of the depths of a steep dropoff at an alpine lake (where we both did very well with the same Tenkara rods in 2018) to grab a fly caused several nice fish unbuttoned and break-offs(!).


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I am planning on buying a specific kayak and hoping to Tenkara with it, typically in water that I know my rods will be able to control them once hooked (small-medium trout). Catching large trout in a kayak and float tube seems like a recipe for break-offs.

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Lot’s of variables. Is the kayak a sit-on-top or a sit-in? Many of the sit-on-top kayaks for fishing actually allow for standing while fishing. I would think this would be much easier. It seems to me there would be a learning curve to landing a fish with a tenkara rod while seated in a traditional kayak. I am sure it can be done though, a lot of hand lining.

The size of fish you might expect to hook into would also factor in. If you are in deep water with big fish it might be a challenge. Although, the fact that you say you will be anchoring I think will help. I have seen guys head out on a paddle board with a fly rod into water that I know for a fact has very large fish including large carp. I always have a vision in my head of a guy on a paddle board being pulled around a cove by a fish. It doesn’t take much to move a paddle board or kayak through the water. Even a small trout will move a kayak that isn’t anchored a little.

Either way, I think you should do it and report back!

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I have an email friend that mostly uses a kayak. One of the Hobie Mirage models with the pedal drive. Which leaves his arms free to cast or land fish. He used to participate on the TUSA forum, but felt he was disrespected a few times and dropped out. He doesn’t always fish from the kayak, but uses the kayak to travel to places where he gets out to fish from the bank. I will ask him what his top 5 recommendations would be for fishing from the kayak. Length of rod, line, accessories, etc.

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Great insight, thank you. I currently have 3 kayaks and the one I’m considering using is a sit on top that has a huge deck space. It’s very stable and easy to stand on. I think the other 2 would be difficult because of the lack of stability.

Keep the comments coming!

Tyson, the reply, direct quote, from my kayaking tenkara friend.

" I fish kayak T(enkara) 95% of the time. I also enjoy a bit of hike and fish as well but the best to me is in my kayak.

Some things noticed after many years of kayak T

  1. Use the kayak to range targets. The distance needed to cast is done with the distance your kayak is from the bank, stump, underwater cave, etc. Eventually your brain will automatically tell your arm where the fly will land without thinking. I’ve noticed fishing from the kayak in the first year or so is sitting low in the water makes it harder to cast compared to standing next to the water. That vertical distance does make a difference but with practice doesn’t matter. Your casts when standing will be quite good after you get used to the low to the water casting. At the same time this lower profile low to the water makes you harder to see due to the fish eye cone of vision.

  2. Having the kayak to easily reach difficult areas off the lakes and rivers is my favorite. Having a fixed line rod in these places seems best since smaller quiet water isn’t used to the disturbances of heavy lures and line slapping the water. Fly first and often only fly is very effective and almost necessary in undisturbed thin creeks.

  3. Stealth is easy and quite productive in the kayak. Plan ahead a bit, get some inertia going to creep up on a spot to cast. Or even trolling the fly into position. This is also very good viewing animals on the bank getting inertia. The kayak makes no noise and animals and fish aren’t as quick to bolt while your silently slicing through the water, probably why the Alligators and Crocodiles are still around. I have got so close that I’ve scared myself on several occasions. Some wild animals were not to happy with me staring at them from 5 feet away. Use the speed of the current to your advantage, don’t fight the water. You won’t win against the water. The drifting into position is easy if you’ll let it be. Objects drifting same speed as the water are often viewed as cover and very natural to your targets. Many times fish use my kayak as shade in the still waters especially in Summer.

  4. Don’t get excited and freakishly/spastically try to cast because you suddenly see a fish or the best possible spot ever to cast while drifting along in river current or lake wind. This often equals a fly in a tree or a sloppy poor cast that may scare fish off. The area behind should be viewed to avoid back casts into the limbs. Snags while in current can be frustrating and so very bad. You should see how your rod behaves if dropped in the water. All of my rods float extended. Throwing the rod over board while being swept away in the river current or wind during a snag is almost always the best option.

  5. With practice kayak T is addictive, so productive, healthy and fun. The stimulation from years of fishing this way through muscle memory, knowing how to let myself move with nature and exercise without really noticing I’m getting exercise is a great way to enjoy your time. "

That’s it. In years past I seem to recall him saying something about discovering a shorter (or longer) rod worked best. But he did not include any opinion about that today. The opinion that his stand up casting was better after hours sit casting was interesting.

[the tenkara purist might foam about it, but I have seen Japanese tenkara blogs with people fishing with tenkara rigs from canoes, and a lot more blogs, magazine articles, and videos of sea tenakra.(just google 海でテンカラ釣り or 海 ・テンカラ ) and see. Not fishing from a boat, but fishing from a dock or jetty. And even - lake tenkara, 湖・テンカラ fishing from the shore or shallow water along the shore. ]

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This video from Sept 2019 is about as fringe tenkara as it gets. But maybe in about the same class as Kashiwagi Shigetaka-shi’s Kashiwagi-style Tenkara, [ 柏木重孝氏の柏木流テンカラ]. :wink:
His tenkara rods and style of hybrid tenkara is quite different, but he is an interesting guy.

From the YTChannel : kayak55ムービー , (kayak55 movie)

カヤック・テンカラ・バス釣り [ kayak ・tenkara ・bass fishing ]

From the video description, his set up:

Kayak: Viking Kayak / Shinobi
◆ Paddle: Swing Star Emperor Straight
◆ Rod: Frog Products Holiday Meister Backpacker
◆ Main line: WF # 8 2.5m
◆ Leader: Seager Ace - # 12, 1m + # 8, 30cm + # 4, 50cm = total of 1.8m
◆ Fly: Basifunabag (homemade) [ ?? Basi crucian carp bug ? ]

Took a bit of searching to track down the length of the Frog Products Holiday Meister Backpacker rod. .
The Frog Products website only states " It is designed for short-length tenkaras, but various fishing such as bait fishing is possible!" [ ショート丈のテンカラ用に設計されていますがエサ釣りなど様々な釣りが可能!] . Your choice of color [ Pink or Green ]


But Kayak55 is a shop, where collapse length of the rod is listed as 68 cm ( 26.77 in ) Extended rod length is 178 cm (~ 70 in, 5 ft 10 in) . With a matching short line of 2.5m. But that is 1.4x rod length. Which would be kind of longish with a 4m rod. Not counting the 1.8m leader. That makes the total line length of 2.42x rod length. A long line! Either he prefers a short rod, or it’s just what he uses because it is what he sells at this shop.



I fished from a kayak in the salt for several years.
A lot of the notes above are excellent and solid.


That last video link that David posted illustrates some things I would suggest.

A shorter stouter rod may be worth investigating especially if fishing longer lines and deeper water.

No matter the tech…fly…spinning…conventional. I feel a stouter rod just operates better from a kayak. The reason has two parts. One… some energy from hooksets are lost from a kayak. The kayak moves so more force is often necessary. Two… with more line in the water…fishing deeper depths, the low angle combined with the drag of line in the water is going to lessen the force that reaches the hook. Brian miller notes a friend dropping fish using a TBum 40 and a Suntech GM53. Those tips are pretty soft. Most typical tools for tenkara might all be too soft for a good hookset if presenting deeper than what we normally would fishing a river.

The shorter rod will make it easier to grab the line. A typical recommendation for kayaking rods is one long enough to clear your bow. Of course with a tenkara rod that is pretty easy to fulfill, but also I feel that a 5 meter rod may be way to long and complicate landing.

If you can find a full flexing rod that is a bit stouter, it might be the ticket than a faster action rod. Someone noted the Royal stage 7:3 being a 20 penny rod. I really have no idea what the right rod would be but something around 20 penny or more that is full flex, may help. In general I feel moderate blanks are better for fish fighting because they do all the work.

In general, fixed line from a kayak is sort of a challenge and is probably fun, but suspect as David’s post notes that there are things that will take time to figure out and skills to refine.

I love kayak fishing and miss it. bicycle is to automobile as kayak is to boat. Bicycles and kayaks represent a wonderful sense of self powered freedom to explore and enjoy nature. Have fun!!!


In the past I have also done some salt water kayak fishing on sounds on the N. Carolina coast.
But never with a rod. Using a hand line on different kinds of line holder, from Cuban type hand reels to just hand made pieces of wood. Probably about half the time instead of trolling while paddling I would just go to some isolated sand bar and toss the hand line into the deeper water from there.

I sometimes tend toward being one of the Seven Swabians. Seeing monsters or great challenges where they do not exist when contemplating doing something new and unfamiliar. Struggling and bleeding fish attracting predators larger than my boat toward me being one such monster. If only I hadn’t read that story about the guy in New Zealand having an encounter with a great white shark while kayak fishing in a bay. :fearful: :wink:

Anyway, I seem to recall my friend once saying he found a shorter rod to be an advantage when kayak tenkara fishing , but he did not mention it in his email to me yesterday. However, my guess is anyone who has done much kayak fishing with a rod may have already found their preference. Though there may be a difference between fishing with a reeled rod vs a fixed line rod.

Funny thing is I only uploaded the kayak55 video just to show that even in Japan people fish in other places than narrow mountain streams and still call it tenkara, that most people there also would judge it not tenkara, not so much as a recommendation of the setup he used. But as you point out - a short stiff rod with long line may be an advantage.

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The kayak I want to use for this is one you can stand on, I know areas that have spectacular fishing that is often inaccessible ( except by boat ) during the run off.

That’s a nice looking kayak!
I am saving up for the Ascend H10. It’s a hybrid kayak/canoe that is nimble and light. At 55 lbs, I would fine with carrying and loading it on my SUV on my own. It’s stable (not enough to stand) and lots of storage. I would fine fishing while sitting, as I am use to it from fishing in my float tube.


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I’ve been using a Tenkara rod out of my kayak for about 6 years. It works great! Paddle gently to not spook the fish and only cast with your arm not your body, won’t “rock” the ‘yak and cause waves.


Tenkara Gandalf! Heard about you in a Tenkara podcast. Nice to meet you.
What length of rod do you use while Tenkara fishing from a kayak?

Up until now I have been using 12’ 6/4 rod. I have since picked up a 4.5m rod that I’ll be trying out this summer. Any rod over 11’ would be fine however I think a 5/5 might be to hard to lift without rocking. Keep in mind that it not really “ Tenkara” it’s fishing with a fixed line rod. I don’t want to start a confrontation with the purists…lol


Thank you! Your insight is invaluable!


I use my packraft to get back home after honryu adventure.

Same with my fat tire bike.

More of that this year.

The term purist always gets people going for sure.