Level lines, furled, and heavy flies

I may be in the minority as most of my experience is with furled lines.

I started my tenkara journey with level lines then migrated to some of the furled lines over at moonlit. Katana, bushi, shogun…etc…

My recent trip was on a stream with relatively tight quarters. This trip I earmarked to use level lines again as I have been getting more sensitive about the quality of my drifts…especially when ice is forming on my furled leaders…they get heavy and really mess with my drifts.

I was using a sato or rhodo, 3.5 level line with a 3’ 6x tippet. The length puts the fly just short of the length of the rod.

With weighed flies I noticed a loss of cast control compared with a furled leader. My timing of my stroke had to be tuned to the fly I was casting. I noticed that this affected my precision. With one of the heavier beaded flys, even cast adjustments couldn’t really dial in the control.

When using a furled casting line of the same length I needed to do less adjustment.

It sort of makes sense seeing that the weight of the furled leader may help consistency in the rod load.

I wonder what folk think about this. I am definitely going to give it more time as I see the merit in level lines, but was sort of surprised on how dramatic the difference is in presentation between flys.

I haven’t fished furled lines much nor those two rods so take my opinion with that caveat in mind. I have experience the same thing as you with one particular rod I owned however. I had a rod I used all summer that cast weighted flies terribly. I could not cast my favourite killer kebari or get a beadhead to go where I wanted. Eventually I gave up. This was a problem with only this rod. It cast unweighted flies fine. So it could be that your rods with level lines aren’t a good combination for weighted flies or that you need to adjust your cast. Some rods can do it all others can’t and often our skills just aren’t there yet.

My limited experience suggests that rod length, bend profile/flex/stiffness combined with line type/diameter determines how a rod casts any particular fly. If this particular combination isn’t working for you, there are lots of other options out there that will cast a weighted kebari with a level line.

I may be completely out to lunch with these points. I frequently am. But this is how I think about casting:

Line & fly are cast by the Kinetic Energy you generate in the line via rod tip speed.
KE = .5 mass of the line x velocity ^2.

Heavier lines are easier to cast than lighter lines.
Because you can more easily cast them before you develop the casting skill to put more velocity into the line, via rod tip speed.

Lighter lines are more difficult to cast than heavier lines.
Because they require more velocity to generate the same amount of KE that is more easily attained by casting a heavier line with lower line velocity. And it takes time to develop the skill to cast a line with higher line speed.

It is easier to load the rod more with a heavier line than with a lighter line.

It is easier to generate a higher rod tip speed with a longer rod than shorter rod. Up to a certain sweet spot of rod length. Longer pendulums weigh more and move slower than shorter ones.

Longer lines are more difficult to cast than shorter lines.
Longer lines will have more mass than a shorter line of the same size, but they slow down rod tip speed, require more casting skill to generate the required velocity. Because KE in the line will decrease by the reduction in v^2, which has a larger effect on KE in the line than the increase in weight of the line.

Heavier or bushier flies are easier to cast with a heavier line.
But can be cast with a lighter line after you develop the skill to cast the line with a higher velocity. But maybe it is easier to use a heavier line when casting bushy flies or heavier flies. I must confess I seldom use bead head flies.

If you are trying too hard to cast the line and not having success.
Your timing is poor. You’re failing to fully synchronize the motion of your casting stroke with the rebound of the flex of the rod. And the energy from the rebound is not being added at the right moment to increase line kinetic energy.

It’s easier to put more energy into your forward cast if you properly load the rod during the back cast.

A 4号 line has 2x the mass of a 2号 line if they are of equal length.

To double the KE in the line, 200%, you can either double the weight of the line ( change from 2号 line to a 4号 line) or develop the casting skill to increase line velocity by 41.4%.

As you can see it will be easier to get more energy in your cast by changing to a heavier line. A heavier mono-filament line or a furled line. All you need to know how to do is how to tie on a different line. Or conversely if you change from using a furled line to a lighter mono-filament line, you will need to learn to increase your line speed to put the same amount of energy into the line.

And the only way to increase line speed is practice, practice, practice. Or rather practice perfect. Repetition of the wrong casting stroke with wrong timing will only ingrain poor form. But I believe if your mind knows what needs to be done - your subconscious will lead you to improving your casting distance and accuracy, no matter what weight of fly you are casting.

[oh, Speed and Velocity are both distance ÷ time. But Velocity has a specific direction. Otherwise the same thing]

Maybe I know the difference between shinola and the stuff laying on the ground. Or maybe not. :confused:
But thinking about casting this way works for me. I’m sure other people think about casting in a different way that is equally valid or maybe a better way to think about it.

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Thanks guys. You have definitely given me stuff to think about…and practice.

The tight quarters required a bit of creative casting…which I suspect also added to the difficulties. It wasn’t until I got home I started to reflect on the technical issues I had. Thankfully the fish ignored my poor form …

This was some fast water coupled with deep pools. I like using heavy flies to probe the bottom. I could use the plunge and eddy to get the flys down…but using a heavy fly just does the job faster. Some of the surface current was too fast for the fly to sink deep enough.

Casting heavy flies is easier and more accurate with a heavy line than with a light line, and there is more to it than just line speed. The distribution of the weight over the length of the line is also a factor, but the math required to describe the physics is way over my head. So, regarding line choice, the heavier line will improve your accuracy but reduce the quality of your presentations by increasing line sag.

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One might try the Tenkara USA’s tapered mono line.
I have no difficulties casting heavy bead head flies with this line.

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Thanks Chris. What size level line do you use when presenting heavier flies?

really have no idea about the weight differences between level lines and a typical furled leader. I suspect its quite a bit.

I guess the pairing of heavier with heavier is the way to go…especially if the fish are responding to the deep presentation. I suspect I can always use more casting practice as well, both to refine my presentation and to find the weight threshold for the line. Like…find the lightest line for that rod that can still present a bead.

thanks for the responses.
I am pleased that the issue was not just in my head.

I still use a light line because I value presentation more than accuracy. I have experimented with straight tippet from fly to rod tip, just casting the weight of the fly and using keiryu markers for strike detection. It worked very well, although the casting was indeed jerky. Here is a pretty long trip report detailing some thoughts about using a very light line with weighted flies. Trip Report - 7-6-14

Awesome. Thanks for the tips and direction. Something new to try…it is exciting. Thanks!

When I was fishing 0-weight fly rods, I learned about casting heavy flys by thinking about it like a “bounce” at the ends of the back cast and forward. “Bouncing” a heavy woolly booger on a UL fly line is just plain ugly…

Now after quitting fly fishing light lines and strictly fishing Tenkara and focusing on level lines after going through heavy floating, furled, lighter furled, heavy LL and moving toward the lightest LL I could cast, what I have found is pretty much the same thing that I did in fly fishing.

I typically use #12 - 14 - 16 size hooks tied pretty sparsely. I use as long of a rod as possible, lately 3.9m and 4.5m with #3.5 level line .5m longer than the rod and .5m of 6 or 7x tippet. I use a tippet ring to keep things uniform. My rods are premium and 6:4 in action. I have had a few people in America and Japan tell me that my rod | line | fly was well balanced.

I want a balanced outfit as much as possible, easy to cast (tight loop) to drive and accurate. I use a long rod with a same length (almost) line to keep the presentation as vertical as possible.

I try to fly first cast accurately as much as possible.

That’s what I do, my choice.

I use a Sebata-san furled line with his rod and fly to teach western converts, easy to cast and well balanced but a heavy outfit.

…or I use a 00-weight or so fly line to teach the same group on their rod.

But for me, LL and suspending the line and vertical as much as possible.

I went through a lightest level line as possible phase and it was too frustrating. Not accurate enough, not versatile enough and certainly not as fun when I was tired at the end of a long day.

The #3.5 is a good blend of everything, about as long as the longest rod I can use with blah blah blah

balance is the key

This article is long, is written from the perspective of casting with a western fly rod, but much will apply to tenkara casting, just ignore the bits about shooting line, and when it talks about fly line weights and diameter, think about how the same would apply to line diameter, density, weight in terms of nylon or fluorocarbon level lines or furled lines. It’s a little like reading a description of a Rube Goldberg contraption without seeing what it looks like. But still kind of interesting.


A bit of Midcurrent advice about casting heavy flies. Again western rod view, but their advice is Belgian cast or oval cast. Which I have seen some people use when casting with a tenkara rod. However, one committer thought the author was full of beans.


Although reading about western fly fishing is fun, I no longer do it. Way too many line shooters adapting to Tenkara.

I prefer Tenkara references, video, media.

Or just figure it out on my own.

That’s the way I like it.

Thank You Adam, David, and everyone who contributed on this thread,

I like to hear about the sort of details you shared on this topic. I only have a couple seasons worth of flyfishing experience. No traditional at all…just tenkara/fixed line. So, the breadth of your experience and philosophy is a real help.

Thank you!

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I used Braided Leader for fly fishing for many years and thought I would naturally gravitate to
using only Furled Leaders for Tenkara Fishing. However, for some reason after only using furled lines for
a short amount of time I started enjoying Level Lines as much or even more. Not sure why; maybe that’s a question for a psychiatrist to ponder. I enjoy using 3.0 and 3.5 Level Line and use Furled Leaders only sometimes. ><)))))*>

I am thinking of buying a Moonlit Tachi furled Tenkara line from Dragontail and notice that I have the choice of Tippet ring connection or micro-swivel . I have no knowledge of a micro-swivel connection as I have not come across that here in the UK. I am sure some of you will have furled tenkara lines with such a connection and would be grateful if you could give me your comments.

Any advice will be appreciated. Many thanks.


I really like moonlit’s lines. I think I may have one or two of the Tachi lines. Most of the lines I have are the katana, oudachi, and Bushi.

Best to ask the guys at Moonlit about the specifics.

These are my thoughts on tippet rings and micro swivels. Take into account, I have only a couple years experience and my opinions are sort of a moving target.

Lately I feel like my line connection to the tippet ring is a point of failure. Not sure why, but I have a lot of knots fail there. This could be user error but I somehow suspect that the ring might be weakening the knot when I tighten down on some of these lighter tippets.

One outing when I was targeting salmon. I had salmon strike multiple times at the micro swivel on my oudachi.

The micro swivels add more weight than the rings. I am not sure how much because they are so small, but I think its noticeable on the regular casting lines…(vs…oudachi which is made to have a sinking tip). With a line like the oudachi you may want to tip to sink or anchor. On other lines you might want it to anchor on windy days, but in generally any and all weight will draw your drift toward you. The regular casting line that I ordered with the swivel I did not like. I think it was a katana. I also have katana lines with the ring which I like better.

In general swivels are good for presentations that introduce line twist. I am trying to think of a time this has ever been a concern for me. Streamers, heavy flies, and nymphing with lead in moderate to heavy current might be an occasion that this might happen, but I never really do any of those things. I do cast streamers, but only to salmon.

I don’t have any of their lines with a shorb loop, but wish to try one.

Hope the info helps.

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Thanks for the reply. Very useful. I hadn’t realised that they also did a Tachi line with a shorb loop connection which I prefer. Dragontail don’t list that as an option and Moonlit don’t ship to the UK. I think I may go with the Tenkara USA third generation furled leader with shorb loop connection, which I also like and can buy more easily in UK.

I note your experiences with Tippet rings twhich rather puts me off that option

I have just realised I should have started a separate thread for my original post. Sorry I got confused… Technology and me don’t mix very easily😀


T-USA is not the only one making some sweet tapered nylon mono lines. :slight_smile:

I have had some success casting larger than reasonable flies on softer than reasonable rods (for large flies) using a tapered 3.6m line and 5X tippet.
Also, I did well with a 3m tapered White Tenkara on the super-soft Air Stage 290 w/ big heavy wind-resistant dries like a #10 double humpy.
I’m no expert, but the taper helps transfer energy through the cast and turn over the line more easily.

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The Fujino Midi, Soft and White tapered nylon lines are very nice. I am virtually certain that the TUSA line is made for them by Fujino (essentially a Midi length in a Soft color and nylon formulation). Personally, I like the White line. Easy for me to see and harder for the fish to see, and it casts well.

I also REALLY like the White Fujino.
The T-USA 3.6m was my first nylon tapered line and it does feel very similar to the Fujino’s I’ve used.