Long Line Tenkara

Great trip Report/Blog post yesterday from Chris Stewart.

Longer Line Tenkara

One thing that crossed my mind on this issue was how important and special this realization is to Tenkara.

All the other fishing methods used on a Tenkara rod for other species and in other types of water can be done well or better with other types of fishing gear. The type of fishing described by Chris really is where tenkara gear excels and other equipment fails.

Discuss! :slight_smile:


Is that blog entry recent? I want to try a long line; up to 10 meters with my Suntech GM 53 for “across & downstream” saltwater weighted nymph-streamer presentations with a strong tidal flow of up to 2.5 knots out to around 40 ft. When I emailed to ask if that was even feasible with the GM 53 Chris was unsure and suggested I could try a 7m (or longer) Fujino tapered line.

I found a 10m tapered line and lawn casts with unweighted* yarn turn over “fly first” but without a current to help keep the line off the ground there was around 5 feet of line laying on the ground. I’ll be giving it a try in the salt next week.

Even on small streams 5-6m lines can be beneficial, when I find myself reaching with the rod I know its time to use a longer line to keep my distance from the fish as apposed to getting too close and spooking them. I have fished bigger water in the past with up to 6m lines and felt it was not enough, from now on will start with 8-10m lines and bigger kebari when fishing a large main stem. From practicing with longer lines I’ve learned 10m of #4 level line is about my limit with a 4m rod, some rods are better at it than others, the Oni rods will do it and so too the Nirvana 400, the Esoteric 410 rods are smooth and well balanced for such big rods and can handle longer lines, would probably go with the 7:3 in the Nissin rods. Haven’t owned a Tenryu rod but would be interested in hearing from those who have as to the rods capabilities when it comes to longer lines and casting in the wind.


Fly rods can shoot line far!

Most fish are caught within the limits of a big rod/long line tenkara rod.

I have not found that fly fishing is better on a river, it’s different.

It’s a choice.

It has everything to do with the anglers experience.


I’m not just talking about distance…but also keeping the line off the water and that perfect balance of tension and slack with an unweighted fly.

Sure fly rods can cast very far…but with line on the water. Yes you can take an 11 foot fly rod and an 11 foot tenkara rod… and cast both with level line and tippet and an unweighted stiff hackle kebari and keep the same range and be fairly equivalent…but an 11 foot tenkara rod is well short…and an 11 foot trout fly rod is long. Go up to a 4 meter Tenkara rod and to get that length in a fly rod you really are talking about a tool designed to not “high stick”…but the Tenkara rod continues to excel at casting even further that unweighted fly with all the line off the water… right?

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I think the blog entry has grown over time…the last part was added recently.

I must not understand you but it’s no big deal.

I’ve made and used 10’ fly rods for many years, then stopped and finally learned honryu tenkara with 5m rod and 10m line.

The thing is, I’m not trying to replicate someone else’s recipe, I’m doing it myself using the rod as a teacher. After decades of fly fishing and then quite a number of years using longer tenkara rods and preaching about long lines, you sort of get your lessons from physics, learning from your equipment.

Looks like Chris had an AHA moment (as he said)

You learn from your equipment ultimately and I surmise you learn from long lining.

It’s funny, I can see a whole Internet of people extolling the virtues of long lines now. After trying to get people to open their eyes about it like a few of us have, now it’s vogue and here they come and that’s a good thing.

I want people to elevate.

It’s not a competition with me.

It’s what works.

I just have a great time watching it unfold, it’s amusing to me.

I am really enjoying not being on social media groups and taking big breaks from forums and groups of people. I enjoy writing about my interests and they get date stamped and I’m on down the road doing my thing having fun enjoying what I do and sharing with my Japanese friends.

It’s fun.

I hope you are having fun too Adam.

I’ve been using a 5m rod and a 10m clear fluorocarbon line in big clear water. Gamakatsu makes a nice 5m rod which is the longest single hand cork grip tenkara rod I have found.

The physics behind it are interesting.

Wind and the direction of wind relative to your target has a big effect.

Chris reveals quite a bit about himself in that article, kudos to him for it.


Hmmmm. Long line, long tippet, very short drifts, flies resistant to being pulled easily through the water.
I think I need to go fishing and try this out.


I hope his post does get more people into this!

I will try and explain my point long winded style :slight_smile:

I see a lot of people talk about using and extolling the virtues of a tenkara rod with:

  • long rod short line
  • euro style nymphing rigs and weighted flies
  • streamers
  • spoons
  • jigs
  • and many more things

All the above is something that can be done equally well with other gear and in some cases better with other gear.

What Chris talks about is a system that must be used combined but not only works to catch fish but is something that other gear outside of very close range cannot do well.

That system is:

  • tenkara rod
  • line at 1.5 times rod length +
  • long tippet 5-6 feet
  • hackled fly
  • upstream casting
  • short drifts
  • manipulated or pulsed fly

With all the above you can keep line off the water and have just the right amount of tension and slack to allow a fish to grab the fly and turn.

As I said in my other post…I’m sure you could do this with the “euro nymphing” fly rods now out there at 10-11 feet in 2 or 3 wt options - but your range is limited relative to a 4 or 4.5 meter tenkara rod. I have not tried to do this with one of those types of fly rods (I don’t own one) so maybe it would not work well?..I am just guessing it might work.

So…the system that Chris describes is something truly special about tenkara and IMHO is super important in understanding what IS tenkara.

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Thanks for the information everyone.
I am relatively new to Tenkara, so this is all intriguing and informative.
Is there any special consideration for casting long lines, especially with such long tippets?

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Practice! Absolutely no substitute for practice.
If you have someone with experience with you to watch and critique it’d be good.
It’s not actually as hard as you’d think.

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“Euro Nymphing” is a hybrid term. It is a wide open market.

Tenkara outside of Japan has similarities with “Euro Nymphing” in that people have interpreted it in their own way and have written about it on their web site with literally no research or contact with the Japanese anglers that do it.

I’ve witnessed my fair share of Japanese anglers that do tenkara that do not practice tenkara as it is practiced by…

This is what is the problem.

There are many schools of tenkara in Japan.

There are many new people into tenkara outside of Japan that just do what they do and teach others their way.

Outside of Japan, tenkara has become a sort of catch all term for fixed line fishing.

Honryu tenkara will now go through this same process.

I just do it with influence from Japanese people that do it.

I enjoyed Chris’s article, there was a lot about Chris in there.

Hmm, what was I trying to make my point about???

I forget.

There is no point for me.

I’m not selling anything to anyone. I’m not an expert either although I’ve been actually doing it a lot longer than most. I think it’s 24 years now that I’ve known Yoshikazu Fujioka, sending people to him to be educated on kebari. Or helping the Japanese tenkara anglers, old and new getting their ideas across to English readers.

It’s fun!

But it’s hilarious too.


Jason…I’m no expert but I can tell you what I have done.
First - James is correct. Practice and fishing with others is a huge help especially when they have more experience than you.
The main consideration to know is how to land a fish. You will have to hand line in the fish. There are good techniques to practice for this. I know Discover Tenkara had or has some info online but I could not find it. Perhaps @Paul_Gaskell can point you to a link? They go over the two options and basic rod position and hand sweep move to get the line in your hand. They then go over the two options to hand line - pinch at handle and slide line or go hand over hand.

Another source is Tenkarabum site and Daniel’s article Long Line Tenkara

For practice I personally found the following line to help a lot. Fujino Soft Tenkara Long Type It is the Fujino Soft Nylon Taper line “Long”. I went with 8 meters. The line shows no mercy and so is a great tool to practice with to hone your skills. I would pick a length that is well beyond what your typical fishing max will be. If you practice “beyond” what you will really use then when you go to fish you will have more confidence.

That is all I can think of now.

Thanks Adam. Appreciate the encouragement and suggestions.
Unfortunately, I live in a part of Canada with few Tenkara fishers, so my “learning from others with more experience” is mostly coming from forums, sites, videos, and books. I have learned a lot through trial and error, and practice, which will be a large part of my focus come next spring, as it’s already cold here!

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Pinch the line with your thumb and forefinger, easier to release or let slip, I cradle big fish upside down, it sort of quietens them down.

I have written some stuff on Honryu at my site, you can find it there.

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I’m really not trying to troll for business, but the Oni School is one of the best ways to learn how to long line tenkara in the states. We’ve spent a lot of time focusing on these techniques from Oni, and they can be really effective.




It’s not the best way for me but it may be for someone else. Early on when I visited Masami, he offered me a few tips and I use them to this day.

I’m glad you mentioned it.

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Adam, I too seem to recall a short DT video describing how to hand line in a fish when fishing with a longer line. That had pretty good clear verbal description of each step, and the process was repeated a few times: from up stream, down stream, across stream. If I recall correctly they used a foam rubber fish, called Fred, I also cannot find that video. It may be hidden within a TIF episode, or possibly they (Paul and John) lost the rights to that video when they had a, ah parting of the ways, with their former film maker, and lost the rights to use the videos he had filmed for them.

Anyway, maybe the following two videos will be of some help describing hand line landing a fish. The first from Daniel Galhardo, TUSA, and the second one is John Pearson, DT.

Sorry, you’ll have to click the link to see this video:
vimeo Discover Tenkara - Tenkara works for bigger fish too

Jason, for casting long lines.
My 2¢ advice - Casting a line that is 1.5 ~ 2x rod length is all about learning the correct rhythm and timing of the casting motion. And it’s more important to get that right when casting a longer line. Your timing and rhythm can be off when casting a shorter line and the cast still be okay. But casting a longer line, flaws in your casting technique will be revealed. That’s why i also think doing some practice casting a longer line, even if you don’t fully get the hang of it, will improve your skill at casting a shorter line, a line equal to rod length or up to 1.25x rod length. At least for me, I found time trying to learn to cast a 6m or 7m line, slowed down my casting rhythm, and improved my timing.

Do not try to cast the line using the power in the motion of your arm. Speed and timing, not arm power. A difficult concept to grasp by description, but understanding that concept will be discovered actually casting a longer line.

The key is the timing of when you should reverse the direction of motion of the rod. Allowing the spring power in rebound of the rod tip to propel the line, either forward or reward. It is also important to make a defined stop of the rod motion at the back cast stop position (~12:00) and at the forward stop position (~ 2:00). Only hold the rod grip lightly. Not tightly like gripping a hammer when driving a nail.

I would recommend doing some lawn casting. Try it with a line about 7m or 8m in length. Start with a heavier line. Maybe a 4 号 or 4.5 号 FC level line. With the line laying straight out, just do a back cast, and let the line fall to the ground. Turn round and do a back cast the other way.

The purpose of doing that practice is trying to develop sensitivity in your hand to feeling when the rod tip is flexed to its maximum bend rearward. That is the point when the spring power in the rod will be at maximum to power the line forward.

After trying that a few times, try adding in the forward cast. Starting the forward cast at the moment you think the rod tip is curved rearward to its maximum bend. What works for me for the forward cast is think of the arc of the forward cast being divided into thirds. Make the second 2/3s of the cast a little faster than the first 1/3. It always seems to me that my forward cast is better when I start the forward cast a little slower, not a hard acceleration. [ however, other people might describe it differently]

Also - Think of trying to cast your line up and rearward at 45˚ during the back cast and forward and down at 45˚. The angle between the two directions will of course be 180˚.

After somewhat getting the hang of it. Try going to a lighter smaller line. I think there is no need to aim for perfection before moving on. The heavier line is good for learning to sense the tug of the line on the rod tip. And how much the rod tip is flexed. Gaining a sense of correct timing. But after developing some sensitivity to that. You will probably be able to sense it with a lighter line. And get the rhythm and timing close to correct. Switch to a 3.5 号 or 3.0 号line. Or the Fujino tapered nylon line mentioned before (I think TUSA sells a similar line, but not in as many different lenghts). And see how that goes.

It is easier to cast a heavier line than a lighter line. Partly, I think, because your casting speed can be lower with a heavier line, and partly due to needing to develop greater sensitivity to the amount of rod flex with a lighter line. Your casting rhythm and timing will need to be closer to perfect.

[ As an aside, it takes more line speed to cast a line with a longer tippet too. A 5m line + 2m tippet, will be more difficult to cast well than a 6m line + 1m tippet. Because you will need the skill to get the power of the rod to transfer all the way to the tip of the longer 2m tippet.]

[[ I think casting into water is better than casting onto the lawn. Because the line drag in the water during the pick up phase will help load the rod for the back cast. Thereby also helping you get more power into the forward cast. If you can try doing your longer line casting practice into water. I think the back cast should be a little bit faster than the forward cast. The idea is the power in the back cast sets up the right conditions for more power into the line during the forward cast.]]

Anyway, some thoughts on these same topics from John and Paul at DT, might be of interest too.



I often wonder how someone would describe something differently months after they’ve written about a topic. Usually I think they would describe it differently later. If they don’t either they got it close to perfectly correct the first time. Or they didn’t learn anything new, a deeper understanding, with more experience. :thinking:


Learn casting before you approach the water. Cast cast cast in your yard, you won’t be disappointed when you don’t catch any fish but you will be a better caster on the water which will help you catch fish.

Learn casting mechanics and practice as much as you can on your lawn.

Or don’t.

Learn the way you want, it’s best that way.


I couldn’t agree more, @Adam_Trahan.

I also go out on the water and practice. I aim for rocks and leaves to practice.