Long rods

Good afternoon, the other day I tried to catch with a rod of 5.4 m, a cord of 7 m and a leash of 1 m. With one hand it is difficult to throw. Took two hands and casting began to turn out. But you need a lot of space behind me, the trees interfere. I had to choose places where there are no trees or where there is a low shrub, it is even better to go to the river.


I’m pretty new to Tenkara; now on my 2nd year. I fished my GM 53 for the first time this week with a 4.2 m 3.5 level line and 1 m tippet on a 40 ft wide; mid-sized mostly open stream without a canopy. Right from the start casts were good fly-first deliveries with tungsten and lighter glass bead head sakasa kebari at (single-handed) 4.5, 4,9 and (two-handed) 5.3 lengths with no prior practice. Unweighted flies… well let’s just say I need some practice to get the timing down with an overhead cast to avoid short pileups. But I loved how could get nice drifts in the eddies close to the opposite bank from 28 feet away with the weighted flies. Unfortunately the fish weren’t interested in what I was offering or weren’t there.

The only rises I saw were between two low hanging branches about 10 feet out from the opposite bank. The fish had positioned itself in a lie 3ft downstream of the bushy upstream branch with 2 stems reaching down all the way onto the surface of the water. There was another canopy layer 10 feet overhead and another low hanging branch about 10 feet downstream about 3 feet above the water under the same upper canopy. Using sidearm casts I managed to sneak a weighted nymph under the the upstream branch but my rod tip had to kept low; almost on the water, and the line was on/in the water, negating what for me has been the greatest Tenkara strength of a vertical tight line presentation. I later tried an unweighted fly and managed to get it under the outer reach of branch where it wasn’t quite touching the water but that was 2+ feet out from where the rises occurred which was directly downstream from the 2 smaller shoots of the branch that were on the water.

I don’t know how I could have gotten a decent drift on a fly in there with a 3.9 m rod (that I’d mistakenly left at home), or for that matter any of my western rods. If I am faced with a situation like that in the future I may try using a very short (6 foot) line and lower the fly onto/into the water. But in that spot I still would have had the upper canopy about 10 feet up to deal with when setting the hook and fighting the fish so I would need to be mentally prepared to fight the fish laterally.

The wind did pick up at times and there was a lot of drag on the rod when it did. I tried to position myself to use the wind to extend my reach but found it difficult to control the drift.

Enjoying the journey though.


I think all your notes touch on the pros and cons of long roding. Open water and wide rivers it is worth the effort for sure… especially if the river is dotted with large boulders or steep banks. The reach helps with the presentation angle, but as you found the same natural/efficient presentation angle can also create challenges when presenting under foliage.

Keeping line off the water is important but I often will have line on the water for a number of reasons and had fish take my presentation just the same. Some vids out there make it seem like a real flaw…line on the water…It really depends on the situation and what you want to achieve. I mostly keep the line off the water, but sometimes will dump line on the water if I want slack in the presentation.

Try this…regarding 3.9 rods. Try using the same line length/ tippet and fly… and try casting the 5.3 and the 3.9 rod at a target. Adjust your standing position for each to comfortably cast and hit the same target. At most you may only move a small step or two. You note your reach is a full 28 feet, but with a normal cast and keeping line off the water its far less than that. Even extended…that 28 feet is only 4.5 feet less. 23.5 feet…with the 3.9 rod vs the 5.3…roughly one Giant step forward. Sometimes that giant step can matter…

The biggest benefit that I feel long rod have…is fighting fish. That said my biggest fish (a brown about 22-24 inches) was caught on a 3.8 m rod.


Hmm, I didn’t have a tape measure so I’m probably overestimating but after a taut fly first cast with the 17.4 ft (5.3 m) rod with a 15 ft level line held off the water, I’m guessing the distance to the fly was very close to 28 ft; probably 27 ft and change, with the otsuri. I was bouncing a fly high up off of a large fallen tree in the water a an estimated 30 ft out to have it hit the water for a great drift right along the log with the rod at 10 o’clock.

The general numbers are not super critical, but if we get specific…
****noting you are correct with your length…my mental math was way off…suprising…hahahahha.

5.3 meter setup and 5.3 meters to the fly
if your rod is 17.5 feet and the distance to your fly is 17.5 feet… with a 120 degree angle…
the distance is roughly 30 feet.

4 meter setup and 5.3 meters to the fly…26 foot distance from the angler to the fly

My general note is the same. The rough distance in presentation is only 4 feet…a pair of half steps forward or a stride. In many cases this distance can make a real difference. Also presentation angle changes slightly. But to think of this way…a giant step forward…well that is not a huge advantage.

This was sort of fresh in my mind as when I put those lines together for you the other day. I casted the 4.5 meter line at all three settings of the gm 53…4.5, 4.9, 5.3m. Then I casted it on my 3.8 rod. I barely had to move much to hit the same target.

Again the benefits of these long rods is more about fish fighting than reach. Yes…4 feet is bonus but rarely have I found it to have a ton of utility.

Also to note…I am not saying I dont like longer rods. I sort of wrote this thread to share my findings and my opinion that the gained reach is a trivial factor/gain offset by the burden and loss of finesse. If I were targeting large fish…like anything over 3 lbs in heavy current, I would definitely use a long rod if the environment allowed it. Especially a 26 penny rod like the GM 53.

In regards to stealth. I feel long rod can give some advantages in some cases if that 4 feet and presentation angle can be utilized. That said…if you at shores edge or wading in the river, chances are pretty good the fish are aware of your presence…and the extra 4 feet means diddly. I have spook fish 30 feet off the water creeping up through the woods…hahahhaha. Beast in the woods!!!

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This is the place where my 5m rod shines. I use 7-10m lines with it. Sometimes I reach with casts, my rod is level with the water, that’s 40’ of reach, my fly is 6’ deep ticking along in a radius in the current…

A 3.6m rod feels short.

I think 5m is pushing the physics for a purely single hand rod but that’s what I want.

For now.

I’m not sure I will ever be a two hand 8m rod guy, tried it, lost the tactility, I’m not there yet however I’m not looking to be there either, single hand is more my deal.

Super clear water demands stealth.

I’m nit spitting 4’ hairs, 40’ of useful reach, a 4m rod with a 6m line is 8’ less reach.

You write about distance, I’m not concerned only with distance, coverage, surface area.

You can do the math with that, 1m rod and a couple of meters line more and the difference in surface are coverage is huge.

I like long rods since day one. I am glad that you have spent your time doing the this vs. that, it makes me realize that this is why I do a lot of the things I do, it’s because I do it AND think about it at home.


Thats a beautiful shot Adam. Context of location is everything when talking about tools and preferences.

Yeah…the more the reach in that scenario the better…as there is no limitation or sacrifice in choice of spot …as there is no overhanging foliage etc.

It sort of reminds me of my application of fixed line in the salt. The challenge of targeting an area with such a short reach…even with 10m of line… its length is relative to the spot. 10m is nothing in the ocean as it is nearly nothing in that water you illustrate above, when you consider the reach I normally have in the ocean with spinning gear. 70 yard casts or more…hahahaha.

I see now the context of your notes. Any extra reach is important.

When it comes to tools I am a practical creature. As much as I like fixed line and the enjoyment it gives me, it is often a handicap that has a tipping point for me where I cut my losses. Wind and distance casting are two of the factors that have me changing tactics. Either skipping the fixed line thing or switching to spinning gear.

I get my fix with big water when I surfcast with spinning gear. My tenkara is reserved for small water, where I feel I get the most from its engineering.

Thanks for continuing the conversation…I really dig that last entry.


Our lives, our fishing is a series of choices.

I thrive in a forum where I feel free to post my opinion as I choose. Too many places today are echo chambers, everyone echoing the same thing and it’s a truly empty place.

Echo chamber…

I don’t think that about this place.

And that’s good.

Tenkara outside of Japan is going through the same thing tenkara has gone through inside Japan, we just have more unrefined products, less experienced Anglers doing it but also we have the same sort of Anglers just doing their thing having fun.

Last year I started to embark on a different subject but stopped, I wanted to explore but I knew I would lose focus by splitting my attention so I stopped.


I am on track, I’m headed in a good direction with my Honryu tenkara.

Thanks for not going off the cliff.


Speaking of honryu tenkara, I found the post below on DT’s blog. Longer rods, longer lines, couple of different approaches. I’ve never really fished rivers that would require this kind of setup but @Adam_Trahan 's Glen canyon honryu and this post make me want to try.