Question for experienced casters

Just a question that I thought about driving to work this morning.
Being somewhat new to Tenkara, I am highly dependent on the use of a highly visible line to guide my casting stroke and to assist in locating placement of my fly.

I was wondering for experienced casters, are you able to cast and be confident with the placement of your fly without the guidance of line visibility? For example, can you cast accurately with a clear line (if needed)?


Interesting question. When I cast, I’m looking at the target unless I’m concerned about getting hung up on low canopy or brush. Once the fly hits the water, if there is no visible splash I am highly dependent on the high vis line to see how close I got so I can adjust for the next cast if necessary, and to tend my drift.

I’m usually fishing with 4 feet of flourocarbon tippet so I’m rarely look at the casting line. Once I have my distance worked out, I keep my focus on the place I want to cast. Let my arm and eyes do the rest.

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It really depends on the lighting, wind, the fly color/size, fly presentation depth, and the environmental coloration.

I like using a white line most of the time.

It is so important to see the tippet, but because I fish greylight a lot combined with my deteriorating eyesight…I also lean on seeing my running line. Both are incredibly important and I watch them for strikes. The most subtle tick …v-wake pause in my tippet will trigger a hookset. There are some bites where even that is too late. When I cannot see my tippet, I watch the end of my running line for cues in strikes. Mostly…unexpected speed changes for the water my fly sits in. Look for increase in speed, redirects, or pauses.

In wind, I really like to see my running line. I can redirect or abort a cast if before the fly touches down.

I do believe that running line can spook fish, but I dont care. I figure I am in frame enough and the rod certainly is waving around a bit. I do what I can to conceal my presence and just accept that I may spook a couple fish or only catch bold fish.


I don’t need to see the line to cast, but I do need to see it drifting because sometimes you can’t feel the takes and have to be able to see if the line moves unnaturally.


I have nail-knotted (top to bottom) radiant orange-white-chartreuse Orvis Tactical sighter sections on all of my (orange) level lines. I tend to like the chartreuse section at the end for better visibility in shadows and against choppy water but my buddy mentioned yesterday he likes having the white section at the end because it is more difficult to see from below against the sky; why US Vietnam era aircraft camo schemes had white bellies.

BTW, a 10M spool of .011 Orvis sighter is $10. Each colored section is about 8.75" long.

fish have white bellies too…same reason.

Yeah I am fishing that white invisibraid. I like it because I can see it in every lighting situation. I am sure on manipulation the fish probably can see it too, but if I use a long enough tippet I find that my hookups increase…so it might be out of view.

Thanks for the heads up, occasionally I fish LL and may consider this sighter or just tie in a short length of invisibraid.

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Thanks for the great discussion! A lot of good ideas and comments.
What is the white “invisibraid” that you have been using? I like the idea of a line that is visible in all/most lighting conditions.

I would agree with @Jonathan_Antunez. I use between 1.5 - 2 m of tippet and looking at my line does me no good. I’m looking at my fly to see where it’s landing. If the current is quite fast and I cannot see my fly land, I use the line to judge distance. There are two main reasons why I look at my level line other than that:

  • To gauge drift (if I’m not using manipulation) in fast current
  • To gauge fly location in fast current

And yes, they’re different.

I wish my tired old eyes were as good as yours. I use the line to help locate a dry fly. It usually doesn’t help if I’m fishing a wet. And forget about weighted nymph; the line, or more accurately an 8" sighter makes a pretty good bobber.

I think you will find Stephen will tell you it is Spiderwire Ultracast Invisibraid, 65 lb.

As a followup to an earlier thread that started in 2018. Last spring Stephen Gressak send me two lines.
A yellow line and a white line that he had made. And they were nicely made too.

When I asked what they were he said the yellow line was Spriderwire Stealth 85 lb, and the white line was the Spiderwire Invisibraid 65lb.

I fished a lot with the yellow line last summer, I would judge it as somewhat similar to the Fujino Straight Line.

And I have to confess I never got round to trying the white line last summer, though I intended to also try it. But I was trying to not overload myself with to many new lines to take along on each fishing trip, and the white line got left in my desk, forgotten to be taken along on the next trip, because the lines I was using, already had on a spool in my box of stuff. Was working well for me.

Anyway, I think Stephen will later correct that information if I got it wrong.

To address the original post directly, I think you’ve got it right. With experience you’ll find yourself needing to see the line less, and focusing on your target more.
Coincidentally that will free you up to use a longer tippet (I like 2+ meters) and catching more fish because of it.
At least, that’s been my experience fishing the fast waters of the Sierra Nevadas.

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In addition to practice and time spent as @jamezu notes, one also needs to learn appropriate technique. Sure, it’s very easy to pick up a cheap tenkara rod and toss a fly in the water. However, there is so much more involved to becoming really skilled. If one doesn’t learn the proper techniques, you’ll just forever be flopping a line on the water desperate to catch any fish.

All over the internet you’ll see a misconception that tenkara is so simple, if you catch a few hundred trout on a tenkara rod you suddenly know all there is to know. Not only is this arrogant and immature, but the fact that the Japanese masters have been doing this for 30, 40, and even more years and are still learning things, it’s insulting.

Keep practicing and keep learning.


These days the taper is tied 60/40.
I found little difference in performance.

If you pm me your address i can send you some.

Regarding the visible lines I use. I wish there was an opaque fluorocarbon level line. The lines I use are heavier than LL, yet I use them because they offer a lot of utility to me. Recently I have been able to appreciate LL. Go gave me some really nice LL and I have been making use of it, but I only use it in ideal conditions and during the normal season. Most of my fishing is in the winter and the colder water months and I tend to fish deeper, so using my running line as an indicator is really critical to me converting fish.


I agree as well. My entries have been more about what i like about a visible line and less about casting or answering the initial query.

These days it is more point and shoot on a cast. More reflex and not aware of the line but watchng for the fly landing. The specular ding off the tippet sometimes is an aid.

As i note on windy days seeing the running line can really help in correction. The other day i had gusts 15-20 mph. If i could not see my line i would have been in the bushes all day.

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Some of this, I would consider loaded and easily misinterpreted.

To add to Peder’s notes.

The joy or this sport is its accessibility. I would compare it to soccer. A child can immediately participate, yet it can take a lifetime of study and practice to master. I took my daughter out to fish tenkara for the first time a couple years back and she immediately had trout rising to her presentation. What a Wonderful, wonderful sport! Whenever I see young anglers with a traditional fly rod, I can see the frustration on their faces. My daughter on the other hand who only has a mild curiosity about the sport could immediately participate, go off on her own, and have fun.

There is something simple about it, but also the rabbit hole goes much much deeper.

When you first start out, use every aid that you feel improves your experience. Then practice to the skill level you are happy with. In order to enjoy the sport of skiing, I do not need to achieve Olympic level performance. Most of what I enjoy about fishing is just being immersed in the environment. Different motivations for different folks. Best for us not to be arrogant as Peder notes, in general humility is always a good virtue.

Peder is an excellent angler and a far better caster than I am. His words are true, but I also feel there is an opposite consideration that this sport is also about recreation and it is ok to plateau and just enjoy a slower road to improvement in skill. I am definitely on a slower boat.


Sure, I appreciate your point that there’s potential for what I said to be misinterpreted @Gressak. Whilst that wasn’t my intention, my intent also doesn’t matter.

The point being is that I appreciate the original inquiry by @jason_seaward. It is thoughtful and seems to come from a genuine place of wanting to learn. That is in contrast to so much of what I see happening around tenkara these days.

I completely agree with your keen observations via your daughter. Tenkara is an highly accessible form of angling, infinitely more so than western fly fishing.

Hahaha, saying the rabbit hole is deep, is an understatement.

Agreed, we will all plateau. Whilst that is true and it is good to accept that, it shouldn’t hinder us from continuing to learn.

Gressak is too kind in his words and much more humble than I. He’s much better than he claims that he is at tenkara.

Sure, you may well be on a slower road by choice or circumstance or whatever it may be, but you’re still learning. That’s evident by watching you fish and by what you think/talk about.

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hahahaha…thanks Peder, but I definitely still feel I am a line flopper. The wind I was in the other day did not build any confidence. The wind was so strong at times that my cast almost missed the river…insane gusts…so many of my notes in this thread had me thinking about that. The treetops we howling / groaning in the wind…almost had me collecting Toto and making my way back to Auntie Em.

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Yeah I avoid days like that, they are just too depressing.

I have played around with clear Flourocarbon lines in equivalent sizes to popular level lines. I found it difficult to “grasp” at first but I think that was more a mental block. I am so used to the ability to see the line to help find or guess where my fly is that not being able to do that felt awkward. I found a colored wax on some tenkara site that I bought to make a small “sighter” zone and that helped. Honestly in the end I 99% still use a colored level line and maybe I miss some fish but that has become ok for me. I think if you want it and work on it you can make it work.