What level lines do you think are the best for tenkara and why?

I was wondering what level lines members use for tenkara fishing. I know some anglers use mainly braided line but others use only level line. Are there any brands that you feel out perform or cast better than other brands? Do you feel some level lines are inherently softer and other ones are stiffer when casting? What line color seems to work the best for you?
It would be nice for us to compare notes from what we have learned and experienced while tenkara fishing for fish. Thank you ahead of time for your thoughts and answers. If you are new to tenkara please chime in and tell us your thoughts as well.

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Like many people, I started with a furled line since it came with my first rod (Shadowfire) and it had a reputation of being easier to cast. I quickly discovered that the amount of fish I caught was directly correlated to how well I was able to keep the line off the water so I tried out level line. Hookup ratios increased and I haven’t looked back. Furled lines definitely have their place, but I am a huge proponent of level line.

I’m curious what others opinions are on brands since I’ve only tried two. Each line lasts multiple seasons for me and you can get multiple lines per spool. This makes it hard to experiment without buying many spools before others have run out.

The two level lines I’ve tried are from Dragontail and Sunline (per Tenkarabum), both orange and size 3.5. Some people may feel differently, but the difference in normal lighting conditions is negligible to me. I noticed that in lower lighting conditions like twilight, the Sunline is noticeably more visible. I would describe it as sort of having a dark orange sheen which I don’t really get with the Dragontail line for some reason. Stiffness and memory are about the same as well. Both have memory, but I don’t necessarily consider that a bad thing. I find it easier to see movement at the end of the line when there is a little memory. Maybe I would feel differently if I used sighter material, but I just go straight from level line to tippet to keep things simple. Casting-wise, I seriously cannot tell the difference. I’d happily buy either again, but have a slight preference for the Sunline due to visibility in low lighting.


I Absolutely love the visibility of Shimotsuke Fluorescent Green Tenkara Level Line.

I initially expected the Shimotsuke line to be invisible in the brilliant emerald forests of Washington, but it really stands out. I suspect this is related to the human eye’s sensitivity to green light:

Fluorescence is important too. The Shimotsuke line has a good balance of green and white fluorescence. The white fluorescence isn’t captured well in the photo, but its noticeable in person. The Oni lines also have some white fluorescence.

[Black light is 395 nm]

The Shimotsuke line has a lower opacity, and I find low opacity lines easier to spot than high opacity ones. High opacity lines tend to disappear into the texture of the background. It’s possible, however, that higher opacity lines are stealthier. I haven’t tested this.


Wow. Thanks for these photos! Really neat to see. I have used the oni orange and the yamatoyo green/yellow. I find the oni easier to see in most conditions, but when the it’s very bright out the yamatoyo almost glows. I will have to try the Shimotsuke when I’m ready for more level line.

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Nice illustrations! Many fire department vehicles and road crew outerwear are the yellow - green color at the peak of the curve for its visibility in the widest range of lighting conditions.

So far I have only used DT orange and Yamatoyo yellow-green level lines so my sample size is low and perhaps not very relevant for use as comparisons.

While I do not claim to be a great caster I haven’t found any appreciable difference in casting lines of the same weight.

I have found the Yamatoyo yellow-green is visible in the widest range of lighting conditions against the brilliant emerald forests of Washington, including the worst; when I and the line are in shadow, backlit by bright sunlight and/or glare off the water where orange completely disappears, but I have not tried the Shimotsuke. Each of my #3, #3.5, and #4 level lines now also terminates with a section of 0X green-orange-white Rio nylon euro sighter that helps with visibility, and possibly stealth.

The sighter either didn’t seem to affect casting much or I adapted quickly; I’m not sure.

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I hope others will share their experiences and observations so we can all learn whether we are old pros at tenkara or new comers to this angling style.
Does braided line and tapered line have an advantage or disadvantage over level line?

Although I practice with a couple different fluoro level lines, the ONLY line I fish with now is Fujino Straight Line.
It’s a level line made out of the same fiber that is used in the landing bags for Mars landers.
No memory. Spool up, move up stream, unspool, it’s straight. Where I fish I often need to climb a little and need both hands free.
Comes with a sighter designed by Dr Ishigaki, who knows a few things about human vision. Main line is a very visible yellow.
Measured with a micrometer it’s the same diameter as a 3.5, casts beautifully.
Carried in the US by DragontailTenkara
Very popular among Japanese tenkara anglers


Sorry haven’t posted for a while.
Furled lines are really nice to cast and have some advantages, however if you learn to cast level lines well you’ll definitely catch more fish.
I’ve actually gone back to mono/copolymer lines. I can highly recommend Sakuma nite crystal 25lb, really nice to cast and easy to see. Also red ice is good 20lb, I use this when the conditions allow.

I use the Nissin Oni orange level line in either a 3.0 or 2.5 for most of my rods. When I use my ZX4 which is a nymphing rod I use a YGK Ultra sight level line in a 2.0. I have tried furled lines and didn’t like them at all. With level lines I have tried various colors but always went back to orange. It is the only color I use now.

Requiring a lillian knot?
How much drape-sag?

All my Lillian’s have knots, there’s a loop on the line so the knot is sort of mandatory, I make them tight but not so tight I can’t untie it if I ever needed to.
Diameter and weight are almost exactly the same as a 3.0 or 3.5 fluoro (depending on which brand you measure, and it doesn’t absorb or pick up water, so drape isn’t a problem. High gradient waters mean no long lines or long drifts.


I am definitely in the minority. I never found level lines quite right and mostly in their visibility and tendency to have memory.

Furled leaders have some issues as do level lines. It is more or less why I migrated to braid.

I have been using spiderwire so long now that I am handicaped without it. Largely it is a visibility issue. Then environments we fish is rarely discussed. How different colors stand out is greatly effected by the water we fish. Here in CT, spring is so green and fall so orange that those colors tend to not work so well. For me a more opaque white is the the best color for all seasons.

Not gonna get into the other characteristics of level, furled, or braid…as they have been hashed out in other threads.

What I feel is most important is reading the fly, the tippet, and the last 6 inches of your casting line. Sometimes the most legible is the end of the casting line, so it is an incredible advantage for it to be highly visible.


I miss the light moss green Sanyo Valcan Fluorocarbon. That stuff is amazing for swinging wets in clear shallow water to picky fish.


I have tried most of not all level lines available or marketed as “Tenkara” lines.

Yamamoto Level Line in 3.0 and 3.5 are my go to lines.

You get 50M spool , great visibility ,and they seem to straighten better than others once you unspool and add some tension to the line before use.


I have to agree with Jonathan, it is a real shame they discontinued making that stealthy but highly visible (to Anglers) line.


I knew there there was a reason i loved the Shimotsuke line in #3. It’s been my go to fluoro line for a few years now just because I can see it so well without being overly bright.
This year I have done some experimenting with nylon lines and after correcting all my bad casting habits, I now really love using when I can.


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