Which is more important casting skill or fly presentation skill?

@Gressak loads of strikes are missed - no doubt

My success rate - we can only judge our own progress I reckon - with nymphing has sky rocketed with tenkara rods - generally I am doing short-line contact nymphing with fairly long tippets using the end of the line as a strike indicator. I think there are many reasons for this - stealth being one, and the minimization of “cast to contact” being the another - can’t think of an easy way to say it - but your know when you cast a western rig and then all the fussing you’re doing with line management? Well of course that all disappears with tenkara and I think those vital few moments are key to detecting strikes that western anglers are missing while they’re doing all that other stuff. So for me I guess I’m still enamored of constant contact - it’s been effective for me

As to active manipulation. I feel like I can draw fish from undercuts, from under rocks, from log jams … etc… with active fly manipulation - where a dead drift nymph would not work. Not always of course - it depends on conditions - but in “prime season” when fish are fairly active - It’s become my go to fishing style.

For me the key is accurate and focused casting - I think some folks think that active techniques are just like “shot gunning” but really I have much more success when I am targeting very specific lies with very focused casts.

Not that some shot gunning doesn’t work (it can absolutely work sometimes) - but active techniques can be honed too - just like anything.

On my last Driftless trip - it’s hardly fair to speak of because the fishing is so darn good out there - I nymphed for about 5 days - and had very good success - the streams are just loaded with fish - and a half way competent angler in the prime season (if water isn’t crystal clear) can do well out there

But on the last day i was sick of nymphing and switched to active fishing with wet flies - the best fishes of the trip came to hand - and in a much more relaxed fishing style. Its a lesson that I have to keep re-learning !

I’m a live and let live angler - don’t care how anybody fishes - and in fact I really would rather see variety than uniformity in fishing styles

So I have to admit i resisted active techniques when taking up tenkara - but my experiences of the last few years have turned my into an active fly guy (but I still love nymphing too when it’s what fish want)

I’ve done it a bit of keiryu style in big water and the drifts that you can get with a 2-lb test line (and no other line at all) well they are pretty amazing - almost like center pinning - but you absolutely need indicators

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Thanks for such a detailed reply.

I do not fish enough of the prime season. Last year I fished the most…probably about a half dozen trips…not enough to develop anything solid, but enough to reflect on your notes. My winter and early spring outings might be around 3 or 4 dozen per season. This past summer, I fished couple streams where manipulation worked well for me. It was sort of a surprise and I just chalked it up to luck…maybe it is more related to what you are noting. I will try it to get out more this season during favorable weather with a more conscious objective.

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@Gressak Sounds like you’re getting plenty of fishing in if you’re doing that many trips !

I actually talk about that in my presentations - pay attention to “flukes”. Part of what I started doing is to think about the flukes or “accidental fish” not as exceptions but as something to try and do on purpose. And by focusing on that I’ve been able to make it happen more and more.

I’m a work in progress though - but that’s the whole fun of it. The discovery and the journey. There’s no destination after all.

I tried active fishing techniques with western gear (swinging flies, induced take… etc,) - and never had much success. But suddenly with tenkara gear - I began to have success. I think tenkara gear just lends itself to these things so much more adequately then typical western rigs.

I think part of it too is that as I got older I got more into just exploring techniques for the sheer fun of trying something new. A part of my personal journey was to learn chillax and just be like a kid again.

Not that there’s anything wrong with intensity and drive in fishing - it’s all about whatever is enjoyable to an individual … I reserve the right to change my mind :slight_smile:


I’ve also had takes and hookups holding the fly stationery for several seconds, in the right place.

While I had read of doing that fishing method I hadin’t tried it. Then one day while wade fishing by accident my fly was held stationery on the down current side of a large stone. Held there while I looked around on where to step next. The stream bed rocks were slippery and the current fairly strong. Later that day I landed a few different fish using the same technique and down stream of the same stone. Or down stream of similar sized stone in the same stretch of stream.

Often I think my hookups are not so much detected and then setting the hook, as the fish is hooked by lucky timing, either as I lift the line to re-cast & the fish takes the fly and is hooked or during sasoi twitching of the fly. Whether the fish takes the fly while the line is a little slack and is hooked when I pull on it to twitch it or if the fish is enticed to rush to grab the fly before it gets away as it is pulled and is hooked I can not say. What’s the old saying - it’s better to be lucky than good. Attributed to either Lefty Gomez or Arnold Palmer. Or maybe - Napoleon, “I do not want a good General, I want a lucky one”.

I think I probably miss a lot of takes when dead drifting of the fly. Especially when I can not really see the fly. Due to either light glare on the water surface or white water…


At the end of the day fish do need time to see the fly. On steeper streams a downstream presentation holding a fly in a small pocket can often draw up a fish despite a short dead drift through the zone a couple of times while working my way up the stream. If it looks like a prime lie quite often I’ll give it a downstream pause on the way past, especially if the water is turbulent enough to conceal my presence.

The tension argument is an interesting one, I may be wrong in this understanding and I don’t have the time now in the morning to try and hunt down sources but aren’t fish quicker to reject a fly as soon as they feel tension?

Manipulation is a funny one. I’m no pro at it, but from speaking to people that have invested a lot of time in tenkara, there seems to be a consensus that on a given day it may be more effective than a dead drift, but all time always manipulating is likely to be less successful than a dead drift presentation all the time.

As for detecting takes, with an unweighted kebari, even in some of the peaty water here I find that for a reasonable length drift there is always a visual contact with the kebari, even if it it slight. And I fish with the slightest of slack at the end of the tippet and strike on any visual anomalies surrounding the kebari if visibility is poor or any indication from the end of the line. Worth noting that I rarely fish a pattern that can’t be seen fairly easily in the water conditions, even if a small pattern. This doesn’t mean they’re all fluro monstrosities but cream colours, ginger hackles light side facing forwards etc are all elements of kebari that I use on some of the peat-stained and darker streams here.

When euro-nymphing, I have had very good success on pressured waters, but again I rarely ever feel takes. The main thing I look for is the tip of the line / indicator section of line. I find if you are so taught to the flies that you feel the take you seem to get less hook-ups plus the nymphs aren’t reaching depths at the same rate as they would with a little slack fed to them.


I’m also not a pro, and don’t have a great memory. I have followed most of the tenkara methods promoted by John & Paul at Discover Tenkara.

As i recall - they do talk about fish quickly rejecting the fly if the fish senses tension on the line especially for dead drift.

But also during the various, pause-drift or pause-feed methods, the cross stream pull method, and, I think. also for gyakubiki or reverse-pull method, where the fly is pulled up stream in short distances of about the length of the expected target fish. Wherein it is also important to provide short moments of slack line between each pull. I believe all those methods, and precautions were covered in their Manipulation video,.

I think they also promote the idea of making the first pass at a suspected fish lay by first doing a dead drift at least once over the area. (because a manipulated presentation may have a higher probability of spooking the fish) Then if no takers, try one of the various sasoi or manipulations methods. The method chosen depending upon where you are standing relative to the target point which method is possible or best choice.

I’m not experienced enough nor a skillful enough angler to know how accurate they are in their claim you can increase your catch rate by several fold by learning to skillfully use the methods they promote.

(which reminds me of another guy who claims to quadruple your catch rate by using his method, a story for another page in this thread - tomorrow, maybe)

Thanks guys for your input and experience.

Interesting that dt suggest only one dead drift but i do agree to their reasoning. In surfcasting we refer to extra imbellishmemts in lure motion as junk. It can act as either a trigger or a turn off to your target. It is better to start with a straight presentation.

I do not feel a single dead drift is enough. At least for me it often takes a few passes to get the water to deliver the fly where I want it.

Regarding holding flies in a zone…it is on my need to learn list for sure. I might need to disguise myself as a bush and follow my buddy matt around the river to discover all his tricks…hahahaha.

I recall one day fishing a small steep stream during heavy rain. There was a football sized pocket to the side of a plunge pool besides a rock. The rest of the stream was moving too fast for any kind of unweighted presentation. I made a downstream cast into the pocket and held my fly there.

Out of the depths this little brown trout came up a good 2ft from the plunge pool to grab my fly. You could see it coming before it hit the fly and when exploring new water it was a great feeling.

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I have very little belief in the idea that trout reject a fly faster because of the slight tension of contact nymph fishing with tenkara - or maybe more precisely i believe that the the fish take in and reject a fly that they determine to be not food in a split second regardless of tension or not and that slack line will result in less hookups than a tight line

What you have to remember is that in tenkara the rod tips are so soft compared to western fly fishing - and that competition anglers simply vacuum streams of fish when using tight-line contact nymphing methods - and they do that with rod tips that provide even more resistance than a typical tenkara rod tip.

I stood on a bank in Alaska and watched dolly varden eat and reject a bright egg fly once - the water was tannin stained and the fish were not visible but the fly was. You could see the fly seemingly wink in and out of existence as fish sucked it in and spit it out faster than you could set the hook. Many fish would hit the fly on the same drift - the only way I could hook fish was to pull the fly slightly faster than a natural drift so that upon sucking it in I was prepared for a hook set due to the tight line.

also - when fishing active techniques - such as a down stream swing or even dangling it in the current which I do on every down stream swing - very often trout will hit the fly multiple times until they hook themselves.

If a fish hits in the middle of the swing for example - very often if I let the fly dangle at the end of the swing that fish will move and take the fly again - even after taking taking the fly and feeling some tension on the swing


I don’t know, when sight fishing with dry flies and if you have a downstream take you can wait quite a long time before setting the hook, the fly certainly isn’t rejected sub-1 second.

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Sight fishing is of course a different animal than blind fishing - I’ll give you that for sure

and I’ll admit that I don’t often have the privilege of sight fishing

can you rule out the idea that a fly with a hook may sometimes be tough to spit out? even before you set the hook?

When hiking along a stream and not fishing I often prospect for fish by tossing small bits of stick or hemlock pine cones (anything small that I can toss on the water) - the fish seem to hit and reject said items pretty quickly without any tension at all - they determine that they are not food very quickly

just a thought

It’s all very curious and that’s what keeps it interesting I suppose

I think part of the “problem” with tenkara (and fly fishing) in general is that over all it’s pretty easy once you get the knack - and that invariably there are plenty of ways to skin this particular cat - so that very often folks with quite different ideas are each very successful

perhaps it is that we are successful in spite of our ideas :slight_smile:

Not sure if I understand, but I do not feel a hook is harder for them to spit than a stick.

I wonder what changes the behavior of fish. Sometimes they take without abandon. A fish will accept a fly whole heartedly …the on a dime the behavior changes and they employ a lightning sample and discard. This is a part of the behavior I do not fully understand.

I do believe that we luck into the moment before the discard a lot.

dwalker introduced me to this guy…Underwater Oz, aka Wendell Ozefovich great stuff on fish behavior. He has footage on trout eating everything.

Someone noted recently fish eating moss chunks…separating the living critters embedded and spitting the plant matter.

@Gressak I guess most everything is speculation - and I actually try to stay away form it but get drawn into it from time to time

Speculation is not limited to the amateurs - I see so many fishing writers and experts saying much that they cannot possibly know about why things work

For example when people start talking about why a fly or a technique works I immediately tune out

All we can really know is that something works (or doesn’t)

As soon as reasons and explanations start coming into the discussion that’s when my BS meter starts chiming

I just want to add that to anything that I’ve said above, disregard the “whys” if I’ve given any because I think that nobody really understands the “whys” fully - and until we can ask the fish in english and get answers back in english - it is very much speculation

But one cannot argue with results - the proof is in the pudding right? I suspect that very often we come upon flies and techniques that work very well - but the reasons explaining that effectiveness are often incorrect (no way of knowing really) - and the reasons are mostly irrelevant anyway. Very famously LaFontaines’s mysterious theory about why his sparkle pupae work. The flies works but probably not for any reason related to the “why” that he proposed

One is either catching fish (enough to have fun) or they’re not

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absoulutely. For the record I think it is fair to speculate.
After all, we are not fish…hahaahhahaha…we cannot help but apply some anthropomorphism.

I am like most people and will pick and choose what it believe and follow. I am not hung up on my amateur status or insecure in it.

I really do enjoy all the discussion. All of it. I am a believer in this sort of working out of ideas and theories, as it can really help fortify our own and even spawn new ones. Its good stuff.

As noted in my last entry, fish behavior really puzzles me as it is seemingly inconsistent. What makes it fun also makes it frustrating to understand at times. I was not putting any of that on you or anyone in particular it was an innocent statement.

Perhaps the best answer to the title of this thread is:

Neither. The most important skill is the ability for an angler to observe, adapt, and modify his/her skill to fish behavior.

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That statement reminds me of something Paul G wrote in the In Focus Insider 2 Manipulations pdf file that was paired with the manipulations video. That is Mel Krieger’s concept of two types of students, engineers and poets. Those who what to know the why & how vs those who just what to know what it feels like. My view is that is the same mix of great artists. Their art works create an emotional response, yet the artist is also a talented engineer. Understanding perspective, the mixing of colors, and how to apply them to the canvas to create the effect they want, or I guess also how to shape and weld steel or or carve stone or other material. It takes a mix of both - poet and engineer/chemist. Plus for fishermen, biologists.

Mel Kreiger’s engineers and poets

DT using engineering & poetry to present your flies

otoh - Richard Feynman believed scientific knowledge, knowing the how & why of things - aided seeing a deeper appreciation of physical things.


Anyway, to return to duncanp’s earlier point,
in the same pdf document, Paul writes that - while he would not abandon the golden rule that as a default you should start your day fishing with a skillful natural dead drift. But there are days when fish will only respond to manipulated flies, something that makes your fly stand out from all the other bits flowing past the fish in the water.

On those days when you approach a new fish lie, first do your best manipulated presentation, if no response, then try different ones, but don’t abandon doing a dead drift next. In his view fish can change their behavior faster than you can change your fly. And a big advantage of the tenkara approach to fishing is that you can change your presentation faster than you can change your fly. Maybe he is correct.


Sounds like i am missing out on that DT content.

Thanks again for sharing all that you have absorbed. Very interesting and enlightening…those nuggets you cherry pick.

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Thanks, speaking of absorbing stuff. I haven’t eaten anything since yesterday at 18:00 time to go absorb some vittles.

There is a guy in Japan, 松本, Matsumoto. Who has a blog, and he has also published a couple of kindle e-books. And I have also seen his kebari for sale on ebay.

The blog, the name on ebay, and the books all actually are under the name, Matsumoto · kebari workshop! or studio, [松本毛ばり工房!]

He makes a claim of quadrupling your catch rate, 釣果4倍!, by using his variation of
合わせテンカラ釣法!Awase Tenkara Fishing Method !
But, I have not yet been able to figure out just what it is.

His two e-books are also on Amazon US. They were only a couple of dollars. I purchased both of them about a year ago.

Each book is about 24 pages. There was no look inside feature. Turns out they are entirely text, no diagrams. A disappointment. However, I thought in trying to translate them I might learn more Japanese, and maybe learn something about his perspective on fishing too.

But it was a tedious work and I didn’t get very far. Before being distracted by other things.

Actually I had forgotten I had downloaded the kindle books until searching the internet for tips about detecting a strike. Prompted by this discussion, Which turned up his blog again.

The titles of his two kindle books are:

I’ve never been satisfied I have translated the titles correctly.

However, both titles include the phrase , 合わせテンカラ釣法, Awase Tenkara Fishing Method. And I know Awase (合わせ) means connecting with the fish.

The first title also includes - Hida River System fishing record or fishing trip.

The phrase found in both titles, that I haven’t been able to translate is - 目が疲れない.
It either translates as - My eyes get tired, or My eyes are not tired. The ない ,nai bit on the end is usually something “is Not”. Similar to ません, masen, not.
But I doubt it should translate as eyes at all. Maybe as Sight. But I am not sure.

What catches my attention the most is the first part of the second title.
釣・果4倍!Fishing-fruit 4 times.
iow, Increase your fishing results 4x or quadrupedal your fishing results.

But how? What is he recommending?

On his blog he sometimes list the title differently.
As 「空ら合わせテンカラ釣法」“Something?” Awase Tenkara Fishng Method.
空ら often seems to mean, sky , air or even emptiness.

In another place as (空合わせテンカラ釣法) Empty? Awase Tenkara Fishing Method?

I do not know the difference in meaning of - 空合わせ, 空ら合わせ or から合わせ??
It is a fun mystery to try to figure out. :thinking:
Maybe they all mean the same thing only written differently.

I suspect he is advocating detecting takes by some motion of the rod tip, or possibly as, I think mentioned by Peder, detecting takes using the motion of the fishing line. As a long strike indicator.

I can read Japanese well enough to see that 片山悦二テンカラ名人から, (from tenkara master Katayama Etsuji) is mentioned. He seems to be providing input to part of the book. If you have seen his tenkara set up on the Daiwa website you might recall he uses a fairly long line, with a bright color marker, about 4 inches long, between the end of the level line and the tippet.

Now I am motivated to again try to translate the book. It might be a rewarding project.
Maybe I will learn some new strike detection method. Or just decide his claim is more boast than helpful advice.

Some relevant remarks found in his blog post (with my crude translation):
内容紹介 Introduction
ドライ毛鉤釣法から I switched from dry fly fishing method
「から合わせテンカラ釣法」に to awase tenkara fishing method.
converting , fishing results, (number of fish caught) was quadrupled as I mentioned.

(空合わせテンカラ釣法)(Empty? alignment Tenkara Fishing Method)
毛鉤を振り込んで、remit the fly, (cast the fly, I think)
「ここらへんで・食いつくだろう」it will arrive here and be eaten?
というタイミングで 合わせる、by timing of awase
「空ら合わせテンカラ釣法」です。it is 空ら awase tenkara fishing method
毛鉤を目視しないので. because I do not look at the kebari
目が疲れません。my eyes/ my sighting does not get tired.

Links to two of his blog post about his recommended method.

1 Amago 1 Raibow trout 空 awase tenkara fishing method April 2017

Again it catches からawase tenkara fishing method Takehara River. May 2017

Hey, this kind of thing is how i keep my life in balance…
After hours doing things the easy way - it must be balanced with some time doing things the hard way. Stuff like this. :open_mouth:

Maybe some of our Japanese forum members can help, Letting us know if the Matsumoto · kebari studio advice is helpful or nothing new.


OK. :thinking:
It’s also explained here
Translation of copyrighted matter gives rise to problems, so I will explain the general “kara-awase” fishing method ・・・・・Japanese Language Fishing Terminology
Please give me a time

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“空-合わせ kara-awase” it is not a new method

Fish reacting to dry fry are 20 to 30%(The visible reaction)

There are many invisible reactions(70~80%)

There are very many hook-set where there is no reaction on the rod tip and line

It is to hook-set a fish that rhythmically moves the stick tip up and down to show no reaction

Predicting the whereabouts of fish

If you know the location of the fish’s feeding lane

Hook-set is easy to fish in the water

His “kebari” matches such a way of fishing

If you use a long line this way of fishing is the best

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