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how to tenkara fly fish

Tenkara Fly Fishing 101: How to Tenkara Fly Fish

Interested in learning how to Tenkara fly fish? Tenkara has become a go-to fishing method for so many anglers, mainly because it is easy to master, cheaper than other fishing options, and a simple practice that allows you to truly connect with nature. While Tenkara fly fishing is easier than other fishing techniques, there is still a learning curve, so stay patient and follow this guide!

Start Out Slow When Learning How to Tenkara Fly Fish

When you first start learning how to Tenkara fly fish, start slow. Have fun. Don’t get frustrated — even when you really feel like it. Tenkara is the easiest way to fish for many, but that doesn’t mean you don’t still have a learning curve. However, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be catching fish in no time!

To start Tenkara fly fishing, you first need to set up your rod. All you really need is your rod, some leader such as a level line, and some basic fly patterns such as a Kabari (Traditional Japanese Fly). Set up your rod and fly and find a good location to begin. You can fish from the shore, on rocks and boulders, or you can wade in the water slightly if needed. 

Casting Is the Hardest Part

Successfully casting is the hardest part of Tenkara fly fishing. The best way to cast when Tenkara fly fishing may depend from angler to angler, but we’ve found that short casting strokes are the best. Your cast should be angled diagonally towards the water. Keep your casts short, quick, but not too powerful. If you picture yourself with a side profile and a clock over you the back cast should stop at 2 o’clock and the forward cast at 10 o’clock or what is referred to as the 10 and 2 positions.

Casting is a bit of a balance. It will feel odd at first, especially if you’ve never fished in any capacity before. Even experienced spinner fishing anglers will have to take their time learning this method. However, once you find your technique and are able to softly land the fly on the water, you’ll be able to catch fish in no time!

It’s also important to relax your grip on the rod with your index finger pointed up the cork towards the rod tip. Keep your casting and your movements fluid. Tenkara is balletic — and this beautiful way to fish is also a wonderful way to relax and connect with nature in the process. 

If you’re fishing dry flies on top water where you can see a fish take your fly, then quickly flick your wrist back, raise your rod upward and set the hook. If you’re fishing nymphs or wet flies, keep an eye on your casting line for any unnatural movement that could signal a fish has taken your fly or feel for a slight tap or tug on your line through the rod. Stay stealthy, quiet, and try not to wade into the water too far as fish feed in depths and shallows alike. Keep your movements in the water slow to keep from spooking the fish!  

Q: Is Tenkara fly fishing easier than regular fly fishing?

A: Many people believe that Tenkara is an easier fly fishing method to master when compared to western fly fishing (with a reel). Many beginners also feel that Tenkara is much easier and faster for beginners and has a much lower learning curve overall!


Tenkara Fly Fish With the Right Gear

Ensure you have the best minimalist gear for your next Tenkara fly fishing trip. Check out our gear, designed to make your next fishing trip so much simpler!