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Tenkara fishing – finally!

July 17, 2013

June 22 marked my first attempt at fishing with the Tenkara rod (a Japanese style telescopic rod that is akin to a cane pole in that it has no reel and has a braided connector at the tip that is connected to your leader) that I received as a Christmas gift.  The first challenge was to attach the leader via a “girth hitch” knot, which until that moment I had never heard of.  Firing up YouTube, I quickly found a video that demonstrated how to tie a “girth hitch’ and after a couple of tries I had the rod and line all rigged up and ready to go.  Breaking the rod down and grabbing my waders, I headed for Hyland Lake.  Close to home, Hyland is an undeveloped lake that has an abundance of accessible and undeveloped shoreline that provides a good opportunity for those in waders.

Getting ready to make my first cast I had a perplexing thought: with the line nine feet away and affixed at the tip of the rod, how would I strip line to impart action on the fly?  That  problem was momentarily alleviated by an eager bluegill that pounced on the newly created fly I had tied at home just a few minutes ago.  The fly was nothing fancy, three strands of peacock herl for the tail, some yellow rabbit fur for the body and some red yarn for the head.  Simple, but effective.


The action was fast and furious and I caught several 7″ to 8″ bluegills that put up a good tussle on my lightweight Tenkara rod.   There were times when they’d pounce as soon as it hit the water or some times the take was more subtler, I’d see a flash just beneath the surface, set the hook and fish on.  Other times I’d see a fish rise to one of the many dragonflies hovering about and flip my fly in that direction, much like one would when casting to rising trout.  On the rare occasion when the action slowed down I was able to impart some action on the fly by slowly sweeping my rod tip forward or slowly moving it to the side to give it some swimming action.  Sweeping the line forward drew a number of reactive strikes from the bluegills and also resulted in one small bass.


Not a giant – I love the markings and the blue gill plate.  A beautiful fish.

While landing a fish was somewhat awkward, I am eager to try the Tenkara rod on a stream for trout.  It was easy to cast and handled the fish well.  The telescopic feature makes it easy to travel with and to stow.  Despite some obvious shortcomings, there is something to be said for its simplicity – just a pliable rod,  a piece of line and a fly.  How much simpler can it get?

– Hats

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