I am going to post a series of articles about some of the common questions I am asked by readers about the tenkara gear choice and how it is, in my opinion, possible to use these pieces gear at their best. These writings are based on my personal experience of tenkara and you might have different viewpoints about tenkara rods, tenkara lines or tenkara techniques but...it is my blog!
I am starting today by small stream tenkara.
To fish in small streams it is better to choose the rod that is long enough to cast properly your kebari to the fish without getting snagged everywhere at every cast. What I like in small stream tenkara is that I have to observe and chose the best possible spots where to cast from and get the best hooks setting possibilities. I wade as few as possible to remain undetected as in the small streams where I fish trouts are not numerous and generally very spooky.
I never fish on dry flies on small streams just because it has become really unproductive on most of the small streams where I fish. The density of insects has dramatically decreased through the years and there are no more important hatches that make the trouts look for their food on the water surface. A these touts are not very mobile I had to adapt to their feeding habits and fish sub-surface.
I cast short, my level line is the length of the rod and is light
(号 3). This level line size is the one I use the most, I feel confident with it and it is the best suited for the delicate presentation required in the shallows streams I fish.
My tippet is made of 6x fluorocarbon and its length is a bit under 25% of the line length. It might seem short but it is exactly what I need to properly cast, present and sometimes manipulate my kebari in streams that are rarely more than one foot deep.
I did start tenkara with the fly fisherman's habit of using several tippets spools but with experience I have kept only the one that had the best strength/casting ratio.
I have never used tapered leaders for tenkara because I do not trust them and I think that the more there are different elements to make a line the more it is difficult to make it drift properly.
My personal preference for small stream tenkara is for traditional patterns, especially the Yellow Takayama Sakasa Kebari.
Having tested several rods I have definitely adopted the Oni type 3.
It has a soft action, incredible casting abilities and fits better with my idea if small stream tenkara. The other rods I did try were good rods but were too limited for line choice and really too stiff for my taste, the Oni type 3 is the kind of rod you have to try if you want (or like) easy and delicate casting with light lines.
Delicate presentation is absolutely needed in the small streams I fish and I have experienced that all rods are not created equal. As for me a good tenkara rod is the one with the greatest versatility on casting. I want only one rod able to cast any line I have in my pack when I go fishing may it be a light level, tapered or furled line.
Small stream tenkara is an exciting technique and a very good way to improve your technique in every aspect of fishing: approach, observation, casting, sasoi. It is a very rewarding fishing style because it is really questioning for one's skills.
I would like to add as a conclusion that small stream tenkara can also any angler to really improve his fishing in wider streams and that is why I will always try to encourage tenkara anglers to experiment small stream tenkara.