Re: What Is The Difference...and Why?
Interesting topic. I too was wondering about this and have been looking at Tenkara a bit. There have been lots of good answers here.
While strict Tenkara such as the form presented by Tenkara USA is the pure Japanese form of flyfishing, not all Tenkara in the US is that way. To some if you aren't using a specific rod, line, and Sakasa Kebari fly then you aren't using true Tenkara.
Not all feel that way, and there has been a Westernizing influence in Tenkara here in the US. Many use the same Western patterns in both dry and wet flies that we regularly use. To me it seems that the method is somewhat similar to high stick nymphing, even if it is with a dry fly or a nymph.
A "Tenkara" fly is usually a version of the Sakasa Kebari, a fly developed in Japan for use in their small mountain streams. It is very simple and has the hackle pointing forward. The body can be just about any color or material. It doesn't really represent a specific bug.
What is special about it, is the way that it is fished or pulsed in the water. With the hackle forward, the fly shows a lot of life in the water and is very effective in catching fish. Where we would dead drift a nymph, they would pulse and dance their one Sakasa Kebari past the fish's nose.
It is a very effective method and looks like a lot of fun. I am going to give it a try anyway when I get a chance. That is if the weather ever gets warm enough to let me!