Tenkara Rod Help For A disabled Friend

dennyk

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I'm trying to get a new friend of mine back into the fly fishing game. Several years ago my friend Jeff had a major stroke and lost the use of his left hand completely. He was a very avid fly fisherman. He's been messing with an automatic fly reel, but that has been resulting in frustration according to another friend of mine.

SO I want to buy Jeff a Tenkara rod. Here in lies my questions. I know nothing about these rods or the techniques for using them. I am assuming he will be able to fish with it one handed only. I'll be fishing with him to help tie on flies and release fish. He'll be fishing with barbless hooks.

The stream is 20-25 feet across maximum and in the deeper spots it's 3-4 feet deep. We'll be fishing for Brown Trout.

1) What length rod do I need to get for him?

2) I don't want to spend alot of money on the rod, but I don't want to get him junk either. Which manufacturer should I buy it from?

3) Standard dry flies and nymphs should be OK with the Tenkara rod shouldn't they?

Thanks to all for your advice!

Denny
 

ia_trouter

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You're a good man Denny. I'll leave the real Tenkara advice to the pros, but I think you have a plan. He can fish one handed if you are there. Add some wet flies to the list. They are about the easiest thing ever to drift and they work. I know some guys that use nothing but reverse tied partridge wets all season long with good results.
 

gpwhitejr

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If he isn't going to have to tie on flies, net or unhook fish, tenkara is perfect. I bought my rods from TenkaraBum, and there is a lot of educational stuff on that site. I have also bought a few items from Tenkara USA, and Daniel Galhardo's articles and videos are helpful. If you are going to use heavy streamers and things like that, and expect big fish, a keiryu rod might be worth considering: I have a 13 foot Daiwa and I caught a huge cutthroat (the size gets bigger with every telling) with it, with no difficulty (people have caught small tarpon and bonefish with keiryu rods, but that is pushing the envelope). I also use mine for bass fishing in my kayak, with beadhead woolly buggers and poppers and the like. I also have a 10 foot Nissin Pro Square that is a joy to use and perfect for the brook trout in the small streams around here (also great for bluegills and small bass). Except for really big saltwater flies and pike flies, I use pretty much all my flies on my keiryu and tenkara rods.

Here are useful sites:

Tenkara, simple fly fishing method from Japan, uses only a telescopic tenkara rod, tenkara line and tenkara fly: Index

TenkaraBum - The most complete tenkara shop on the 'net.
 

dennyk

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Thanks for the kind words Dewayne. Jeff also gave me permission to fish his private 20 acre stream front property-it was very much appreciated on my part. The only reason I gained his invitation is I was fly fishing off his neighbor Bill's property. Bill is also a friend of mine and that's how I got the low down on Jeff's health and his automatic reel fiasco. Anyway, Jeff and I stuck up a conversation about fly fishing and some of the places he has been and we compared notes. Turns out to be friendship at first sight sharing a common bond!


Denny
 

dennyk

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If he isn't going to have to tie on flies, net or unhook fish, tenkara is perfect. I bought my rods from TenkaraBum, and there is a lot of educational stuff on that site. I have also bought a few items from Tenkara USA, and Daniel Galhardo's articles and videos are helpful. If you are going to use heavy streamers and things like that, and expect big fish, a keiryu rod might be worth considering: I have a 13 foot Daiwa and I caught a huge cutthroat (the size gets bigger with every telling) with it, with no difficulty (people have caught small tarpon and bonefish with keiryu rods, but that is pushing the envelope). I also use mine for bass fishing in my kayak, with beadhead woolly buggers and poppers and the like. I also have a 10 foot Nissin Pro Square that is a joy to use and perfect for the brook trout in the small streams around here (also great for bluegills and small bass). Except for really big saltwater flies and pike flies, I use pretty much all my flies on my keiryu and tenkara rods.

Here are useful sites:

Tenkara, simple fly fishing method from Japan, uses only a telescopic tenkara rod, tenkara line and tenkara fly: Index

TenkaraBum - The most complete tenkara shop on the 'net.
gp- Thanks for the guidance, I'll start to research your links.

Denny
 

ia_trouter

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Thanks for the kind words Dewayne. Jeff also gave me permission to fish his private 20 acre stream front property-it was very much appreciated on my part. The only reason I gained his invitation is I was fly fishing off his neighbor Bill's property. Bill is also a friend of mine and that's how I got the low down on Jeff's health and his automatic reel fiasco. Anyway, Jeff and I stuck up a conversation about fly fishing and some of the places he has been and we compared notes. Turns out to be friendship at first sight sharing a common bond!

Denny
That sounds like a great arrangement. You can learn the stretch of water and you'll soon figure out where the Tenkara methods are most effective. They have advantages and disadvantages for sure. It will definitely make drifting a 25FT wide stream manageable with his physical limitations.
 

MichaelCPA

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Is it possible to use a longer rod with the drag locked down? Suggesting as I do a lot of one-handed casting (simple pickup and laydown) when holding my wading staff in my other hand. Also roll casting would be easy with a 10 footer.
 

tcorfey

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Denny,

A couple of thoughts:

- Many Keiryu rods have a thinner handle many times just a non-slip coating over the blank. If your friend has arthritis or problems holding on tight to a thin handle then a Tenkara rod with a full cork handle may be easier for him to use. If the handle diameter does need to be increased then tennis racket handle tape can be a quick fix to build up the diameter of the handle.

- Length, as the rods get longer they get heavier and can be harder to cast/control with one hand. For single hand use I would stick to rods that are 365cm (12') and under in length at least to start with.

- Tenkara Bum lists many of their rods using the common cents method pay attention to that to understand what the relative stiffness of the rod. The higher the number the more pennies are needed to flex the rod hence the higher number, the stiffer the rod.

Here is a link to a great database of common cents ratings from Tenkara bum
Common Cents Database

- An unusual method of rating Tenkara rods is their flex designation mostly 5:5, 6:4, 7:3. Note: this does not denote stiffness the common cents method is an indicator of relative stiffness. What these numbers mean is how the rod flexes through the length of the rod a rod designed to flex mostly at the tip is a 7:3. Where as a more full flexing rod has a 5:5 rating as it is designed to flex from the middle of the rod. The rating is done by breaking the rod in to 10 segments regardless of the rod length or number of sections that make up the rod. So a 5:5 means. it primarily flexes through the top half of the rod sections and the butt stiffens on the bottom half sections (so it is a more full flex rod). Where as a 7:3 rod flexes mostly on the tip through the top third and stiffens through the bottom two-thirds sections. Generally if you like to cast off the tip then go for a 7:3, if you want something in between a tip flex and a more full flex rod than go for a 6:4. You can feel the fish in the handle on any of these rods. The difference is really the flex profile of the rod when it is under a load. This is most noticeable when casting heavier flies or when fighting fish.

Here is a more in-depth explanation of the rod flex rating:
Tenkara Rod Flex | | Tenkara Talk

The two rods I grab the most have a 6:4 flex and around a 25 penny rating. One is 320cm (10.5') and the other is 360cm (11.75') in length.

As for flies just use the same as you would with your western fly rod. Even use nymphs and an indicator if you want. These rods work well with many of your common fishing methods you don't have to be a purist.

The one strange thing on these rods is at the end of each rod is a Lillian which is a short piece of hollow braid super glued or otherwise secured to the end of the rod. This short piece of hollow braid is how you attach your leader to the rod. Loop knot or otherwise tie your leader to the Lillian.

Here is a better description:
the lillian - why not a loop?

Hope this helps,

Tim C.
 

osseous

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Fly rods are used all over the world- they aren't "Western".

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ia_trouter

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Fly rods are used all over the world- they aren't "Western".

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Until this century, "Tenkara" style fishing was not widely practiced outside of Japan. There was a time when the term "Eastern and Western" was an easy way to make a distinction in conversation. Tens of thousands of Tenkara rod sales in the US muddied that up a bit.

But anyhow.... :)
 

osseous

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It's a marketing ploy~ started by tenkara manufacturers.

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osseous

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Agreed. Best of luck helping your friend

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rodneyshishido

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I applaud your efforts. I have never fished with a "Tenkara" rod, however, I have fished with what we refer to as a "straight pole". The "poles" used to be lengths of bamboo in my younger days. How much different is a Tenkara rod than a rod for crappie fishing? If you check out "Allfishingbuy.com" they have Tenkara rods and carbon pole rods. The carbon pole rods are a lot cheaper.

I can't help but wonder if getting a true Tenkara rod is like buying a Sage or Scott rod and getting a crappie rod like getting an off-brand. They both catch fish but ………...
 

dennyk

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I ran my friend Jeff today fishing my way back to the truck. I asked him if he ever heard of a fly fishing style named Tenkara- he said never. Truth be told I've I haven't heard of it until I joined this forum. After explaining to Jeff how this rod works I got the impression he was excited to give it a try.

He didn't know I already ordered this rod for him through a fishin' buddy of mine with a dealer's licence so I should be able to get it at cost.

Tenkara USA

I should have the rod by Thursday and am looking forward to fishing with Jeff!

Thanks to everyone for your help! :thumbsup::thumbsup:

Denny
 

ia_trouter

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I applaud your efforts. I have never fished with a "Tenkara" rod, however, I have fished with what we refer to as a "straight pole". The "poles" used to be lengths of bamboo in my younger days. How much different is a Tenkara rod than a rod for crappie fishing? If you check out "Allfishingbuy.com" they have Tenkara rods and carbon pole rods. The carbon pole rods are a lot cheaper.

I can't help but wonder if getting a true Tenkara rod is like buying a Sage or Scott rod and getting a crappie rod like getting an off-brand. They both catch fish but ………...
I'll take a shot at this since it went unanswered. Keep in mind I have Tenkara fished exactly twice, but fished small creeks a couple seasons with a hardcore Tenkara guy.


A crappie pole and an Tenkara are vaguely similar in appearance. They are typically telescoping for compact storage. Both are commonly 12-14ft long though Tenkara variations can get crazy long.

My Stepdad has a glass crappiestick. The first few sections are like a pool cue. He can dead lift a two pound crappie out of the brush from 14 feet away. He has a reel on his but it's optional. He isn't casting that rig. It's good for it's purpose.

Tenkara rods come in many variations, and I suppose a real heavy one might make an OK crappie stick. A typical creek model is pretty much a very long fly rod. A two pound fish will bend some rods to the cork. Imagine a 13ft long 3WT fly rod. I think that's an accurate enough description. Crazy good at controlling a drift, and you can delicately present the smallest of flies. What it won't do as well as a "western" rod is cast under overhanging brush. You aren't casting a Tenkara 35ft away either. IMO it's a close range tool when the stream vegetation isn't overly thick. It's fun to watch somebody use one if they know what they are doing.

I don't want to own one at this time, but I understood why they are popular and effective after 20 trips with my buddy.
 

gpwhitejr

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I'll take a shot at this since it went unanswered. Keep in mind I have Tenkara fished exactly twice, but fished small creeks a couple seasons with a hardcore Tenkara guy.


A crappie pole and an Tenkara are vaguely similar in appearance. They are typically telescoping for compact storage. Both are commonly 12-14ft long though Tenkara variations can get crazy long.

My Stepdad has a glass crappiestick. The first few sections are like a pool cue. He can dead lift a two pound crappie out of the brush from 14 feet away. He has a reel on his but it's optional. He isn't casting that rig. It's good for it's purpose.

Tenkara rods come in many variations, and I suppose a real heavy one might make an OK crappie stick. A typical creek model is pretty much a very long fly rod. A two pound fish will bend some rods to the cork. Imagine a 13ft long 3WT fly rod. I think that's an accurate enough description. Crazy good at controlling a drift, and you can delicately present the smallest of flies. What it won't do as well as a "western" rod is cast under overhanging brush. You aren't casting a Tenkara 35ft away either. IMO it's a close range tool when the stream vegetation isn't overly thick. It's fun to watch somebody use one if they know what they are doing.

I don't want to own one at this time, but I understood why they are popular and effective after 20 trips with my buddy.
I have the opposite experience: I have used tenkara rods quite a bit over the past few years, but I have never used a crappie pole. I would imagine the crappie pole is a lot heavier, and I don't know if you actually cast a crappie pole (I did have a cane pole as a kid, of course, and it was just swinging the hook and bobber a little ways out from shore). Tenkara is an overhead casting technique, and some of those Japanese masters can cast about 50 feet (Daniel Galhardo has some distance casting videos). Of course if you hook a fish at that distance you are then handline fishing! In my experience it is best for 20-25 foot casts or less, and great in the kayak where distance isn't as much of an issue. I can cast under brush with a sidearm cast, same as with a regular fly rod.

By the way, not all tenkara and tenkara-style rods are 3-wt equivalents or less. As the sport has evolved, companies are making heavier rods suitable for carp and the like, and some people have even caught small tarpon and bonefish on tenkara-style rods.

Funny thing though: it is my understanding is that most fly fishers in Japan use "western" fly rods, and tenkara rods are sold more in the USA.
 

redietz

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What it won't do as well as a "western" rod is cast under overhanging brush.
Certainly it will. I only fish tenkara a few times a year, but casting (sidearm) under overhanging branches is a big part of when I do.

The big difference (to me) between a tenkara rod and a "crappie pole" is that you actually cast the former. 35 feet may be too far away, but 20-25 is easy, and that's often enough.
 

patrick62

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I'm curious to know how this experiment works out. I have a friend with similar difficulties. Getting him back out on the water would be a very good thing.
 

ia_trouter

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I'm curious to know how this experiment works out. I have a friend with similar difficulties. Getting him back out on the water would be a very good thing.
I'm interested too. Mobility on the stream bank would be the tricky part here. I take a few elderly folks crappie fishing annually. I use spinning gear and all I have to do is get them into the boat. The real challenge is actually getting them out of their easy chair and put a little trust in me that it's going to be fine, and actually fun. My 86yr old stepfather was not hearing it. Buy them a one day license, then add a day or two of guilt trip on them if necessary, and they figure out they are going out for some mandatory fun whether they like it or not. :) A little advance scouting the spot you are going to fish isn't a bad idea either. I don't feel like I do enough for humanity, but this is my thing and it makes me very happy.
 
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