Unconventional Fly Fishing Rods
Going off the Beaten Path with Tenkara Fly Fishing Rods
We purchased our first tenkara rods with visions of using them on tumbling free stone streams in Wisconsin. But like many of us here in the U.S., we thought “well, what else can I do with this thing?”. Tenkara gear appeals to a broad audience, and many anglers live in places where high gradient mountain streams are several hours, if not days away. It was inevitable that we begin to explore how this gear can be applied to species besides trout. Is it really that surprising that so many anglers have modified traditional tenkara to suit their own environments?
Baseball is Baseball
Why we are happy with a broad interpretation of the term "Tenkara"
The Japanese love baseball and have been playing it for about 130 years. Their game is a little different than ours. Some of the differences between Japanese and American professional ball include -
1) A smaller field and strike zone. Some fields are small enough to violate official American rules.
2) A smaller and harder ball.
3) Game lengths are limited and ties are allowed.
4) Scores tend to be lower, because they focus on solid fielding work like bunts, stolen bases, and walks - as opposed to American ball being focused on hitting and gaining runs.
So, we see that while the Japanese have embraced the core fundamentals, they have adapted the equipment, rules, and focus to suit their environment and preferences. Having adopted this game from another country, and made some changes to make it suit them best, you know what they call the game?
They call it "Puro Yakyū" - "Professional Baseball". Because the Japanese understand that's what the game is called, regardless of whatever minor changes have been made to it, or the fact that it was originally played on fields with different dimensions in entirely different countries.
Now, what do you suppose American's call the Japanese version? Have we demanded that they come up with a completely new term for it - perhaps "Short-stick ball whacking"? No, its just plain "Japanese Baseball". Nobody is telling them they have to play according to American rules if they are going to call it baseball. That would be ridiculous. It is accepted that they've adopted the central tenets of the game and let it evolve into something uniquely Japanese, yet still baseball. Because at its core, where it counts - that is what it is.
Baseball is Baseball in Japan and America, despite some differences in interpretation. Tenkara is Tenkara in America and Japan, despite some differences in interpretation.
Now let's quit fussing over definitions and go fishing!
Warm Water Tenkara
In a world filled with incredible "warm water" sport fishing - panfish, bass, and larger prey just about everywhere you look...why limit tenkara fishing to trout?!?!? The simple system of long rod, line, and fly can be applied to most species of fish within reasonable size limits, and some that will come as a surprise. Whether your opportunities are neighborhood ponds, concrete spillways, rural streams, lakes, and rivers - odds are you've got the makings of great tenkara nearby even if the mountains are hundreds of miles away!
eThey are almost everywhere, and they are almost the best thing going on tenkara fly fishing rods! Eager to take the fly, and extremely sporty, a good sized panfish will give you a solid run every time. Try offering them dry flies (like caddis) or colorful wet flies. They also go mad for mini-poppers, which are very easy to cast with your tenkara rod.
Tenkara may have been born for cold water trout, but we believe that its has a warm water soulmate - BASS!!! With aggressive strikes and high spirited runs, its hard to imagine a better pursuit for Tenkara fly fishing rods.
Unconventional Tactics, Tackle, Types of Fish
Sometimes, the opportunity to fish in a way out of the ordinary comes along, and the simplicity of Tenkara makes it a perfect platform for experimental fishing! Here are a few notes that should get you excited about unconventional Tenkara fly fishing rods!
1) Streamers and poppers work great on tenkara fly fishing rods! We think they cast best with floating line. We cover the basics of streamer fishing on fixed line rods in this blog post.
2) Save the expensive tippet for skittish trout. Warm water fish will bite just fine if you use mono-filament line instead, and it is much cheaper! Don't exceed 6lb test with Badger Tenkara rods unless the product specifications recommend otherwise.
3) You can fish loner lines if you like. You'll get longer casts, but you'll have two new factors to deal with. First, you'll have more line on the water because the rod length won't be sufficient to hold it in the air. Second, you'll end up hand-lining more when you bring the fish in.
Toothy Critters With skill and some clever rigging, tenkara fly fishing rods can take fish with big, nasty teeth!
We've caught Pike, Musky, and Machaca on Badger Tenkara rods. Wait, you've never heard of Machaca? We hadn't either. But Mike caught some anyway!