There are some basic questions that you’ll ask yourself before rigging your rod.
1) What weight line should I use?
2) What line length should I use?
Well the answer to both questions is: “It depends”. Sorry – but it does. As you fish tenkara – and try different weight lines in various conditions you’ll come to find your own preferences for the different types of water that you fish. But I’ll put down some thoughts to get you started.
What line weight should I use?
A short answer is a #3 or #3.5 is a good all around choice. But experience, personal preferences, the water conditions, wind conditions, and surrounding cover all play a role. My personal preference is a #3 in most conditions. It is heavy enough to load the rod easily at most lengths – and will not overload rods in longer lengths. But the TRY rods will cast lines down to #2 wonderfully – though the lighter lines will take a bit more practice to get the casting down. An advantage of the lighter #2 is a more delicate casting delivery.
The advantages of heavier lines such as #4.5, is that casting is a bit easier – especially for the beginner – and the heavier lines will cast heavier or more wind resistant flies a bit easier than the lightest lines. Also, when fishing very short lines in tight cover – a heavier line weight will help to load the rod easier. The biggest disadvantage of the heavier lines is that casting is not as delicate.
What line length should I use?
Your tenkara experience, and the water that you are fishing will play a big role in this decision. Also the rod length will be a consideration.
I always recommend to beginners that they should start with a line that is about the rod length or even 2-ft shorter than the rod length. The reason for this is for the ease of landing fish. Landing fish with a tenkara rod, lacking a reel, is not as difficult as folks might first imagine. But it does take a little getting used to. A short line will make learning how to land fish much easier – as you will not have to “hand-line” fish in as you do when using longer line. The shorter line will be easier to cast for the beginner (especially if using a #4 or #4.5 line). Also it is less likely to be snagged on the surrounding flora.
Short lines are also par for the course for stream fishing in tight cover. If you do not have much room for backcasts then you’ll need to use a short line. Short lines also make “bow-and-arrow casting possible. I find the bow-and-arrow cast indispensable on the small, brushy streams that I often fish. To effectively do a bow-and-arrow cast, the line+tippet should be no longer than the rod length – or even a foot shorter or so. To execute the cast, grab the fly by the hook bend, and pull back to load the rod , point the rod where you want to fly to go and let loose the fly. You can get pretty good at this with a little practice.
Long lines up to as much as 24 feet or so are appropriate for bigger water – wide open streams and rivers or lakes and ponds. Or even those small streams that don’t have much stream side (or overhead) cover such as meadow streams. Long lines take a little practice to get used to casting. You must generate high line speeds with a quicker line pickup, but allow more time for the line to lay out behind before the forward stroke when compared to short lines. Of course with longer lines you will be forced to “hand-line” fish in order to land them. Of course the longest lines are most appropriate with the longer TRY 390 and TRY 360 rods – with the 390 handling the longest best. The TRY 330 can cast surpisingly long lines too though with a little practice.
In general I find myself fishing with lines sized from rod length to rod length+3 feet most often. Except on small brushy streams when I use lines about 2 feet shorter than the rod.
The great thing about tenkara is that when you get a spool of line you can create lines of multiple lengths for all of your situations from a single 30 meter spool.
Rigging your Tenkara Rod
Rigging tenkara rods can be very, very simple. Some folks like to use more complicated rigging than I’ll present here (and that’s okay of course). But the info below will get you set up and fishing.
I’m going to cover rigging with level lines. That’s what they Tenkara Times TRY rods are designed for. You can use furled lines of course – and if you choose try furled lines – seek out the lightest furled lines that you can find.