How to Set Up Your Tenkara Rod in Seven Steps

News & Tips: How to Set Up Your Tenkara Rod in Seven Steps...

You've heard about the simplicity and effectiveness of fishing with a tenkara fly rod and decided to give it a try. After reading a few stories about this traditional Japanese method of fishing, it sounds so easy you grab your new fly rod, some line and a leader and sprint to the stream.        

               Tenkara Setup 8 c

But not so fast! While simple, a tenkara is set up in a unique fashion. For example, with no reel, where do you attach the line?

Well, read on. We've got you covered. Follow these simple steps to set up your new tenkara rod.

Step 1

Remove the end plug from the rod. Pull straight out while holding the rod handle-down, tip up (so the telescoping rod doesn’t fall out.)

Tenkara Setup 9 b

Step 2

Slowly drop the rod tip toward the ground and gently shake the pole until the line that is permanently attached to the tip of the rod, called lilian, protrudes from the larger section. Gently pull the lilian out until it protrudes a few inches from the largest section. Do not pull out the entire rod yet!

Tenkara Setup 7 b

Step 3

You will need either tenkara level line, which is sold as single lines or as a spool that can be cut into three to five lines, or traditional fly line to set up the rod. Tenkara line is recommended.

Tenkara Setup 4 b

Step 4

Tie a slip-knot in one end of the line leaving about a half-inch tag. You will cinch the slip-knot over the lilian, and the tag will allow you to easily remove it at the end of the day. With the slipknot tightened, the line will not slip over the end of the lilian.

While there is not hard and fast rule to the length of line tied to the end of the rod, a good place to start is with a line of the same length of the pole. You can either measure the line or just trim it to the same length as the pole once the rod is extended.

Tenkara Setup 5 b

Step 5

To extend the rod, start by pulling the tip (now attached to the line) out of the rod until it stops against the second section. Continue to pull out one section at a time, working smaller to larger until the final section is pulled out of the telescoping unit.

Tenkara Setup 2 b

Step 6

Tie a leader or three to six feet tippet material to the end of the line.

Tenkara Setup b

Step 7

Attach a fly and get it in the water!

Tenkara Setup 1 b


Tenkara Fishing Tips

Keep the rod tip high to fight a fish. Without a reel or drag, you must let the rod tip do the work. Once the fish has played itself out against the super supple tip, just point the rod high overhead and back behind yourself until you can reach the fish.

Don’t reef back on the rod in event of a snag! Tenkara rods, while not overly fragile, can be broken with excessive force. Simply take your time. If you must break the line off, simply close the rod until you can reach the line, and pull the line directly with your hands.

Line length — Carry an extra piece of line up to the length of the pole. It can be added to your primary line to extend your reach if fishing farther from shore.

Hiking — For quick jaunts between holes, compress the rod into itself and wind the line around the two line-holders on the rod (if equipped). No need to remove the line and fly for quick bushwhacking hikes!