Jul 19, 2016

Gorge Fly Shop Welcomes Tenkara Rod Co

Here at the Gorge Fly Shop, we search far and wide to find the highest quality products to offer to our loyal customers.  Over the past three or four years we have been asked about tenkara fishing on an increasing basis.  With an abundance of backcountry wilderness, hiking trails, small streams and lakes  in our area, we are in a unique position to introduce this fun method of fishing to the area.  We did our research, talked to quite a few folks that have fished several tenkara rods, and we chose to bring in Tenkara Rod Co.  They have a quality reputation, have been great to work with and have made some really good products.


There are ton of gorgeous small streams in our area
So now the snow has receded, and the mosquitos are starting to dwindle.  It is finally time to explore the mountain streams and beaver ponds that are scattered all throughout the area, especially in the Gifford Pinchot Forest.  That place is loaded with small water...  Ryan and I have gone out a few times with these rods.  It has quickly become our new favorite way to fish.  Chasing steelhead is plenty of fun, but exploring secret creeks is a whole different ballgame with its own challenges and rewards.  One likely won't ever find a monster trout lurking in our high mountain streams, but there are certainly plenty of fish in our neck of the woods to keep us happy.

Tenkara fishing originated in Japan, but has been gaining popularity in the US over the past several years now.  The tenkara fishing method incorporates a telescoping (collapsible) rod in the 8'-15' range with a line fixed to the tip.  (Think old cane poles).  The rods are super light, fun to cast, and play even the smallest trout like a champ.

Ryan hooked up with a small bow.
There was definitely a learning curve when I started casting. It is not the same as casting a fly rod.
The cast is a simple motion, less false casting, slower and shorter, maybe a bit more of a sidearm motion.  Knowing how to cast a traditional fly rod will help, but it is so simple that most people should be able to figure it out quickly.

Tenkara lines are a floating, orange or chartreuse colored 13' level section of furled polymer with a tippet ring attached.  The nature of the line provides a more delicate presentation than a traditional fly line. It is fairly difficult, although not impossible to flog the water with sloppy casts.  The line is attached simply by looping the line onto the rod via an section of dacron that is attached to the last piece of the rod.

Here is a six minute video that details the complete setup of a Tenkara rod.



That mountain has no top!
I love to backpack in the summer.  I hope to get out for 3-6 trips per year, from simple overnighters to extended romps through the wild.  Nearly all of my trips involve camping near a lake or stream.  Thanks to my new Tenkara Teton Package, I have eliminated much of the excess fishing gear (weight) from my pack.  Many of you know hikers that would cut their toothbrush in half to save an ounce.  I'm not that hardcore, but I won't take anything that I don't need.

I have always lamented the bulk and weight of my fly fishing gear during a hike.  I never bring my rod case into the wild (to save space and weight), but I risk the possibility of breaking it during the hike, especially when taking my pack off and set it on the ground.  The tenkara setups that we carry save space and weight by eliminating the reel, and the rod travels well in a backpack without the rod tube.  The rod, line and one spool of tippet are all that goes into the pack along with a hat brim full of flies.

Speaking of flies, we also carry traditional tenkara flies as one would find in Japan.  These flies can be fished on a dead drift as a traditional dry fly or "pulsed" across the water as an emerger, or wet fly.  They are really tasty looking, so your typical hungry, small stream trout should eat them up no matter how you fish them.  You don't have to use tenkara flies, but it sure is fun to do it as traditionally as possible.

The Sawtooth Mini is perfect for mini trout
We are stocking several packages, from the Teton to the Sierra Package, as well as a couple of "mini" rods for the most serious backpackers.

I have found that the Teton is about as big of a Tenkara rod that we would want around here.  A 10" rainbow puts a good bend in it, however, it can handle much bigger fish.  The Sierra is my favorite for our super-small secret creeks here, where fish will likely never reach 10", while Ryan has been digging the Mini Sawtooth rod for our smallest creeks.

The minis are incredibly light and pack down to 10".  They lack a cork handle, which saves weight and space.  Both of those rods are great for the smallest fish and creeks.  The difference is that the Mini Sawtooth packs down to 10" with no cork handle, while the Sierra is twice the size at 20" when collapsed.  The Sawtooth (not the mini) is the best all around rod when you might run into some bigger (10"-12") trout, but still want the rod to bend with a 6 incher.

All of the packages include the rod, line, three flies, a spool of tippet and a line spooler.  The line spooler fits around the cork handle and is a convenient way to wrap the line up in between spots.  Plus the foam helps keep the line dry.  I add a thin coating of silicon mucilin or Loon's Payette Paste to the line to help it float too, but it is not necessary if you don't have any.  The Sawtooth Mini comes with line clips instead of the line spooler because the line spooler won't fit  without the cork handle, which is lacking on the mini rods

Hitting that spot on the far left required
wading past where I had wanted

I have still been bringing my 2wt with me when we hit the small creeks.  I admit that there is a possibility of finding a rising fish that is out of reach of my tenkara rod.  This has happened once, although I managed to wade out farther than I had wanted to get into those fish.  The reach of my Teton rod is about 25' with a long tippet, but comfortable fishing distances are 15-20' from where I stand.

I have been reinvigorated with a passion for small stream fishing, and have been spending quite a lot of time scouring Google Earth for small water to explore.

While a tenkara rod will never completely replace my Winston for all small stream applications, it is quickly moving into the the starting lineup.






Andrew Perrault
Columbia Gorge Fishing Reports
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist
541.386.6977





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