Tenkara Grasshopper Central

Do I have to use a tenkara kebari?

Do I have to use a tenkara kebari?

by April 9, 2015 0 comments
Do I have to use a tenkara kebari?

In tenkara, there is what is considered the “One Fly” theory. The theory states that an angler needs only one pattern to catch all the fish that they want. This idea came from the times when tenkara was used as a commercial form of fly fishing in Japan.

 Because tenkara was practiced by anglers who lived in mountainous regions of Japan in a time when fly shops did not exist materials to make flies were at a premium and this caused the anglers to tie flies using materials that were accessible to them such as the wife’s needle that was heated and bent into a hook, thread that was potentially lifted from the wife’s sewing box, and a feather from a chicken off of last nights dinner.
If materials were not lifted from the wife’s sewing stash the angler used what was available in the natural environment around him. Since this was likely, the angler would tie a simple fly with materials that were readily accessible to him on a daily basis. Thus the angler came up with a pattern that consistently allowed him to catch fish.

The angler learned to present this one pattern in differing conditions and was still be able to catch fish without necessarily “matching the hatch”. There is a modern example of a tenkara angler who lives by the “One Fly” theory and who truly proves that it works.


Dr. Hisao Ishigaki, one of the quintessential tenkara anglers the world has known, uses a single pattern that has become affectionately known as the Ishigaki Kebari to the new tenkara anglers. The Ishigaki Kebari is tied using black sewing thread, a size 12 hook and a hackle feather.

Through multiple presentation techniques Dr. Ishigaki consistently lands fish in even the most unlikely of locations which always impresses me whenever I watch him fish in person (which does not happen often) or in videos, and that is my primary way of seeing him fish. Using multiple presentation techniques he is able to fool many fish into eating his fly.

I will admit that I have tried the “One Fly” theory and did not do well with it mainly due to the fact that I suffer from ADOF (Attention Deficit Ooh Fishy) and therefore did not have the patience to continue with the theory because I just wanted to catch fish. I therefore started using western patterns as well as kebari.

Since I have used both tenkara kebari and western fly patterns and caught fish using both styles in my humble opinion I would say as a guide and tenkara angler that no you do not need to use just one fly or only a kebari fly. But I will say that using only one pattern until you are completely confident in presenting that pattern will increase your catch rate and your proficiency as a tenkara angler.

Experiment with what pattern might work best for you but do not limit your experience with other patterns. I hope that this tip has helped you in some small way and would love to hear about your personal experiences as well. Below I am including links to previous posts that can be found here on TenkaraGrasshopper.com about my “One Fly” experiences.

TenkaraGrasshopper.com “One Fly” Theory Posts From The Past

“One Fly” Theory

Daniel Galhardo and the One Fly Concept

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

No Comments so far

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.

Warning: Illegal string offset 'rules' in /home/customer/www/tenkaragrasshopper.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/fraction-theme/functions/filters.php on line 204

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.