Tenkara Grasshopper Central

Entomology and Tenkara: Is it worth it?

Entomology and Tenkara: Is it worth it?

by February 1, 2018 2 comments

Entomology In Action


Robert stepped into the river and picked up a rock from the streambed. Turning the rock over, he stared intently at the creatures attached to the underside. Frantically, some of the creatures crawled across Robert’s finger to return to the water. He picks up one bug that has caught his attention. Using his understanding of entomology, Robert attempts to identify what he has found.

He quickly identifies this bug as a stonefly (Perlidae) or Golden Stonefly.

Reaching into his vest, he pulls out a box of stonefly patterns. Using his powers of observation he selects a pattern that best matches the stonefly he held in his hand.

entymology in action

Tying the fly onto his tippet Robert casts his fly into the current. His fly drifts through the current with no drag.

Almost imperceptibly, his line stops mid-current. Gently lifting his rod, he sets on a massive brown trout.

Robert, displaying finesse gained from years of practice, brings this gorgeous denizen of the river to hand. Plucking the fly from the lip of the fish, he releases the fish back into the river.

Entomology and Tenkara

So what does the story have to do with tenkara? If you are using a kebari that looks like everything and nothing, what do entomology have to do with tenkara? Does knowing entomology make any difference?

First off, the story has everything to do with tenkara because it is about catching fish using technique, not gear. Knowing the basics of river entomology allows a tenkara angler to present a kebari correctly to a feeding fish.

What does entomology have to do with using kebari patterns? When we learn to recognize creatures that are the common prey of our fishy friends, we begin to understand the ways to trick our quarry. Because a kebari characteristically does not resemble any particular bug, we need to find alternate ways to make a fish eat. Employing varying sasoi, or presentations, we can fool a fish into believing our kebari is a source of food.

If we know how various water born bugs behave and how they are affected by the current, we can choose a form of sasoi that best imitates the real thing.

An example would be during a hatch of stoneflies. If an emerger is in the middle of the water column and that is where the fish are eating, we can choose the correct sasoi, mimicking the behavior of a real bug.

So, does entomology make a difference?

I think that entomology is a great addition to the array of tools that a tenkara angler uses. But, I also don’t feel that you need to be able to recite the Latin name for each bug found on the water. I have yet to find a fish who will not eat an angler’s fly pattern because the angler doesn’t know the Latin names of a bug.

If you wish to gain an understanding of entomology, check out my Entomology For The Fly Fisher DVD Review. Another great resource is Robert and his site, The Bug Guy.

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2 Comments so far

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  1. Kamakiri-san
    #1 Kamakiri-san 1 February, 2018, 19:40

    I can recall several times, when fishing for bass with conventional gear, that changing technique, not the bait, proved the deciding factor in eliciting a strike. Sometimes alittle extra ‘sasoi’ sauce is required. 🙂

    Reply this comment
    • Graham Moran
      Graham Moran Author 1 February, 2018, 20:17


      Thanks for your comments. I agree that there is something to be said for adding a little “sasoi” sauce. I guess the real question is whether entomolgy is worth knowing?

      Reply this comment

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