Finding the perfect tenkara fishing equipment can be intimidating when you are getting started. I am here to help you select the correct gear for your tenkara adventures. Below you will find a list of suggestions on how to get started. These are the items I suggest for my clients and students.
Basic Tenkara Fishing Equipment Gear List
- A 12′ / 360 cm or longer tenkara rod
- A Furled Line or Level Line or Tapered Line approximately the same length as the tenkara rod.
- A spool of 5x Tippet
- A small box of tenkara kebari.
- A bag or pocket to carry your tenkara fishing equipment.
- A good ability to tie strong knots. (The best part, this one is free except a little time to learn the knots.)
This is all the tenkara fishing equipment you need to get started. It won’t take long to gather more stuff that will drive your significant other crazy (trust me I know). I would suggest starting with this basic list first and add to it over time.
Tenkara is fly fishing simplified and you should try and keep it that way until you learn the techniques required. The techniques are not hard to learn (even a doofus like me can learn it) but the less stuff you have the more you can focus on fishing.
Fishing Equipment That Makes Things Easier But Doesn’t Make A Tenkara Angler
The items listed below will make your day easier on the river but are not absolutely necessary. Do I have these items? Yes. Do I use them every day that I am on the water? No. Then why have them? Why not!!!
Vedavoo Tightlines Sling Fishing Pack or a Vest
In my opinion and in the interest of simplicity I prefer a chest pack because it keeps me from carrying a whole bunch of extra stuff. My current sling pack of choice is the Vedavoo Tightlines Sling Fishing Pack. I chose this sling pack as it is so well thought out and designed. Knowing that it is made with pride in the United States doesn’t hurt either. Check out the other products available from Vedavoo as well.
There a many options available for carrying your tenkara fishing equipment. This is by far my favorite to date.
A tamo (or net) makes landing a fish much easier both on the angler and the fish. Many anglers would say a tamo is a necessary piece if tenkara fishing equipment. I landed fish both with a tamo and without a tamo. Using a tamo is a personal choice.
Professional guides, books, and other fisherman I have talked to have stated that a net bag made of either fine mesh or rubber is the best way to avoid rubbing the slime off of the fish. The slime on the fish’s body protects it from many environmental factors and the life of a fish can be affected if this slime is removed in too large a quantity.
Tenkara USA proudly offers a tamo that is simply wonderful to use. Best of all, the mesh bag on the Tenkara USA tamo is replaceable if the need arises.
There are many factors that you need to look at when purchasing a pair of waders. I am currently using the Redington Sonic Pro Wader. After lots of research I can say this was an amazing buy.
I am not an expert on this subject so I can really only suggest that you go to a reputable outdoor equipment store or a fly shop of your choice and speak to the employees who work there. They are trained to sell waders and more than likely use the waders that they sell. I would also suggest that you talk to other fisherman and ask their opinions. I can only warn you that price does sometimes equate to quality so be careful before you go cheap because from my own experience cheap only means you will spend more in the long run.
Make sure you have a wading belt!!!!!! No arguments on this item!!!!!!!!!
Wading boots typically come either as felt soled or a rubber soled boots. There are ongoing debates on what sole material is better. That is a subject for another day.
Be aware of the specific regulations where ever you intend to fish. Some states and even specific areas have laws written about the kinds of soles that can be on your boots due to invasive species such as New Zealand Mud Snails, Zebra Mussels, and Quagga Mussels.
Due to these invasive species things can get bad so please honor the requests that the government caretakers of our waters request.
I have read many books and articles that discuss wading safety. Almost everything I have read suggests using a wading staff. I will be honest, I have never carried a wading staff but I think in the right situation it probably would not be a horrible idea.
Staffs are not just used for stability, although having a third leg can help. A staff can also help an angler probe the bottom of the river to make sure that they don’t inadvertently take a swim.
They should be accessible and storing it in your day pack doesn’t count. Many staffs on the market are collapsible and have their own carrying bags which can be attached to your wading belt. In higher, faster water I think staff would be worth owning.
A small pair of nail clippers will work fine or you can purchase a pair of nippers at your local sporting goods store or fly shop. They make cutting tippet easier and faster and they save your teeth. Tippet seems thin but don’t let that fool you. If you need to release a fish that has gorged on a fly nippers will help as well.
Forceps are used to remove a hook from a fish’s lip with minimal damage. The forceps can also serve a number of additional operations such as crimping the barb on your hook, thus increasing the ease of removal from the hook from the fish’s mouth or a fishing partner’s ear (don’t ask) or even pulling a hook embedded in your finger (again, don’t ask). And trust me, you will find plenty more useful functions for a pair of forceps.
I can tell you and every other avid fisherperson will tell you the same thing. Get a very good quality pair of polarized shades. Frames that wrap around your face and sit tight to your face are best. The one thing I look for is a very high UVA/UVB rating on the glasses because reflective light can be very bad on your eyes. They will make or break your day of fishing in more ways than one. For one, they will break the glare on the water so that you can see the fish that you are trying to target. They will increase your on water safety by allowing you to see any obstacles below the surface.
For those of us who wear corrective lens, the Cocoons Sunwear are the best choice. With frames that are designed to fit virtually any corrective lens size the options are endless.
In Tenkara you really only need a few flies in a very small range of sizes. According to Daniel Galhardo at Tenkara USA, Dr. Ishigaki uses only one fly. Some tenkara anglers will tell you that they like to use western patterns to “match the hatch”. I have done the same thing but if you want to go with very traditional tenkara you should be using kebari flies and nothing else. I have seen some beautiful tenkara fly boxes that have come on the market recently.
When new fly box designs hit the market I check each one out. My most recent choice of fly box comes from Brook Fishing Equipment. I have found the Brook Box to be my favorite box to date. The box is well built and holds my flies using a silicon insert. The silicon has slits cut into which securely holds up to 208 flies. The Brook Box may be a bit large for most tenkara anglers using the one fly concept. As a guide, I find the Brook Box to be a utilitarian fly box.
Your Lucky Hat.
Everyone I know has a lucky hat? Even better if it says something about Tenkara on it, right?
I would suggest a light colored hat with a dark material on the bottom of the brim to assist with glare reduction and eye strain. Make sure that hat fits firmly on your head since it is your lucky hat you don’t want it to get blown off your head.
A Light Rain Jacket.
Seriously, do I even need to describe this?
And One Last Item That Every Tenkara Fisher Person Can Get But Doesn’t Need!
MORE TENKARA RODS AND STUFF
My Personal Gear List for a Day on the River with My Fishing Buddies (Be nice and I might take you with me)
A Tenkara Rod. Tenkara USA Rhodo or Sato or Ito
Tenkara Lines. Furled Line and Level Line
TenkaraUSA Tamo. Traditional Japanese Tenkara Net.
Waders. Redington Sonic Waist Waders
Boots. Simms Headwater Boots
Chestpack. Vedavoo Tight Lines Sling Pack
Polarized Sunglasses. Cocoons FitOver Eyewear
Waterproof Camera. GoPro Hero 3+ mounted on head strap or chest harness