Tenkara Lines – The Essential Guide
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Before you buy a line you need to know what each type is suitable for.
Fluorocarbon Level Lines: The go-to option for most tenkara fishing. The high density material casts incredibly well and the level profile means that there is less “sag” in the line towards the rod tip end of the line. Higher line weights will punch into a strong wind if necessary.
Nylon Level Lines: Two main purposes. Firstly a great line for fishing western “nymphing” methods (high-viz and so light that when a fish eats the fly it feels almost no resistance). Secondly as a highly specialised tenkara casting line for conditions of zero wind where you want to hold all the casting line off the surface when reaching across the current. Your casting skill and ability to read stream currents needs to be very high to use them for tenkara (NOT a line for learning how to cast and fish tenkara).
Fujino Tapered Lines: For when you need to lay at least some casting line on the surface in order to achieve the necessary reach (or when overhanging branches mean you can’t hold line off the water). The thick butt section tends to sag more than the finer tip section – so is less good for fishing with all the line held aloft. In Japan the longer tapered nylon lines are used to present unweighted, soft-hackled wet flies at range on big rivers. They are also excellent for classic “western” dry fly fishing. A longer tippet is used to separate the disturbance of the casting line landing on the water from the fly.
Furled Tapered Lines: For those who like to acknowledge tradition (the original tenkara lines were furled from horse-hair). These lines turn over well and will land softly. They let the angler fish with similar advantages and constraints to those experienced by the original tenkara practitioners, and so have an aesthetic appeal. Some modern Japanese tenkara anglers do not accept level lines and factory tapered lines as “true” tenkara.