Matching Rod to Fly Size/Weight Query

Trip reports, findings, events, and general experiences with tenkara fishing. Tell other tenkara enthusiasts about your tenkara experience

Matching Rod to Fly Size/Weight Query

Postby CreationBear » Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:10 pm

There have been a lot of very informative posts to help folks differentiate between the Yamame, Ayu, and Iwana--e.g. I know the Yamame is the most powerful rod and will handle bigger fish; the Iwana, while "fast," is the lightest, etc. What I haven't seen covered is how these rods might break down in terms of the kinds/sizes of flies they will cast given "average" conditions and average skills on part of the angler.

To be honest, that's the question that determines for me what weight of Western fly rod I choose that day: if I'm fishing BWO's, a 2-weight might suffice; if dredging streamers, a six or seven weight will make life a lot easier. For Western fly rods, of course, what determines whether or not a fly will "turn over" is determined by line speed/line mass/and tippet size, but because all Tenkara models use essentially the same leader and tippet, I'm curious about how much difference there is between models in terms of what size fly they will handle.

I was wondering if any of y'all have tried pushing the envelope in terms what you've tried to fish, and what those limitations have been. :)
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Re: Matching Rod to Fly Size/Weight Query

Postby LMarshall » Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:45 pm

In my experience I wouldn't worry about size so much as weight.

I own an Iwana, and believe it or not the largest fly I've cast is a size 2 popper (according to the sizing chart in Rosenbauer's The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide). It worked fine, I was actually able to cast it pretty well. Even though it's big, this is still a really light fly. The standard furled line does a great job turning over big flies, especially with a shorter tippet (1-2 ft). However, weighted flies are a different story. I use some bigger bead head Wooly Buggers; they're tied on heavier hooks, and soak up a lot of water. I can't truly cast them, basically I sling them out there, which works ok with the long rod.

I'll let others chime in about other rods, but I wouldn't expect to notice a big difference between them in terms of what size flies you can cast using the standard furled line.
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Re: Matching Rod to Fly Size/Weight Query

Postby CM_Stewart » Sun Dec 06, 2009 7:07 pm

I have pushed the envelope, trying just about everything from tungsten bead heads to Neversink skaters.

The more I cast tenkara rods, though, the more I am amazed at how exquisitely they cast the lightest line imaginable. The line that Charles Cotton described in The Compleat Angler, which is so light that I would bet 99% of fly anglers would say "he couldn't cast it, he must have just dapped downwind" actually casts beautifully and would be my line of choice if it were stronger (lost a fish today that broke my line - not my tippet, my line). Because I like a light line, I need to fish a light fly that is not terribly wind resistant. Sparse North Country style soft hackles are perfect, the CDC & Elk is very aerodynamic and casts well on a very light line. I've decided to change the recipe for my most productive fly, Sawyer's killer bug, to replace the copper wire with thread, because I prefer the way it casts with less weight. I catch enough fish with these flies that I'll forego the heavier flies, and the fish that I could only catch with the heavier flies. Although the required casting stroke is a bit different from rod to rod, I can fish the light line with any of the rods (though it took me longer to learn how to do it with the Yamame).

I guess I'm still pushing the envelope - but on lines rather than flies, and will limit myself to those flies that let me push the line envelope.

If you fish a heavier line like the 15# level line, you can fish heavier flies and more wind resistant flies.


edited to add: I tie the soft hackles on #14 hooks, the CDC & Elk on #14 (and a few on #16), and the killer bug on #12.
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Re: Matching Rod to Fly Size/Weight Query

Postby CreationBear » Sun Dec 06, 2009 7:23 pm

Thanks for the replies: it really helps as I'm starting to firm up my second Tenkara purchase. Right now I'm vacillating between the Ayu and Iwana, so it was gratifying to hear that the Iwana has some "guts" despite it's being the "ultralight" of the lineup. With my Western rig, I fish bushy Wullf's and Stimmies almost exclusively (more because of my middle-aged eyes than anything) so if a Iwana can put one in the right place, that would be ideal.

Still, simply the thought of the Ayu has got me on a soft-hackle kick, something I really hadn't considered with my traditional gear: something about the Tenkara's ability to keep you "tight" to the fly makes the idea of swinging spiders just that much more appealing. :)
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Re: Matching Rod to Fly Size/Weight Query

Postby CM_Stewart » Sun Dec 06, 2009 7:45 pm

CreationBear wrote: I fish bushy Wullf's and Stimmies almost exclusively (more because of my middle-aged eyes than anything)


I find an elk hair caddis (I tie the CDC & Elk variation, but any would do) tied with bleached elk hair is very easy to see even in choppy water and low light. Also, your casts will be shorter than most on your Western gear, so if you can see your line while casting you can find and see the caddis. Either the Iwana or Ayu will cast it easily, and they should both cast a Wulff as well. I've never fished stimulators so I can't comment on those. For me, the choice between the Iwana and Ayu would come down to size of the stream rather than choice of fly (if a stream is big enough to swing wets, I'd definitely fish it with the Ayu). The Iwana feels stiffer while casting and since your casts will be shorter with the Iwana than with the Ayu, I think you could punch out a modestly bushy fly better with it (understand that I haven't tried to, though). When I think of Wulffs, I think of pocket water, then I think of brookies, and then I think of the Iwana.
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Re: Matching Rod to Fly Size/Weight Query

Postby wrknapp » Sun Dec 06, 2009 9:23 pm

I think the line is more critical than the size of the fly or the rod. My most versatile traditional fly rod is an old Sage Discovery Series 8'3" 4pc 5 wt. Depending on what kind of fishing I was doing, I would very the line weight and style and corresponding leader size and configuration. Depending on conditions I might fish from a 5wt line and long wispy leader all the way up to a 7 or 8wt shooting taper with short stout leader casting flies from size 20 dries to a 3 fly series of two tungston beadhead nymphs and a 4" long size 2 leadeyed rabbit leech. Likewise, for most occasions I will fish my Ayu with the standard furled leader or the standard 15lb level leader, but I might also go down to a 10lb level leader or self tied long light graduated mono leader or up to a 12lb 12' bonefish leader if I am casting 3 beadheads on one tippet or a size 4 bass popper. So far I have resisted the temptation to use a tippet heavier than 5lb test to protect the rod though I'm not convinced it is necessary. In deep faster water fishing subsurface I make a decision as to whether I want or need to make a cast versus just swing or lob the heavier flies into the current. When it comes to the big popper I need to make a cast and thus need a heavier line to make it easier. I think if limited to one rod , I would pick the one that most suited my usual fishing conditions and then adapt my flies and line choice to meet unusual conditions. One of the beauties of Tenkara is adaptability. It may be best suited to small open streams but it is certainly not a mandatory restriction.

Randy
"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee" Is 43:2a "I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble" Jer 31:9b
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Re: Matching Rod to Fly Size/Weight Query

Postby CreationBear » Mon Dec 07, 2009 3:53 pm

C.M., Randy-- Thanks for elaborating!

Once more question for C.M., though: you say the Iwana feels stiffer than the Ayu; how does it compare to the Yamame? Since I come from a cane/fiberglass background, casting my friend's Ayu really seemed "natural." I might pay eventually for having that extra two feet of rod out there, but the Ayu's tempo just seemed to give me a bit more confidence and control.
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Re: Matching Rod to Fly Size/Weight Query

Postby CM_Stewart » Mon Dec 07, 2009 8:42 pm

CreationBear wrote:C.M., Randy-- Thanks for elaborating!

Once more question for C.M., though: you say the Iwana feels stiffer than the Ayu; how does it compare to the Yamame? Since I come from a cane/fiberglass background, casting my friend's Ayu really seemed "natural." I might pay eventually for having that extra two feet of rod out there, but the Ayu's tempo just seemed to give me a bit more confidence and control.



The Yamame is considerably stiffer.

Check with Daniel about whether you can safely fish with one segment of the Ayu collapsed. It is then almost the same length as the 11' Iwana - but the Iwana is still a bit stiffer.
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Re: Matching Rod to Fly Size/Weight Query

Postby rvrgzr » Wed Dec 09, 2009 6:30 am

Many of my posts about fishing for bass and large trout attest to the "envelope pushing" aspect of Tenkara fishing.

I used a Yamame out in MT this fall and caught: grayling, cuts, rainbows, and browns. Slow and backwater sections of the Madison worked well for Tenkara fishing.

The less weight the more enjoyable the fishing with the Tenkara method. I've "chuck & ducked" as much as a AAA splitshot and two weighted flies, but it makes a quick hookset very difficult, due to the flexibility of the rod.

Flat line and 6' of 5x will allow a fairly lightly-weighted fly rig to drop quickly into the hole. I'm learning that it's possible to get down to the fish by casting farther upstream and "high sticking" using the junction of the pink flatline and 5x leader as a "strike indicator."

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Re: Matching Rod to Fly Size/Weight Query

Postby CreationBear » Wed Dec 09, 2009 8:57 am

rvgzr-- Thanks for the insights...I doubt seriously if I'll ever fish anything as heavy as a beadhead nymph, so it looks as if I've got the full complement of Tenkara "temptation" to sort through. :lol: (BTW, it seems as if there are a number of Tenkara fishermen gravitating to the Smokies...as I've said before, I think most of these streams are made for the technique, especially since our flash floods keep the brush from getting too thick overhead.)
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