Tenkara in New Zealand?

Tenkara in New Zealand?

Postby wackerma » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:10 pm

Hey all,

I'm travelling to New Zealand for January, February and March and I'm trying to decide whether I should sqeeze my 11ft Iwana into my pack. Are there many small-stream opportunites on either island? Any help would be much appreciated!


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Re: Tenkara in New Zealand?

Postby CM_Stewart » Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:59 pm

I've never had the pleasure of visiting New Zealand, but you can be sure I'd take a tenkara rod or two if I did.

How many small stream opportunites do you need? The rod takes no space and weighs nothing. Don't leave home without it.

The little I've read gives the impression that there aren't many fish per mile, but they're all huge. There have to be smaller fish in smaller streams, though, or the trout would have died out long ago.
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Re: Tenkara in New Zealand?

Postby CraigP » Mon Jan 31, 2011 12:18 am

have done so, and will again when I return later this month. Remember, though, tenkara was essentially designed as a killing tool for smaller fish in the Japanese small streams, not for catch and release of the the larger and very strong NZ fish in the much bigger and very fast NZ rivers. Stick to the smaller streams and you should be right and have a ball - the number of fish per km of a size that the rod can handle without lactosing out the fish is very high in some off the map streams.

Small streams - Iwana ok mot of the time, but it will struggle with the bigger fish that are there in each pool (there's always at least one 3-4lber plus one larger in each deep pool even on what looks like tiny stream, and these are NZ fish, not lazy Aussie trout, that will blow the rod away - it is, afterall, designed for smaller quarry on smaller rivers).

In the slightly larger streams, which in NZ is equivalent to a Goulburn at 2000ML release, but with oodles more fish, small and much bigger - the stiffer butt Tenkara's are needed for more grunt - eg Ayu, or it's replacements, or the Y. even so, you'll not stop a 6+lb NZ brownie that does a run down the pool and makes it to the exit into the next pool with a Tenkara. Even a 5 and 6 weight sage/loomis western rods can't and require one to run after the fish in the classic dance of the river, and tenkara is much lighter, so.....

I'd take whatever you have, and just press in the barbs, so when you break off (which you will), the fish can rub out the hook and not suffer.

Nymphing and dries good right now.

<edited> oops, just read the intro, he's already there - he's already worked all of this out!

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Re: Tenkara in New Zealand?

Postby CraigP » Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:20 pm

ahem....strictly speaking, tenkara is illegal in NZ. The reason, I am told, was to stop poaching with set lines on poles. Most of the instpectors I spoke to were pretty relaxed, being familiar with tenkara (if somewhat bemused by fishing for "fry", as they call anything under 3lb) and were not too concerned. However, you should be aware that this is still not legal before going out there.

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Re: Tenkara in New Zealand?

Postby CraigP » Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:35 pm

just back from another trip to NZ. this time the south, haven't fished the south island for some time. the key challenges were:
1. it is a drought, so the water is very low, which makes the fish super spooky. this makes it very very hard to fish tenkara, as the water is crystal clear, and they can see you at 40ft, so camo and ultra stealth is essential, and even so, the best way is to fish areas on the other side of a strong turbulent current/eddy interface that "hides" you from the fish somewhat. muuch easier to use conventional gear and a dry fly at distance.
2. the didymo is a real challenge! forgot about that, having been fishing the north for last 5 years. didymo makes nymphing on many excellent freestone rivers very hard to nearly impossible in many areas. some rivers with runs dropping over ledges into pools are the only places to nymph. the floating didymo flotsam coming down some rivers catches on the line and runs down to the fly, so even gets the suspended and floating flies every 3rd-4th cast.
3. many fish are just too big for tenkara'ing. 3lb wild brownies are quite common, and they are deep in the body with big shoulders, very strong because of the fast rivers. there are bigger fish in numbers, which can simply blow you away (a 5lb oreti brownie takes you down one or two rapids with a 5-6 wt western rod, so not much chance with tenkara stopping it taking you into the snags under its protection lie). many are simply too big and strong for a yamame to handle comfortably. however, there is plenty of scope for tenkara in the so-called nursery streams that feed the bigger named rivers, containing the smaller fish (under 2lb, in quite significant numbers). these fish are also not quite as experienced as their larger older brethren on the main rivers, so catch easier.
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Re: Tenkara in New Zealand?

Postby Yakfisherkarl » Thu Dec 27, 2012 3:12 am

Hi Everyone
Newbie from NZ here!
This is an exciting time as Tenkara will be a new form/style of fishing for me and even more so being illegal in NZ :shock: :shock:
This type of fishing falls foul of our freshwater schedule 1 regulation by not having both rod, reel and line, however, all is not lost!!!

I'm an honorary ranger for Fish and Game New Zealand (Northland) and having talked with a full time colleague and our boss, it was decided that a feasibility study should be conducted. The two of us have been given special permits to do this over the present season and to report our findings for presentation to council, which I hope will build towards making this style of fishing legal.

Owing to the legal position, I do not have access to any Tenkara equipment in NZ, but have managed to source some basic (cheap) equipment online from Singapore and a few flies from Australia.
Would love to have been able to purchase some of the awesome looking Tenkara USA kit, but this study is self funded by us and we are on a very tight budget (that our wives do not know about ;) )

We have some fantastic locations out here in NZ that are ideal for Tenkara, especially back country spots in the South Island. My main fishing platform has been by kayak for both fresh and saltwater and I am especially keen to apply (try) this style with it at our neighbouring lakes.
I intend to write some articles on Tenkara Fishing out here for our associated magazines but will of course keep this thread updated with info as and when I can.

I have been researching via this site and Youtube, which gives me great encouragement. You guys have put some good material out there - well done.

Cheers for now
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Re: Tenkara in New Zealand?

Postby Liverboy » Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:23 pm

Hiya. I'm in New Zealand and have just found this forum so thought I'd jump in and say hello ;-)
I've been fishing with my Sato on local Hawkes Bay rivers. Really enjoying it, and the skills I'm learning ( stealth, spotting, presentation, high sticking, short drifts keeping in touch with the nymph/fly ) have improved my western style fishing too.

I've been flyfishing for years but am fairly new to tenkara. Love the freedom this style of fishing can bestow. I'm used to carrying a loaded vest with 4 fly boxes, spare spool etc etc... all the gear whether I need it or not , so this has been an enlightening and lightening experience!Some issues : Had a couple of mishaps with breaking the rod tip when I was closing it. It is very fragile and demands extreme care with handling!

TJ at Tenkara USA provided me instant online advice, and sent me out a replacement section the same day so I was impressed by the level of after sales service. It seems this is something Tenkara USA takes very seriously. Impressive ;-)

And we do have some pretty good sized fish here. ( last weekend I landed several big strong rainbows from one section of our local river. A couple were well over four pounds... and when theyre in fast cold water, they can really run!!! I was fishing with my 10' 4 weight "normal" fly rod and they were a handful! Not sure how I'll handle them on a Tenkara rod, but will have a lot of fun finding out ;-)

The legal aspect is a real concern. I don't enjoy fishing as much when I have the vague feeling of foreboding... is that a Ranger comin' over the hill? Even though I feel it's ethically sound and I'd be unlikely to get my gear confiscated, I can't deny that it diminishes the Tenkara experience somewhat.

I'd be very interested to hear from Karl above on what resulted from his experiment with Tenkara in New Zealand... if anything? Anyone else got any thoughts insights predictions on this subject?

Tight lines, enjoy your fishing wherever you be
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Re: Tenkara in New Zealand?

Postby AMilton » Thu May 30, 2019 9:25 pm

Hi, I'm another New Zealander who is super keen to give Tenkara a go but am concerned about its legal status here. I was wondering if Karl has an update about how his trial went? I'm prepared to help- writing letters etc- if needed.
Antony Milton
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