Tenkara on the Swift River, MA

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

Re: Tenkara on the Swift River, MA

Postby LMarshall » Mon Nov 09, 2009 10:04 am

Just spent some time composing a response to find I'd timed out; post lost. I'll get back to this topic later today.

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Re: Tenkara on the Swift River, MA

Postby LMarshall » Mon Nov 09, 2009 12:21 pm

Whether or not tenkara is suitable for big fish seems to be a critical issue that generates a lot of discussion. I suspect it won't go away anytime soon.I don't think tenkara is the most effective method by which to target really big trout.

Respect for the fish and the environment in which they live is paramount. As a principally catch and release angler (I have been known on occasion to take fish home to eat), I object to fish being played to death. I also believe that tenkara does lead one to land fish quicker; this has a lot to do with not having a reel with a drag setting available, or the need to reel in all that line.

After my learning experience on the Swift, and having read the responses here, my own opinion vis a vis tenkara and large trout is that when there is a chance you might catch large and strong fish, bring a net. With a net I think a larger fish could be controlled and released without the need to play it for an inordinate period of time.

To clarify my original post, let me just say that I was using 7x tippet, and the fish shook off the barb-less hook after I grabbed the line. It also wasn't my intention to target large fish. There are big fish in the Swift, but many moderately sized ones as well. My experience with the Iwana has been that good sized crappie and smaller to medium LMB are really quite manageable. My fishing the Swift with the Iwana was based on that experience. I expected that If I did hook a 20in fish it would just break off and that would be that.
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Re: Tenkara on the Swift River, MA

Postby Daniel @ Tenkara USA » Mon Nov 09, 2009 6:08 pm

The big fish issue is an interesting discussion. I agree, tenkara is not intended for all fish and not intended for targeting big fish. Just as spey is not intended to catch small fish in a small trout stream. Every tackle has its place.

When introducing it to the US I did think (i.e. had nightmares) about people using it for big fish and trying to break "tenkara records" with it, luckily that is not happening and there are no indications of it. It's a pure, gentle form of fishing for those of us who like small stream fishing and are not chasing the biggest fish. With that said, one of the exciting thrills of small streams is running into the unexpected larger fish.

However, I think landing larger fish (17 - 20") and keeping them in good shape is a matter of good technique. I have personally heard people using reels saying things like "the fish in that river are 'hot', I caught a 12" that fought a bunch and took line from my reel twice". I have always found this outrageous as there is NO reason why a 12' fish should take any line at all unless it's for the pleasure of the angler, and those are the fish that are more susceptible to dying from exhaustion. Tenkara does allow for an angler to bring fish in more quickly. I have caught numerous fish from 12 - 15" and brought them in much more quickly and in better shape than most people with reels.

The need for a net is the same in western fly fishing or tenkara, the motion is pretty similar, except that it becomes a bit harder to land fish and the use of a net indispensible when using a long line (i.e. >2ft longer than the rod) in tenkara, otherwise there is little/no difference at all. Also, the flexible rod serves a similar function to the drag on a reel.

It takes getting used to holding the line and not losing fish. My first couple of times using a long line and grabbing the line before the fish I lost a lot of fish as I held the line, but after a while I got used to bringing them quickly and haven't been losing fish any more than by chance.

So, as we all get more experienced, it becomes easier to handle fish of most sizes in a respecting manner. That is what I always strive for.
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