using bait on a tenkara rod

Tenkara is a new type of fishing to the US, and information (particularly in English) is sparse. This is the place to build a knowledge base of Tenkara.

using bait on a tenkara rod

Postby Emigirl62! » Thu Mar 21, 2019 11:03 am

I am looking to buy my first tenkara rod. I have been fishing the mountain streams of north central PA since I was a kid. I was taught by my father to use a fly rod, with a 3 ft tippet and a live minnow on a double hook threaded head first. I have caught many fish this way. always had flys along to switch to if the stream was too low for bait fishing. I was wondering if the tenkara rod is suitable for this. or are they too fragile. the tippet would typically have a few tiny split shot on it to keep minnow down in swift current. fished as an injured minnow by twitching rod tip, it would almost always catch fish. what are your thoughts on this. would love to try tenkara for its simplicity, and still only need to carry one rod. thanks in advance.
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Re: using bait on a tenkara rod

Postby TJ @ Tenkara USA » Thu Mar 21, 2019 2:39 pm

Hi and welcome to the forum.

What you explain is for sure not a tenkara method but in the end, it is your gear so use as you see fit.

Tenkara rods have delicate tips, segments are hollow also as these are telescopic devices, so you need to be careful not to hit any of the segments with that split shot.

In Japan there are methods similar to tenkara using telescopic rods but not exactly the same, and use bait instead of flies. But what we do here with tenkara is no live bait.

Many users of tenkara rods in USA use weighted flies and some may even use split shot, so if you are very careful it may work but won't look pretty on casts. My guess you will not be laying out a nice fly like normal with something like you are explaining.

Hope this helps.

I would if I were you, experience tenkara as it was designed... artificial flies, drag free drifts that are unmatched by western fly rods as our lines are VERY lite weight and the rods quite long so you can get some wonderful knock-out drifts with tenkara in the mountain streams.

My guess, like most of us doing tenkara know, you will catch tons of fish using flies on tenkara and no need to use live bait.

Try it... you may love it!

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Re: using bait on a tenkara rod

Postby Emigirl62! » Fri Mar 22, 2019 3:00 am

Thank you for the reply. And I absolutely plan on giving it a try. I am sure I will enjoy it. But as some of the streams i fish involve lengthy hikes I was just wondering if I could use a tenkara rod for both methods and not have to carry two rods. One that doesnt collapse. I will have to try it in the back yard to see if both ways work. Not much casting in my original way of fishing. More of a flick of the wrist sideways down stream then twitching the minnow to me while stripping in line. May have to use two rods. Thanks again for the reply.
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Re: using bait on a tenkara rod

Postby dwalker » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:03 am

Hi Emigirl621,

Actually looking at Japanese tenkara blogs you can find the occasional mention of what is called - esa-tenkara, which means bait tenkara. Sometimes the comments appear to indicate it is a method used during low water conditions. But not using small minnows, but rather using insects, mostly those found underneath rocks in the stream. Whether you can only use one rod or not probably depends on what rod you choose.

Esa-tenkara is written in Japanese several ways. You can do an internet search with the phrases, written with different characters, and find a few references to that method of fishing. But difficult to understand unless you can read a bit of Japanese.

esa-tenkara = bait tenkara. [ esa = 餌 , えさ, エサ ]

But you have to be careful about what you are looking at.
エサとテンカラ釣り = bait and tenkara fishing. They might be using the same rod for both, or they might be on a fishing outing and fishing with both methods, but using different rods. Perhaps more commonly using a Japanese bait rod, such as TJ described, and using a rod marketed as a bait rod, but using it for tenkara fly fishing.

This link is an old blog post showing both.
The top diagram, with the green back ground, is labeled
本流エサ竿を使用した、テンカラ [main stream bait rod used, tenkara]
The rod illustrated is a 7m rod. However, inside the diagram it says - (something)のテンカラ仕掛け = tenkara shikake. Shikake (仕掛け) basically means, rigging/setup, etc.

The second diagram down labelled エサテンカラ , bait tenkara. Shows a 4.5m hae rod, (ハエ竿) , Hae fish (ハエ魚) are just your normal creek fish. Do an internet search for ハエ魚とは to discover what types of fish they are. Creek chubs, haya fish, and such. Many anglers in Japan have found hae rods that they prefer to use for tenkara fly fishing. I believe the line at the top inside the diagram is somone's name + tackle (のタックル = tackle of).

Anyway, this video was uploaded about one year ago, March 4, 2018. Titled -
渓流釣り・えさテンカラ仕掛けの作り方 [mountain stream fishing ・how to make bait tenkara rig, ]

It is in Japanese language. Here are a few of the subtitles, that may help understand a bit more than you can gain by just watching. As well as I know how to translate or read it.
ナロン0。4号通し Nylon no. 4
竿先リリアン部分の結び rod tip lillian knot
八の字結び figure 8 knot
一重結びに、もとー回通す Single knot, pass through one time.
本線を引くと締まる Tightens when you pull the main line
先糸を引くと開く Open by pulling the tip of the line.
ライン Line
竿の全長より1m + ?? 1 m from full rod length
50cm下にハリを結ぶ 50 cm below knot the hook.

[basically he is rigging on a small float, 50 cm above the hook, and tying the usual slip noose knot.]

In the comments to that video is a sentence, エサテンカラの例 , Bait tenkara example, and a link to another video. That video is actually titled -
渓流釣り・竿抜けとインジケーター、先行者攻略, that is something close to -
mountain stream fishing ・rod withdrawal and indicator, advanced capture.

It is a 12 minute video, most of it is drawing diagrams showing how to fish under a low hanging branch. Using a similar bait tenkara rig. Most of it is difficult to follow, I think the only label on the diagram is 水面 = water surface.

The only thing that may be of interest is the last minute or so, just after おまけ (omake, bonus). Where it shows that he is capturing water bugs from under stream stones, I believe for his bait. The link to the video starts at that point.

I think bait tenkara is done, but not a frequently used method, and when done using water bugs, not minnows. Some people also use miniature spoon lures, spoons that weight 0.4g to 0.8g. But again, I think, only a minority of people fish with miniature spoons with tenkara rods.

Tenkara fishing with flies, is what tenkara is all about. Usually it will catch plenty of fish.

Anything else is really just fixed line fishing. However, bait tenkara is done often enough in Japan that they have a name for it, and it is written about or filmed, now and again. But I think not often done. Maybe this has provided a bit of information about how people who do , do it, go about it. You might be better off finding a telescoping bait rod than can also be used to fly fish, tenkara style, and just carry one rod.

Good luck, :)
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Re: using bait on a tenkara rod

Postby dwalker » Sun Mar 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Here is an example from Aug, 2018, of some extreme bait fishing with a tenkara rod.

I think it better to call it bait fishing with a tenkara rod. Rather than tenkara fishing. Tenkara fishing, I think, ought to be fly fishing. But perhaps not necessarily restricted to mountain stream fly fishing as it is mostly thought of or practiced in Japan.

Anyway, below are links to a blog post and the Youtube video linked to from within the blog post.

Two guys fishing for black sea brim using a tenkara rod. The rod used I think is a Shimano tenpyō Tenkara LLS 36 rod [シマノ 天平テンカラ LLS 36 竿 ]. You can see the anglers are carrying a traditional Japanese bait bucket looped on their neck, and at the beginning of the video collecting the bait. That confirms they are bait fishing.

Part of the title of the video is テンカラ竿の限界に挑む!! {Challenging the limits of tenkara rod !!} I think any TUSA tenkara rod would work as well. However, landing big fish without breaking a tenkara rod depends a lot on proper handling of the rod. Holding the rod to avoid bending the rod to an extreme tight arc. As much as how robust the rod model is. Catching and landing smaller stream caught fish should be less risky, the size typically targeted with a fly.

Blog post - テンカラdeキビレ,チヌ
[Chinu, チヌ = black sea bream. I am not sure what species of fish キビレ, kibire, are. ] Now and again I stumble upon Japanese videos of people in Japan fishing for salt water fish with tenkara rods. But most often they are still fishing with flies, not bait.

Youtube video - Published on Aug 5, 2018 ~ 11 minutes:
Challenging limits of tenkara rod !! Aiming for Chinu and Kibire !

fwiw, ;)
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