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Take the Tenk

The fishing rod for rock hopping

Published online: Apr 05, 2021 Articles, East Idaho Outdoors Kris Millgate
Viewed 2308 time(s)

Photos and story by Kris Millgate, Tightline Media.

Fly rod: Common contraption in Eastern Idaho, an area known for blue-ribbon trout streams. Tenkara rod: Not-so-common contraption in Eastern Idaho, an area known for skinny water and fat fish. Both rods work wonders around here, but if you’re exploring with kids or a lot of other gear in your pack, here’s why you want to take the Tenk.

The Parts

Fly rods have three parts: rod, line, reel. Tenkara rods have two parts: rod and line. No reel. Yes, intriguing. Especially if you have a tough time keep yourself upright while rock hopping. Reels don’t spin so well after they smack river bottom when you fall.

The Play

With no reel, there’s no worry of cobwebbing your line because there’s less of it, but less has limits. Tenkara rods don’t have several yards of line you can swing over your head as you pretend you’re in the movie, A River Runs Through It. Long casts don’t work with a Tenkara rod. The line is about as long as you are tall and it dangles off the rod tip like the stick-string combo you made when you were 5.

The Plus

The plus of having little line is proximity. Fish are close in skinny water. That’s why Tenkaras are great tag-alongs for trails next to creeks. There’s only a few feet between you and the fish. Short line easily covers that. Bounce the fly along the surface, keep most of the line out of the water and you’ll fool a fish into thinking what you present is real.

The other plus, Tenkara rods retract so they’re a smaller load. Stick one in your back pocket so you and your kids are hands-free to help each other stay upright on wet rocks. 


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