Fishing with Style

Tenkara in the United Kingdom

in association with

  Tenkara with Phil Sheridan  

 Buy Tenkara Rods UK   Tenkara Advice  Tenkara Flies  Instruction  James Chetham 1681  Links

Tenkara a simple description view here



Old style or Tenkara Style

An introduction to the Tenkara method of fly fishing

Give a boy a cane, a bit of string and a hook and he will be quite happy playing around in the river all day long. Give a man a rod, a line and a fly and he will happily play around in the river all day long.

Now look at tenkara where only a rod, line and a fly are used. The line, whether it be tapered or straight through, is attached directly to the tip of the rod, a length of tippet is then attached to the end of this line.

The fly could be a tenkara (sakasa kebari ) style fly, a nymph, a dry or just a favourite which goes onto the end of the tippet.

In all fly-fishing the casting technique propels the weightless fly to the target. Maybe with tenkara the casting stroke is slightly slower but hopefully the end result is a well presented fly in the location of the fish.

Just as they did in days gone by. Simple!



Mr James Chetham - (Bap. 1640 d. 1692) - Author of The Angler's Vade Mecum

Tenkara is said to be the traditional Japanese method of fly-fishing, which uses only a rod, a length of line and a fly. However, James Chetham in his book The Angler's Vade Mecum  published 1681 describes a very similar setup of horse hair for the line and a very long rod. 

In the preface of his book James Chetham does a little name dropping mentioning Markham, Walton, Venables and Cotton so they were all possibly using the same or similar method.

Without going into actual detail Mr Chetham outlines how to make a rod and then goes on to state:

"Generally length of rod is to be governed by the breadth of the river you angel in; but always use a rod full as long as the river will bear, and let the same be very well mounted and not in the least top-heavy; Although I angle in a small river generally, yet I constantly use a rod 5 yards and a half long; and experimentally find more advantages by it than I need to trouble you with here."

Tenkara rods vary between 11feet and 14feet 7inches. James Chetham's rod was 16feet 6inches???

He then goes on to describe the making of the line with horse hair using 9 strands, then 7, then 5 and so on, which obviously gives one the taper.

"Your line for Dub-fly, cast-fly, or artificial fly (which are all one and the same) should be about 3 yards longer than the rod or almost twice the length of the rod, if the river to be encumbered with wood or trees on it’s bank; if so, let it be shorter, but still longer than the rod."

Tenkara lines are suggested at maybe slightly shorter than Mr Chethams but not by much.

Once the line has been attached to the rod Mr Chetham states:

"Your lines made thus, will cause the rod and line to be in a manner taper, from the very hand to the hook, and the line to fall much better and straighter, and cast your fly or bait to any certain place your hand and eye shall direct, with less weight and violence that would otherwise circle the water, and fright away fish."

Does this sound familiar? A balanced outfit with a taper throughout!

One very interesting point is the tippet material used and recommended by both Tenkara and Chetham.

I quote from the Tenkara Bum web site:

"The reason for light tippet is that without a reel, you cannot let fish run against a drag system. In tenkara the line is tied firmly to the rod tip, and as a fish tries to run it meets gradually increasing resistance as the rod bends into its stiffer middle and butt sections. If the fish is strong enough, though, eventually something is going to break. You don't want it to be the rod. Your tippet is the weak link that has to be built into the system. Tenkara rods are very supple, and are very good at protecting light tippets. Light tippets are very good at protecting tenkara rods. Tippets have to be very light if you want to protect horsehair lines, though"

Now I quote from James Chetham

"You may much advantage yourself in crafting your lines, especially the artificial, by making the uppermost link or gildard to consist of twelve or nine hairs and one or two hairs less in the next link and so on until you come to the hook; by this means any angler will cast a fly well and quickly become an artist; and if you chance to fasten your hook (snag) and cannot come to loosen it you’ll not lose above one gildard (link)  or two at the most, though you pull to break it; Because the line is so strong  at the upper end, you may angle with stronger lines at the cast-fly."

In other words the tippet is your safety net against breaking the rod due to snags or fish that are too big for the rod to handle. It is the weak link and should give way before the rod does.


Also David Webster describes Tenkara fishing almost to a tee in his book The Angler and the Loop-Rod

Read his book here : David Webster, The Loop Rod book online

David Webster and the Loop Rod

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Buying Tenkara Rods

Tenkara Centre UK   

Tenkara in Europe from Tenkara Pyrenees

Advice for buying Tenkara rods :

Phil Sheridan of Tenkara Days

Tenkara with Phil

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Discover Tenkara



Tenkara Instruction in Yorkshire

Nidderdale Angling Club Tenkara Day

Watch the video of the day. Click here.


Tenkara Instruction Yorkshire

Tenkara instruction is available on a wide variety of waters in Yorkshire by me, Phil Sheridan and Discover Tenkara.

Including all tackle, rods, lines, flies etc. EXCLUDING day tickets for the relevant river

One Day (Approx 8 hours) £180.00 – additional students £35.00 each

Half Day (Approx 4 hours) £95.00 – additional students £25.00 each

Please contact me to make a booking.

TEL: 01132 507244

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Tenkara Style Flies

Tenkara style flies now available to order.  I can tie North Country Spider style, as per examples shown below, or any variation you may require. 

All flies will be tied on a selection of hooks including Partridge spider hooks and Kamasan B911 barbless, all hooks offer  a more authentic Tenkara sakasa kebari style.

 Please contact me either by phone (number above) or by email to

Standard flies as below will be charged at £1.75 each - minimum of 5 per pattern, plus postage. Payment can be made via online invoice using any credit/debit card.

All orders will be queued as all are tied by me so order early for next year's season.

      Greenwells             Kilnsey Killer         Partridge & Orange

Greenwells Spider sakasa kebari styleLittle Black Tenkara stylePartridge and Orange Tenkara style

Pheasant Tail sakasa kebari styleSnipe and Purple sakasa kebari styleStewarts Spider

      Pheasant Tail          Snipe and Purple       Stewarts Spiders

Also see:

Phil Sheridan

Tenkara with Phil Sheridan

Mr Fujioka's website My Best Streams just goes to show how much variation there is among the different Japanese regions :

Of particular interest is the plethora of different terminal tackle setups including multifly and weighted fly, especially if you read the descriptions that accompany the illustration.


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More details will be posted as soon as possible.

Tenkara fly fishing

Fishing with Style

Partners: Stephen & Christine Cheetham

40 Aire Grove, Yeadon, LEEDS, West Yorkshire, LS19 7TY

Tel: 0113 2507244


Useful links.


Tenkara Days

Discover Tenkara

Tenkara Centre UK      Esoteric Tackle   

A good tenkara site:  TenkaraBum

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