Line Advise Worth Considering
When you ask about how long of a level line a 12' Iwana can cast, it depends on the weight of the line and the quality of the final presentation of your fly on the water you are looking to attain.
For lines shorter than the length of your rod, use the 4.5 line. The shorter line needs to have more mass to effectively load the rod tip.
For lines the same length or slightly longer (12-15 ft) use 3.5 line.
For long lines (16-25' on up), use 2.5 line. As the lines get longer, they get heavier. A 25' 3.5 level line is too heavy to get nice casts with good presentation.
I know that a lot of people will say that 3.5 level line in any length is all you need for tenkara. They are only partially correct. Yes, you can cast long lines with your Iwana and 3.5 level line. The efficiency of your rod is way out of balance and you sacrifice accuracy and presentation because of that.
With all that said, wind is the wild card and then you want to increase the mass of your lines to help punch through the wind and shorten up your lines and add a heavier fly to your line. Long line casting in the wind sucks with any level lines.
The goal is to get the most efficient energy delivery from your rod to the fly. Balancing the line weights and lengths makes that happen. That is why level lines in Japan are made and sold in sizes 1.0-5.0.
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John and I are going to disagree on this one. I would not use a 4.5 line on a 12' Iwana under any conditions I can think of. You can effectively load the rod tip with just the inertia of the rod itself (true for a 12' Iwana, although not for the stiffest rods). You can also change your casting stroke to mimic the rod tip motion that would be generated by a heavier line.
When you come to an abrupt stop on your forward cast, the rod tip continues to move forward and then springs back. You can do that with your casting stroke by extending the forward stroke a bit farther and then pulling the rod back a bit. Try that with a lighter line than you think you can cast. It works pretty nicely down to a line weight that is just too light to overcome wind resistance. And, given that wind resistance is the largest single factor limiting how light you can go and that the longer the line the more wind resistance saps the line's energy, I would argue that for a very short line you could go to a very light line.
In my opinion, and it truly is just an opinion, the goal is not to get the most efficient energy delivery from your rod to the fly, the goal is to get the best possible presentation of your fly, with much of that being keeping the line off the water's surface. A 4.5 line is too heavy to keep off the water's surface. To me, the light line is more important than rod loading, especially if you can make the cast by varying the casting stroke. For a line shorter than the rod I wouldn't go over size 3 and for a softer rod I would go lighter. The casting may not be as effortless, but the fishing will be a lot better.
And as to the question of how long a line you can cast with a 12' Iwana, I would say that you can easily cast a line that is too long. Too long to get good presentations and too long to effectively tire a fish with the rod rather than hand lining a fish that really isn't ready to come in. I'm not saying John can't do it but I am saying that anyone who has to ask how long a line you can cast can't do it. Start with a shorter line and gradually increase the length as you become more skilled (that is, if you see any need to increase the length and depending on where you fish you might not). When the presentation suffers stop trying to cast further.
Last edited by CM_Stewart; 07-06-2013 at 05:26 AM.
All rods are made to cast within a certain weight range. The rod does no know how long the line is that is being cast on it, the size of the line being cast, or its diameter. The rod responds to the line weight range it is designed to cast within. A long size 2.5 line will weigh more than a shorter than rod length section of size 4.5 line. So as long as the weight of line being cast is within the rod' design parameters, the rod will cast that line efficiently, accurately and enjoyably for most anglers regardless of its diameter and or length.
There is a term that describes what Chris is talking about: It is called forcing the rod. When you force a rod, you apply muscle power to force the rod to bend so that it can load and cast a line that does not have enough weight in it to load the rod on its own. With practice and a lot of work an angler can learn to cast a forced rod and line accurately and well. But that's probably more work than a lot of us are willing to invest in our fishing. Most of us just want to go out and have fun catching a few fish, and a line that easily loads your rod will be much more enjoyable to fish with, and it will cast far more accurately for most people than a rod and line combination that has to be forced to get it to cast well, and the heavier line will also handle wind better.
There really isn't any single right way of doing this for everyone. This is just one of those things that each angler has to try for his or herself and see what works out the best for you. John is right, do what is fun for you. For me, effortless casting adds a lot of fun to my Tenkara fly fishing experiences. I also fish as short of a line as I can get away with most of the time. If you fish short lines, you can hold enough size 4.5 line off of the water to get the desired results in most cases even though it would be easier to hold a lighter line off of the water from further away. The fish and the fishing environment determine how far away you need to be, that and your stealth and stocking ability. If you develop your fish hunting skills, you do not need to make long casts or hold a lot of line up off of the water to catch fish. Hand to fin combat has its own very real set of rewards....Golden.
John, I agree, the whole point is to have fun. Without the fun factor it's too much like work.
Originally Posted by JohnScott
On whether it was more fun three years ago, I don't know. Certainly more novel, and of course it is fun to play around with new things. You do have to ask yourself, though, were cars more fun when the only color you could get was black? Were computers more fun when the only operating system available was CP/M? Was TV more fun when there were only 5 channels? The answer may very well be yes - because they were new and different and exciting. But do you want to go back?
There are more choices now, and if you want you can choose specialized rods. And I can assure you, if you are fishing a step-across stream for little wild brookies, it really is more fun to use a rod that weighs less than an ounce and bends like crazy with a 5 incher on the line. If you wanted to fish for carp with a fixed line rod, it is probably more fun to do it with a rod that can handle it.
One other thing, I am sure that the guys who are trying it for the first time are having just as much fun as we did 3 or 4 years ago.
Last point: it is definitely more fun to be able to have a civil discussion about tenkara without having a flame war with the trolls. I'm sure the newbies don't remember them but I'm sure you do.
It was a long time ago, before we got a separate sub forum. There was a thread that got pretty nasty and got locked down. Since then there have been no problems. We don't always agree, but that is one of the best things about an open forum. We can disagree while still respecting each other's opinions.
I think you're on to something there. But sometimes I feel that it is the casting stroke of the person which defines whether the rod doing the work on the line. A more forceful stroke by the fisherman will necessarily mean that the rod is fully working on the line. Also it seems that the 'softer, slower' rods are those which do more work on the line while the 'harder, faster' rods, which is why such 'harder, faster' (aka 7:3 or 8:2) rods may need a heavier line.
Originally Posted by JohnScott
As far as the fly goes, gravity with such lines as cast by fixed-line rods is less important with the line as with the fly. I would think that for a weighted fly meant to get down in the water column the fight against gravity in a back-cast has more to do with time and momentum (or ultimately speed) than anything else. Momentum keeps the fly along a path and the shorter time spent in a cast means that gravity has less work on the fly. If that thinking is correct then a 'fast' (7:3, 8:2) rod shortens time of the cast, thus shortening the time gravity has to do work on the fly.
So, then what does the heavier line do? It would seem to be antithetical, in that a heavier line means that gravity would also work on it. But maybe it is simply that the faster rod can cast the heavier line or that a heavier line is stiffer and thus handles the turnover faster?
Just my way of thinking about it.
To the extent you can make identical "casts" with your Ayu, both with and without the line attached, watching the tip deflection and feeling the resistance in your hand, you can answer the question (in as much detail as matters).
I suspect that the question of how much the line loads the rod and how much the rod's own inertia loads the rod is important only to someone who is interested in playing around with lines of different weights. If you have a line you are happy with, in terms of length and weight and how it casts on your rod it probably doesn't really matter - especially if you are not trying to get information about a new rod that you can't handle and cast yourself.
When fishing with a weighted fly, the heavier line still makes it feel like you are casting the line. A light line and a heavy fly is just a series of jerks.
Whether the line makes any contribution to loading the rod or not can be easily determined by yourself simply by casting different sized T-lines, of the same length, and leaving the fly out of the equation for now, but including the same length of tippet material or the same tippet if you so choose to do that for each line. Of course you would have to go to the trouble and expense of buying spools of size 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4, 4.5 and possibly size #5 lines as well to do this, and I believe few anglers will go to that expense and trouble to do a test to find out the truth of this matter, but I have done so and I can assure you that this is not conjecture or theory on my part, but fact.
Whether the rod you are casting is a 5:5, a 6:4, a 7:3 or an 8:2 action index rod or not rated at all by its maker, do this with a rod length of line to start with. What you will find is that at some point (starting with the smallest lightest line size and working your way up through the heaviest largest line size that you have with all the lines at the same rod length) in the testing there will be a sweet spot line that will cast better on your rod than lines that are both lighter or heavier in weight than that optimum line on your rod. And if you have multiple rods, you will need to do this with each rod that you own to find its own individual optimum line size.
I carry my lines coiled in a RIO Leader Wallet Insert, which consists 6 clear Zip-Lock plastic bags sewn together. A cut down 3 X 5 note card placed in each bag allows each bag to carry 2 separate lines, and provides a place to note the length of the line, the line's size, whether it is a level or a tapered line, how the line is made up, and even what rod or rods that line casts the best on. Floating and furled lines do not require as much note taking because what they are is more visually apparent just from looking at the line.
Once you have made the optimum line/rod determination, you will know at what point to change to a heavier line for shorter than rod length lines, and a lighter line size when going to considerably longer than rod length lines in your fishing. This could also be done with a powder scale but unless you already happen to have one for other purposes (which I do), that would be too expensive a proposition for most T-anglers to invest in. Whether we are fishing with fixed line fly rods or Western fly rods the laws of physics will still apply for all of us, and the weight of the line does contribute to both the loading of the rod and the delivering of the fly pattern or patterns to the target area. Heavier lines used on stiffer rods can deliver heavier pay loads - which means a weighted fly or 2, or more heavily weighted flies, split shot, indicators and such. None of which Tenkara rods were really designed to do but some Keiryu rods can handle quite well.
I believe that we all owe TenkaraBum a huge dept of gratitude for making so many wonderful fixed line rods available to T-style anglers here in this country and in other countries that we would never have known about if Daniel had not banned Chris from the TUSA board and practically forced Chris to go into the rod market to earn a living because of TUSA's bid to cut into Chris's line sales by bringing out their own line of competing Hi-Vis fluorocarbon T-lines. So far the competition has not good for TUSA but it has sure been good for we Tenkara style anglers and for Chris, and Daniel has only him self to thank for where things are now, even though I privately urged him to keep the TUSA board as an open form and make it a free place to exchange important Tenkara information for all of us to use. Thank you Chris for all of your contributions made to our sport, they are greatly appreciated, at least by me....Golden.
Last edited by Golden; 07-09-2013 at 12:29 AM.
I'm not at all sure it has been bad for TUSA. The inexpensive tenkara starter kit and a kid's tenkara kit both increase the number of people who take up tenkara, making the overall market bigger for everyone.
For that matter, offering shorter rods does too. Many people, particularly in the east, believe that tenkara rods are too long for the streams they fish. They buy a short rod, get hooked on tenkara fishing and before long see the applications for a longer rod on other streams. If the shortest available rod was 12', they never would have tried tenkara in the first place.
I have no problem with TUSA keeping their focus on how tenkara is done in Japan. They should have no problem with me keeping my focus on how tenkara is done in the US.
Last edited by CM_Stewart; 07-09-2013 at 01:40 PM.