D.I.Y. Fixed-Line Fly Fishing Rods Tenkara

Tenkara Rod Tip Plug Candy

D.I.Y. Article by Rob Gonzalez

Ok, I admit I’m a little obsessive compulsive about this tip plug mod. Most tenkara rods these days come with the familiar red lillian material threaded through the rod tip plug. I assume its there for a few reasons: visibility in case you drop the tip plug, something to hang your tip plug from for safe keeping while you fish, or as replacement material should you break your lillian. In years of tenkara fishing, I’ve never had a lillian fail and sure – I’ve seen the videos on making the repair yourself, but in all honesty, I’d probably just get a new tip to be safe.

Early tenkara rods didn’t provide this extra lillian material on the tip plugs, like the Tenkara USA Iwana. This isn’t a new mod for me. Years ago, I drilled out the faux wood Iwana tip plug and used bright fly line backing, fly line running line, and even Amnesia to create this same loop. Since most modern rods now have the extra lillian material, I had an OCD moment about wanting to make all mine all the same. They were all different lengths on my rods, some new and bright red and others faded from age. It just bugged me.

I ran across this micro hi-vis reflective cord (1.2mm) from Arrowhead Equipment. It’s available in several colors and almost identical to the lillian material diameter. (I did have to enlarge the tip plug holes in the Tenkara USA Sato and Rhodo with a Dremel tool, but it fit my Tanuki rods, and the Dragontail HellBender). I chose hi-vis orange for visibility on the ground or in the water if I dropped the plug and was excited about the added reflective strands.

Rob Gonzalez - Tenkara Rod Tip Plug Candy - Cord

Now I could replace all that extra lillian material and make all my rod tip plugs have the same look and length. My goal was to make them as short as possible but still be able to tie an overhand knot (bent tip tweezers makes this much easier). I chose a length of cord around 4.5” for each plug. Be sure and keep your extra lillian material, you never know.

(I even went a step further down the OCD rat hole and bought the reflective hi-vis orange 2.75mm cord, also from Arrowhead Equipment, to dress up the zipper pulls and tippet hanger on my new camo Zimmerbuilt strap pack. I feel better now.)

Rob Gonzalez - Tenkara Rod Tip Plug Candy - Zimmerbuilt

Rob Gonzalez is an avid fly tyer and tenkara angler from the central Texas Hill Country. For the past few years he’s been at the forefront of promoting tenkara & fixed-line fly fishing statewide. Join him at the Facebook group, Tenkara Texas.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of Tenkara Angler Magazine.

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