Fixed-Line Fly Fishing Trip Reports Warmwater

Urban “Tenkara”

An Eye Opening Introduction to Fixed-Line Fly Fishing

Article by Kyle Settle

Tenkara is still relatively new to me. I grew up spin fishing for trout in the Virginia mountains and eventually made the transition to fly fishing for trout, as well as warmwater species.  While flipping through YouTube videos a few months ago I stumbled on a video for something called tenkara; so, I clicked on the video and let it play. Over a few short minutes a gentleman caught bluegill on just about every cast using a fixed line setup. It reminded me of the times as a kid when I unsuccessfully tried to build my own cane poles. I was instantly hooked on the idea of learning to fish simpler without all the excess gear we feel we need while spin or fly fishing.

I began to research tenkara rods and wanted to find something quality but within a lower budget in case I chose not to stick with it. After a bit of comparison shopping, I eventually landed on Wetfly’s website and found a great deal on a Backcountry Mini rod. It is small enough to fit into a backpack and doesn’t scream I’m fishing here while walking down a sidewalk or trail.

I recently found a beautiful little tailwater creek within my neighborhood that receives almost no pressure. While all the other neighborhood fisherman focus on the 82 acre lake above it, I have found it is simpler to focus on the tight water below the dam that seems too inconvenient for most people within the area to fish. My tenkara rod is the perfect tool for it.

Kyle Settle - Urban Tenkara - Casting

The first-time fishing with my tenkara rod was a great experience. And it’s a memory that I will cherish for years to come.

I approached the creek with anticipation and butterflies the size of pterodactyl in my stomach. My first cast was effortless and landed at the edge of the break created by the sun kissed water and the shadows of the oaks that lined the creek. I let the small streamer sink and gave it a few small twitches in hopes that a hungry bluegill would chomp. Almost immediately my line snapped taught and I lifted the rod tip to set the hook. After a brief tussle, I was able to land one of the smallest bass I have ever caught. I swear I am probably prouder of that little bass than some of the bigger ones I have caught on spin gear.

A few casts later landed me a new species on the tenkara rod. The fish I was after when I decided to only bring the tenkara rod out on this excursion, the bluegill. Moments later I netted another interesting catch, a golden shiner. It was extremely cool as I had to idea they existed in this body of water.

Kyle Settle - Urban Tenkara - Bluegill

I fished on for a few moments as my wife took some photos to commemorate my first day on this new fishing journey. I began fishing an area that is extremely rocky and had an excellent flow of water coming down from the lake. My first cast in this area landed me an awesome little largemouth well into the double-digit mark. I couldn’t have been happier. This made all the missed strikes disappear from memory and solidified my love for this simpler way of fishing.

Kyle Settle - Urban Tenkara - Largemouth Bass

I cannot wait to trek off into the mountains to chase brook trout with this rod. It should be perfect for those areas where my conventional fly rods end up snagged in the thick creekside vegetation and should provide me with wonderful memories of the little sharks of the mountains.


Kyle Settle is based in Virginia where he enjoys all that the local mountain culture has to offer, including fishing, hunting, and photography. Instagram: @overthenextridge

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

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