Before I start, let me be clear. I’m a level line tenkara guy.
When I started my tenkara journey, furled lines were my preference. However, as I honed some of my manipulation techniques and started fishing some higher end rods, I moved over to level line. With a few exceptions here and there, I just never really seek an alternative.
So when Luong Tam at Tenkara Tanuki offered to send over a new tapered PVC floating line for review, I sort of chuckled and said “whatever” to myself. But aspiring to be the best tenkara “journalist” I could be (if that’s even a thing) I took him up on the offer. And let me tell you, I was surprised.
Luong mailed a 16′ line to mess around with. He actually offers lengths between 12′ and 22′ in one foot increments. This allows you to kind of pick your poison when it comes to length.
Otherwise, it’s a fairly standard configuration for a pre-made line. First, with a string loop at the one end to girth hitch on to the rod’s lillian. Then followed by an 18″ length of monofilament at the other end which terminates with a tippet ring in which to tie on your tippet (and eventually, fly).
The first thing that I immediately noticed was how supple the line felt. Sometimes when you are given a PVC line for either western fly fishing or tenkara, it has a somewhat “stiff”, plasticky feel to it. It may even may be on the heavy side. I’m not sure what this line is, or where he sourced it, but it is really soft and light. If you didn’t know better, you’d think it behaved like a furled thread line.
But the feel aside, the casting is what’s important, right? I have to admit, it casts damn good. Now, I’ve tried one or two PVC lines with tenkara rods over the years and they all generally cast well. You’ll be throwing a fairly solid loop in no time. That’s the main draw to buy one. However I noticed that this one seems to sag a bit less than some of the others that I’ve tried in the past. Now it’s nowhere near the lightness of level line, but the weight is not going to immediately pull your fly back towards you either should you want to tight line fish with it.
Luong states on his website that “it is designed to cast with bigger fly easier like mouse/popper/grasshopper pattern”. His words, not mine. But I’ll tell you, he’s not lying. Whereas with level line, when you cast a larger fly it’s more like a “lob”, this line truly allows you to cast the fly where you want it to go. I played around first casting a BoogleBug panfish popper, then even switched over to a tungsten beadhead leech pattern. It handled them both really well. I was impressed.
More importantly, the fish were too…
Now, I probably wouldn’t recommend this line for unweighted kebari. (Unless you wanted to fish dry flies with the floating line resting on the water.) However, if you’re a warmwater fixed-line angler, or even a more traditional tenkara angler who has difficulty casting longer lines, this alternative is worth checking out. Honestly, I wish I signed up for the 22′ version. I can see this becoming a staple of my stillwater fixed-line arsenal. Pair it with a longer, stouter rod and some larger western flies on a lake or pond and you’re going to have a blast.
Total side note, these lines come with/are sold on the Tanuki Saucer line holder. I had never had one of those in hand before… Through this review I found it’s a pretty interesting little contraption as well. With two integrated fly compartments, and a silicone line-retaining lip that you can flip open and closed, it’s definitely become a “fidget spinner” or “stress ball” replacement at my computer desk even when not serving its use for fishing. I just can’t keep my hands off the thing.
So to conclude… did Luong totally make me defect from Team Level Line? Not exactly. But as a specialized piece of fixed line gear, this Tanuki PVC Tapered Floating Tenkara Line certainly earns some street cred. Particularly if you’re a warmwater angler, it should definitely warrant your consideration.
At the time of publication of this review, the Tanuki PVC Tapered Floating Tenkara Line retails for $28.95 and can be found at Tenkara Tanuki’s website.
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