Accessories Tenkara

Reader Review: Zen Outfitters Braided Tenkara Line

Gear Review by Ana Echenique MD

I have been evaluating the braided tenkara lines from Zen Outfitters. These truly blend the best things about level, furled, and PVC lines.

Zen Outfitters Braided Tenkara Line - Ana Echenique - Tenkara Angler - Lines

The manufacturer’s website states:

“This is a braided level line and made much like silk fly lines are made. In fact, these lines are made on the same machine used for the production of silk fly lines! These lines come ready for a girth hitch to your lillian and tippet ring installed. The casting characteristics of these lines are excellent. Braided lines are much more dense than furled lines for less wind resistance, improved accuracy and better fly turnover when casting”


The lines are constructed from 16 strands of polyester which are braided together. The line has a very smooth feel, without the multiple lobulations of a furled line and is less prone to affects of wind, given its slightly increased weight over a level line, and decreased diameter compared to a furled line.

Line sag (drape otsuri) is the Achilles heel of non-level lines. Yes, given the weight of the line, there is some line sag compared to the level line, but it is less than a similar length furled line. I combat the moderate line sag by adding a slightly longer tippet (4-6ft) for fishing. The weight characteristics of the line add a tiny bit of mass which allows for straighter, truer casts. The lines include a 2mm tippet ring and girth hitch loop.

Zen Outfitters Braided Tenkara Line - Ana Echenique - Tenkara Angler - Hitch & Eye

An additional bonus is that it does not stretch, so it does not have the issue bunching up when retrieving a snag. This is a problem with furled and level lines. The line has no memory so there is no need to stretch it out prior to use – unlike level, tapered nylon and some PVC lines. Also, this allows storage on the rod with EZ keepers without annoying kink formation found with level lines.

These lines come in three colors now – bright yellow, blood red and sage (new color) for spooky fish. For my mountain streams with overhead cover, the red lines were tough to see, the yellow is quite bright, and the sage is stealthy and has become my “go to” color. You can easily add sighter markings at the end of the line using a sharpie pen which I have done on the yellow line below.

Zen Outfitters Braided Tenkara Line - Ana Echenique - Tenkara Angler - Sighter

The lines come in 8ft, 10.5ft and 13 ft lengths but it is very easy to ask Jaime, the owner of Zen Outfitters, for custom lengths.

Zen Outfitters Braided Tenkara Line - Ana Echenique - Tenkara Angler - Sizes

Floating vs. Sinking

When I was using the Zen Outfitters’ coated, “floating” braided lines, I did note that the line speed was faster and a bit heavier than my level line casts. Since I have a great relationship with Jaime, I discussed the possibility of testing his “sinking” lines that were not sealed with his proprietary floatant, since tenkara fishers tend to keep the line off the water. He quickly obliged and I had the opportunity to test 13 foot lines, coated and uncoated, side by side.

First, off, the uncoated “sinking” line was obviously lighter in the hand than its coated “floating” counterpart. The uncoated line also cast with silky smoothness, but finished the cast more gently, lightly dropping down at the end of the cast vs. the coated line which cast with more speed and conviction. Both lines got my cast to the same location, but I did notice reduced sagging with the lighter, uncoated “sinking” line.

To demonstrate the line sag I snapped a couple images after casting each line with my Oni Type I rod, with its delicate tip. The Oni Type I, of course, cast both lines with no issue. However, as you can see on the images, the weight of the coated “floating” line did result in more tip and line sag (first image) than the lighter, uncoated “sinking” line (second image).

With that said, the coated line will “shoot” better on a windy day, but I noticed no decrease in performance with a little wind if I cast a weighted fly (2.5mm beaded futsu). Full disclosure, this “heavybari” is my wind solution for level lines (as described by John Pearson of Discover Tenkara and Fishing Discoveries).

I have to say, this line is pretty nice. I especially like the uncoated “sinking” line for its lightness, casting and resistance to (as in NO) kinking. I will be testing a version of this line with floatant only at the tip to impart forward weighting, hopefully in the near future.


I have cast these lines with my Oni Type I, Tenkara Rod Co. Yari, Riverworks ZX4-PRO, Zen Tenkara Suzume, and my Tanuki Pocket Ninja with ease and pleasure. Casting is effortless and the line forms a beautiful casting loop. Fly first casts come naturally.

Bottom line, I like level lines but, these lines offer silky easy casting and pinpoint accuracy. So I will be reaching more and more for my Zen Outfitters lines, (particuarlly with the new “spooky” sage option), for pinpoint casts in pocket water. These lines and this company are winners and fill a void in the market.

Ana Echenique MD, has embraced tenkara fishing, focusing on mountain stream fishing. She has a long fishing history and enjoys the simplicity and challenge of tenkara.

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