Tenkara – no – Oni — Masami Sakakibara’s World of Tenkara —

Oni Blog

Japanese streams and Tenkara

Posted on | September 11, 2013


Japan’s trout season is usually from March through September.

Each water is managed by fishermen’s union; thus the length of the

season  can vary but is almost during this period.

Fishing for the season is targeted at salmonidae species such as amago,

yamame  and iwana; they enter mating period from the end of September.

As the number of native fish (fish that are born and inhabit the water)

is declining  in Japan, close season is important in order to increase

the number of fish.

Some fish in the highland over 600 meters elevation start the pairing

even from the beginning of September.

Tenkara fishers are usually sensitive to the nature, so they refrain from

fishing when they see the color of mating in the fish.

They wish for greater reproduction of fish, which they believe makes

them able to enjoy the sport.

This is what I always strongly hope.

I have to put out last spurt. I have decided where to go: where

I believe I could see big ones.













It seems there has been some confusion on tenkara overseas.


What is Tenkara?


Only record left in writing on Japanese tenkara was “Tateyama

Climbing Journal”  written by Earnest Satow, then secretary of the

British legation, who went together with the Minister Parks on his

journey. (cf. History page)

Japanese tenkara has been handed down from generation to

generation  among professional fishermen in each local area.

And next tenkara record was written by Soseki Yamaoto in

showa era.

But they witnessed only some of the tenkara professionals.

They couldn’t see all of the professionals and matagi or

professional hunters.

All we have to do is just imagine other facts.

What we Japanese tenkara fishers have heard from old people

and stories of their  forefathers in each locality is as important

as the recorded documents.

Tenkara started with ordinary materials found everywhere

in Japan: a bamboo for rod with a line attached to it.

The first line wasn’t only horse hair; also everyday items such as

silk threads, cotton threads and so forth were used together

with artificial flies on hooks.

Some may have put on many flies.

Tenkara as pleasure angling now taking root in our pastime,

has been evolving into  several forms in conjunction with

western flyfishing that also now is taking hold in Japan.

For example, Mr. Horie uses flylines for tenkara.


Some use flyfishing flies for tenkara. I think the bottom

line is having fun!

It could be boiled down to “Every tenkara man (woman)

has his(her) style.”


I only deal with trout in the streams.


For lines, while I used many types, now I came to

conclusion  that level lines or tapered lines with modern

design from horse hair lines.


I don’t use horse hair lines,because of heavy.


My obsession also goes to tippets.

I love supple but strong tippets.


For flies, I choose black, yellow and white. These are base

colors for me.

I only go as small as size #14 for hook size.

I do not use small flies like flyfishing.

This is because I always want to pay homage to the traditional




Also because I do not want to forget what my father and

other great senior masters taught to me.

Just like tenkara fishers from 1800’s,

I want to blend in with nature and enjoy tenkara.


What we have to do is not argue or discuss but go


You could learn more in the field with your eyes

than in books even if you read tons of books.

What you learn in real terms will be your

invaluable pages for your own tenkara.






























2 Responses to “Japanese streams and Tenkara”

  1. Chris Stewart
    September 11th, 2013 @ 11:23 PM

    You can make a level horsehair line from just two hairs twisted together. It will be very light but you can cast it with your Oni rod. A level line made from three hairs will work with many tenkara rods and is still pretty light.

  2. Adam
    September 20th, 2013 @ 10:51 PM

    Your words on this subject are refreshing. I appreciate that you take interest in other areas of the world to spread Tenkara. Thank you.

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