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Good Tenkara Target: Pink Salmon

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July 30, 2013

Good Tenkara Target: Pink Salmon

By Kirk Deeter


Those of you who read along know that I am a freak for tenkara—a traditional Japanese style of fly fishing that involves a long rod, with a line connected directly to its tip (no reel). It's kind of like attaching a leash directly to the fish when you hook one, as there is no give or play in the actual line, the rod itself serves as the shock absorber. I think tenkara is a great teaching tool, as it forces anglers to sneak up on fish and avoid making overly long casts (a common mistake). 

Tenkara is primarily for little trout. It makes an 8-inch brookie feel like a big fish. But I have a habit of not limiting myself to those fish. In Guyana, I caught baby tarpon on tenkara. In Saskatchewan it was northern pike and grayling. On a recent trip to Alaska with Hal Herring and others, we got into masses of pink salmon. Now, pinks are probably the least appreciated salmon among sport anglers. They are very abundant, but they aren't very big (less than 10 pounds). If you catch them in the salt and bleed them right away, they are pretty good to eat, but I wouldn't compare them to a good sockeye, king, or silver. 

Nevertheless, there they were, and we were catching them by the score. After about a dozen pinks one afternoon, I decided to do what any normal angler who happened to be holding a tenkara rod would do—I tied on a pink streamer and twitched it through the run. Sure enough, it got bit, and I added another species to the imaginary tenkara trophy room. 

Of course, at some point, you reach a point of diminishing returns. I am sure some idiot will eventually try to land a baby mako shark on tenkara someday. It won't be me. But I will keep pushing the "reasonable" limits with different species. Which fish would top your tenkara target list?

Comments (8)

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from buckhunter wrote 37 weeks 5 days ago

It is easy to get hooked on the simplicity of Tenkara. It is no surprise since 2009 it has grown by leaps and bounds and has been the doomstick of many species of fish.

Not having a wide variety of species at my disposal I will say the brook trout which resides in the small mountain streams of the Appalachians will always top my list. After that the small streams in the Sierra's.

Will be packing in for elk next month and the Tenkara fits very handily in the backpack...

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from OpenSpacez wrote 37 weeks 5 days ago

I landed a Walleye on the Potomac with a Yamame rod. I have my sights on Lakers in the fall. Much love for Tenkara.

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from Dangle wrote 37 weeks 5 days ago

I've got a better more realistic target...bullfrogs. Use a dry fly bug at nite, and jig the bug on the fixed line over a bullfrog. Walla! frog on! And excellent eating. Don't forget to bring a flashlight.

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from NorthernArcher7890 wrote 37 weeks 4 days ago

Being 13 in the summer is the.best way to go fishing, I got my first tenkara rods this spring and I've been using it ever since, I figured out that a mosquito dry fly will catch panfish like no tomorrow. I think my record was three casts with out a sunny, but id really love to try and take it to a really little lake in the BWCA for walleye, and maybe perch for fun.

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from sa4ak wrote 37 weeks 4 days ago

Just back from 4 days in Bristol Bay, AK. Filmed some epic sequences for an upcoming short: "KingKara" No, just kidding. We really didn't hook into any king salmon on tenkara gear. And it probably wouldn't turn out so well anyway. Although I am surprised to hear about the baby tarpon Kirk landed. That was probably pretty fun.

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from Dangle wrote 37 weeks 2 days ago

Buckhunter..whatja think of my use for a tenkara rod? I think it is absolutely the best use, and would sell more Tenkara rods! And the ideal time to use it is right after the bars close at 2 AM. Had a good drinkin buddy that drove his car into a marsh near Sandusky, OH trying to get his headlights lined up. He forgot his flashlight.

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from themadflyfisher wrote 37 weeks 9 hours ago

I would like to catch any fish on a tenkara rod. Definitley my next rod purchase.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

Wish when I guided I had tenkara rods. All those crackers that couldn't cast would have been fishing with one. Boy would my day have been made easier!

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from buckhunter wrote 37 weeks 5 days ago

It is easy to get hooked on the simplicity of Tenkara. It is no surprise since 2009 it has grown by leaps and bounds and has been the doomstick of many species of fish.

Not having a wide variety of species at my disposal I will say the brook trout which resides in the small mountain streams of the Appalachians will always top my list. After that the small streams in the Sierra's.

Will be packing in for elk next month and the Tenkara fits very handily in the backpack...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from OpenSpacez wrote 37 weeks 5 days ago

I landed a Walleye on the Potomac with a Yamame rod. I have my sights on Lakers in the fall. Much love for Tenkara.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 37 weeks 5 days ago

I've got a better more realistic target...bullfrogs. Use a dry fly bug at nite, and jig the bug on the fixed line over a bullfrog. Walla! frog on! And excellent eating. Don't forget to bring a flashlight.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from NorthernArcher7890 wrote 37 weeks 4 days ago

Being 13 in the summer is the.best way to go fishing, I got my first tenkara rods this spring and I've been using it ever since, I figured out that a mosquito dry fly will catch panfish like no tomorrow. I think my record was three casts with out a sunny, but id really love to try and take it to a really little lake in the BWCA for walleye, and maybe perch for fun.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from sa4ak wrote 37 weeks 4 days ago

Just back from 4 days in Bristol Bay, AK. Filmed some epic sequences for an upcoming short: "KingKara" No, just kidding. We really didn't hook into any king salmon on tenkara gear. And it probably wouldn't turn out so well anyway. Although I am surprised to hear about the baby tarpon Kirk landed. That was probably pretty fun.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 37 weeks 2 days ago

Buckhunter..whatja think of my use for a tenkara rod? I think it is absolutely the best use, and would sell more Tenkara rods! And the ideal time to use it is right after the bars close at 2 AM. Had a good drinkin buddy that drove his car into a marsh near Sandusky, OH trying to get his headlights lined up. He forgot his flashlight.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 37 weeks 9 hours ago

I would like to catch any fish on a tenkara rod. Definitley my next rod purchase.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

Wish when I guided I had tenkara rods. All those crackers that couldn't cast would have been fishing with one. Boy would my day have been made easier!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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