Sunday, January 23, 2011

Make Your Own Tenkara Line


Over the last few months I was reading quite a few forums, blogs and websites that were talking about making your own furled or twisted lines. Right from the bat, this sounded very interesting since I love to tinker with equipment and customize accessories.

So, I finally took the plunge and tried to make my own line. My biggest help was a post on the Tenkara Fisher Forum (, providing instructions and discussion as to how to setup your "rig" and actually explaining how it works. I highly recommend to check this post if you are interested in making your own lines.

If you have already been fishing, you will probably already have most of what you need:

- line material (i.e. tippet in 1x, 2x and 3x to start)
- a hook or nail in the wall (away from where your better half might object to it)
- a swivel
- 3 lead weights, each 1oz or so
- a piece of plastic with with 3 holes, such the top of a peanut can, cut a slit from the hole to the edge
- 3 bottles, pipes or similar

You start by attaching three 5-6ft lengths of line material  to the swivel which you have in turn attached to a nail on the wall (as high as you can comfortably reach). The other end of each strand of line material you attach to one lead weight each and let each hang into a separate bottle (or pipe or other contraption that lets the weight with the line attached spin freely). Then you take the piece of plastic and thread each strand into one of the holes in the plastic piece through the slit. Then you start twisting the line at the swivel and move the plastic piece down as you twist the line tightly. Once you are at the bottom, make an overhand knot into the line and unhook the weights and make another overhand knot at the swivel and unhook the line from the swivel. Your first line segment is done! You will do the same with each segment for your line (to achieve the taper you want) and then knot the segments to each other with surgeons knots. In the butt end, attach the loop for the lilian (I used a 30lbs backing line) and to the tip you can knot a piece of mono with a loop or hand-twist another piece of line material (which gives you a 2 strand twisted line with a loop at the tip ( which you attach to the tip of the line with a surgeons knot also.

The end result looks like this:

Now I can make the line I want, using mono or fluoro (or other material), the taper that will suit my needs best. The possibilities and combinations seem almost endless. I colored the knots with an orange sharpie to give me a bit more visual help seeing the line and maybe detecting strikes when fishing sub-surface.

Questions? Let me know!!

Tight Lines, -K

This is the year of Tenkara!

Addition Feb. 8, 2010:
Also this website provides pictures of the basic setup to better visualize it:

This is how I attach it to the wall in the basement (hook/screw & swivel):

One of the weights at the end of the strand:

My contraption to separate the weights from twisting with each other (you can also use a pipe each, a bottle or whatever you have handy that fits the purpose - in my case it was an old big Costco pretzel jar where I drilled holes into the top):


  1. Wow, this is great Karel! You've inspired my to make my own. I've always wanted to but thought you had to make a complicated jig. It's good to know you can make furled lines with things you already have laying around the house.

  2. Hi Jason, feel free to come over and we can twist a line or two for you while having a few beers.

  3. I shutter to think what my line would look like after a few beers!

  4. Could you take a picture of the set up, Nail swivel bottles or pipes? Think that would help me envision how to set up.

  5. derron - the nail or screw high up on the wall is to attach the swivel. to the swivel, attach 3 strands of nylon or fc, at the other of each strand attach a lead weight. My reference for the pipes, bottles or similar is so that each weight can freely move and twirl without twisting with the other weights. I will post another pix or two to the post above to clarify, but check out, this will give you also a better idea (use a browser that translates it from japanes to english. Drop me an email if you have more questions. Tight Lines, Karel

  6. very nice setup. I'm bookmarking this for future ref. great flies by the way - glad to be a follower of another 'Tenkara Bum'

  7. Thanks for the compliments. I have been following your blog posts for a few months now; very cool & impressive. I wish I could be as creative. Have I mentioned that this is the year of Tenkara yet?

  8. Hi. Its Rick, from the San Francisco Pretzel Company. I'm a fan. Nice work.

  9. Thanks Rick - I can't help myself but ask, how are the pretzels?

  10. I use a knotless leader/tenkara fly line for both my fly and tenkara fishing. I looked into if the tenkara lines were different than a knotless furled fly leader and the only difference is the thickness and length. unfortunately your post on this page is 404 now but here is a link that shows a knotless"thumbs up" way to make this tapered line

    [NOTE YOU WILL HAVE TO LENGTHEN THE JIG AND ADD MORE WRAPS PER PEG] the knotless version won't have the bends at the knots and it also has less for the fish to see with out the knots. play around with the thickness of the line wraps per peg and even kind of line its awesome and cheap once you get it down!!! :)

  11. sdphoto - thanks, it appears that "tenkarafisher" took their post down and is now 404. But it contains basically the same information as this blog post, inspiring me to put this one up. I was thinking about constructing a jig, but shied away from it so far, I don't have the space for a jig at home. By now, I furl actually my lines by hand, no weights, separators etc., especially when furling horse hair lines. the inherent stiffness of horse hair creates much less "twirling" issues of the strands than mono or fc. As far as the knots go, they are not a problem for tenkara, but I see how they would be a problem for "western" fly fishing.

  12. The article is still on the Tenkara Fisher web site.

    One just has to take a moment to find it.