Summer tenkara on a lowland stream

I love fishing the little stream in Summer. The willows are fully clothed and hang low over the water and the stream is flanked by deep beds of reedmace. Clouds of tiny fry part and reform around my boots and a king fisher flashes past in a blur of electric blue. Nature in all her abundance. The water is low and crystal clear and the air is still, making the fish skittish. But they are easy to spot too. 

Unlike Winter, there is no prospect now of casting from the bank. Instead you must creep up the narrow channel, looking to cover every likely looking spot you can cast a fly to. I'm fishing for chub with my kebari. The little ones are greedy but easily spooked. The bigger ones are.. well.. just easily spooked. And often holding in the most difficult lies.

Often I'm trying to drift my fly beneath overhanging bankside growth. A downstream presentation helps me keep the fly in the take zone a little longer and I can lower the rod slightly to feed the fly down the current seam. But the most productive (and challenging) approach I find is to land a fly only presentation directly onto the spot where I think a fish is holding. 

Often an instant splashy take signals that a fish is home and hopefully now fixed to my line. If there is no response within three seconds or so I lift and recast to the same spot a few times more, always fly first, fly only. These fish seem to respond to the trigger of the fly briefly touching down, and the prospect of a missed chance will often force a take. Give them too much time to inspect the fly and they quickly seem to become 'educated' and will then refuse that fly now, no matter what you do with it.

This is forensic fishing, a few steps forward, covering every promising spot with a few casts and moving on. The flanking willows and tangled banks make this challenging too. Sometimes only a vertical cast through a  narrow gap in the canopy above is possible. I've found that on the forward cast a high, slow sideways movement of the rod can float the fly down through the air and allow quite precise placement. Since I learned this technique I'm catching more fish, swearing much less and losing fewer flies in the scrub!



  1. Hi, have you tried fishing a stream like this by using different lengths of rods and lines? The article "Long rods and short lines" by Chris Stewart has inspired me for testings. IMO this can give very interessant sights of different ways to fish there. At least for me ;-)

  2. Hi Eberhard. I've tried a few different rod lengths on this stream - 206, 245, 340, 360 & 390. Casting line and tippet not that much longer than the rod. My favourite of these is either 360 or 390, ie the longest rod I can get away with given the bankside cover. Because it's a lowland stream and very placid and clear, I need to keep as far from the fish as possible. A casting line the same length as the rod helps me keep the flies out of the trees. I like the casting line to be as light as possible so that it doesn't sag or bounce the fly back towards me. :)

  3. Interesting observations David. I made very similar ones when I was Tenkara fishing very clear shallow regions of our big river (Elbe).
    Every dead drifting wet fly was inspected and refused by many fish but a splashy presentation at the right place was taken immediately regardless the fly I was using. I was wondering how clever even the smallest chub were. If no take occured within the first 3 seconds I learned that its better to lift off. Great fun anyway...

  4. Hi Lutz, it's always great to learn that another angler has similar findings. As well as the presentation, I am finding that I have the most success by constantly moving because I believe not every fish will be willing to take a fly on a given day, so in a way we are always looking for that minority that will! Thanks for dropping by..


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