Fishing a Long Line

Swinging kebari on a long line

Swinging kebari on a long line

A few days ago I went out to check a local steelhead river and hit the upper part of my favorite run with my 11’6″ switch rod and a pretty small steelhead fly since the water was so low.   About three steps down the run I hooked into a fish which turned out to be a nice 14″ rainbow instead of a steelhead but hey, I hadn’t got skunked.   I had a few more trouty grabs on the way through the run so went back to the car, dumped the switch rod and grabbed my 13′ 6″ Amago.  I only had my 13′ line with me but I waded out a bit further and worked the run with a kebari and managed to get 2 trout and had about 5 hits, better than with the switch rod.

That made me wish I had a longer line.   This morning I headed out early to check the same river for pink salmon to see if they were in yet after some rain and decided to fish a run with the Amago.  This time I was ready, I had built a 22′ line using 20′ of 4.5 line and 2′ of 3.5 orange line mainly as a strike indicator.   For me this was the first time I cast a line much longer than the rod and it took a few minutes to get the timing down but I found that if I just kept a slow cast, like I do with a spey or switch rod, that I could indeed roll out the 22′ no problem.  Soon I was working pretty effectively through the run and hooked a trout.

Landing a fish with 22′ of line turned out to be a bit more challenging than casting 22′ of line.  There is quite a bit of handlining involved at the end to get the fish all the way in, this will take a bit of practice to get proficient at I’m sure.   I only landed one but hooked up a few and missed a few more so for my first day out with a long line I considered it a success.

After I got back home I found a good article by Daniel Galhardo on Long Line Tenkara at the TenkaraUSA blog.  It does a great job of covering what I sort of figured out on my own in an hour on the stream as far as casting and landing fish goes, would have been better to have read it first.    There is also a post specifically on landing fish with long lines that is helpful.

I’m hoping to continue fishing with a long line this fall for pinks and searun cutthroat in rivers as well as trout on the larger rivers and will try to get up to 25′ or so of line.  I doubt I’ll ever get up to the 39′ that Sakakibara Masami (aka Tenkara no oni) can fish but I’ll sure give it a try if it lets me reach more fish on the big rivers.