Kebari Tools & Materials

One of the nice things about kebari is their simplicity and the low number of tools and materials to tie them.

Tying Tools

Since kebari are very simple flies one needs only a few tools to tie them.  Some traditional tiers like Mr. Amano do not even use a vise to tie their kebari so really, the only essential tool would be a pair of scissors.   For tying most kebari in sizes #10-14 a standard 4” fly tying scissors is perfect.   Pick the handle style you like and decide how much you want to pay, you can get an all purpose scissor for anywhere from $6 to $24 depending on the quality.   You don’t need to cut much so any pair will probably work.

Next I would add a vise.   I have tied kebari holding the hook in my fingers just to prove it can be done but a vise makes things much easier.   Vises run a full range of prices from around $20 to close to $500.   Most kebari are medium sized flies so you don’t really need anything to handle a big saltwater hook or an extremely small midge hook.  If you tie lots of western flies, saltwater flies, or salmon/steelhead flies then you want a vise that can handle anything.  If all you want to tie are some kebari then you can get by with a much less expensive vise.

One other tool I’d add to the list is a whip finisher.   Granted, you can whip finish by hand but I at least have never mastered the art and use a finisher.   Nothing fancy is needed here, pick the tool that you like but make sure the spread on the thread triangle created by the tool is large enough to go over the hackle on the kebari since you do the whip finish in back of the hackle on kebari.

Hackle pliers would be another nice to have but not essential item.   With most soft sakasa kebari patterns I use the butt end of the feather stem to turn the hackle and don’t use pliers.


Like the minimal tools required, kebari only require a minimal number of materials to produce.   Being a person with boxes and boxes of fly tying materials for steelhead patterns, saltwater patterns, and western trout patterns this minimal style was very appealing.  I can now carry everything I need to tie a seasons worth of kebari in a small bag.


This is essential, you can’t do much without a hook.   Granted, you could get traditional and bend needles but it is easier to buy hooks.   Almost any standard fly hook could be used for kebari though there are special tenkara hooks available from Japan.   I use two style of hooks for kebari – a standard dry fly hook and a curved hook like a scud hook.

hooks-dryThe dry fly hook in sizes #14-16 is great for Ishigaki style kebari that can be fished as a dry on a wet fly.  A dry fly hook in #18 may also be used for a “midge” if needed.  Typically with tenkara only hooks in #12-16 are used but on occasion fish are keyed on small bugs and a #18 may be required.


hooks-wetFor most sakasa kebari styles a curved hook just looks better.   I like the Umpqua C200BL the best in sizes #12-14 for most of the kebari I tie.   The Daiichi 1120 or 1150 hook also have a nice curve and look good.


threadAnother essential, all kebari use tying thread and for many this is the body of the fly.   A standard 6/0 thread seems perfect for the majority of kebari.   With black and tan one can tie quite a few kebari and cover the light and dark end of the spectrum.  Next I would add gray.   That is most of what is really needed, after that one can go wild with colors.


hackle-softThe last essential material.   For most sakasa kebari a soft hackle is used and can be almost any soft hackle – partridge, pheasant rump, hen pheasant or hen hackle.



hackle-dryFor the Ishigaki kebari a dry fly rooster hackle is used.  Dr. Ishigaki only used two colors – brown and grizzly so if you have tied an Adams you probably already have the dry fly hackle that you need.

Peacock Herl

herlThe Takayama stlye kebari uses an added peacock herl collar to the standard Amano style kebari so a peacock eye or a bunch of peacock herl will last for quite a few kebari.



Silk Cord

silkFor a traditional eyeless kebari the ‘eye’ is made with a silk loop.   I use Griffin Bead Cord No.2 which works perfect for the common kebari sizes.



That is it for essential items – hook, thread and hackle with some optional peacock herl.   Of course some kebari will use more materials, like a dubbed body of fur or tinsels but these are not really essential items to tie effective kebari.   The extra materials I use in addition to the above are just some muskrat and a hare’s mask for dubbing, pheasant tail fibers,  fine gold oval tinsel, and copper wire.