Teaching Kids Fly Fishing Via Tenkara (3 Reasons)

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Get Em Hooked

Being an avid angler and fly fishing guide the desire to share my passion with my son is only natural. The thought of sharing time on the water with him brings me joy. I am grateful for the moments we have shared to date as well as the thought of many more trips to come.


Barriers To The Introduction Of fly fishing For Kids

As I started to introduce him to fly fishing I quickly pinpointed some pretty major barriers. Keeping his attention was one, but more importantly, there were physical limitations –he simply isn’t strong enough to manage a fly rod.

I had the idea to try and introduce him to fly fishing via Tenkara and it has been a major blessing.

Success in Teaching Fly Fishing via Tenkara


I purchased my son a 12-foot Tenkara rod. I did bypass the Tenkara line and created a line/leader by hand (more on that below). We got an Airbnb on my favorite river and were off. Literally, on our first day, about 20 minutes in– he landed this big brown seen here. He had an epic time and quite frankly I am almost sure I had a better time than him.

The 3 reasons I am a huge fan of introducing kids to fly fishing through Tenkara

1) Lightweight rod. The lightweight rod is crucial. Little kids just simply are not strong enough to manage a fly rod. Whether it is Tenkara or a traditional fly rod they will most likely need both hands on the rod when fishing

2) No reel or fly line. No reel means no fly line & no fly line means no casting–these are all good things when trying to teach kids how to fly fish.

3) Easy presentation. Long rod = better presentation = more fish! With a Tenkara rod and the modular leader I built for him, he can easily flip his flies into the water column and high stick through the current. This creates a stellar presentation that is going to produce trout.

More fish creates excitement and enthusiasm which inspires the child to want to go again.

Keeping kids inspired is another barrier in and of itself.

Other Tips For Keeping Children Excited

Kids love getting new things.

My son really liked the idea of having some of the same items that I had on the water. I set him up with his own box. This was a very simple box, which contained some flies a couple of indicators some nippers etc. And he loved this!

Moreover when I bought him his first pair of waders he just absolutely loved using them. Not only the fact that they were his–but playing in the water with the ability to stay dry was super fun for him.

Rigging up a Tenkara Rod Without Tenkara Line

Typically Tenkara rods come with furled leaders or Tenkara level lines. I opted out of using these as they just didn’t appeal to me. What I did instead used a mono rig. I found it to be more economical, it is what I was used to using and I think a more effective and versatile rigging style.

The leader diagram below is for fly fishing a euro leader, however, this is the same formula I used except instead of 42″ for each section of Maxima Chamelon I used about 36″ for my son’s 12-foot Tenkara rod. I did not want the line to be too much longer than the rod because I don’t like the idea of needing to hand-line the fish in.


Getting kids into fishing is a great way to get them outside to enjoy nature. Sharing fishing with your child as a parent can be a very special thing–creating memories that could certainly last a lifetime. I hope this article inspires you to get out there with your child and do just that.

If you’re reading this post, do yourself a favor and pick a date. Commit to getting out there and giving it a shot. You and your child will be glad you did.

Have fun out there!


Photo of author
Eric is a father, husband, fly fishing guide and the founder of Anchor Fly. When he is not guiding he is likely tying flies or working on this website. His goal for Anchor Fly is to use it as a platform to help make the sport of fly fishing better off than when he came to it!

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