Painted Tenkara Level Lines

Hi vis tenkara lines

An ongoing dilema I’ve faced has been line visibility.  If you’re using a furled tenkara line, then visibility is usually not an issue.  But if you use level fluorocarbon lines, you know that even the brightest line can sometimes be hard to see in different light conditions. I basically use two colors:  orange, and bright yellow.  Neither are 100% high vis all the time so I find myself switching between them based on the conditions.  I really don’t want to do this.  I’ve thought about knotting alternating sections of orange and yellow lines together, but this is kind of a pain and having too many knots can affect line performance (not to mention increase snags).  But what if you could paint your line with alternating colors?

People have talked about dying level lines but that doesn’t work very well with fluorocarbon.  You still end up with a transparent line and the color is somewhat faint.  A better solution might be to have bright, opaque colors that would stand out more.  I recently read this post that inspired me to try painting some lines and see if that works better.

I went to my local craft store and bout some “paint markers” in three different colors and made three different lines.  It’s important to note that you want to use oil-based markers, not water based.  Sharpie makes both kinds so make sure you get the right ones if you want to try this.

The first line is a 15 ft. Tenkara USA #3.5 yellow line with painted orange sections every 6″ or so.  I thought that would give me the best of both worlds.  I can see the yellow when I can’t see the orange, and vice versa.


Tenkara painted line


The second line is a full pink line made from clear Stren Fluorocast (0.330 mm).  This really looks like a micro western fly line.

Tenkara pink line

For the third line, I went a little crazy.  This one is also made of Stren Fluorocast but has alternating sections of orange, pink, and yellow:

Tenkara multi colored line


It was pretty simple to make these lines.  Just some markers, patience, and newspaper…

tenkara painted lines

By now, you’re probably wondering if the paint is durable.  And so am I.  While I’ve cast these lines, I haven’t actually fished them yet so I will have to do that and report back.  It’s an interesting idea that could easily go one of two ways:  either a great DIY discovery or a complete waste of time.  I don’t think there’s a middle ground here but at least it will make for some fun experimentation.  Tenkara line painting


If this works, next I want to incorporate black sections into the line to improve visibility against water with a lot of glare.

Author: Jason Klass

Jason is an avid fly angler and backpacker. As a former fly fishing guide originally from Western New York, he moved to Colorado and became an early adopter of tenkara which perfectly suited the small, high altitude streams and lakes there. He has not fished a Western-style fly rod for trout since.

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  1. My concern would be if the paint changes the lines properties and makes it more or less brittle. Definitely interested in what you find out.

  2. I do not think the paint will change the line properties. You are not penatrating. If you where, you could die the line. The most I see happening is the paint becoming brittle and chipping off after time.

  3. SWEET!

  4. That’s my concern too. If it flakes off easily, that’s a deal breaker for me. Not only because I don’t want to have to keep repainting it, but because I really don’t want to leave paint chips in the stream.

  5. Im a make two ,,tenkara,,line from ff dt #4 and wf #3 line. They are be long 15ft , and dt is a white, wf is a light green. That is a perfect for casting on river when im going on fishing. Do you have experience with line like this ?

  6. Hi Mickey,
    Sorry I don’t have experience with those types of lines but I’d love to hear your experience with them.

  7. Jason I’ve tried the sharpie ink pens in the past. The ink wore off quickly. I’m interested to hear if the paint pens give you the results your looking for.

    Extra visibility = good Paint chips in our pristine waters = bad


  8. Hi Jason. For this line, i have perfect cast for 10m distance without tipet. Before two days , im catch 20 fish on a small river near my city. Every time i do good cast, and im very satisfaction for this ,,ff,, line. Sory for my bad English.

  9. Paint won’t change the fluorocarbon line properties. Earlier, at before tenkara age, I’d successfuly painted fluorocarbone line tips by bright yellow TIEMCO markers for flytiers to make the indicator.

  10. Jason, mickey is talking about using fly fishing lines. Double taper 4wt line and weight forward 3wt line. I have used the running line from a floating wf 4wt and floating wf 2wt for lines before. The 4wt is heavy but helped me to learn to load a TUSA Amago when I first started. The 2wt is also heavy but better than the 4wt.

  11. Michael, thank you for nice post. That is corect, i talkin obout Fly Fishing line. That is a very good for a wind day on streams. I fishing for 4m FF line and 2.4 m leader, and 1m tippet. Everything be ok vith my 12ft Tenkara rod…

  12. Is it me? Even with my old eyes, I’ve never had any real difficulty seeing my tenkara line, be it the old orange Tenkarabum line or the new light green TenkaraUSA line. Am I just weird?

  13. I think it really depends on two things: the types of streams you fish and the length of line you use. In clear streams with a light substrate I think the yellow level lines are harder to see and orange works better. Also, a 12 ft line might be easier to see because you’re closer to the end. But if you fish a 20 ft line, it can be harder to see in the distance. Plus, I guess some people just plain see better. It really depends on a lot of variables.

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