Titanium Tenkara Line

Titanium Tenkara Line

Titanium Tenkara Line

That’s right.  Titanium.  As in the metal.  Believe it or not, some tenkara anglers in Japan use lines made of thin titanium wire instead of fluorocarbon or nylon.  This might seem strange, but titanium lines have some interesting properties that give them some distinct advantages.  I recently got to try out a titanium line that will soon be offered by Tenkara Times and here are my impressions. 

Let’s start with a basic description of the line.  The main line is a very thin, dark grey titanium wire with a small loop at each end.  On one end, there is a looped cord to attach the line to the rod using a girth hitch connection (the same connection you find on most furled tenkara lines).  At the other end, there is about two feet of high visibility yellow fluorocarbon line with a surgeon’s loop knot to attach the tippet.

Having never cast a titanium line before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  But in every discussion I’ve ever seen about them, two comments are invariably made:  they’re great in the wind and they’re impossible to see.

Luckily, the day I tried the line happened to be pretty windy so it was a good challenge for the first claim. The line indeed sliced through the wind better than any fluorocarbon line I’ve ever tried.  Getting the line to straighten out was almost effortless.  I can’t describe it well but the line just feels different.  You don’t really feel the line turnover the same was you do with a fluorocarbon line (and there is no “whirring” sound). Instead, it just kind of turns over quietly and smoothly without you even noticing it.  It’s definitely a different feel.  The line I got was 12 ft. and I would have loved to have tried a longer line to see if it still performs as well in the wind.

On the second claim, I can confirm that the line is definitely hard to see.  Part of this might be the grey color which blends in with most riparian backgrounds, but I think the bigger reason is that the line is so thin.  My first thought was that maybe a brightly colored coating could be applied to the line to make it more visible, but then I thought that it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference because of the super thin diameter. Fortunately, the line comes with a high-vis tip making it easy to detect strikes.  If you think about it, you probably don’t need to see the entire line–the most important part to watch is the part closest to the fish.  So, in my mind, the high-vis tip redeems the invisibility of the titanium main line.  Without that tip, it would be very difficult to fish this or any titanium line.

For those of you unfamiliar with the properties of titanium, the thinner it gets, the springier it gets. In fact, I believe it’s a combination of the thinness and springiness that makes it perform so well in the wind.  The thinness produces less resistance, while the springiness propels it forward more than a supple line like fluorocarbon.

But this property also gave me a concern.  What would happen when taking the line off the spool?  Would it spring out all over the place into a big mess?  Maybe take out an eye?

As I cautiously unravelled the line for the first time, I was relieved to find that it wasn’t as much of a danger as I thought.  Springy?  Yes.  But not to the extent I imagined.  I just kept a little tension on it as I pulled it off the spool and it was fine.  Just out of curiosity though, I did try just letting it go to see what would happen. Interestingly enough, the line sprang off the spool but didn’t tangle at all!  I was actually contemplating if this might actually be a faster way to get the line off the spool than unwinding it.  It’s impossible to tangle this line so why not?

Overall, I was highly impressed with this line.  While it casts as easily as any line I’ve tried, I probably won’t use it as my all around line because I’m pretty attached with my fluorocarbon level lines.  Instead, I will keep in in my chest pack for those windy days that would have otherwise just frustrated me or made me bail on the trip.  If you fish in windy conditions, you should definitely try a titanium line.  It’s completely changed my attitude towards wind.

Get more info or buy one here 

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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37 Comments

  1. Perhaps this would be an application for the paint pens previously attempted on the fluorocarbon lines to make them more visible. The paint/color may adhere to the metal better. Just a thought!

  2. Titanium lines are certainly very interesting, though highly specialized and IMO not all that practical.
    One quick note, however, I’be careful when casting the line. I believe if one were to cast the line and possibly hit himself it could seriously hurt. The line will be travelling at very high speeds and is thin and hard. Just a note.

  3. thanks for another great post and review. you are on the cutting edge, but i’d be careful, as daniel noted. you don’t want to actually get cut. a couple questions…did you take it out on the water? i’m wondering how handlining/landing goes. also, what is the breaking point (for lack of a better term) for such a line?

  4. Hi Steve, maybe you didn’t see my follow up post about it but the markers wear off pretty fast and you have to keep reapplying them. And like I said in the post, the line is so thin, I don’t think it would make a significant difference.

  5. Hi Mike,
    I did, but I only caught one very small fish with it so I can’t really attest to the line handling. On the Tenkara Times website, they say to be careful when landing a fish, but I imagine there is only a risk of cutting yourself on a big fish that tries to run for it. I’m not worried about hurting myself with the line. You can hook yourself in the eye with a misplaced cast too but I never have and don’t concern myself with it. I think this line will be more attractive to more experienced anglers who cast well anyway. Although I’d encourage anyone who fishes in windy conditions to try it.

  6. Jason, any chance you can measure the diameter of the titanium wire with a set of calipers? I’m assuming the titanium wire is a constant diameter as well?

  7. Hi Phil,
    Sorry, I don’t have a caliper. But as a comparison, I’d say it’s about as thin as extra fine copper wire that you’d use for fly tying. Hope that helps.

  8. If I am not mistaken, these have been available for some time by Tatsurou Okaniwa.

    http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ja&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tenkara.com%2F

    I think it is important to give credit where credit is due.

    No worries.

    I fish in the mountains, alone and sometimes in the rain. I am already a bit cautious of dark clouds nearby with a long Tenkara lighting rod, now ad a wire?

    Hell no, maybe try it but not my thing, it would be my luck to like them, forget and get zapped fishing in an open meadow in gentle rain…

  9. Hello everybody,
    This line is definitely not for the beginners. I normally fish with level lines and use titanium only when windy. It does not allow the weather to ruin the day that I am able to devote to fishing.
    I and my less experienced friends fished with titanium lines for a long time and no one has been hurt by it.
    I do not sell lines longer than 13”, the exception is for the special requests. I strongly recommend to take by hands the line indicator part while landing the big fish.
    To Adam:
    Be careful. Any wet line and rod is good conductor for atmospheric electricity. The Russian saying: the life is very dangerous, because it is ALWAYS ended by death.
    Also I’ve contacted Tatsurow Okaniwa directly and by my friends in Japan for the permission.
    With the best wishes
    Oleg

  10. Oleg, it is good that you contacted Tatsurou, he has been offering good Tenkara products for quite some time.

    On living and lightning: I am a soaring pilot and know black clouds and lightning intimately.

    I have not found a blustery day to be a problem with Tenkara. You can use the wind for concealment getting very close to fish. Sutebari is very easy in the wind using it to suspend and peck the fly on the surface before setting it down.

    To each his own. That is a good saying for fishing.

  11. I wouldnt be worried so much about my own safety as i would about hitting the tip of my rod. it seems like it could be very hazardous to the tip of the rod, at the very least scratching it all up. or maybe its more supple than I am imagining in my mind.

    one big advantage though, talk about never having to replace your line again. cant get much sturdier than titanium :)

  12. Hi Adam,
    Tatsurou has been offering them but did he actually invent the idea?

    As for lightning, titanium is a very poor conductor of electricity so I doubt it increases your chances of being hit. I think a 13 ft carbon rod is probably more likely to get you fried.

  13. …pretty unique…I wouldn’t mind trying one if they are not prohibitively expensive…can you report a general price range?..

  14. “titanium is a very poor conductor of electricity”

    Well, compared to copper it isn’t. Titanium has about 3.1% of the electrical conductivity of copper, which isn’t far off of the 3.5% stainless steel gets. Another good comparison is aluminum (which used to be used for house wiring), which has 30% of the electrical conductivity of copper.

    Not that any of this really matters, and I don’t mean to nitpick… Just found this post and am intrigued by the idea of titanium line. :-)

  15. Not sure if he invented it, I only know that he has offered them for quite some time.

    Wood is a poor conductor of electricity too but I have seen some really screwed up trees from lightning strikes. In the monsoon season, a good percentage of my fishing is in close proximity to localized mountain thunderstorms. Colorado has wild mountain weather too. Titanium and graphite only have to be slightly more conductive than anything else around…

    I’ve flown between towering overdeveloped cumulus when I was younger and much more brave, I am a product of my experiences. A titanium line is not attractive to me, if you like it, use it and I’lll enjoy reading your adventures with it.

    No worries, all good.

  16. While I’m out fishing, being struck by lightning is probably the last thing on my mind. A titanium fishing line is probably next to last. Jason I do appreciate your interest to post though.

    JD

  17. Jason or Oleg , I am not clear on the length of these lines ? They come in 11′ and 13′ , is that the
    total length including the 2′ of fluorocarbon or the length of the titanium ?

  18. Interesting. Because this article says it’s not a good conductor:

    “Titanium is only weakly attracted to magnets. It does not conduct electricity very well, or heat.”

    http://web-o-rama.net/titanium/1properties.html

  19. Hi Adam,
    Yep, I guess the point is to get out of there when the risk arises. There’s a stream I fish in RMNP that has afternoon thunderstorms every day in the summer like clockwork. I always make sure I time my fishing so I can get off the mountain before they hit. Not matter what you’re fishing with, if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, you are in trouble. Fishing rod or not.

  20. Hi Darcy, yes. That includes the 2′ of high vis line.

  21. That site’s correct, Jason. But when talking about conductivity everything is in comparison to copper or silver. As another example, the nichrome wire used as the heating element in old-school toasters is a much worse conductor than titanium (resistivity of 1.10 micro-ohms per meter compared to 0.420 micro-ohms per meter for titanium), yet it clearly conducts electricity just fine. Well, just fine if you’re looking to put out a lot of heat…. :-)

  22. Yes, exactly. Thunderstorms are pretty regular. All this line has to do is be slightly more conductive than anything else around, poor conductor or not.

    I have seen lightning go sideways for more than a couple of miles in the clear before threading down. It strikes twice in the same place for a reason.

    http://www.onthewater.com/assets/lightning-fly-rod.jpg

    My point is that I push it already in the rain and it would not be a good choice for me.

    I honestly hope it works for you.

    Caio.

  23. Jason,
    When the wind is in your face, how does the line drape to the tippet/fly compared to a #4 LL? How much of it can you keep off the water with an #14 kebari?

    Can you provide a weight?

    Thanks.

  24. Hi Greg,
    It doesn’t seem to drape as much as fluorocarbon (probably because it’s thinner) and it’s easy to keep all your line off the water. Not sure what you mean about weight. Physical weight?

  25. Yes. Physical Weight.

    I’d like to know how it compares to a fluoro and a Rigs T-line.

    Thanks

  26. For instance, a 15′ #4 weighs ~.85 grams.

    My question is about rod loading. If a line+fly overwhelms a soft rod tip you end up “lobbing” instead of casting.

  27. Hi Greg, it doesn’t pile up. In fact, because its so springy it can’t. I will try to weigh it and get back to you.

  28. Jason, How easy is the Ti line to hold up off of the water

    compared to a size 3 level FC line? And I would also be interested

    in how many grains your line weighs. Thanks, Karl.

  29. I’m curious about relative cost to other lines. Unless I missed something, I seem to be the first to raise this issue. Could that be because I grew up during the Great Depression?

  30. Hi Paul, I think they’re about $26 + shipping.

  31. Thanks, Jason. That sounds reasonable.

  32. First impressions of the 13 ft titanium line I received today from Oleg. The package it comes in is pretty cool.

    Heavy stock paper about 8′ x 4″ with a fish print image on the outside. Folded letter style. The bottom folded up about 1.5 inches, the remaining length folded down to meet the edge of the bottom fold. The foam line spool stuck to a piece of double sided tape on the inside.

    The line came wrapped on a 47 mm foam spool. So the first thing I learned was the proper way to use the little foam plugs found on each side of the center hole in the spool. Push them out, insert the end of the line, push the foam insert back in and the line is locked in place.

    The next thing learned was this line will require learning some different line handling skills – For lack of a better term I will say the line has memory. It remembers it wants to be straight.

    Remove your finger from holding the line to the spool or release tension on the free end of the line and coils will un-spring off the spool. And not necessarily in the order the line was wrapped on the spool. Unlike Jason I found I ended up with 2 or three twisted loops that took a few moments to sort out to avoid kinking the wire line.

    On the rod end is a very thin gray colored braided line tied in a loop to connect to the rod. Furled line style. Rigging the line to an Ayu2 rod the wire part comes to the second gold band above the cork handle. Attached to that is 1 meter of, I assume, level line. Which is yellow-green in color. That is thinner than any level line I have. Perhaps size 2.5 or 2.0.

    The tippet end is finished with a tied loop. With the line tied to an Ayu2 rod the loop on the end of the hi-viz section of line extends past the butt end of the rod handle by about 19 inches. (48 cm). Thus the package says 13 ft but the total length is about 4.38 m (~ 14′ 5″) judging by the length of the Ayu2.

    I will probably cut the loop off and replace it with a stop knot. The same way I do with level line and make the tippet connection the same way I attach tippet to level line.

    It was so windy earlier in the day I figured titanium line or not the line would fly in the breeze like a thin flag. By late afternoon the wind had died down a little or at least the strong gust became further apart and I cast the line for a few minutes in the stream in front of my house.

    I attached 1 meter of 3.7# tippet to the end and a small kebari. I found that the line lays out nicely. Casting cross ways to the wind I think it holds a little better than fluorocarbon line. Casting up wind. Maybe a little better. I don’t really have room to do low side arm cast and casting up wind is still a battle with the line high in the air. Casting with the wind from behind me at about 30 degrees I think the line held to the center of the stream a little better. More time casting the line will be required to make a final score.

    All that is to the good. On the down side. It may be a line for younger eyes. I am 61, you begin to loose contrast perception in your 40s. The line is practically invisible to me. Casting late in the afternoon with long shadows I had a hard time even seeing the hi-viz section of the line. Sometimes having to wiggle the line a little to get a splash of sun light on the hi-viz section to be able to tell just where the line was located. The grey wire part also doesn’t pick up a reflection of light very well.

    20 minutes of casting under one condition of lighting and wind is not enough to make a final score. It will be interesting to casting and fish this line more. Catch a tree limb, and I managed to hook my apple tree after almost hooking a fish, where you can’t see the hi-viz end it takes a moment to determine just where the line went. My eye sight may require I replace the hi-viz yellow-green with orange line.

    To summarize – spooling and un-spooling the titanium line will require new skills. It cast very nicely. The titanium wants to be straight. No need to stretch the line, except the section of hi-viz line still needs to be stretched to remove coiling. It is difficult for me to see.

    fwiw,
    D

  33. Hi David, wow, your review was better than mine! On the visibility, I know what you mean about tracking to find the end. I’ve been thinking about replacing the hi-vis tip with red Amnesia just to make it easier to spot. If it’s nylon anyway (and not fluorocarbon), why not? In my opinion, you don’t need to see the full line. The tip is where it matters most (closest indicator of a strike). I’m in the early phases of designing my own titanium line and will report back about it after some testing.

    Love your comment about the line having a “straight” memory. True. And love it! Not having to worry about coils and kinks is a nice plus. I don’t think I emphasized that enough in my initial review but I will in my follow up.

    Thanks for your insights. I’m really thrilled that you decided to share them on my blog. Just one more example of how I learn from my awesome readers!

  34. What is the lb test of this line?

  35. Hi Steve, they say it’s 6 lb. but I think that’s WAAAAAY too conservative. Try breaking this line. I can’t. At least not on any trout I’m likely to catch from a stream (i.e. tenkara fishing). The test is more than enough for any fish you’ll hook up with in a stream, creek, or river.

  36. Ordered a similar line from Chris (Tbum).
    My goal is to use it saltwater where winds are always a problem.
    As soon as i make use of it i’ll post my impressions.

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