So, I just came across a Facebook post talking about how to land a big fish by throwing your tenkara rod in the water. It’s not the first time I’ve seen this “technique” advocated. It seems to appear on the internet every once in a while. And every time it does, I have to roll my eyes.
The basic concept is that if you throw your rod in the water, the fish will stop feeling the pull of the line and will relax. Then, purportedly, you can go “pick up your rod and land the fish”.
To me, this makes no sense. And while I’m sure plenty of people have landed fish this way, I’m willing to bet that they could have landed their large fish anyway without throwing their rods in the water. If you don’t believe me, scroll back up to the top and look at the photo of Theo Bakelaar with a 9 lb. rainbow. He landed that fish on a tenkara rod without throwing his rod in the water.
Here’s an excerpt of an email I got from Theo about landing this fish:
Just back from the last int.fly tying symposium and fish also a couple rivers in your country. The first trip I had a Tenkara rod with me to find out how that works and what the possibility was with that rod. A man in the Netherlands who sold this rods gave me one to fish with it. We fished that river and there was a great pool for me to fish, could handle it with that rod so I tried it. Man oh man what a nice moment was that. Fished with that Tenkara rod # 2 and is 3.90 meter – a 6:4.
Hooked on a floating Beetle this great fish. Could handle it….sometimes I had to run after it. With two hands you can dril the fish in a good way…no problem. Don’t be scared and dril as fast as you can….put pressure on it as much as you can. The rod can handle it….I was not afraid to loose it. If he is hooked well and is on in the first couple minutes you can say is hooked well and concentrate you with fighting in a proper way. Could beach the fish and took some shots.
I was amazed too with a big fish like this and was very happy. The rod was in my mouth because I was afraid that my partners would step on it. Not he most nice way but…..
As I could see on your blog that people would let there rod in the water in a situation like this…..don’t….my rod was gone I think. Like to controle the fish in a good way.
I know that you should use a rod like this for more smaller waters and smaller fish maybe but the rod can handle this in an easy way. Fight the fish with two hands….no problem. Some extra shots if you like .
Hope you have an answer on your question. And for me No way to let my rod swim in a water like this, there is no pressure at all on your fish, it takes to much time before you land a fish like this. The fish did go in a good way back to his home water….no problem.
The idea of tossing your rod has two problems in my opinion.
1. You can break (or lose) your rod. It seems pretty obvious that once you throw a delicate-tipped tenkara rod into a rushing stream, it will be subject to the currents and could break pretty easily. Or, the current could catch the line on an obstruction and snap the tippet. In either case, you’ll lose the fish.
2. Letting the fish “relax” is counterproductive in landing a big fish. One of the principles in landing a large fish is to tire it out so it’s easier to bring in. Letting it relax lets the fish regain its strength and resume the fight. Giving the fish a break is only to its advantage, not yours. It’s better to continue the fight and try to tire the fish out as quickly as possible.
So, my advice is that if you’re going to consciously target large fish, select the right gear. Use a fly rod and reel with a good drag. Tenkara rods are designed for small to medium sized fish. Not river monsters. But if you do happen to hook a large fish accidentally, learn the proper techniques for landing it without prolonging the fight or sacrificing your gear.