Tenkara Rig for Tightline Nymphing



After many experiments and modifications to my Tenkara leader system, I’ve come up with the following that I believe does the best job of addressing the three essential aspects of tightline nymphing:


  1. Getting your fly deep quickly

  2. Maintaining constant contact between you and your fly so you can detect those subtle takes that are often missed when using an indicator nymphing system

  3. Being able to manipulate the fly so you have multiple presentation options


Materials needed:


  • 3 ½ft of conventional fly line, anything from 3-8 wt will work, 5 wt being my most preferred.

  • Two 1ft sections of 3X (.008 diameter) colored mono tippet in two different colors. I prefer one orange and one neon green. You can usually find these fairly inexpensive in the crappie or bass fishing sections of major sporting goods stores.

  • One tippet ring, the smaller the better. I prefer #1 mm.

  • 4-6 ft of 6x fluorocarbon tippet


Here is a visual with step by step instructions listed below:





Steps for constructing the Tenkara nymphing leader

To explain this rig, we’ll start with the connction to the lillian (tip of the Tenkara Rod) and work our way down to the point fly.


  1. Start with 3 1/2 ft of conventional fly line. On one end tie a slidable slip knot, this will be the end that is attached to your lillian. I’ve tried various methods of connecting my line to my lilian, and this slidable slip knot is by far my favorite. It’s quick, easy, and holds up much better than any other method I‘ve tried. (click here to learn about the slip knot and how to attach it to your lillian)

  2. On the other end of the fly line tie a SMALL perfection loop. (click here to learn the perfection loop) *NOTE: 20lb mono can be substituted for the conventional fly line section in a pinch, but it does not cast nearly as well as conventional fly line does*

  3. Take your orange 1ft 3X section and with a clinch knot, tie it to the fly line’s perfection loop you created.

  4. Take your green 1ft 3X section and attach it to the orange one with an infinity knot. (click here to learn the infinity knot)

  5. At the other end of the green section, attach the tippet ring with a clinch knot.

  6. Attach your 4-6ft of fluorocarbon tippet to the tippet ring. It took me awhile to get on the tippet ring train, and for dry fly fishing I’m still agnostic, but it gives you the ability to change tippet lengths very easily witch is a huge plus when tightline nymphing with Tenkara.

The overall length of your leader should be VERY LITTLE if any longer than your Tenkara Rod when it is fully extended.


It really is that easy. In 15-20 minutes you can build two or three of these and they should last you multiple seasons. In a future post, I will include my system for adding a dropper to this baseline nymphing rig.


To learn how to cast this leader click here



Noses Up!

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