I was skimming over a fly fishing forum today, one of the topics was “Why Tenkara?” The original poster wrote about what he thought some of the advantages were of fishing with a tenkara set up, other replies leaned more toward why someone might want to give fixed length rods a try.
I think fixed length line set ups do provide some anglers with significantly greater success and enjoyment, for others, maybe not so much. It’s always dangerous to make blanket statements, but having talked to a pretty fair number of people, the folks who typically enjoy tenkara the most tend to fall on either side of the bell curve. Those folks tend to often be beginner fly fishers, or folks such as myself that have been around the block, maybe a few too many times.
In my mind, the primary advantage of a fixed length line set up is that it reduces complexity. It’s not necessary to spend time astream wondering if perhaps one should have overloaded/underloaded the rod by a step up/down in line weights, or if a 15 foot leader maybe be just the ticket instead of the 12 footer I’m fishing with now.
For beginners, complexity often means confusion, and a fixed length rod eliminates most if not all the confusion regarding line weights, tippet sizes and the like. The experienced angler on the other hand has been there, done that. A fixed length line allows him/her to return to simpler times, along the lines of what was old is now again new.
The other big advantage, it forces a discipline to fish a short controlled line. This often is helpful to all anglers. Put a reel on a rod, and the natural inclination is to keep sneaking just a few more feet of line out. The fishing always seems to look more promising on the other side of the river. Other than some specialized situations, longer lines are more difficult to control once they land on the water. This of course leads to less precision when it comes to presenting one’s fly. A well presented fly always out performs a fly presented less than optimally.