Do You Feel the Take, or Is it a Visual Thing?

I get asked a lot of tenkara-related questions in the comments of my YouTube videos. I’ve decided that in 2021, a lot of the blog posts I write will be answers to these questions. Feel free to leave a comment on this blog post to give your own answer to the question.

Alex asked:

Do you typically feel takes while fishing a kebari, or is it almost always a visual thing with your line? I’ve been trying to fish kebaris more this fall/winter and am unsure if I’m just failing to feel/see takes or if it’s mostly due to lower fish activity or not casting to the right spots. Thanks!

I rarely feel the take. For me, it’s almost entirely a visual thing. I concentrate intensely on the end of the line (the spot where the tippet is tied to the line). If I see that make any kind of motion that I didn’t cause—a sudden stop, a change in direction, a tightening of the line, etc.—I set the hook.

Of course, I’ll often feel a fish on the end of the line when I go to recast, but that’s different.

Leave your own answer in the comments below.

7 thoughts on “Do You Feel the Take, or Is it a Visual Thing?”

  1. I always enjoy the visual story of your videos, to have an explanation of how you fish, enhances the experience. Thank you.

  2. Agreed. If relying on feel a person will miss most of the hits. Another important aspect is to finish every drift with a hook set.

  3. I’m new to Tenkara , haven’t caught that many fish to really say . I try to watch my level line for movement but sometimes lose sight of it ( needs to be brighter , 72yrs old) furled line I have no problem seeing

  4. Thanks very much for your great you tube service. I enjoyed the Henrys lake ice fishing trip also. I am tying a bunch of new colored killer bugs with the yarn from your store also. I have 10- 11 new colors to try. Keep up the great work

  5. I am probably an out of the ordinary T-angler in that I have never fished with a Kebari pattern, not that I have anything against them.

    I came to Tenkara after more than 40 years of western fly fishing and I already had an extensive selection of fly patterns that are highly effective where I fish, so I saw no reason to throw away what I had worked so hard to develop over a period of many years.

    What attracted me to T-fishing was the T-casting platform, and its ability to hold your line up and off of the water for long, drag free drifts in places where you can not get the same kinds of presentations with western fly fishing tackle.

    Whether I am fishing in streams or lakes, I catch the vast majority of my fish by sight but, probably not in the way you would think. I usually only cast to fish I have spotted, and I watch the fish and not the fly, even when fishing with weighted patterns in lakes.

    I carry 2 fly boxes, a small stream Dry Fly Box with only one wet fly Soft Hackle in it, just in case I can’t catch them on dry flies. The dry box holds 4 rows of Down-Wing patterns, in in black, pink, orange and white, with the color choice determined by which wing color I can see the best under the lighting conditions, with the Down-Wings fishing for Caddis, stones and 1 row of High Country Hopper Patterns.

    The other side of my Dry Box holds the rest of my Terrestrial Patterns, which consists of: 1 row each of #18 & #12 Two-Tone Foam Beetle patterns, 1 row of the Foam Spiders, and 2 rows of ant patterns, 1 row of the #12 Attractor Ants and the other row of #16 Two-Toned X-Rated Ant Patterns.

    For stillwater fishing, I carry the Stream Dry Fly Box and my Lake Wet Fly Box, which consists of: 1 row of 33% # 12 Green, 33% of #14 Blue, and 33% of #14 Grizzly Herl Things; plus 1 row of 33% #12 Black, 33% of #14 Orange, 33% of #14 Gray Sheep’s Creek Fly Patterns; and 1 row of the #16s in Sheep’s Creeks with FL-Blue, FL-Orange, and the FL-Chartreuse Tags.

    The leaf holds one row of 50% #16 Blond Midge Pupa and 50% of the #14 Red Butt Zebra Midge Pupa; 1 row of 50% of the #14 Orange Midge Pupa and 1/2 row of the #12 White Midge Pupa; plus one row of 50% #14 Cream Midge Emerger and 50% of the Black Midge Emergers in #14s plus 1 row of Pregnant Killer Scuds, in 33% of the #12 Gray, 33% of the #14 Tan, and 33% of the #16 Olive Scuds.

    The bottom of the box holds: 3 rows of flies, consisting of 50% of one row of #14 Bloody Black Slinkies, 50% of the #14 Orange Slinkies, 50% of a row of #14 Green/Black Slinkies, and 50% of a row of the #14 Blue/Green Slinkies.

    The final row of flies is made up of 33% of (#12s on all) the Shakey Beeley pattern first, then 33% the Green Tenkara Intruder pattern, and 33% the Orange Intruder patterns. The Slinky, Shakey Beeley and T-Intruders are all Tenkara friendly streamer patterns, tied on 60 degree Jig Hooks weighted with tapered nickel and Tungsten Slotted Beads. And even with the Streamers, I cast only to previously sighted and targeted fish. But the vast majority of my trout are caught on the Damp/Dry Fly Terrestrial Fly Patterns, cast to sighted, targeted fish as well, with as much as a 10 lead ahead of the sighted fish, setting the hook after the fish takes the fly and turns down or to the side with it in its mouth, for both lake and stream fishing.

  6. Generically speaking, I fish by sight. I’m about 80/20 on wet kebari and dry flies. Dries are always visual. When I’m fishing wets, I typically don’t focus on any part of the line or water. I try to look at the “scene.” If line behavior seems odd, I’ll do a soft set. I also try to follow the fly, and I use intuition to tell me where the fly is in the water column. If I see the telltale white mouth or belly flash, I’ll do a medium set. I will also follow up my drifts and swings with finger taps and pauses. This can sometimes lead to hookups that you would have otherwise missed visually. If I’ve been fishing a spot for a while and I have no activity I move on. Tenkara is very mobile, so you should be moving along. If anyone is unsure of “where the fish are.” There are plenty of resources online for that, and if you watch 10-20 of Tristans fishing videos, you will pick up on where he is connecting with them. PSA… Polarized sunglasses are wonderful at helping you see into the water. I use Maui Jims (others use Costas); they cut through the surface glare and tweak the colors in a way (at least to my eyes) that I can discern subsurface objects and activity. As always, thanks for the content, Tristan!

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