Fishing Trout Tips

Trout Tips: Tenkara in winter

Tom Sadler fishes Tenkara for winter brookies in a small Appalachian trout stream.

I’ve tried everything to keep ice from accumulating on my fly rod guides during cold winter fishing trips. I’ve tried the paste and the sprays, and while they might work for a few minutes, they’ll eventually fail. It’s gotten to where I’ll just dunk the rod in the river ever few casts, and shake it a bit, knowing that I’ll be doing it again shortly when the guides freeze again. I’ve yet to come across a truly reliable way to keep guides ice-free.

So, often during the winter, I’ll simply do away with the guides altogether and use a Tenakara rod instead.

Long, telescoping Tenkara rods are great wintertime fly rods. They may not be able to throw 40 feet of line across the river, but I’ve found that winter fishing is more of a precision endeavor anyway, and that a lot of my winter fishig takes place within 20 feet of where I stand in the river—perfect for a 13-foot Tenkara rod with 12-15 feet of level line and some tippet. Tenkara is great for wintertime high-stick nymphing and it’s even better for fishing small midges on top or in the surface film. With the Tenkara rod, anglers aren’t always at the mercy of the currents, and it’s possible to have almost nothing on the water except the fly. And, yes, I’ve even caught trout swinging streamers with a Tenkara rod—its uses are really only limited by your imagination.

But the best part about winter fishing with a Tenkara rod? You won’t have to fuss with frozen guides. Ever.

If you haven’t tried Tenkara, winter is a great time to do it. Give it a shot and see if you don’t enjoy it. I’m betting you will.

— Chris Hunt

By Chris Hunt.