Ten Dollar Tenkara




About: I'm just a regular guy trying to do extraordinary things. In addition I produce a weekly podcast, write and garden. I love to look at piles of crap and make that crap into something useful, useful crap.

Tenkara is the trendiest new trend in Fly Fishing.

The problem is that Tenkara fishing will cost you a gazillian dollars to get started.

As a Fish Nerd and a father, I had to find a cheap way to get in on this action.

This indestructible will help you get into the fun for as little as $10!

This is exciting for me, because I have a little trout pond in my backyard and now can fish with very little effort, and that's a win!

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Step 1: What Is Tenkara

I guess it helps to explain what Tenkara is before we get too far into this.

I've been making a fishing show called the Fish Nerds Podcast for a few years now and have been introduced to a ton of different types of fishing. Recently I came across a new (OLD) trend in fly fishing called Tenkara.

Here's a brief definition from Wikipedia

"Tenkara fly fishing (Japanese: テンカラ, literally: "from heaven", or "from the skies") is a traditional type of fly fishing practiced in Japan. Primarily used for mountain stream trout fishing, tenkara is one of the most popular methods of angling among fresh-water mountain anglers in Japan.

Tenkara has been virtually unknown outside of Japan until the first company to introduce and popularize tenkara outside of Japan, Tenkara USA, was founded in April 2009 in San Francisco, California."

Basically it's a simple form of fly fishing that uses a telescoping rod that has no reel. It reminds of the way kids would fish if you didn't teach them anything.

It's actually a ton of fun, but if you listen to the experts you will be dropping hundreds of dollars in gear before you hit the river.

So, being a Fish Nerd, and being really cheap, I was able to put together "Ten Dollar Tenkara"

Step 2: Getting Started

After shopping on TenkaraUSA I realized that I am way to poor for this sport.

So I went on Amazon and found that I could pick up a telescoping rod for around $7.00

If I had the dough I might have been willing to spend up to $30 but my budget was $10 because thirty dollar tenkara doesn't sound as fun as ten dollar tenkara.

Here's what you need to get going.

1. Tenkara Rod 9 feet long $7

2. 5x tippet material $2.25

3. some floating fly line $free (steal it from a friend)

4. a dry fly $0.75

That's it, check out this vide to see how to tie it all together

Step 3: Making Line Holders and a Handy Storage Case for Free!

Here's what you need.

1" pvc pipe (scrounge around in your garage)

2 pvc end caps

a few rubber orings that fit snuggly on your rod

2 paperclips


Bend a paper clip close to a 90 degree angle and attach it to your pole using the orings.

Take another clip and straighten it out, then unscrew the bottom cover from your Tenkara rod and bend the clip into an oval hoop, ensure that it's smaller than 1" in diameter. Slide it over the end cap and screw it on. Bend it away from the rod tip and line it up with the other paperclip.

Step 4: Wrap the Line Around the Paperclips

I think the pictures explain this perfectly, the cool thing about using the o-rings to attach the paperclip means that it's adjustable and you can get the fly to hang on to it so it won't all come unraveled.

Step 5: Make the Handy Carry Case

Using the Tenkara Rod to measure mark the PVC and cut it to length.

Now press the end cap onto the PVC, you can glue it on or just push it hard.

Slid the rod into the PVC and add the top. You may want to mark the top so you can open it from the same end every time.


That's it, go fishing and report back!

Let me know how you did and with all the money you saved you can buy yourself a nice Fish Nerds Hat!

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20 Discussions


1 year ago on Step 6

It looks like the $7.00 dollar rods are a thing of the past?
Any updates on what my take its place?

1 reply

Reply 8 days ago

go on amazon you can get one for under $5 and free shipping,I have this one and it works great! lots of fun especially if you get a big trout on!


Tip 8 days ago on Step 5

make your fly line as long as the rod and add the tippet to line of your choice for length,the longer the rod the longer tippet you can work with! I have an 8' rod and use a 5ft. tippet,works great!


4 years ago

I made one almost exactly like this, but used little brass screw in hooks on the caps on the closed road to hold the line and tippet. Caught a couple of panfish already! Thanks for this one!

2 replies

3 years ago

Great post! I also wanted to get into tenkara (to be able to stop and fish while trail running) as cheaply as possible. I bought three different lengths of cheap poles and the exact one you have is my favorite! Awesome ideas for storing the line with the paper clips and O rings, and from MartinB22 regarding the screw in hooks.


4 years ago on Step 2

How do you know how much (length) the main line and tippet should be?


4 years ago on Introduction

Great description. Made four of these for the kids. They loved it. A 40 dollar success! :-)

1 reply

I just ordered stuff to try this. Ordered two different rods since they ship from overseas and it's a long wait. Looking forward to giving it a try though.

1 reply

4 years ago

We're gonna try this asap!


4 years ago on Introduction

I had never heard of this rod type before but I really like the design! Great video explaining the knots too.

I might need to make one of these for my boyfriend - he's been itching to fish but it's hard to take a full sized rod on public transportation without lots of setup and break down. This looks like an excellent way to do it. :D

1 reply

4 years ago

Awesome!! Can you please tell me what you searched the Amazon for? I tried but I found nothing like this...

2 replies