Tenkara differs from traditional fly fishing in that you do not have a fly line or reel, and the rods are a bit longer.
Typically the Rods are 11 to 13 ft long, and instead of having to put them together piece by piece, they telescope out just like an old radio aerial, so that before they are extended, they are shorter than a four piece rod tube.
Instead of a line you use a furled tapered or level leader which is connected to the tip of the rod, and is usually about the length of the rod.
To this you connect a standard tippet of about 6X or 7X and as long as you dare.
Because of the length of the rod, you can fish with no line on the water, which means you can fish completely drag free if you wish. As you can 'high stick' from much further away, there is less chance of you being spotted.
You can also cover the water faster, as you do not have to back or false cast.
The method is simple, requires very little equipment and is ideal for beginners and experts. So, in essence, you can catch more fish, with less clutter.
The History of Tenkara
Many years ago, idle Samurai warriors were taught to fish, and somewhere around that time the Tenkara technique appeared. The Samurai may not have invented it, but they were certainly among the first to champion it.
It has had periods of relative relapse, but was the favoured technique of professional fishermen for hundreds of years which speaks volumes regarding its efficiency.
The Tenkara rod of yesteryear was usually a long straight piece of bamboo (cane), a far cry from the modern retractable rods of today, made of carbon fibre by companies such as Sakura (who incidentally still produce 'solid' bamboo rods).
Up until a few years ago Tenkara was limited to Japan, but is fast achieving cult status in the US and Europe.
Was Ryoma Sakamoto the famous Samurai, a Tenkara Fisherman?