How Long Should a Tenkara Line Be?

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The Tenkara line is a crucial component of your gear. With all the lines, colors, and sizes available, it might be challenging to get everything just right. However, it becomes a lot easier after you have figured out what you enjoy and what works for you. So, how long should a Tenkara line be?

How Long Should a Tenkara Line Be?

Generally speaking, you should choose a line the same length as your rod give or take about 12 inches. You can get this by setting your line against your Tenkara fishing rod as a measure. This gives you a pretty great fishing length you do not have to struggle with.

Tenkara rod with yellow fishing line placed on rocky ground in a lake

However, this is not a hard and fast rule and should only serve as a general guideline when selecting your line. It is just a starting point and you can choose to go for a longer or shorter line depending on several factors, including your preference. You should also not forget to factor in the length of your tippet.

How to Choose Your Line

If you’re just starting out with Tenkara fishing, the recommended line length is one that is either the same length as your rod or about a foot shorter. The last thing you need while mastering the art of casting a very weightless line is the complications of using a line that is too long for your Tenkara rod.

A line that is about a foot shorter than your Tenkara rod works well fishing in little creeks. In larger bodies of water, you can use a line about the same length as your rod. Casting a line that is longer than your rod, on the other hand, presents its own unique obstacles.

However, once you have honed your technique and gained experience, you will be better equipped to handle them. Just ensure that the benefits of a longer line outweigh the downsides before you commit to one, though.

Short vs Long Tenkara Lines

As you gain experience as a Tenkara angler, you will develop a sense of when you need a longer line and when you need to switch to a shorter one. In any given scenario, you would have to weigh your choices based on a number of factors.

Sometimes you need a short line. Some other times, it may be best to use a line that is the same length as your rod, and in different scenarios, a longer line might be the best option to go with.

Short Lines

Short lines refer to Tenkara lines that are noticeably shorter than your rod. When fishing with a short line, you should hold your rod at a more parallel angle to the water. Getting rid of the extra line comes with some benefits and some drawbacks.

  • Offers maximum control and presentation while fishing
  • Reduced possibility of snagging trees
  • Suitable for tight conditions
  • Casting in windy situations requires less effort and skill
  • Increased proximity to the fish and a higher chance of being in its field of view
  • Limited reach
A man in a green jacket using a Tenkara rod with a yellow fishing line to fish in the lake

Long Lines

Long lines, in this context, refer to lines that are a lot longer than your Tenkara rod. Using long lines for Tenkara fishing can be very tricky and somewhat difficult. However, they can be more effective in certain scenarios than others.

  • Increased reach and distance from the fish’s field of view 
  • Easy to hit those hard-to-reach spots
  • Easier to drift longer and further to reach more open water
  • Determining the Tenkara rod load and unload is a lot easier
  • It has more slack in it that makes it easier to fight a bigger trout while fishing with a fixed line
  • Higher chances of snagging trees and getting your line tangled
  • Increased difficulty of catching fish that is close by
  • Requires a lot of practice, skill, and expertise as they are generally harder to cast
  • Harder to control your fly with slight gestures
  • The line can be difficult to keep out of water
  • Pulling in a fish takes more time because of the extra length

Related Questions

How Long Should a Tenkara Rod Be?

A 12-foot rod length for a Tenkara rod. However, a shorter Tenkara rod makes fishing easier under low, overhanging branches.

How Long Should a Tenkara Line Tippet Be?

Your tippet should be about 3 to 6 feet for Tenkara fishing. It is common practice to attach a length of tippet measuring four feet to the end of the main line. However, a range of 3 to 6 feet is fine. A tippet of shorter length comes in handy, particularly in more confined streams.


While there is no single best Tenkara line, you should have gained some clarity about how to choose your fishing line. Be sure to experiment with lines of various lengths. The trial and error process will help you become a better Tenkara angler.