March 26, 2012

Tying My "Secret Weapon" Tenkara Kebari Fly

So...since I get a lot of emails from the tenkara-curious asking me what sort of flies I use when going tenkara fishing, I figured I'd show you...and heck, even give you the recipe, should you feel industrious and decide that you absolutely must tie some yourself.

Look Beavis...It says ASS-IDUOUS.  Hee hee.

Before I get into the meat & potatoes of this post, I'm gonna be honest. Nine times outta ten, I don't use those fancy-pants reverse-hackle kebari flies you see all the tenkara websites singing gospel about.  Nope, I'm evil and as such shunned by the tenkara Gods in the sky.  Instead, I practice the time-honored tradition of dirty nymphing, using any sort of #16 & #18 nymph I can get a hold of.  Prince, Copper John, Zebra Midge, whatever...

But that's probably not what you want to see here.  Especially if you're a Tenkaraian...
ummmm...Tenkaraite? Ninja.  Plus, there's like a bajillion websites and videos on how to tie those standard flies.  So instead, and to also make YOU, my readers, happy, on that one time outta ten when I do go reversies with my hackle, this is the fly I use.

Pretty awful picture & tie, right?

So here's the deal with this un-named piece of shiitake.  It's the ultimate tenkara fly.  Why?  Well, first off, it's got a beadhead, so you can dead drift it, like a nymph.  It works quite well as such, which is good, because as Big Daddy Kane once said, nymphin' ain't easy.  What, he didn't say nymphin?  Oh, okay...  

On the flip side, its also got that pretty reverse hackle hair-do going on, so if you want to get all twitchy & jerky in your retrieve, there's something there to excite a fish into a strike.  Drift it through riffles, then jerk it through pools.  It's the best of both worlds, like a jar of Goober Grape.   

So here's what you need to tie this bad boy.

  • Hook:  Size 16 Scud/Pupa, DE 2XH, 2XW, 2XS, R2-D2, C-3PO...I use these because I got them at the fly fishing show for something stupid like 25/$1
  • Bead:  3/32 Brass Bead.  Use brass, because tungsten is for show offs
  • Thread:  Uni-Thread 8/0 in Black.  You prefer purple or chartreuse?  Go get 'em tiger.
  • Wire:  UTC Ultra Wire Copper
  • Body:  Peacock Herl, as every fly should have Peacock Herl if humanly possible
  • Hackle:  Grizzly, like Adams

Okay, materials in hand...all you pretty much do is tie a really lame variant of a Copper John...

1)  Put the bead on the hook while trying not to impale your fingers in the process.  

2)  Wrap a some thread on there from head to tail and back.  

3)  Tie on the copper wire and unevenly wrap from tail to about 3/4 up the hook.  Uneven wraps are key if you truly want your fly to be authentic to my pattern.

4) Tie in some Peacock Herl and spin it around the midsection until it's nice and bushy.  The bushier the better, just like a fine moustache.

5) Tie in some Grizzly hackle right behind the bead.  After a few wraps pull all of the fibers forward toward the front and tie down the back so they stick out facing the hook eye.

6)  Grab one of those Matarelli Whip Finishers, search for it on YouTube so you can figure out how the heck it works, then tie off the fly.  Preferably twice so you don't have use glue.  If the thread breaks while doing this, you're f*cked.

7)  Eat a donut.  With sprinkles.  Life is better with sprinkles.

Once you're done, it should look something like this:

If it doesn't, it's because you're just a terrible student, and there's likely no hope for you.  If that is the case, I suggest you go sell your fly tying materials on Craigslist and go buy some tenkara flies from Kiwi on TenkaraBum.  And while you're at it, get some bread for the Goober Grape too...because I'm hungry and the next lesson is how to make a mean PB&J.


  1. Replies
    1. Tenkarese - do they have Google Translate for that?

  2. Nice tenkara twist on the brassie. I dig it. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Utah. I don't tie much, but when I do, I love some wire.

  3. Thanks for the plug Mike! Maybe you should start selling some kebari...the one above is a very nice tie. I have done a similar fly without the bead head and it works very well. Where's the Tina Louise?

    1. No sweat. I'm envious of your ties. Ahhh, good old Tina. Yeah, this is basically the same fly, the only real difference being Tina has a red beadhead and orange hackle. I made her pretty for the tenkara fly swap. This one is a little less fancy, but very utilitarian...maybe I'll call her Mary Ann.

  4. The fly looks great!

    Good call on the goober!

    1. Thanks G. Goober grape on toast. That's what I'm talking about.

  5. When I talked to Daniel at the show, he mentioned (on the sly) that any fly will work. R2-D2 & C-3PO Hooks? Can't say that I've ever seen them. See, I am paying attention.


  6. I take back all of the jokes I've cracked about your fly tying skills. That's one nice tie!

  7. Love this fly.....I cannot wait to try out tenkara!!