Adapting Tenkara for Smallmouth Bass Text & Photos By Mike Lutes & Matt Sment
By now, the majority of ﬁxed line anglers are familiar with Tenkara’s origin story. It is a well-known fact that it was developed on high gradient drainages to catch cold water species. These conditions translated easily to some areas of the US, but many regions simply don't host mountain streams. Luckily, it turns out that Tenkara is exceptionally well suited for other terrains and species too! In warm water sport ﬁshing, Smallmouth Bass just may be the ultimate match for Tenkara. It's a ﬁsh that is native to North America, and while it requires warmer water, it thrives in structure and current conditions similar to those favored by trout.
It is an opportunistic and aggressive feeder. Smallmouth are known to hunt on the move, but often launch explosive strikes from ambush positions near structure. Once hooked, they are ferocious ﬁghters! Ounce for ounce, there is simply no better ﬁght out there. On a Tenkara rod, every 12 inch ﬁsh is a thrill ride, and anything 15 inches and up feels like a clash between titans! We've spent a lot of time ﬁshing for Smallmouth with Tenkara systems over the past few years, both on smaller “trout stream” sized creeks and larger rivers. In this article, we’ll discuss our observations on gear and tactics that are producing results for us on smallmouth creeks here in Wisconsin’s Driftless region. You'll see that