Hypnotic Tenkara Fly Manipulation Technique

4 CommentsWednesday, 17 August 2016  |  Paul G

I shouldn’t give this one away…Not for free anyway!

But John and I are having such HUGE success with this – and it is so simple – that we know you will love it. On the right day (and on some of the toughest fish), it is almost like being able to hypnotise a fish into taking your fly. Basically, it is a completely kick-ass tactic that you can’t afford to miss.


One beautiful fish from over 130 caught in one day on this technique by John and me in Italy.

Would you like to know how?

OK, just because we love you and want you to have the best experience possible with your tenkara, let’s have a look…

First of all, this is the first time I’ve put part of what would normally be an email lesson out on a blog. Of course if you are an email subscriber, you will get tons of extra lesson contents on this particular tactic and many more besides.  You’ll also know pretty much what to expect in this lesson in terms of style and the way I like to put instantly-useable content in there.

If you don’t get these email lessons yet - you can Subscribe Free on this link. Then just click on the button for your part of the world and enter your name and email address in the form that appears.


Here is what the technique is all about…

When we were doing a lot of French-nymph fishing, both me and John (and people like Stuart Crofts) used to do something very similar to this. We even added soft hackles to our bead-head nymphs to make it work better… Why mention this??

Because it only really kicked into top gear for John and me when we learned the different variations of it from tenkara stars like Masami Sakakibara, Kazuo Kurahashi and Go Ishii. And they deserve the credit for sending our success sky high…and it also means you can pick it up instantly too.

You see, one of the very best uses for this tactic is for adding a unique life to flies fished on the surface (WITHOUT the need for floatant if you’ve run out or prefer not to use it for tenkara). It is also the only thing that I’ve seen which makes it possible to imitate those times when an insect gets trapped on the surface and beats its wings furiously to try (and fail) to free itself. Those high frequency concentric rings that ripple out like a target around the body of the trapped fly…That is a mighty tempting invitation to lunch for a hungry fish.

Imitating this is, of course, impossible if you have fly line (or tenkara casting line) laying on the water. So, assuming you don’t have a little vibrating clockwork fly, what is this tactic and how do you do it?

The answer that we (more and more often these days) take great delight in supplying when responding to the question “What did you catch that on?” is:

“Ashtapa-zuri my friend”

We’ll even tell you where the name came from in an upcoming blog post – so watch out for that (it is a story in itself).

Here’s how you can use it to start hypnotising surface-feeding fish on your own streams the next chance you get. I recommend you start off by casting downstream to learn this. Just make a “fly first” cast so that the casting line is prevented from landing on the water.

Hold that casting line and all of your tippet (right up to the fly) off the water too. You can let the fly have a natural drift for a second or two…and then take the index finger on your hand that you are holding the rod with and start lightly drumming the pad of that finger on the hard carbon of the butt of the rod – right in front of the handle…

With a sensitive tenkara rod, this starts transmitting a kind of crazy “Morse code” down the casting line, along the tippet into the body of the fly…Then this starts to vibrate the hackles as well as the body of the fly. You will actually see the vibrations and tiny ripples spreading out around your fly…CALLING the hungry fish (“Eat me! Eat me! I’m helpless!! Ha ha ha). The diagram below shows it in action.

OK – this is the basic approach (when you get to the lesson content on this tactic in the free email lessons you’ll see me put in another ninja variation especially for sunken flies that you can use either for tenkara or French nymphing). As I say below, there are many more details we can teach you too…

Why are we so confident in it? Well, it has brought fish up like CRAZY for us on our home streams in the UK (and even the hallowed Southern Chalk Streams where “tenkara won’t work” hee hee hee). Same story in Japan and let’s not forget the “oh wow!” results in Italy – anywhere we have tried it when fish were looking up for food. It is one of the best dodges for rivers that get a lot of angler-traffic – because the fish don’t see anybody else’s artificial flies do that… 

Sure you could take the gamble “The fish on my stream wouldn’t fall for it” and ignore this method - but that is a hell of a risk to miss out on hitting it right with this tactic and having it transform a dour day into a bonanza. 

Use it wisely and practice good catch and release (I’ll be checking on you from the bushes!). 

We’ll be giving you access to super in-depth coverage of this technique (and many more) in upcoming video content. That is where we can really show you the subtle variations that will let you make different tempting “offers” to fish that are playing hard to get. In fact, this is where the real power of this tactic lies. The devil is in the detail – but make no mistake; the basic version is going to blow your socks off when the fish want it “just so”. 

You can see John using this technique on the Italian stream that Vito "Tsurikichi" Rubino and Christian "Nokill" set us loose on in the video demo below:


Ashtapa-zuri from Discover Tenkara on Vimeo.


Ashtapa-zuri from Discover Tenkara on Vimeo.

Have fun with it and do please share your experiences and the best ways you find to use this technique in the comments below (you need to create a sign in on this site to comment so we can slow down the spammers and hackers and keep your experience on our pages cool). 

We love to hear from you, so get out there, try it and report back…



Friday, 19 August 2016  |  20:50

Fished my favourite river in the Brecon Beacons recently. No rain for two weeks and the trout were sulking deep down in the stones and boulders.
The only way to get any interest was in manipulating the kebari.
Casting into the back eddy of a small waterfall I remembered Paul G mentioning this 'finger tapping' technique, he should have mentioned what can happen next.
After a few taps,a pause, few more taps, a huge trout detached itself from the bottom of the pool, covered the vertical five feet to my 'helpless kebari' in a split second and absolutely smashed into it, leaving me shocked, the kebari lying on the bank and the pool looking like a jacuzzi. A short but memorable experience.
Paul and JP, many thanks for guiding us on this tenkara journey.

Paul G
Saturday, 20 August 2016  |  7:52

Awesome Glenn, I bet you got an adrenaline spike from that one! Plus I guess you know where he lives now. :)

Saturday, 20 August 2016  |  0:13

After reading this I keep hearing the Beach Boys' song Good Vibrations playing in my mind.

Paul G
Saturday, 20 August 2016  |  7:54

Hahaha, and now so do I and everyone else who read your comment David. Probably stuck in everyone's heads for a good two weeks so thanks for that :)