Once you have your tenkara rod, choosing a line is the next decision you have to make. But know you have options and these options are what helps you be prepared for almost anything.
First there are several types of lines so lets quickly review them:
Tenkara Level Line:
This is simply colored 100% fluorocarbon. The coloring makes it easier to see on the water. Tenkara anglers use fluorocarbon as line instead of mono because it’s denser and casts easier. These lines come in different thickness with 3.0mm and 3.5mm being the most popular. The lighter the line, the more finesse it takes to cast it. Tenkara Level Line offers the most delicate presentations and comes on spools so customizing a length is as simple as pulling off the amount of line you want from a spool. Downside is they have a lot of memory and tangle easily. They stretch and they can be difficult to deal with in the wind (sometimes your line and fly get taken away by the wind). Since they are fluorocarbon, tenkara level lines will sink, and pull your fly down if you try to lay these lines on the water to avoid being swept up by the wind. If you’re nymphing this isn’t an issue. Great presentation, annoying to work with.
Floating lines can be ultralight proprietary materials, or they can be made from PVC-style fly line. The ultralight versions are designed specifically for tenkara and are just that, ultra delicate, possessing easy connection loops and tippet rings in assorted pre-made lengths. These lines are easy to cast, lighter and more delicate than furled/braided lines, have little memory and no stretch. This is why we love them! Zen Floating Lines even have an 18lb test are hassle-free and are available in 6 lengths. That’s pretty darn good. The PVC-style lines are simply those you can made from cutting apart standard fly lines into desired lengths and tying them onto your tenkara rod. Why would you need to do that? Sometimes in non-traditional tenkara scenarios a heavier line is critical. These scenarios include saltwater applications, high wind conditions, float trip uses when a simple roll cast is best, and when casting big, heavy dish-rag type flies like salmon flies or crawdaddies. Downside to the PVC-style lines is that it takes a little craft work at home and you have to cut up your own fly line and make your own loops (at least until Zen makes their Fusion Tenkara Fly Lines available).