Most people will say that Tenkara and Streamers don't go very well together. You can't strip line with a Tenkara rod, you can't cast long distances with a Tenkara rod, and you can't strip set with a Tenkara rod. These are all very valid/true points, but I would like to make a case why fishing streamers with a Tenkara rod is very effective and fun.
Tenkara rods give you extreme control over your fly. Having a direct and tight connection with your streamer means that you get precise placement and action of it. You can manipulate streamers differently on a Tenkara rod than you would be able to on a traditional fly rod because of this connection. With traditional rod and reel, you would cast into an area where you suspect a fish to be (or past it) and slowly strip your line to entice the fish using that movement. With a Tenkara rod, however, you aren't able to strip so you will twitch your rod to imitate the movement. It also allows you to change direction of your streamer, and go up or down very easily.
In many situations, fish that will take a streamer are not looking up. Which can allow you to get into closer casting position. Eliminating the distance you will need to cast will allow you to maintain that control over your streamer and put it within range of a fish without spooking it. A really important aspect of Tenkara fishing is being sneaky. Fish, and especially large trout are very aware of what is going on in the water, and to some extent, what is going on outside the water. It is crucial to maintain as much stealth as possible and this includes streamer fishing. But once in position you can effectively manipulate a streamer with a Tenkara rod without a fish noticing your presence. The best part about streamer fishing is when you get to see the eat. It is exhilarating watching the movement you put on your streamer and then to see a fish come over and slam it.
Swinging flies for larger fish such as steelhead or salmon is already a common practice. In these instances, you use a longer rod, normally two handed, and keep a tight connection with your fly as you swing it through a run hoping for a grab. The same can be done with a Tenkara rod but on a smaller scale because you are eliminating the two handed cast. We will save this technique for another post but the basics are: find a good looking run of water or spot some fish, standing slightly above that run of water cast your fly across the river and slightly downward, make a tight connection with your fly so you will be able to feel a connection, as your fly is drifting downstream with that tight connection simply swing it through. Repeat. We used this technique in Alaska several months ago on big salmon and it worked beautifully. The idea is that the streamer slowly drifts in front of the fishes mouth and the fish takes it. Here is a photo of a good example of this using a large streamer and the Grand Teton rod in Alaska.
One final note. Tenkara is a relatively new concept here in US so there are many different techniques and functions still being discovered and tested on a variety of different types of fisheries, with different fish, using different flies. We will be using this blog to share what we have found through our own use and trial and error and we encourage everyone reading this go out and try something new!