February 10, 2013

More Searching for the Holy Grail: The RGB Line

Last year I wrote about a level line that I liked. It used Tenkara USA HiVis fluorocarbon for the main line but a short section of Amnesia red was used as a sighter. This line, or variations thereon, has been used by lots of tenkara fishers both here in the US and in Japan.

Since that post, I have been playing around with different combinations of lines. I want a line that is predictable to cast, easy to construct, cheap to make, and made from readily available materials. Here I present my latest version.

This line has three different lines in its construction. The main section (90 percent of the line) is made of Stren HiVis Blue fluorescent fluorocarbon. Some folks have written about this product in the past stating that they did not like it, but I think its fine. For me, Stren HiVis Blue fluorocarbon line casts just as well as more expensive "tenkara specific" options. I also find that the Stren is very easy to see generally, but that doesn't matter since I don't use it for the visual cues of a fish take -- I use the sighter.

Attached to the distal end of the blue Stren "body" is a bicolor sighter. The proximal portion of the sighter is 9 inches of Amnesia green monofilament. This in turn is knotted to 9 inches of Amnesia red mono. Finally, I knot 4 inches of 0X fluorocarbon to the red Amnesia. I end with a 2.5 mm tippet ring. This makes an RGB level tenkara line.

I find this line to be very effective in all light conditions (full sunlight to dim twilight), to be economical, and very adaptable. I adjust the weight of the Stren and Amnesia to match the rod I am using or if I plan on fishing with more than one fly.

El Sol -- our G2V light source

The human eye, as you are aware, is capable of seeing color in many different ambient light levels. It has excellent dynamic range but overall color sensitivity may be affected by the degree of ambient sunlight. Our eyes evolved to see color in the presence of light from a G2V star (in our case, our Sun).  That is why color, true color, is best viewed in sunlight, not fluorescent or incandescent light. Fortunately, we tenkara fishers get to fish under the great lightbulb in the sky instead of having to stay indoors under that nasty color robbing artificial light.

from http://www.ocutech.com/low-vision-guide/retina.aspx

Physiologically, we see color as a result of photons firing the color cones of the retina in our eyes. Our color cones come in three varieties: red, green, and blue. All the colors we perceive are a neurological mixture of these three cones firing. That is why I have been using my RGB level tenkara line.  Each portion of the line triggers specific retinal cones under different levels of ambient sunlight. RGB = red, green, blue, get it?

from http://colorvisiontesting.com/ishihara.htm

What about you color blind tenkara fishers? Color blindness is a very common genetically-based condition that affects a significant portion of the population. Since the gene for color perception is on the X chromosome, it is mainly males that manifest the defect. This means that many of you may have a form of color blindness. The most common is red/green color blindness, but there are other forms as well such as blue/yellow blindness. Want to see if you have a form of color blindness? Take this test.

So why do I keep going on about this -- Blah, blah, blah? Well, you may not see color the same way that I do, or the way the next line reviewer does either. That is why the RGB level tenkara line was made: to maximize the three main colors perceived by the human eye -- red, green, and blue! What if you're red/green color blind? Well, you will be able to see the blue of the Stren really well but not the green-red of the Amnesia sighter. In your case, use a bright yellow sighter such as Stren HiVis Gold monofilament line. You will be able to see this color extremely well, maybe even better than my "normal" eyes can! If you have blue/yellow blindness then the RGB line will still work, but you will not perceive the Stren well. Not to fret though, since the green/red sighter will jump out like crazy!

The business end of the RGB line (right to left) blue Stren, green Amnesia, red Amnesia, 0X fluoro and 2.5 mm tippet ring

An RGB line brown

Using another fluorcarbon line (such as Tenkara USA or  Sunline) for the main line body works very well also, but I like the contrast change between the blue of the Stren, then green and red of the Amnesia. Also, these other fluorcarbon lines do not have the inherent physiological triggers of the RGB line.

I'm still looking for the Holy Grail, that perfect line, and will likely change when I find it, but what ever line you use, use one that works well for your eyes. The RBG level tenkara line will work for most humans, but not all. Find your line and fish it!!


  1. Excellent post .... Thanks for sharing

  2. I'm not sure I get it. I use the #4 level line from TenkaraUSA unmodified from the factory. I have no problem seeing the line, even with my old eyes. The temptation among us anglers and flytiers to tinker is just too strong.

    1. Sounds like you have found your line. Stick with it!


  3. Since i do use top water big flies (divers, gurglers, poppers)
    most of the time i don't care much for what colour the line is.
    But reading you post makes me wonder if a white line could no match to
    most situations (at least in fall, spring and summertime) since
    white is the blend of all collors.
    I have a cortland 333 ivory white fly line that has
    good visibility in most backgrounds (at least to my eyes)...
    Just thinkering...

  4. Tom, I know its been a while since you posted this, so I hope you can answer a question...what pound test do you use for the HiVis blue?