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Tenkara EZ Keeper Line Management Hack Using Paper Clips and Electrical Tape

EZ Keepers let you keep your line attached to the rod for easy storage when not in use and slide easily into the rod's protective case
EZ Keepers let you keep your line attached to a Tenkara fly fishing rod for easy storage when not in use and slide easily into the rod’s protective case.

I like to keep the line rigged on my Tenkara Rod when I go fly fishing, so I wrap it around a pair of EZ Keepers that are attached to the outermost segment of the telescoping rod shaft. I wind the line in a figure eight pattern between the two plastic nubs so it stays untangled and hook the fly into my cork handle. This lets me carry a fully rigged rod in its protective case so it’s ready to fish without any setup hassles.

EZ Keepers are pretty inexpensive, but they’re a pain to transfer between rods. They also vary in quality, fit, and “snugness” unless you buy them from a trusted supplier like Tenkara Bum.

If you don’t want to buy EZ Keepers, or you don’t have time to wait for them to arrive in the post, you can rig up a simple line management system using two paperclips and a few strips of electrical tape. This is a hack I picked up from Yvon Chouinard’s book, Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara and Rod and Reel. I wouldn’t recommend buying this book because it’s not that great, but the EZ Keeper hack he describes in it is simple and remarkably effective.

Tape two slightly bent paperclips to your rod.
Tape two slightly bent paperclips to your rod.


  • Two medium sized paper clips
  • Electrical tape

Why electrical tape? It holds well and doesn’t leave a glue residue on your rod when you peel if off.

Loop your line in a figure 8 to prevent tangles and hook your fly to the cork handle
Loop your line in a figure 8 to prevent tangles and hook your fly to the cork handle


Bend the two paperclips up at the end and tape them to your rod, as shown above. Rig up your rod with line, tippet, and a fly and wrap the line around the paperclips in a figure 8, before hooking the fly (attached to your tippet) in your cork handle.

If your rod doesn’t have a cork handle, you can run a strip of electrical tape down the shaft and hook your fly into that instead.

I prefer using high visibility flourocarbon line with my Tenkara rods, but this line keeper hack also works well with the traditional braided line that’s often shipped with new rods from American-based Tenkara rod manufacturers.

That’s all there is to it, but it’s a neat little hack.

Written 2017.

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  1. Clever hack, Phil. I just bought a tenkara rod, tried it for the first time Sunday. Let me ask you this: what length of line do you typically use for small streams (say 10 to 15 feet wide)? I’m trying to determine a manageable length.

  2. I’ve used the paperclip trick also. If you don’t want the tape residue on the rod’s finish, you can use rubber bands or that silicone tape which sticks to itself.

  3. Hi Phil, I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog. I hope in the future that when you discuss fishing, rods, rafts etc that you remind your readers that a fishing license is required by the state of New Hampshire regardless of location which includes a “Hike Safe” card.

  4. In the state of Ohio…You are required to buy a fishing license….Even if you just use a line & hook =Hand line
    method….Or a Hobo set up…..Any style of fishing….Bank Line..Jug set up with line & hook…
    You need to buy a fishing license..for Ohio period…..

  5. I have tried “Ezy Keepers” and they are great until they break or the rubber band disappears at high speed when caught up bush bashing, the paper clip is good too and just about foolproof however there is another system.
    Take two largish buttons, preferably wooden, drill out two holes to take a stout small rubber band or large “O” ring. Thread the rubber band through the button to leave two loops below; thread the two buttons onto the rod. ( a snug fit is necessary) slide into position and there you have a perfect line holder

  6. I like the line keeper idea and look forward to trying it. I am curious if the paper clips could be secured to the rod with heat shrink tubing.

  7. I keep losing the EZ Keepers.

    If someone uses the paperclip idea and decides they like it, you can make it permanent and arguably more elegant, definitely more time consuming, by wrapping stainless clips and epoxying them to the rod.

  8. If you don’t want the sticky residue from the tape, use self sealing silicone tape instead.

  9. Actually black electrical tape usually WILL leave a terrible sticky residue. Instead, try any of the colored electrical tapes (or possibly nonadhesive heat shrink tubing).

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