Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Why haven't you started fishing with a tenkara rod yet?

So why aren't you huh? "Well it's just a fad," Actually interest has been on the rise since about 2009 and is still on the upturn  and since when did being cool affect your desire to fish? Waders, a vest and a bucket hat say otherwise. "Lefty Kreh said it was a fad," He also apologized and redacted his statement recently "I don't have any idea what you are talking about?" Oh my mistake, let us get acquainted.

Tenkara is the simple style of fly fishing that involves just a long supple rod, light line, tippet and a fly. That's right I said nothing of a reel. It uses a fixed amount of line attached to the end of your rod. I can go on explaining but, better writers and videographers have done this for me already. Tenkara USA does a good job of explaining it right on their homepage

So why I am I asking you why you haven't tried it yet? Well I think your missing out. A quick look around at tenkara, the blogs, the forums, videos I find a couple of things that may keep people away but, really this simple rod style is a fantastic way to fish.

First thing that may turn folks away is how the community of tenkara treat and speak of tenkara like it is some martial art just because of it's Japanese heritage. They get all misty eyed about it and think they have to adhere to some mystical code to be true to it's ninja heritage. This kind of talk can be a rather big turn off. Just take a look here  YAH no one fishes like that and most of us think it is pretty ridiculous. In all reailty tenkara rods are just that, fishing rods. They require no strict training or adherence to any other code beyond protecting the fish and the waters in which they live.

Second, some people think it isn't really fly fishing. To which I always respond what makes fly fishing, fly fishing. I think that is two fold, first being that you are using the weight of a line to cast a lure that has virtually no weight to it (streamers complicate this but, are often still to light for most spinning setups). This allows us to imitate insects and other forage that can't be imitated with weighted gear. Also the act of casting makes fly fishing and tenkara most certainly involves some precise casting, I promise it is so much more than dapping.

So I still think your missing out, why's that? Because just in the way that a spey rod is a great choice for big river steelhead or a 3 wt 7'6" rod is the right choice for small dry flys, a tenkara rod is perfect for it's time and place.

Small mountain streams are what tenkara was designed for.

I first became interested in tenkara rods when I saw how small they could pack. I had owned some pack spinning rods but, the collapsing nature of the tenkara rod means it can go in a backpack and carried all over the high country. My curiosity peaked further after learning the simple approach of less gear that accompanied the tenkara style of fly fishing. Lastly I was already addicted to small mountain streams and tenkara was really designed to fish just such waters.

Tenkara is so light and packs so well I take it everywhere. I was just hanging out with some friends and of course brought my rod and my stocked up lanyard with me. Had some time to kill while we hung out and had some beers so I got into some fish. Even taught some total novices how to fish.

I snagged my first tenkara rod on a killer sale and off I went. You know what I found? I caught more fish. But you say, "a rod, like a shoe does not MAKE you a better angler or athlete," and you would be correct. But in the way that wearing cleats when playing football gives you better traction to make better cuts, tenkara is the right tool for a mountain stream. These long rods allow you to completely lift your line off the water for a totally drag free drift. No mends, it is similar to tight line nymphing but, with an even longer rod. Tenkara rods also force you to think more about how you position yourself. The fixed amount of line means you have less line to make longer or shorter casts. Oddly this seems to improve my fishing because rather than just launching a cast across currents I have to move to them and pay attention to how my position effects how my fly moves with the current.

Sunfish are a blast on a tenkara rod. The light rod and these hard fighters go hand in hand.

Catching more fish what more could you want? Well I can still see a hint of skepticism in your eye and I think I have one more idea or way of looking at this that might sway you.
In the past when asked about tenkara I would often say "it is just another way to fish," and I think I want to change that statement. Because while there are some stark differences in the mechanics of a tenkara rod, length, line weight, no reel, etc. it still requires reading water, understanding trout/fish (it's so fun with sun fish) and insect behavior, as well as, all the other skills a fly fisherman needs to catch fish. So instead I think I will start to say "it's just another rod I use for the right situation" in the same way I may use a spey rod for steelhead, a 9wt for red fish, a 5wt for big nymph rigs or a 7 wt for slinging bass streamers. It is just another weapon in your ever growing arsenal of rods to solve a certain set of problems. It will excel at some, just get the job done for others and fall short for many more. It also lends itself to slimming down your gear, flies and approach but, is by no means a requirement.

So give it a try either in a local shop, a buddy or the many loan programs available. I am pretty sure you'll like it. Or if you don't no one has to know you tried something new.