Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My final say on Tenkara

 A couple of posts ago, I wrote a piece called Tell me about Tenkara. I wrote that piece because in all honesty, I had my biased opinions based on what a lot of other folks had said or written about their biases, which were mostly anti- Tenkara.

In fairness, I decided to learn as much as I could in a relatively short amount of time and if possible, even cast a Tenkara rod. I've read much, heard from folks who were mostly positive, but a few negative as well. I haven't cast a Tenkara rod yet, but I have digested what I have heard and read and have made up my mind.

First, I'd like to tackle whether it is fly fishing or not. Keep in mind that this is my opinion only.  In my mind, it is. The prerequisite for me is the fly. What type of rod, line or other gear makes no difference to me...and shouldn't to anyone else. Speaking of opinions, Lefty Kreh was recently quoted as saying that Tenkara isn't fly fishing and is a fad. Well, Lefty has been around a while longer than me and he's certainly entitled to his opinion, but I certainly put no more credence in his opinion that he would in mine.

Judging by some of the videos I've seen and Tenkara users I've talked to, Tenkara fishermen are every bit as enthusiastic about fishing as those of us who use graphite, cane or fiberglass...or flies, bait or lures. Perhaps more so, with a little mystic zeal thrown in. And that's okay. Good stewards are good stewards.

The first thing I thought of when watching a Tenkara video was, do I have to get one of those crazy looking nets? The answer is no and you also don't fish in a kimono and sandals. Fishermen are known to be an obstinate bunch of people; we gravitate to whatever type of equipment the salesman tells us we should buy and we stick with it and to hell with those "other" types. Glass is dead...bamboo is too heavy...that's too slow or too fast, bait is bad, flies are good.  If you care so much about what the next guy is fishing, I suggest you get yourself a life and let your neighbor have his. The bottom line... is it a fair, legal catch and is the fisherman following fishing regulations and being a good steward.

video

As for me, I'd like to give it a try. The thought of nice long drag free drifts and fishing with dry flies on a light line always excites me. Will I give up my traditional rods and reels...no. Will I add a Tenkara to my arsenal? Time will tell but I will tell you one thing. After watching this video, I won't be laughing any more.

32 comments:

  1. Howard...I have a Tenkara USA Ayu that you can borrow and help decide for yourself if it's something you enjoy. I do and think it's a really neat way to catch fish.

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    1. Thanks Cam, I would appreciate it. We'll talk later to iron out details.

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  2. Hey Howard. I'm heading to the fly show in Pleasanton on Friday and if they have any Tenkara, I'll take a look and let you know what I find.

    Mark

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    1. Mark, if the price is right, buy me two.

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  3. I haven't tried tenkara yet either. I really have no opinion one way or the other, only that if it helps get people off the couch and they enjoy the technique, that's awesome. I'm looking forward to trying it up in the park this summer. should be fun...kimono and all :-)

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    1. Sanders, I just thought that although not comprehensive, Tenkara needed a fair hearing. I agree to each his own...just wear waders under your kimono.

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  4. Hey Howard....I am like Mark and Sanders in that I never have tried it and am not to sure that I will. The thing that I find with some anglers of all types is they like to draw distinctions about their choice and then take shots at others who may not share their passion. Personally....I love being outside fishing. If it bass-fishing from the shore of some pond or lake, surf-casting down the Cape or fly-fishing along some stream, then it is all good to me. I am heading to a big sportsman show this Friday in Sprinfield MA and I will look to see of they have tenkara.

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    1. Hi Mac, I hope you got your LL Bean rod. I want to learn more about it, whether I take it up or not. And you're right, fishermen tend to denigrate other forms of fishing that they don't do. That's a personality problem not one with the type of fishing it is.

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  5. I know what else you can do too Howard.. You can come to the Tenkara Summit, here in Salt Lake, it's being held the 28-29th of July..
    http://www.tenkarausa.com/summit.php

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    1. Brian, we'll see what happens. Who knows I may convert you and Emily as well.

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  6. Well, it's been around for over 200 years in Japan. And I thinkg the flies they use for it are beautiful. If you like it, then just do it! or not. =)

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    1. Hi Aileen! Thanks for commenting, but slow down a little. The flu has been around for thousands of years, but I'm not rushing. I'll give it a try and see what happens.

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  7. I'm with you 100 percent Howard. Well said. I hope to try it soon, but I'll never give up the gear I have. It just looks like a fun technique to add to the arsenal.

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    1. And I'm with you! I won't be giving up my reels anytime soon, but I'm always willing to listen and learn.

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  8. Howard, Nicely done. Glad you are going to give Tenkara a shot. It is a great technique and the proof is in the fishing. Happy to share what I know anytime and I look forward to fishing with you when I get out that way.

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    1. Tom thanks for responding as well. I've got to tell you that a more dedicated bunch I've never seen. Heck, this should be fun not torture!

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  9. I fish small rivers and creeks for smallies. Medium light spinning gear primarily. Relatively light line. At any given time I have only 10 to 15 feet of line out and am drifting small lures in the current, picking apart every possible fish holding spot. Been fishing this way for many years.

    If you immerse yourself in the surroundings, the smells, the sound of water over rock and have an out of body experience while fishing like this, so much the better.

    A technique is a technique, the tool is irrelevant.

    I'm working on an article, The Fine Art of Spinkara Fishing.

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    1. Ken, I'll look forward to your post...should be fun. And yeah I agree, the tool is irrelevant.

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  10. Howard - I live in Denver metro area and I would be happy to take you out tenkara fishing - or lend you one of my rods to give it a try on your own. Let me know. Karel @ tenkaraonthefly dot net. Cheers!

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    1. Karel, thank you for the kind offer. I'll be getting a hold of you as soon as I possibly can to arrange a day out.

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  11. Nice to see people keeping an open mind about tenkara!

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    1. Thanks Jason, I guess I'm just an open-minded guy. I say don't throw out the bath water unless you're sure there isn't another use for it.

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  12. Howard
    After watching the video I am wondering if this rod is capable of landing a trout in the 3 to 4 lb. range. I have watched other videos of individuals using the Tenkara and never seen anyone land anything larger than 12 to 15” trout. I am trying to compare this set-up here with my long 11 ft. crappie pole. Sometimes using it I have problems getting the fish close enough to land it which sometimes causes a break off and a loss. I think with the Tenkara one has to adapt to landing a larger trout. I notice the guy in the video pulling the line with his hand to get the trout near enough to land it. This is something I would have to adjust to, because I am use to netting the fish. As I said on my last comment I don’t know if I would use this rod enough to purchase one. I do think I would enjoy the challenge of landing the fish with the Tenkara, but again the landing process could present problems for me.

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    1. Howdy Bill, I've seen that in a lot of videos I've watched. Tenkara is touted as a small stream rod, so I do wonder if you accidentally hook a 3-4 lb. fish what are the chances of landing it. Perhaps one of our friends that fish Tankara could answer that.

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  13. fish up to 20" are pretty doable, I got a 21"er in Cheeseman as my best. there folks who caught bigger ones and even some carp so it DOES work for bigger fish BUT it is NOT the right tool.

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    1. Karel, thanks for posting that. Actually, my 7" bamboo would probably also be the tool for the same fish. Thanks and I'll be getting a hold of you.

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  14. Great article and I love your opinion! If it's not hurting anyone (fish or environment) then enjoy. I'm hoping to give it a try myself one of these days, but then again, do I really have time for another obsession?

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    1. You know Pam, no one mentioned fishing Tenkara from a kayak, but it sounds like it could be fun. We always have time for our obsessions.

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  15. You are getting a lot of ink, Howard, out of your stewing over whether to go fishing with tenkara in order to see if you will like it or hate it. So just go already and report your impression; plenty of folks have offered to make that experience do-able. And if you decide you don't want to try tenkara (which is a perfectly reasonable position), then stop writing about it and stick to subjects within your range of experience, which is extensive. Personally, I'm betting that you will enjoy tenkara, but I could well be wrong.

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    1. Hello Paul, Thanks for the advice, but I would like to clarify a few points. I got tired of hearing people bash Tankara without a fair hearing. I was one of those. I decided to find out what it's all about before spouting off any more. Several folks did offer and I'm going to take up the offer soon with one of our local folks. Actually, I expect to enjoy it.

      I wrote a simple post and the only other writing I have done is to answer comments made to the post. I hope to make Tankara within my range of experience, that's why I wrote about it. So, take a chill pill Paul, I don't write about Tenkara just to get a few cheap laughs.

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  16. Love to see posts like this me being a tenkara fisherman myself. I also live tin the metro Denver area Howard and you are welcome to join me for a day on the water. Who knows maybe you, me, Karel, and Jason can all go for a day. I love reading your posts. Very well written and very thought provoking. Being a blogger myself I am very impressed with your writing as well. Keep up the good work and I am adding you to my blog roll.

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    1. Thanks Graham for the kind words! I will surely be ready for a trip and fishing with you guys would be a blast. I'm enjoying your blog as well and it didn't kill me contrary to what folks think. I expect that when I get the chance to cast a Tenkara rod that my arm won't fall off either. Keep me posted.

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