Saturday, April 20, 2013

It's Just Not the Same

Latest Brown Trout to spend a moment in my tamo net
My father taught my brother, sister and I how to fish when were young.  Some of my fondest memories from that time were impatiently waiting for my father to come home from work and then pounding my dinner so we could get in the car and head to Chadwick Lake, our town's reservoir, to fish until sundown.  Back then all I wanted was to land the largest bass I could.  Fishing was typically done with worms and Mepps spinners.  Since that time had I drifted away from fishing 24-7 during my high school and college years but eventually rediscovered the joy and excitement I had as a kid.  Living on Long Island I started back fishing by pursuing striped bass and blue fish on spin gear and then eventually found that L.I. also had a decent sweet water option, including trout...which is something I had always wanted to catch since I was a kid. But acquiring the gear and skills to fly fish seemed daunting and I gave up the idea of ever catching a trout on a fly until I came across tenkara.

For many western anglers, including readers of this blog,  the last few years have seen the introduction of tenkara to the U.S. and the benefits of this old yet simple way to fish. Tenkara gear has the benefit of allowing the angler to simplify the gear they carry, the fly selection they use, manipulate the fly in ways that are hard to duplicate with traditional western gear, etc.  It has been embraced by many, ignored by others and at times received harsh criticism (to put it mildly) by others who wish to remain ignorant or somehow feel threatened by it's presence.  I can not speak for others, only myself when it comes to what tenkara means to me.  Tenkara is a particular method for fishing and at the same time a specific type of gear.  It is "tool" available to anglers like any other tool found in a tool box.  A wrench was made for specific purpose but in a pinch I could use it as a hammer.  Tenkara was developed and works best pursuing trout on small mountain streams but for me it works just as well on a small pond looking for some bluegills and bass.

This brookie decided to sample my wooly bugger right after the brown pictured above
I guess I should insert a disclaimer here.  Though I probably do about 95% of my fishing with tenkara gear I in no way have a problem with any other method or type of gear used to fish as long as it's done in a lawful and environmentally sound way.  Just a few days ago I was using an ultralight spin rod catching a few fish when it struck me. I love to be outdoors and fish but using spin gear is just not the same.

One of my favorite brookies from the past caught on an 11' Iwana
The greatest moment in fishing, no matter the gear or technique used, is the instant in which you feel that tug on the other end of your line.  Your mind quickly goes into overdrive thinking about what kind of fish you may have, how to play the fish and how hard you heart feels like its pounding. I have found that my connection to the fish in that moment is enhanced using a tenkara rod.  With spin gear, unless it's 35"+ striper or a normal bluefish, you simply muscle the fish in (or at least I do).  With tenkara I feel that I don't necessarily dominate the fish but  have to finesse the fish to my net or hand. Tenkara has some great advantages but it also has limitations.  Is it for everyone?  More than likely not.  Will many anglers see the benefits and see instances in which they will use or practice it?  I'm sure they will if they give it a fair chance.  But what I feel is important is not the debate of what it is or what it isn't to everyone else, what's important is what it is to you. Tenkara to me is simple fishing and it is pure joy and that's all that matters.  I will still fish in other ways from time to time but they will never do the same thing for me that tenkara does.


  1. Wonderful thoughts.
    I enjoy simplicity, it's the way I pursue the wild trout I love, and my life in general.
    Fish my friend.

    1. I knew you of all people would understand what I was trying to get across in this post....thanks

  2. En un todo de acuerdo...Buena pesca!!!

    1. Thanks Gerardo.....and I haven't forgotten you flies I promised. They are going into the mail soon.