Thoughts on Tenkara Simplicity

Thoughts on Tenkara Simplicity

by January 20, 2012 3 comments

I have been reading a number of Tenkara related blogs as well as a few non Tenkara related fly fishing blogs. I felt I needed to clarify a few things that in my opinion may be turning some people off when it comes to Tenkara. What I am going to say might bother some anglers from both the Tenkara camp and the traditional western fly fishing camp but I feel it needs to be said and maybe some of what I say will help both sides come to an agreement or at least a peaceful standoff.

Yes, Tenkara is fly fishing simplified in that we are using a rod, a line, a tippet, and a fly but no reel. And yes I do use less overall equipment when fishing Tenkara than I do when I am fishing in the western style of rod, reel, line, tippet and fly. I love both styles of fishing as well as bait slingin’ (see my Bait Slingin’ page here).

Tenkara has simplified my fishing in many ways that are amazing to me. One of the biggest changes is that I went from wearing a vest that weighed close to 25 or 30 lbs to a small over the shoulder bag that weighs in at less than a pound and a half.  Simplicity at its finest. I still carry a box loaded with flies and have to make a decision on what fly I am going to use every time but I do try to match the hatch when I can. So, there goes my simplicity but at least I am still having fun.

I agree that there is a shorter learning curve when it comes to Tenkara then traditional western fly fishing that I really like. Simplicity again I know but still there is much to learn when it comes to properly casting a Tenkara rod and I know that it could take a lifetime to master the perfect cast. There goes the simplicity concept out the window if you wish.

That being said, I am just as big a gear head as the next guy or girl when it comes to the new stuff on the market. And yes I do get pulled in even my some of the crap on the market but what fly angler hasn’t gotten suckered at least once by a cool looking gear that doesn’t work in the real world.

I felt I needed to get this out and it is probably not perfectly fleshed out or concise but I hope that trying to explain that there is simplicity within Tenkara but also complications which take away from that simplicity exist as they do in traditional western fly fishing.

Maybe Tenkara anglers do sometimes talk about the simplicity as a major factor in why they are using this style of fly fishing a little to much but I think what really matters is that each person is catching fish.

Does it make a difference whether I am wearing a vest loaded down with the newest equipment or a small bog thrown over my shoulder. No! Am I catching fish with both styles? Yes! Have I found one style more productive than another? Not really. Do I prefer one style over the other? Come on, let’s put these arguments aside and focus on what we all want. More fish and quality waters.

Comments are gratefully accepted and I would like to know what everyone thinks.

Photo credit: David McKelvey via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

3 Comments so far

Jump into a conversation
  1. Daniel @ Tenkara USA
    #1 Daniel @ Tenkara USA 24 January, 2012, 03:14

    Good post, Graham.
    Ed Engle and I have been spending quite a bit of time discussing the philosophy of simple. To him it seems that for anyone to get to a place of simplicity they must embark on a journey of making things complex first. I think it can be simple from the beginning if someone tells you it is possible and how one can simplify things.
    Also, one thing that I liked he mentioned: "the easiest way to simplify fishing is to become a purist, a specialist – the person who considers himself a purist can leave everything else at home and concentrate on honing his skills with the items at hand." I thought that was very accurate and probably a big part of the reason I constantly advocate for embracing the whole method of tenkara for those interested in really simplifying things.

    Reply this comment
  2. Big C
    #2 Big C 22 January, 2012, 02:37

    I have my sling pack, my lanyard. In my pack I carry leaders, extra tippet material, a small mesh net, extra pair of glasses, stream light for my cap and few other things. I also carry an extra Tenkara rod. Most if not all places I fish go from overhang to clear of obstruction. I am not a good enough fisherman to be totally simplistic. It would be a short day for me if I ventured off far from any "supplies" that I think that I might need. All the fishermen that I have met on my travels have been wonderful people. We are all there for only one purpose so in my opinion style or amount of gear in ones possession is a moot point.

    Reply this comment
  3. Paul Arnold
    #3 Paul Arnold 21 January, 2012, 01:02

    Graham — Your message is timely, articulate, and fairly puts forth the message of tolerance among fly fishermen. Or among ALL fishermen, for that matter. Well done.

    Reply this comment

Your data will be safe!Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person.