Tenkara Grasshopper Central

Daniel Galhardo and the “One Fly” concept

Daniel Galhardo and the “One Fly” concept

by October 31, 2012 0 comments

So, Graham has finally taken off on his honeymoon and is reportedly away from civilization – no computer, no internet…just candles and cold water, I imagine. But, he didn’t want to leave his readers completely away from content, so before he left he gave me the keys to the blog and some questions he had about the concept of using “one fly”.

Graham: What is the tenkara “One Fly” theory?

Daniel: It’s not so much a theory as a concept. Tenkara originated in the mountain streams of Japan, in the hands of commercial anglers. As the original anglers had to be (a) pragmatic, (b) effective, and (c) economical. Long story short, they realized that it would be much more effective and cheaper to keep one fly tied to their line rather than changing flies all the time. That has been transmitted to the modern sport tenkara angler, who relies on technique rather than changing flies. Dr. Ishigaki, my teacher, is one of the first to consciously propose that any fly is okay to the sport anglers in Japan. When he started learning tenkara he met several tenkara masters; he noticed that each of them had their “one fly”, yet they all caught good numbers of fish. So, he thought, the fly does not matter all that much. And, he started fishing with one fly pattern and focusing on his technique.

It is important, however, to not that it is not using just a particular fly but rather that any one fly will work fine.

Here’s Dr. Hisao Ishigaki tying his one fly; this was the first time I heard of the concept:

Graham: What would be the biggest benefit to the “One Fly” concept?

Daniel: The idea of using one fly pattern and not changing it is one of the most difficult concepts to embrace, but also the most liberating. When you learn how to use one fly (or rather, rely on any fly) you can go anywhere and catch fish. Secondly, you never second-guess your fly choice and are able to keep your fly in the water without changing it all the time (what is to say the next cast with your fly wouldn’t have caught a fish). I also like to point out how if an angler changes flies 20 times in a day and each time it takes 3 minutes that’s one entire hour of wasted fishing time.

Graham: What attracted you to this concept?

Daniel: I was as skeptical as the next person about the idea of using (any) one fly. It took me about 1 1/2 year to fully abandon the idea of changing flies; it was difficult to let go of all those patterns I was told I needed to use. But, what I finally realized is how refreshing and liberating not having to change flies was. I had such a good feeling the day after I threw out all my “just-in-case” flies and I went fishing. I got on the water and kept moving up, casting to one spot after another and focusing on technique and catching fish on many of the pools I tried. It was totally relaxing. Plus, a few days later I flew back to California and went fishing a different stream without having to worry about what flies, and then I went to Colorado with the same fly box in a different season. I can fly anywhere in the world in search of trout and not have to worry about what is hatching.

Graham: Other than Dr. Ishigaki are you aware of any other tenkara practitioners in Japan who prescribe to the “One Fly” concept?

Daniel: Most people who focus on tenkara or have been doing it long enough will stick with their one fly. All the so-called tenkara masters I know use only one fly pattern; but I should note that some may be very strict, like Mr. Katsutoshi Amano whose flies are all identical in size and color; Dr. Ishigaki on the other hand says he gets bored of tying the exact same fly, so his flies vary a little in color and size, but he says he doesn’t think much about what fly to tie on.

Mr. Amano;s Fly box
Mr. Katsutoshi Amano’s Fly Box

Graham: As a “One Fly” practitioner what do you find you most enjoy about it?

Daniel: Freedom and simplicity. It’s the same thing that initially attracted me to it: I can go anywhere and not worry about what is hatching. It’s also cool to think that I can go most places and catch fish.

Graham: Of the currently known tenkara flies, what is your #1 favorite fly?

Daniel: I’m leaning more to the Ishigaki fly, which is a very generic pattern and I know it can work anywhere. In a recent clinic I held with about 6 people I gave them all an Ishigaki fly to begin with; it was a spring creek famed for being a challenging water. Within about 1/2 hour everyone was into fish.

Graham: On a slightly different note, what do you see for the future of tenkara around the world

Daniel: More and more people are trying tenkara, and a good percentage of them are learning more about how tenkara is practiced in Japan and even embracing it. I think the easiest way to keep fly-fishing simple is to learn how tenkara is practiced in Japan and put those teachings into practice here, and I’d love to see more people continuing to learn those techniques in the future. It’s amazing how many people are starting tenkara companies now, I just hope we don’t lose track of the simplicity that comes from where tenkara originated.

Photo credit: moucheurs-mtl-metro via Foter.com / CC BY

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