Tenkara Grasshopper Central

My personal definition of Tenkara

My personal definition of Tenkara

by February 14, 2012 4 comments

I want to apologize to my readers since it has been awhile since I last posted. I feel kind of bad about not keeping up to date for my readers. This is my attempt to get things going again. And I must thank Daniel Galhardo of TenkaraUSA for giving me the idea for this topic.

So as many of you know, Tenkara translates from Japanese to English roughly as “from heaven”. I have been pondering what my personal definition of Tenkara would be and I think that I can give at least a short definition of what I think it is. Ok, well it might turn into a long definition but we will have to see.

I do believe that Tenkara is “from heaven” in that it is a way to fly fish without the extra baggage that sometimes comes from other forms of fishing be it fly fishing, bait slingin’, or deep sea fishing. The minimal amount of gear makes it a very accessible form of fishing thus keeping overall costs down.

((On a side note, I am going to try to avoid the simplicity dilemma in this post since it seems to light a major fire within the fishing community. So, I apologize in advance to those proponents of Tenkara as fly fishing simplified.))

The ease of casting afforded by Tenkara and the quick learning curve in casting a furled line or a level line in my humble opinion can not be found in many other forms of fishing, even bait slingin’ with a spinning reel.

So with that being said, I guess it is time for my personal definition of Tenkara.

Tenkara: a style of fly fishing that roughly translates as “Zen in Motion”.

I know some of you are saying, “Seriously man??? Come on, how much more cliche can you get?”

Before you get your long underwear in a wad let me explain myself. If, after I describe what I mean, and you still disagree then send me a comment. Or if you do agree with me, then send a comment to me as well.

I feel that my personal definition of Tenkara as “Zen in Motion” is based on a few key factors:

  • With less gear I spend more time fishing and less time fiddling.
  • With more time fishing, the probability of me catching something increases exponentially.
  • When I am casting, I am focusing on one thing and one thing only, a beautiful perfect cast that places a fly on target with the least amount of effort and the cleanest presentation to a fish.
  • When I am on the water with a Tenkara rod in hand, it is me, my rod, the water, and the fish, nothing more, nothing less.

With those key points for me laid out before my personal definition boils down to this:

Tenkara is “Zen in Motion” because it is me unencumbered by material items and extraneous thoughts. It is nothing but casting to a target in the most beautiful, artistic manner available to a man (or woman). It is about being on the water and being outdoors, not about the number or size of the fish caught at the end of the day. It is the motion of the moment, not the past or future but the “Right Now!”

Ok, I feel like I have said what I can at this time and hope that maybe this might even get some of my readers to join in the conversation and start to post their personal definitions of Tenkara. If this happens, then I have succeeded to instigate something that might even transcend the practice of Tenkara.

Photo credit: denisbin via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

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4 Comments so far

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  1. Flyfishermanrichard.
    #1 Flyfishermanrichard. 18 February, 2012, 11:43


    Found you site and will follow. I have just ordered a Tenkara rod, and line. Waiting for it to arrive, when it does look at my blog?

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  2. Big C
    #2 Big C 15 February, 2012, 02:03

    Agree with your definition. "the Right Now" especially. That is what I feel while on the water. Also, while at my entomology classes the instructor mentioned Tenkara several times. His "definition" was grid fishing. Which occurred to me was what I was doing while in the right now. Since I can control my rod>line>fly more precisely it is easier for me to fish an area entirely, walk a few steps then do this again. Before, I had less control of the environment. Now I have more or a more appropriate term would be "more intune with the environment". If I said Zen here most would think that I have gone further off…

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  3. Paul Arnold
    #3 Paul Arnold 14 February, 2012, 20:20

    Oh my, Graham. Definitions? Do we gotta have 'em? Okay. We do.

    I would say that Zen in Motion is more of a characterization than a definition, but putting that aside I find that Zen in Motion fits equally well for fly fishing with a reel. At least for me.

    In fact, an argument can be made that fly fishing is more demanding of one's attention than tenkara (less simple, thus more details to deal with immediately) and thus takes a person more deeply into the present moment and away from worrying about the past and planning for the future. Just as in mindfulness meditation and (as I understand it) as in Zen meditation.

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  4. Tom Sadler
    #4 Tom Sadler 14 February, 2012, 13:46

    "motion of the moment". Very nice.

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