Tenkara Grasshopper Central

“One fly…  Or not to one fly….  That is the question…..”,

“One fly… Or not to one fly…. That is the question…..”,

by May 30, 2013 5 comments

This first thing I remember in my life was the smell of bacon at a camp site. I started my first year of life on a fishing trip through Canada. We camped and fished a lot when I was young. I was aware of it all.

My mother tells me now, that my father “an avid outdoors man” was fishing one day while cursing my noise making habits. I was running my toys cars back and forth on the bottom of his aluminum boat. He recalled later through his life that he had never caught more fish than on that day.

As I grew up my father was tackling all kinds of various tackle to find the best possible options to catch a fish (he was an engineer) wherever we fished. He simply tossed me whatever kind of rod, with a yellow jig attached.

Throughout all the years of watching my father and others struggling with decisions on how to catch fish that day, I would grab a rod, attach my yellow jig and fish the same way I had mastered to fish, and sometimes catch more than all the others during a days catch. I guess I just wanted to fit in with the other guys. I didn’t seem to know all there tricks. Nor was I interested. My string was full everyday…..? I even mastered the art of unhooking my jig from logs and twigs in the art of saving my precious jig.

I fished for shark and rock cod through college with great success accompanied by cheap beer. Shark filet grilled open face with butter, garlic and salt and pepper can become addictive. It peels off the skin. The cabazon were very ugly but good.

One trip I remember my Dad taking me on was done First Class from SFO to Michigan, (where I was born) up around the Makinac Bridge, and through Thunder Bay north to Lake Caribou. I was back to the yellow jig to keep up and catch the same amount of walleye and pike as the other fisherman. Limits everyday…. Good eatin’….

My first experience with fly fishing was brief, but momentous. I hooked up with a guy in trade school who thought he was Brad Pitt in the big fishing scene, in that fishing movie. You know. He took me to a place on the border of California and Nevada (can’t remember is was a long drive in the middle of the night). I used my dad’s oversized wading gear and casted some fly I was given (that part is a blur) back and forth with a 10/2 pattern. I saw the movie. It was peaceful and beautiful. Then out of nowhere an F-16 buzzed the river and scared the bleep out of me.

I honestly don’t remember it being before or after that I caught the little 5″ prize. I was told later that it is unlikely for someone to catch a fish their first time fly fishing. I was happy. I didn’t fly fish again for almost 20 yrs.

After my father’s passing and going through his stuff, I found his hidden secret. He had a passion for fly fishing. (Maybe I just wasn’t aware with where he was going with his fishing.) I was intrigued… He had an old vise and collection of store bought flies in his things.

I became obsessed with my lost father’s interest. After 50 yrs. of top secret work. I knew nothing about him really accept for the fishing, hunting, yard work and cooking. The rest a mystery…

So I set out to find him and myself. I starting tying and tying but I didn’t fish. I couldn’t afford to buy flies so I tied them before I could afford a fly rod.

After being overwhelmed by all the options in fly tying I had made myself a new goal. I was going to make an original fly and catch something on it. I started 5 yrs. ago and it took me 3 yrs. before I reached my goal. After researching and fantasizing about patterns I’d seen, and what seemed practical, I reached my goal. I call it “the skeeter”. My first catch was small panfish in green…. I was happy and satisfied.

I was bitten by the fly fishing bug. I starting looking at fishing completely differently. The goal now was to enjoy each moment of this new experience and soak it all in.

Then it happened… For some reason I was attracted to these swarms of carp constantly swimming upstream against the flood currents of The Houston downtown bayous. I have always been premeditated in all my projects. I think things through to completion before I execute.

After intense research I discovered the folklore of how carp fisherman would come from other parts of the globe to fish these carp! I said to myself “really…” I had a new source of passion. I must catch a carp. Not on a piece of hotdog, but on a fly.

I embarked on this journey two years ago. The thought process and stalking of these carp filled my spare time. I initially used a regular fly rod and tested many traditional patterns. To my dismay my efforts were non-fruitful, and quite discouraging. I gave up on the quest for a while.

I fell back to going out and fishing with a friend and basically using a jig to catch sea trout and redfish. Good fun, but still not satisfying my obsession.


In the interim period I studied many different types of fishing when I stumbled across Tenkara. Not able to afford a new rig yet, I asked many questions and got a lot of open useful information from the Tenkara community.

The Tenkara community as traditionalists boasted a “one fly” strategy. I was confused. I thought fly fishing had to do with all these patterns you had to know to catch a certain fish. Now it all makes no sense.

I finally got my first Tenkara rod attached everything needed with the correct knots, then tied on the “one fly” I received from TenkaraUSA.


I fished, caught nothing and was more frustrated. I had never been so unsuccessful at fishing in my life. I started going around and around with different patterns trying them all…. Nothing…. I suck at fishing.

It dawned on me through more research I wasn’t listening. It’s all about presentation…. With what? The “one fly”.

So back to the drawing board. Now for such a smart guy, I was being really stupid. I had to go back, refocus. I reattached the first “one fly” I received with my rig and started to cast, and cast… and cast.
Then it happened in the exact same spot as I had cast “the skeeter” two years earlier. Two years…. I went around in a circle. I caught the same little tiny panfish I caught two years earlier. Boom!


I was there. I had done it. What? What are you talking about? I had learned what I already knew.

All of the those years of fishing throughout my life had taught me that using “one jig” would catch me almost every kind of fish all over North America. Why not one fly? It made perfect sense. I had conquered fishing without catching hardly any fish.

Any kind of “one fly” will work. It’s like playing a musical instrument. You have to learn every song possible with just that one musical tool.

The basic principal is take the time to master the tool, whatever it is. I support the “one fly” concept it works, if you work it…… The carp are next…..

My father is now “smiling from heaven”

Peace and Tenkara….


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5 Comments so far

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  1. The NOCO Nympher
    #1 The NOCO Nympher 5 June, 2013, 01:24

    Tenkara is definitely a state of mind and "one fly" definitely drives home that point! Great post and thanks for sharing!

    Reply this comment
  2. Chris Kline
    #2 Chris Kline 2 June, 2013, 00:12

    Great posting! Thanks

    Reply this comment
  3. Anonymous
    #3 Anonymous 1 June, 2013, 18:30

    Very cool story, from a very good writer…. cheers mate! Marcel Mandu

    Reply this comment
  4. Joel D
    #4 Joel D 31 May, 2013, 17:16

    Great post! Memories of childhood fishing with family is something we all hope to pass on to our kids. Its a great gift to give and all you need is a yellow jig and time.

    Reply this comment

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