Tenkara Grasshopper Central

RESPECT in the World and in Tenkara

RESPECT in the World and in Tenkara

by June 12, 2013 1 comment
Tenkara Grasshopper and John Gierach Denver Fly Fishing Show 2012
Tenkara Grasshopper and John Gierach
Denver Fly Fishing Show 2012

Respect, is defined by the Urban Dictionary as: It means valuing each others points of views. It means being open to being wrong. It means accepting people as they are. It means not dumping on someone because you’re having a bad day. It means being polite and kind always, because being kind to people is not negotiable. It means not dissing people because they’re different to you. It means not gossiping about people or spreading lies.

Note: This post is not written to start a whole new pissing match about whether Tenkara is fly fishing or not. And it is not a post about what is and is not Tenkara. I would appreciate your comments on this but please be respectful with any and all comments.

I have been thinking about this recently because I have seen a decrease in Respect in many areas of the world, and sadly in particular in the fly fishing world. As a Tenkara angler I have seen a lack of this quality more and more frequently on both sides of the fly fishing world. What I mean by that is the traditional western fly fishing community and the Tenkara fly fishing community. The lack of this quality is rampant in many areas with one social arena being sexual equality or inequality in the fly fishing world. Don’t believe me check out the Facebook page for Kathryn Maroun.


One area that always bothers me when it comes to respect is peoples propensity to throw trash either in the river or in the bushes along a trail. And let me be clear that it is not just the families that are out for a day of hiking a trail next to the rivers that anglers are commonly on. I have also seen my fair share of anglers look over their shoulders before tossing some kind of trash into the river be it a cigar butt or even a bundle of tippet material. I have lost count of how many aluminum cans I have picked up during a day of fishing.

Let me clarify that I don’t hold every angler responsible for the aluminum cans in the water. I have been on rivers and streams near a major road and I know for a fact that some individuals who cruise down the road fling trash out the windows of their vehicles. On one recent trip, Daniel Galhardo of Tenkara USA picked up trash during our day of fishing Clear Creek. What was horribly sad to me was we caught and landed more trash than fish for day.

Tenkara Grasshopper, Denver Dobbins, Karel Lansky and the Trash Stringer
Tenkara Grasshopper, Denver Dobbins, Karel Lansky and the Trash Stringer

We all need to remember that trash thrown into the bushes or into a river is gross and totally disrespectful to the environment that we all love. OK, I know I have gone a little overboard with the whole trash thing so I will move on to another area that glaringly stands out at times although not as frequently as it did in the past.

As I stated earlier I have no intention of starting a pissing match between Tenkara anglers and fly fishing anglers using western gear but I think a few things need to be said to clear the air. Also let me clarify one other thing before I begin. I am an angler who uses a spinning reel and an Orvis fly rod and reel as well as a Tenkara rod to catch fish.

In the past I have heard comments akin to “Western gear is worthless on tiny streams!” or “Tenkara is just dapping!” or “You can’t land a large fish using a Tenkara rod!” And this is only a few of the comments that can be made both on the water and off the water.

Let’s start with the first comment: “Western gear is worthless on tiny streams!” I was embarrassed and saddened when I heard this statement was made on a local stream. Especially when the angler who was using their western gear landed a chunky sixteen inch rainbow that would make anyone drool. And yes this was on a small local stream known for very tight quarters and little space for a productive cast. And the other thing that bothered me was the fact that the individual who said this I had respected for their open mindedness and the honor they afforded others. As I am sure you can guess, my Respect for them dwindled to nothingness very quickly.

What I hope to convey from the above statement is that you can catch fish on any kind of gear in a small stream setting whether you are using a traditional rod and reel or a Tenkara rod. There is not one system that is better than another in other words.

“Tenkara is just dapping!” No Tenkara is not dapping although you can use a Tenkara rod to dap a fly if need be. Presenting a fly with a Tenkara rod does require a cast and also be dead drifted or actively retrieved. Yes, Tenkara is done using a very long rod with a fixed line and tippet with a fly tied to the end of it but it still requires a modicum of skill to present a fly in a non-threatening manner to a fish. There are a few aspects of using a Tenkara rod that are quite impressive that even a beginning angler can take advantage of with very little practice.

One of these is the control with which they can direct and place a fly on the water. And let us not forget that presenting a fly can be done quite delicately in many if not all situations. And as we all know as a fly fisherman delicacy can make or break a day of fishing on any given river or stream. Remember a spooked fish is a fish that won’t bite.

It has been expressed by those who appear to have Tenkaraphobia, defined as the fear of Tenkara as a viable form of fly fishing, that a Tenkara angler using a traditional sakasa kebari is not really using a fly at all to catch a fish. Ironically, if they were to look at a sakasa kebari they would find out that it is tied with the same materials that any traditional western pattern such as a Royal Wulff is tied with. Tenkara anglers use a sakasa kebari as an attractor pattern that fish seem to like quite frequently. This attitude is at odds with the western fly fisherman who uses a Royal Wulff or even a Wooly Bugger to catch a fish. I have caught plenty of fish using my Tenkara rod and a Sakasa kebari and at the same time I have caught plenty of fish using my western gear and an attractor pattern.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Kebari Photo Courtesy of Tenkara Grasshopper Media Services

Did I find Tenkara to be better than using my western gear? In some instances, I did find it to be better but not in all situations. I can say that I would not consider catching a steelhead on my Tenkara rod but on one of my western rods in the right weight with the right line I definitely would. Tenkara has been productive for me here in Colorado and I do not feel that I have missed anything at all so far in terms of fish since I have not had the opportunity to explore outside of Colorado yet. But I intend to and look forward to it with baited breath.

And last, but not least, let’s not forget the most interesting comment made by some in the western tradition of fly fishing to a Tenkara angler, “You can’t land a large fish using a Tenkara rod!” This comment has raised my hackles in the past since I know for a fact that this statement is not true in any way. I have seen some very large fish that have been landed using a Tenkara rod with its fixed line but I will also say I have seen a few very large fish broken off just the same. Ironically, I have also seen my fair share of large fish both landed and lost using a very expensive western fly fishing rod made from some of the most expensive materials and a reel with the “most technologically advanced line available today”.


The tippet material that a Tenkara angler uses is the same material a western fly fisherman uses as well. I find this interesting in that I can just as easily land a 12” Rainbow trout on a 6x tippet as the western angler with a 6x tippet. Just because I am using a Tenkara rod does not change the breaking strength of a piece of tippet in any way or manner. The only times I have had a piece of tippet fail during a day of Tenkara fishing is when I poorly tied a knot or the tippet was wrapped around an offending piece of structure such as a bush. And I know we can all attest to that.


Now you might be asking “What does all this have to do with Respect?”

Folks, it is really quite simple to understand that everything I have said above points directly at respect in that what we say and do. We either make a person’s day or tear them down with our words and actions. As an angler, blogger, and guide, I want to see more people on the water fishing and enjoying the outdoors like those of us who are currently fishing. That is not to say that I don’t want my quiet time on the water alone with my own thoughts and not having to dodge a barbed Sakasa kebari or even a weighted Wooly Bugger. I do want others to find the enjoyment in the great outdoors as I do myself.

When I am on the water fishing for a day I try and give each and every angler that I come upon the peace and quiet that they might be seeking. I respect their space as if it were mine and is what I would want from them. And I try and control my language as much as possible if there might be any sense of disrespect that they get from my words or actions. As a guide, I have had clients who are trying to learn to fish and I have heard degrading comments from other anglers who have never talked to my client and do not know that they are just starting out. I don’t know about you but when I am learning something new I can be just as embarrassed as the next guy or girl, as the case may be, when I am figuring things out.

All I ask of you, my loyal (or not so loyal) reader is that when you are on the river or in a fly fishing shop or just mingling with the general public is that you show RESPECT for your fellow man. I think I have blathered on enough for this post and hope that maybe you got something from it. If you didn’t, well things happen and we will all move on to other things.

As I said in my note starting this post your comments are greatly appreciated.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 Comment so far

Jump into a conversation
  1. John@tenkarausa
    #1 John@tenkarausa 12 June, 2013, 18:38

    Nice post, Graham. Obviously, I think most of us (I hope) share your distaste for seeing garbage on the stream and the lack of respect it shows the resource. You also made a very nice point about being respectful to other forms of fishing. Different methods will speak to different people and I think it's good for us to allow for that.

    Reply this comment

Warning: Illegal string offset 'rules' in /home/customer/www/tenkaragrasshopper.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/fraction-theme/functions/filters.php on line 204

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.