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Revisiting the Tenkara “One Fly” Concept

Revisiting the Tenkara “One Fly” Concept

by October 14, 2015 2 comments

Tenkara is known for its simplicity.

A Rod, A Line and A Fly™
Photo Courtsey of Tenkara USA

Tenkara USA‘s company motto is Only Rod, Line, and Fly™. In such a short statement Tenkara USA has distilled tenkara as a form of fly fishing to it’s true essence.

Daniel Galhardo, the president and brains behind Tenkara USA subscribes to a concept known as the “One Fly”. To subscribe to this concept, Daniel and many other tenkara anglers both in Japan and around the world choose one single kebari pattern as their go to fly for a day of tenkara fishing.

Typical attributes of the chosen kebari pattern is the simplicity of tying the pattern. The science or mastery of the “One Fly” concept comes from learning to present this pattern using multiple techniques to entice a fish to eat the fly.

When I adopted tenkara as a viable method of fly fishing I quickly jumped on the “One Fly” Express because that is how it was done traditionally in Japan and how it was introduced into the United States (at least in my little realm of reality!) I tried this fly choice method for a period of time, yet I lacked the discipline or patience to truly learn how to properly present a tenkara fly to a fish and get it to eat my fly.

I did catch fish using the Ishigaki Kebari flies that I tied at home but the return on investment was not exactly stellar. Because of this low return on investment and also the fact that I am a Red Blooded American with little to no patience, I reverted to the “Match the Hatch” concept perpetuated by those “in the know” in Western fly fishing where a rod and reel are used in a fly fishing rig.

I was catching fish left and right as soon as I went back to the “Match the Hatch” theory of fly fishing yet I had a nagging feeling something was missing from my enjoyment of tenkara. It took a bit of time before I found out what was missing for me, and it had been right in front of me from the inception of my journey into tenkara.

I had drifted away from the traditional form of tenkara and the “One Fly” concept that I had started with. While perusing the internet one evening, I found a number of videos of Dr. Hisao Ishigaki, a pioneer in tenkara in Japan, using a single pattern and catching fish on virtually every cast. Seeing these videos struck a chord with me and turned on a light bulb and made me realize what I was missing.

The use of one fly pattern as my “go to” pattern was exactly what was missing from my tenkara practice and I made a decision to return to this concept again. Well, I did as I said I would, jumping whole-heartedly into this concept that had so alluded me in the beginning. All you need to do is follow the link to see what happened on that foray into the “One Fly” concept.

For your enjoyment, and maybe a laugh or two, I re-present, TenkaraGrasshopper’s Failed Attempt At The Tenkara “One Fly” Theory.

Well, having reread this post myself a few days ago, I came to a decision that I wanted to get back to this concept, not just for myself but also for those individuals who would become clients or were past clients of mine, as I am a member of the Tenkara Guide Network™ created and maintained by Tenkara USA.

Because of this revelation, I, Graham Moran aka TenkaraGrasshopper. will return to my original roots as a true tenkara grasshopper and focus my efforts on following the concept of the “One Fly” in my angling. I am still trying to decide what the kebari pattern of choice will be, although I have more than a few Ishigaki Kebari patterns tied up and filling one or two fly boxes as it stands, so you will probably find a fair share of them either stuck between two rocks or even in branches of many trees lining the streams found in Colorado.

I would be more than pleased to get suggestions on what you would use as your “go to One Fly” while fishing tenkara.

I will be keep you updated on my progress or lack thereof, since I have little to no patience, although it seems to be growing in small increments daily.

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2 Comments so far

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  1. KamakiriTenkara
    #1 KamakiriTenkara 25 October, 2017, 01:25

    So far, no matter where I have fished it, my Trusty Rusty Biot Body Kebari has always produced for me. It fits the average bug profile. Brown and black. Coat the biot with some UV and you can fish it all day long. Have you found a one fly pattern since you wrote this article?

    Reply this comment
    • Graham Moran
      Graham Moran Author 25 October, 2017, 09:18


      I have heard great things about the Trusty Rusty Biot Body Kebari. Some random guy I went fishing with once told me about it. As to whether I have found one kebari pattern that is my go to….well let me say this much I have a few patterns that I depend on. It is much more dependent on where I am fishing and the reactions of the fish in these locations to my pattern selection. I have my places where I know one pattern performs above and beyond others consistently.

      I want to thank you for commenting as I might need to do a third revisit of the “One Fly” theory.

      Reply this comment

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