Maybe I’ve just been spending too much time at my day job. That’s the only way I can explain why it took me so long to hear about Tenkara.
At the risk of explaining something you already know all about, Tenkara is a form of fly-fishing that’s relatively new to the United States, but it’s been around in Japan for centuries.
It’s a very simple form of fly-fishing. You still have a rod, a line and a fly, but Tenkara doesn’t use a reel. And instead of the line going up the rod and through guides, it’s just tied off to the tip of the rod.
Because you don’t have those guides to mind your line, and since there’s no reel, it sounds like it would be very difficult. On the contrary, people who have started playing around with this Japanese form of fishing say it’s incredibly easy.
Part of the simplicity comes from the fact that you’re not using hundreds of feet of line. You tie on 10 feet, or maybe 20 feet, of line, and that’s all you use. You’re not going to cast into that eddy that’s 50 feet away on the other side of the river, unless you walk out 30 or 40 feet into the current, but then again, do you really need to?
The most essential skill of any version of fly-fishing is the dead drift, and practitioners of Tenkara say the dead drift is easy to achieve. All you have to do is flick the fly out into the water, then follow the fly with the upraised tip of your rod as it drifts. Just like that, you have a dead drift. And it’s that dead drift that gets the attention of hungry fish lurking below the surface.
The problem is, Tenkara enthusiasts say you can’t just tie some modern fly line to the tip of your 6-weight and bang away. For best results, they say, you’ll need a true Tenkara rod and real Tenkara line. Just what I need – another expensive hobby. But if it’s as enjoyable as I hear it is, I might have to try it.