I just got off the South Fork of the Flathead, and besides being able to report that the fishing is justifiably fabled, I think I've finally got a handle on Tenkara and how it works for me.
Since hauling my two-piece Orvis around last year, and experiencing the nuisance that is setting up and breaking down a rod/reel combo multiple times a day, I became very interested in tenkara. I missed out on the first two iterations of the Hane, and took some time to ruminate and research before May rolled around and I got interested in fishing again. Eventually I acquired the Tenkara USA Amago, and have used nothing else this summer. Some thoughts:
-The size, weight, and ease/speed of rigging and derigging makes Tenkara the clear winner for backcountry trips. The Tenkara USA rods are just long enough to be hard to fit in packs. Ryand did his homework making the Hane just that little bit shorter.
-Tenkara is much easier to learn. Another big duh here, but the simplicity is nice for us casual fishermen who don't get out enough to perfect the double haul.
-A sub-point of the above is that Tenkara is perfect for the occasional fisherman. Even on the South Fork, with epic and easy fishing, I just don't care to do it all day. The lightness and compactness of a tenkara kit means that I can bring it along and not feel foolish for only fishing for an hour every evening.
-Tenkara is really fun, especially on small waters. Another duh. I've always found smaller streams and rivers to be more engaging to fish anyway, so I might as well use a good tool for what I like.
-The Amago is a good quiver of one. It isn't the ideal backpacking rod, as the larger extended and collapsed length are less than ideal. However if I only were to have one fly rod period, it would be the Amago. It works just fine on larger western rivers like the Blackfoot.
-The Amago is really fun to catch fish on. The long length and softer action make little fish and big fish very fun to catch and play. The trout below isn't very big, but he had enough fight to have me moving down the bank to avoid a snapped tippet, if I hadn't been able to see him in the crystalline pool the whole time I'd've guessed he was a lot bigger.
So I'm a convert. On the second morning I was eating lunch and drying gear by the White River, full yard sale in effect as the sun had finally come out. A gentlemen and his sun, with external frame packs and big ole western fly rods, came past. The dad surveyed my gear and asked (almost verbatim) "Are you a practitioner of ultralight backpacking?" I didn't really know how to answer the question, and asked why he asked. He pointed to the packraft and tenkara rod as clear signs of clan orthodoxy.
Guilty am I.