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An Introduction to Simple Fly Fishing
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
An Introduction to Simple Fly Fishing on 04/22/2014 17:39:00 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

An Introduction to Simple Fly Fishing

Matthew Perry
(bigfoot2) - F

Locale: Oregon
An Introduction to Simple Fly Fishing on 04/23/2014 11:31:27 MDT Print View

Very good article on Tenkara!
I stopped into my local fly fishing shop here in Eugene, Oregon, yesterday, on the off chance that they might be carrying Tenkara gear. Of course they did not. I asked the owner why they did not stock any supplies for Tenkara and was told that he believes it's just a fad/flash in the pan. When pressed further, the real reason came out...he just cannot understand how one lands a fish with Tenkara. LOL. No reel, no way to land the fish, i guess. He was flabbergasted by the sheer simplicity of it. I tried to explain how simple it was (hand over hand,direct the fish to you, or just back up onto the bank), and he had a deer in the headlights look on his face. He was unwilling to concede that his traditional way of fly fishing was anything but superior to Tenkara. I just could not change his mind. It's the way he learned to fly fish and it is the only way. Period. The look he gave me is the very look I get when talking with clerks at REI about lightweight backpacking gear and techniques. Gear snobs are the same, no matter what the sport.

Edited by bigfoot2 on 04/23/2014 12:11:32 MDT.

Cargill Henderson
(cJNz) - M
Thankyou. on 04/23/2014 17:49:40 MDT Print View

Fantastic article. Just looking at how to get set up to go fishing in some of the NZ backcountry streams and Tenkara is getting a serious look in as a simple way to get started.

So far, my impression so far is less gear, more technique, same number/quality of fish which appeals.

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - F

Locale: Colorado
Tenkara, Patagucci style on 04/23/2014 18:27:37 MDT Print View

Fly fishing, with all its "rules" and equipment, had as much appeal to me as golf. That is until I learned about Tenkara through Daniel Galhardo, credited with bringing this variant to North America. It is a liberating style of fishing, suited particularly to catching moderately sized trout from mountain streams, using minimal equipment. That works for me when I'm backpacking.

This "article" is an extract of the introduction from the book that Patagonia published to accompany the launch of their brand of Tenkara rods. Buy one of their sets, and you get the book. As a book introduction, it's OK, but it doesn't add anything to what's already in the public domain on this topic. As a subscriber-only weekly article on BPL, it's on par with the disappointing content we've been subjected to lately. Come on Ryan, it's been too long since we've had anything of substance. Your subscribers deserve better than this puff piece.

Glenn S

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Re: Tenkara, Patagucci style on 04/23/2014 18:47:26 MDT Print View

While most of this article is included in the "look inside" preview on Amazon for the book, and this article seems more like a book promo, it is still just a free article and not part of the member-only content, so no foul from me.

I enjoyed reading it, and it even got me out in the yard playing with my $5 Tenkara knockoff toy. The article is catagorized as "trends", but since it's a book preview, more book review would have been more fun to read perhaps.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Tenkara Article on 04/23/2014 18:50:27 MDT Print View

Stuart - hopefully the article will provide some inspiration to others here, even if it can't find value for all. We'll be incorporating a number of book chapters in our upcoming publication schedule, they'll be valuable to some, and perhaps less so to others. I'm going to try to solicit some original content from the book authors as companion introductions targeted specifically to the BPL community. In addition, we hope that providing actual content from a book, rather than a biased review designed to drive affiliate book sales, more accurately promotes the book by offering you a sample of their writing style. In addition, we'll generally make book excerpts public so we can help increase awareness of the author.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: Tenkara, Patagucci style on 04/23/2014 18:55:55 MDT Print View

@Glenn - thank you, excellent feedback. We'll try to offer more unique content not available elsewhere as we move forward publishing book excerpts.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: An Introduction to Simple Fly Fishing on 04/23/2014 20:18:08 MDT Print View

I enjoyed this, both for the content and for seeing an article written by Chouinard here. Will probably buy the book now.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: An Introduction to Simple Fly Fishing on 04/23/2014 20:23:55 MDT Print View

Neat except with some philosophy to boot. A fly-fishing buddy of mine mentioned cheap gear rom a discount retailer (yeah, that one) is how he started newbies (though he could afford a pretty expensive rig, himself).

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Liked it, and I don't eat fish on 04/23/2014 20:53:14 MDT Print View

I liked this book excerpt, and I don't eat fish. Yvon's a good writer, and his "simplicity" and "less gear, more skill" messages are very much in line with BPL core values.

Maybe if I'd been introduced to tenkara when I was young, instead of struggling with rods and reels and tangles and ... I might have enjoyed fishing.

-- Rex

(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
Re: Tenkara Article on 04/23/2014 23:27:29 MDT Print View


This is great news. Looking forward to more like this. I was pleasantly surprised to see the book excerpted here.

Joshua Billings
(Joshua) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz,Ca
No love for the reel. on 04/23/2014 23:34:57 MDT Print View

Now I can appreciate all the tenkara stuff but a light weight fly rod and reel is also really fun. It's not this hugely complicated thing and I would argue that you can cast farther in lakes though I don't really know much about tenkara. A light weight reel with line is like 3 or 4 ozs only. Perhaps a reel also makes it easier to bring in fish in a stream too because you don't have back pedal or anything like that. I hope y'all have fun with your sticks and string. Just messing. Good night.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: No love for the reel. on 04/24/2014 19:02:10 MDT Print View

Interesting excerpt, though I would have preferred more than this snippet here. I too look forward to more from Yvon's book, so here's hoping that Ryan can make that happen.

Though, I have to take issue with Ryan's initial comparison: "Tenkara fly fishing is to fly fishing as ultralight backpacking is to backpacking."

That, in my limited opinion, is an overstatement. I don't disagree fully, but I think the comparison is more apt between tenkara and SUL backpacking. You can catch fish--and often lots of them--with tenkara, but the conditions in which that's possible are more limited. The comparison between UL backpacking to fly fishing would be with a minimalist set-up limited to 12-16 oz. of gear--minimalist but without a significant loss of function in a wider variety of conditions.

I've spent a lot of time fishing tenkara over the last year, many of them the very same Montana waters that Ryan touts its use for. I really enjoyed it too. But I'm not giving up my classic Western style of fishing. I found tenkara too limiting on open Western rivers. There were a lot of fish I didn't catch because the simplicity was too limiting in those circumstances.

Scott Truong

Locale: Vancouver, BC
RE: An Introduction to Simple Fly Fishing on 04/24/2014 22:09:48 MDT Print View

Clayton and Joshua have good points. I love having a reel, casting, stripping etc.. lots of fun.

Yvon is right in that you're more likely to love fishing if you actually catch something, especially in the beginning. So do whatever it takes to get you on the water.

For me that means versatility and I personally prefer a western set-up.

I understand about the intimidating thing with lines etc, but it really isn't that bad. And fisherpeople love to talk about fishing so just ask.

I mainly float/gear fish for steelhead and salmon. I also mainly use jigs I tie, and like tieing your own flies (except way easier), is highly satisfying....but I can also cast across the river, use blades under a float... and yes..gasp..even cured roe to catch fish with my gear setup.

One day I may be such a top rod that using anything but "flies" is just too darn easy, but that won't be anytime soon.

Fishing simply can be achieved no matter what style you utilize. UL spin set-up and a bubble float likely also works really really well.

Whatever it takes to get tight lines.

Glenn S

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Re: RE: An Introduction to Simple Fly Fishing on 04/25/2014 03:39:51 MDT Print View

I'm totally new to Tenkara, but even when I'd bring my collapsible spinning setup, I didn't really view it as hard core fishing gear. I guess if I had to cross-categorize it, I'd relate it to something along the lines of a point and shoot camera. I might get a good picture opportunity, I might not, but I want it along with for when those chances might arise. It's not like I'm a pro photographer, where I'd want some real gear.

I guess I view this Tenkara thing the same way. Sure, some people get into it pretty heavy, as an art unto itself, but for me, it's just a couple ounces of take along fun that I'd love to have if the opportunity seems right. So something so light and simplistic really fits the bill.


James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
An Introduction to Simple Fly Fishing on 04/25/2014 05:46:23 MDT Print View

A good piece! Yeah tenkara style fishing is not rocket science. Nor does it work well as lake fishing gear, It doesn't work well on tidal flats. Nor does it work well on larger rivers and in larger pools where casting distance means a lot. In small creeks it works as well as any. In pocket water, it works as well as any. It is a style and a technique to fly fishing that is different enough to simply give it it's own name.

Like nymph fishing with sink tip lines and shorter leaders, it works well. It is not the delicate presentation of a 2wt fly line with a size 16 dry, though. Nor is it a fast moving streamer through a stream with a 9wt rod. There are times that lifting a huge steelhead on a size 10 wet can be as much challenge as nailing a 14" brown on a size 22 midge.

They are all different styles, with tenkara being especially well suited to backpacking: simplicity, weight, and choice of flies.

I have broken a reel while out, cut 10 yard of line off and tied it to the but of the rod. This is akin to tenkara fishing. A good half my fish are nailed within 15-30 feet of where I choose my stance. Again, this is kin to tenkara fishing. Confusing the issue of tenkara fishing with "western" style or fishing the Beaverkill is nonsensical.

I try to fish the conditions of the water, not let the fishing dictate the water I can fish. The tenkara rigs have limitatons in the size of fish, the distance they cast, the odd twist of the leader/line, and the choice of fly you fish with. They are second to none on a small rocky stream, though.

Thanks for a good article! I will be looking for the book...

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Fly Fishing on 04/25/2014 14:21:56 MDT Print View

Just another perspective...

I came to fly fishing by a different route than most. I bought a tenkara setup and used that a bit near home. It was fun and I caught fish. I took it along when I was going to hike the JMT. It seemed like a slam dunk. Then on the drive out west from the east coast, on an impulse, I bought a 4 wt fly outfit from Cabelas. It was an inexpensive setup and half price to boot.

On the way there I stopped and fished with it a bit. I caught some trout and was hooked. The tenkara stayed in the car and the fly rod and reel went on the trip. For me it was just more fun. I caught lots of fish and had a lot of fun.

It was heavier, but not all that much. I still had a lighter load than any of the backpackers that I met with the only exception being a couple runners and speed hikers looking to break a record or training to do that.

As far as having something to take along "just in case", I wouldn't bother if that were the case. If I didn't plan to definitely fish I would take neither tenkara nor a western setup. Besides my trips are mostly out of state and the license is usually expensive enough that it would be crazy to buy just in case.

I may not have all of the right technique, but I picked it up right away and was catching fish as soon as I managed a couple decent casts. That took maybe 10 minutes.

I am not knocking tenkara, but I found that even though I came to fly fishing via tenkara, I prefer a western setup.

Edited by staehpj1 on 04/25/2014 14:23:48 MDT.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
TenkaraUSA Guide Service on Patagonia Tenkara on 04/25/2014 17:14:05 MDT Print View

Here's an intriguing post by a Colorado fly shop on the new book and Patagonia tenkara line. Interestingly, the guide shop not only carries tenkara gear, but they are also certified by TenkaraUSA.

Thus, the excerpt:

Upon further review of Patagonia’s approach to tenkara, even more statements make us wonder what is Patagonia really saying. With descriptions like “This book reveals that the best way to catch trout is simply, with a rod and a fly and not much else”, is Chouinard saying that you also do not need his $600 waders? or his $450 SST Jacket? Should we all skip high end fly fishing gear in its entirety and just go to Walmart to get set up with simple gear and advice on regional conditions? You would spend a lot less money, pick out your own gear without the hindrance of any advise and have a more simple experience – right?

It only gets more interesting from there.

EDIT: Got the link right that time.

Edited by GlacierRambler on 04/25/2014 17:16:11 MDT.

Mark Krotine
(mkrotine) - M
An Introduction to Simple Fly Fishing on 04/25/2014 17:30:00 MDT Print View

When I got into ultralight backpacking, I happened to discover tenkara rods while searching for a light-weight tube to protect my 1-weight western fly rod from breakage. After I purchased a tenkara rod, I was able to reduce my total packed fishing gear weight from about 28 ounces to just under 4 ounces (including my fishing license!) and I found tenkara fishing simple, refreshing, and liberating. I almost always now carry a tenkara rod on my ultralight backpacking trips and enjoy fishing during my hike or after I've setup camp each evening.

I especially like the following quote from this article ...a sporting endeavor is finalized and mastered “not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away,”. This is the essence of ultralight backpacking.

There are certainly situations where spinning and western fly rods excel over a tenkara rod - for example, spinning and western fly rods allow the user to cast further out and enable one to fish large, deep high-country lakes. However, the tenkara rod is a great tradeoff for the ultralight backpacker and I plan to carry a tenkara rod on future backpacking trips. After all, the common goal is to go light on our journeys.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Tenkara Limits on 04/26/2014 13:12:46 MDT Print View

" I found tenkara too limiting on open Western rivers. There were a lot of fish I didn't catch because the simplicity was too limiting in those circumstances."

I haven't fished Montana, yet.

But in 3 hours at the Lee's Ferry "Boulder Field" on the Colorado River, running about 8,000 cfs, I caught and released 50 fish. (About 10 of those were LDR's.) Most were around 12", but there were a number of 14+'s and a fat 17".

Big fish in fast water Are a challenge with tenkara, but not impossible. My home waters are steep and fast, and the average fish is 14". Last year I had a string of 13 days with over 20 fish, and 5 of those days went over 30.

Not bragging here, just saying that the "limits" of tenkara might be less than you would imagine.

Edited by greg23 on 04/26/2014 14:46:27 MDT.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Re: Tenkara Limits on 04/26/2014 22:11:32 MDT Print View

"Not bragging here, just saying that the "limits" of tenkara might be less than you would imagine."

Fair enough. All I can speak to are the waters that I fish regularly in NW Montana (and occasionally elsewhere in the state) year-round.

EDIT TO ADD: This also includes the rest of the Northern Rockies, which I try to travel around as much as I can in the summer months.

Edited by GlacierRambler on 04/26/2014 22:18:14 MDT.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Weight on 04/27/2014 04:06:42 MDT Print View

"After I purchased a tenkara rod, I was able to reduce my total packed fishing gear weight from about 28 ounces to just under 4 ounces (including my fishing license!) and I found tenkara fishing simple, refreshing, and liberating"

That really does not sound like a fair comparison. You had to trim a lot more than just going to a tenkara rod make that much difference. When I, on a whim at the last minute on the drive to the Sierras last year, went from my tenkara rod to 4 Wt setup the total packed weight went from about 4 ounces to a bit over 8 ounces. A lighter western rod and reel would make the difference even less. I'd be curious what items added up to a 24 ounce difference.

To my way of thinking, the difference only has to be the difference in the rod, reel, backing. and line. Anything else you could get by with the same stuff as you use with tenkara.

I supposed if you go with a heavy case that could constitute a bit of weight, but it would have to be pretty heavy to add up to the weight you quoted. I'd consider taking the cloth sleeve that came with my rod reel combo, but figure it is optional and I forget the exact weight, but I think it was about 2 ounces and maybe less. So even with that option it is only about a 6 ounce difference.

I am not saying that tenkara doesn't save weight or that it isn't a fine choice for lots of folks, but I think the weight savings get exaggerated. If you make the switch because you prefer the simpler approach that is great. If you make the switch because you can save 4 ounces or so that is great too. But I need to be convinced that you can reasonably save 24 ounces merely by switching to tenkara.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: Tenkara limits on 04/27/2014 09:04:52 MDT Print View

I've fished quite a few lakes with a tenkara rod with good success. Some times the fish are far out and my friend's spinner rod only catches fish. Other times there are lots of fish near the shore and the spinner rod misses these because it is focused on fishing farther away. I enjoy both styles and they compliment each other well - at least one of us usually catches something.

Tenkara will always be lighter by a few ounces or more. But I suspect the weight difference matters little to those who enjoy fishing. I usually don't hike as far when fishing anyway.

Adam Klagsbrun
(klags) - MLife

Locale: Northeast US
So convince yourself... on 04/27/2014 09:12:46 MDT Print View

Steve, you say: "But I need to be convinced that you can reasonably save 24 ounces merely by switching to tenkara." Why? Because your traditional setup was lighter? The point isn't just to save weight... and no, you don't need to be convinced that someone CAN save 24 ounces on a fly setup... you need to accept that some people carry that much fishing gear than you, whether you do so or not. And more importantly, I'd like to point out that people regularly spend hundreds of dollars to shave 4-8 ounces off their pack... so your point just doesn't really matter here, since most people on this site are looking to knock weight off their packs, in ANY way... this is a great place to at least NOT add weight to your pack, FYI.

It sounds like you are just saying you like traditional fly fishing more, which is fine, but you shouldn't take an angle of argument that second guesses the tenkara setup's weight-saving value, because your argument doesn't fit here. Let me explain why - you are comparing a 4 weight western fly rod setup to a tenkara setup. Your rod is shorter, potentially lighter weight, and arguably won't catch fish as big as a longer and much more bendy tenkara rod. Your setup is heavier because you are carrying an arguably useles metal block - the reel. I know from experience because I fish both styles too. Frankly I think you are just being defensive of your preference, which isn't really helpful in the forums. People know they can buy a lightweight kit and fish traditionally. You continue to ignore the minimalist benefits, as well as the benefits in fishing. As someone who regularly fishes both tenkara and traditional fly setups, I get 2 hits on my tenkara setup to every one hit on the western setup. Sure, I'm no pro-guide, but I've been fishing for 15 years and learning every day. Tenkara is just a better way to catch fish. It may not be everyone's favorite way, and it may not be the most popular, but it is absolutely not arguable on the rate of catching fish for an average angler. I'm glad you do like your western setup, but try catching an 18 inch fighting trout on your 4 weight setup in a small mountain river... a 12-13 foot tenkara rod would make that way easier. The tenkara rods catch bigger fish compared to their weight than traditional rods do, unless you're fishing a HUGE river and can run however much line off your reel as you see fit.

Keegan D

Locale: Bay Area
Tenkara classes on 05/05/2014 14:07:56 MDT Print View

I would love to add Tenkara fishing to my backpacking experience but I'm kind of afraid to just buy a rod and try it on my own.

It sounds like a lot of backpackers get into it by seeing their backpacking partners bring a rod along on a trip and unfortunately I don't know anyone that is a Tenkara fisherman.

So I was wondering if there are any classes or tutorials in the Bay area region that I can attend. I know there are videos and articles online but I think the best way for me to get into it would be to have an in person demonstration.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Tenkara classes on 05/05/2014 14:28:19 MDT Print View

"I would love to add Tenkara fishing to my backpacking experience but I'm kind of afraid to just buy a rod and try it on my own."

Don't be. That's exactly what I did, though I did watch a few youtube videos. I hadn't fly fished since I was 15, and that was with (and for) very heavy stuff in Salt Water, so opposite end of the spectrum. "Tenkara Classes" might be a bit of an oxymoron, though there is a chance of them being fun I guess. I'd say get the rod, a level line, some tippet, and a few flies and then just do it. It you aren't able to do a decent presentation with a Tenkara rod with 1/2 hours practice I will eat my nippers. After that its not that much about the pure mechanics, but what you do with it. Beyond the techniques to actually catch specific fish in certain areas, the actual Tenkara-specific parts are pretty rudimentary, and I would try it first for a while before worrying about whether you are doing it "right". But there is one caveat some people have made - that if you are already a serious flyfisherman you may need to UNLEARN some stuff. LOL

Edited by millonas on 05/05/2014 14:37:19 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Tenkara classes on 05/05/2014 14:50:54 MDT Print View

"So I was wondering if there are any classes or tutorials in the Bay area region that I can attend."

Post that question on the Forums . Chances are good you can find someone to go out with.

That said... if you already fish - know where to find them and how to trick them - you can learn all you need to know from the TUSA site about rigging, casting, and flys.

If you Don't fish and you need to learn about fish behavior, holds, etc., start with the Curtis Creek Manifesto and ignore the advise about "smart fish" and the need for a gazillion flys, and read it before seeking classes.

Learning how to find fish is Way more difficult than learning a technique like tenkara. There is a program in Seattle where they take middle school kids to a "fish rich" spot, hand them a tenkara rod, and say "Do it." Almost every kid catches a fish.

And if you are interested in learning traditional tenkara, don't bother ordering "Simple Fly Fishing". That book should be titled "Yvon's Technique of Fishing".

Edited by greg23 on 05/05/2014 15:00:30 MDT.