Tenkara has been in North America now for approximately 10 years now. Every day an inspiring or experienced tenkara angler can find more and more information concerning our pastime. However, if you have not yet taken the plunge, you may be asking yourself why? That question means different things to different people.
Some practitioners of tenkara have the opinion that it’s all or nothing. That somehow using western gear on occasion is admitting a type of defeat in the tenkara world. No such thing could be further from the truth! A tenkara rod makes an excellent companion to western gear. Most Anglers would never use a 10 weight fly rod when a 5 weight is the right tool. The same philosophy goes for tenkara. Why use more then what you need? Why have less fun doing it? The compact size of a complete tenkara outfit allows it to be an “extra” on any anglers outing. Where you can use it instead of western gear you will absolutely want to, trust us.
Why, you may ask yourself? Why will I want to use it instead of my western rod? The short answer is to catch more fish. Tenkara techniques allows the fly to be in the water much longer. Tenkara anglers spend less time false casting, and are able to achieve much longer drifts. As a result, tenkara offers a great advantage in getting your fly in front of more fish. Most tenkara lines have a much lower profile then a traditional PVC fly line. Much of that line is also kept off the water. The combination between materials and techniques used, allow the angler to potentialy spook less fish. There is also no need for an indicator. The tight line techniques of tenkara allows you to see the most subtle takes by simply observing your line. With pressured fish, in crystal clear waters, this can offer an advantage against wary fish. That same tight line technique allows you to directly manipulate your fly in the water column, placing the fly exactly where the fish are holding. All factors combined,the presentations can be more subtle and natural then anything western fly gear can provide. Feedback from anglers that have done both styles frequently state they have more success when they use tenkara. Simplicity of the gear allows for greater focus. Focus allows greater success. The question isn’t why, but why not?
A pocket full of fly's, and a tenkara rod, was all that was needed for a nice few hours catching plenty of trout on this stream.
As mentioned, tenkara is very compact and simple. Why does this matter? Much has been discussed on how it’s the perfect companion to backpackers, mountain bike enthusiast and so on. It also makes the perfect companion in other outdoor activities such as hunting. In just a few seconds you can be on the water during that mid-day lull. You can also have the rod quickly back in your pack when that Elk finally bugles across the valley! In fact, some of our rods even fit perfectly in a bow mounted quiver! A tenkara rod is also the perfect companion for others that are limited by space in their everyday life. Apartment dwellers, van life enthusiast, RV travelers can all have tenkara gear with them and ready without taking up hardly any space.
Tenkara is simply substantially more economical. Our rods cost less them many average fly reels. Tenkara fly lines are 1/3 the cost, or more, of traditional fly lines. When you can use a Tenkara rod why would you want to spend more money on western fly gear, that is not nearly as efficient or fun to do the same thing? If you’re a gear head you can explore all the different gear tenkara has to offer much more economically then you can explore western fly gear. We use the savings to have more adventures in the outdoors. There is a reason our company is called Tenkara Adventure Outfitters. Less stress, more adventure!
That bag is what a western fly reel fits in. More then what you need for tenkara fits inside. Literally everything you need in the same space of a fly reel.
Has all the gear removed some of the fun from your fishing adventures? We feel whenever possible it is more fun catching fish on tenkara. The direct connection to the fish allows you to feel every head shake and every subtle change in direction. The process of landing a fish involves the entire body and mind of the angler. You are fully engaged during the whole process. Since tenkara provides a simpler, lighter and more compact package it allows for extended outings on the water without as much hassle or fatigue. Waters in your own backyard feel more vast and wild. Bluegill feel like bass. Bass feel like bone fish! There is a reason our company is named Tenkara Adventure Outfitters. Tenkara invites more adventure into anglers’ lives. Tenkara has a long history in what many consider its birthplace in Japan. Exploring the history and techniques of tenkara is only one fascinating aspect of the sport. All things considered it sounds like more fun to us, and it is!
2 x tippets, 2 x lines, and 2 x fly boxes along with forceps and nippers is what was in the fly reel bag above. Like we said, more then what you need in the same space a fly reel takes up!
Eliminating some of the additional things to manage in western fly fishing is the perfect way to introduce newcomers to fly fishing. Focusing on the basics without having to manage a lot of “extra’s” allows beginners to quickly pick up using a fly to catch fish. Its also the perfect way to introduce kids to fly fishing for the same reasons. The casting range of motion used in tenkara is a lot less then that of traditional fly casting. As a result, individuals with shoulder or arm injuries frequently find it easier to handle a tenkara rod while fishing, and fish longer with it as well.
Even an angler new to tenkara can be into some fish after just a few cast. The dog however may need a little more convincing.
It may sound like that we are in some way discouraging the practice and use of western fly gear. That is positively not the case as we continue to enjoy our western gear when tenkara is not an option. However, we will admit, tenkara is so much fun we frequently find ourselves looking for waters that fit this style of fishing. We also find ourselves utilizing tenkara on species and waters where western fly fishing would be the better tool simply because it is so much fun!
Why tenkara? Why not?