Call me lame or lazy. But, I have walked away from the conventional and the overly complex nuisances of conventional bait fishing and fly fishing for the simplicity of tenkara fishing. It really started when my wife and I were starting our Airstream experiment. I realized that I needed to par down all my fishing equipment to only the essentials that I needed to catch fish. Really, it came down to a lack of storage space.
Like any nerd with excess time on my hands I started doing my research on which rod I was going to start with. Now there are an infinite amount of choices out there from cheap Chinese rods on Amazon to expensive starter kits from what I would consider “hipster” brands found at almost any mom and pop outdoor equipment store. I realized that I didn’t want an American version of a Japanese rod and that I wanted one that was produced domestically in Japan. Call me a stickler for that kind of thing. I eventually discovered http://www.tenkarabum.com. I was sold. He was a guy that is so into this style of fishing he has imported almost every imaginable rod that I could want, all from Japan. The massive variety of the equipment carried on this website is awesome, especially there is some much information from not only Chris but people have used each of these rods. Plus, the photos with each of the rods gave me a good idea of what size of fish it is possible to catch with a particular rod.
I decided on a TenkaraBum 36 and some 3.0 level line. The TenkaraBum series rods are made by a company in Japan and my rod is legit. It casts like a dream. When it arrived I was so excited. I had everything that I needed to make a quick trip to a nearby pond at the Linkhorn Bay Apartments, it didn’t matter that every time that I have fished this pond I have had mediocre luck at best. I was determined and with an ample supply of flies, I was ready to go.
The one thing that sucks about this pond is that it is ringed with trees and brush all around the bank, except for a little fishing dock. You really have to keep it low when casting or else you will just add another decoration to the tree branches above it. It looks like a messed up Christmas tree with a massive assortment of bobbers. It was October and the water was definitely starting to cool off and like always the wind in Virginia Beach is blowing one way or the other. So I could only cast in one direction.
I was rigged up with twelve feet of 3.0 level line and six feet of 4x tippet. The terminal tackle was a size 12 bead head black wooly bugger and a stick on strike indicator. First cast dead easy and accurate, I slow count to ten as I let the bugger sink. I do this about 20 times. Suddenly, I see the strike indicator slip under the water and I feel a strong tug on the line, I lift and set the hook. I really didn’t expect to catch anything on this first outing, I hadn’t thought about the logistics of getting unto the bank. So I did what came naturally and let this guy swim from side to side while putting a little pressure on him by lifting up my rod. The whole time I was worried that he was going to break off my tippet.
As I played him I finally got him close enough to see that I had hooked into a decent little bass, something I had failed to do so many other times with other methods. I got him close to the dock and realized that I needed to walk him around so I could get clear of the four foot rail that runs around this dock. I finally got him on the bank and right then I was sold on tenkara.
I think there is a psychological reason that I got back into flinging bugs, rooted in the peer pressure that I was feeling when all of my friends and family fly fish. I could hear them thinking the question as they would look at the pictures I would send them, “Did you catch that on the fly?”. Maybe that isn’t what they were thinking at all, who knows? I guess subconsciously I would think that somehow bait chucking was somehow taking the easy road.
For the last year I was caught up in the pursuit of catching carp using the UK style, which can basically be described as “bait and wait”. Did I catch enormous fish? Yes. Was I bored to death? Yes. So as the winter rains in Tidewater gave way to spring I got back out there for another session. After an hour I got my first carp of the season. After this session, I realized that my heart wasn’t into this method of fishing anymore it was time to move on.
So as my season starts up, I am only going to fish tenkara and see where it takes me. Above all I just don’t want to be bored while I am fishing. I like the simplicity of rod, line and fly. It doesn’t get any easier than that.