I was lucky enough to get introduced to Tenkara this last weekend by the owner of Tenkara USA, Daniel Galhardo (www.tenkarausa.com). Daniel brought 3 rods and a box of flies in a small bag and we went fishing. The rods are telescopic and don’t need a carrying case, so it makes it very easy to have multiple rods with you. Daniel has a lifetime of experience catching fish with a variety of tackle and technique. He has narrowed down his fishing to the simplest form, a pole, some line and a selection of 4 flies total. His flies are all very similar, a thread wrapped body with some hackle, maybe some peacock – in 4 different sizes.
Boulder Creek is a perfect spot for a Tenkara rod as the fish are mostly small and aggressive, and the rod is long enough to fish both sides of the creek without getting your feet wet. We started at a little pool and within the first couple casts Daniel put one on. He handed me the rod and it was my turn. I started with a roll cast, trying not to put my first cast into a tree, and noticed it was fairly easy to maneuver the 13′ rod with a 13′ leader. It helped to crouch down lower to the water to help open up the amount of space between the water and the tree canopy.
When working the fly I felt naked without holding onto some line, watching an indicator, or stripping a streamer, but immediately realized the simplicity and versatility available. Having one barbless fly on the line and no reel, the rod immediately becomes an extension of your body. The fly is an expression of insect character and personality rather than image. The fly can take on an expression of fear, skating across the water with frantic movements. It can show weakness by trying to escape the water, but continuously being submerged to the point of drowning and slipping down river into the darkness. My personal favorite was a little bit of dancing, getting jiggy with the fly by jigging it vertically within the water column that I found hold the most aggressive fish.
I think it took about 5 casts to put a fish on the line. The fight of the fish brought me right into a flashback of childhood. I remember fishing with my grandma, sitting on turned over paint buckets with cane poles, a string of line with a hook and a worm, bobber fishing for bluegills. Have I come so far that I am now back to the beginning again? I brought the fish in, slipped it off my line and turned a new page in my ever changing passion to connect with a world that lives underwater.
If you haven’t tried this ancient art of fishing, give it a try. I would describe it as a combination of micro-streamer fishing, czech nymphing, strait-line nymphing, and dry fly fishing…is that all? Maybe a better way of describing it is that it adds another dimension to a sport often described in vertical or horizontal terms. It is so simple. It has made me realize that I have been taking for granted the basic techniques that trigger primal instincts in fish.
Thanks for sharing it with me Daniel,