Tenkara. Fly fishing for hipsters?


I’ve spent my share of hours stream-side unraveling some bizarrely vexing tangle of fly line, wondering how in hell three figure-eight on a bight knots managed to coalesce around some low-hanging branch which I was sure wasn’t there on my approach.

So I get it, fly fishing can be frustrating. But like so many other outdoor pursuits, it can’t be enjoyed without a little agony. And certainly not without a learning curve.

I admit to being enticed at the prospect of this old-school-but-now-new-school form of fly casting called Tenkara. Apparently it’s Japanese and they’ve been doing it since whenever trout were invented.

Proponents of Tenkara¬†claim it takes almost no time to learn and avoids all the hassles like line set-up and selection and eliminates the use of a reel while requiring very little traditional casting skills. That’s fine. I’m all for easy.

But is the reward as valuable?

With this new approach to simplicity at the fishing hole, how soon will other essentials, like stream reading, fly selection and presentation be neglected? Will Tenkara’s lack of a learning curve lead to crowded river banks and clumsy fishing ethics?


Or maybe I’m over-thinking it.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with a few more people enjoying the purest way to catch a fish, or learning to identify with that sudden surge of gut-funneled electricity that pulses with every prospect of a hit. It’s what keeps us in the water and the fly rod in the trunk.

I hope I’m wrong about Tenkara. It seems pretty fun.

But I’m still putting my foot down on fedoras. That’s no place to hook a fly.

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