Since introducing tenkara to the US one of the most common questions we have received or read on forums regards landing, and safely landing fish with a tenkara rod. If we had a dime for everytime someone says, “how do you land a fish if you have no reel?” Not only is landing a fish with a tenkara rod more intuitive than you think, but it’s also the best way to SAFELY play and land a fish before releasing it, read on…
The first question, “how do you land a fish?, has been a bit baffling to me, perhaps because my first method of fishing was the good “cane-pole”, and I also never had a “lesson” to land a fish with a western fly-rod, but to me landing a fish has always seemed much more intuitive with a tenkara rod. Remember all the fish you have caught using a reel? Yes, you may get the fish slightly closer to you, but you don’t reel the fish all the way in. You reel in, or strip in so much line, until the line is about the same length as the rod, then grab the line or fish or net the fish. Guess what, it’s the exact same motion!
For example, I just received this video in my junk mail folder today:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7A1I01j8_vI (see at around 0:40)
Now, see this (example of landing a larger fish using line longer than rod):
Landing fish with a tenkara rod
* One ironic note, in searching for fly-fishing videos for examples of landing fish I ran across this Orvis fly-fishing lesson series on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcaTedAq … re=related), and…there is no lesson dedicated to teaching how to land a fish! But, somehow we have managed…well, kind of…
The best way to practice C&R
Other times people may have watched some videos of tenkara in Japan and assumed that landing a fish with a tenkara rod involves letting the fish hit rocks, therefore injuring the fish. This could not be further from the truth. I’m a sport angler and I would NOT be doing tenkara if that was the case. In the end, it’s the user who decides how to handle the fish, but I know I have never let a fish flop on rocks to land it, and have never seen the need to do it with tenkara, even if my intent was to later eat it for dinner. If anything, tenkara is the best method to safely release a fish, and the best way to practice C&R. By using a short line, and not letting the 12″ trout “run”, you are allowing the fish to save considerable amount of energy and stress. By quickly landing a fish, you’re greatly increasing its chances for survival.
I can’t say how many times I have seen people play a fish to death when using a reel… a 12″ trout that did not need to take any line, but would be let free to run, just to be reeled closer and and then let run again for the “pleasure” of the angler; once netted the angler would then try to “revive” the trout for release…the trout wouldn’t dart off, so he would push it back and forth, and after a minute he just pushed it foward! Yes, the trout would swim a little, but I know its chances of survival were grim.
As many have said, if not practiced properly, C&R is only nice in theory. In tenkara one can quickly bring the fish in and release it. I like that part about it.