1. Fly-fishing Simplicity. Using the fewest elements necessary to achieve what is desired and having few elements to worry about or to distract one from the pleasures of fishing is something many strive for. The simplicity of tenkara fly-fishing goes way beyond the idea of using only a rod, line and fly, it’s a philosophy that is embraced by many who try to get away from the superfluous or encumbering nature of multiple options and the ever heavier fishing vest.
2. Effectiveness. In Japan it’s said that tenkara outfishes western fly-fishing 5-1. We have found this to be true on any small-mountain stream we have fished, and would like to leave the verdict open for your judgment. Just think about all the situations where you wish you could control the fly a bit better, or reach a bit further, or simply not spook the wary fish…There are many places where you’ll find tenkara will certainly outfish western fly-fishing 5-1.
3. Reach with no mending. With a tenkara rod, anglers can do what no western fly-rod allows – keep a fly on that pool right on the other side of a current…drag free. Using a rod 3 – 5 ft longer gives anglers a lot of control over the fly. In many streams it’s a nice feature, in many others it’s a necessity. Longer rods provide much more versatility and less problems than one may think. Historian and author Andrew Herd writes about tenkara, and then about fixed-line fishing which is still practiced in many countries in his book “The Fly”, “The long rod brings several advantages which are sacrificed by those using shorter ones: much better line control and the lack of any need to false cast being but two. An anglers with a long rod can laugh at cross currents, since he can lift the fly across them and with practice it is possible to drop the fly right on the head of the fish in a way which can’t be managed with a shorter rod. … the long trout rod was a clear favourite for many centuries; while it may look odd to our eyes, our forefathers had very good reasons for sticking with it.”
4. Reach without spooking. Tenkara is the method that allows you to get closest to the fish without spooking them. Perhaps because a tenkara angler will be more aware of his surrounding and focused on not spooking the fish, or perhaps because there is no false-casting shadows, no dropping a heavy line on the water, no noisy pick-up, no spray…. It does put a premium on the angler’s stalking ability, but allows the angler to get closer than ever.
5. Sensitivity. The fly is connected to you. Line attached directly to the tip of the rod, no guides to pass through, not even a loop at the tip of the rod, combined with high-grade carbon fibers, ensures every vibration goes right to your sensory nerves. The subtlest fish takes, the rocks on the river bottom, and the struggling vibrations of a 6 incher all mean a more exciting fishing experience.
6. Ultra-light weight. The ultra-light weight is not all tenkara is about, but it sure is nice. Adding to the idea of simplicity, tenkara allows an angler to remove the reel and fly-line, put the rod on his backpack and … go further. It weighs very little and removes the heavier and very often unecessary elements – the reel, and large amount of fly-line.
7. Portability. No need for a case, tip protected inside the rod, 12 ft rod that collapses down to a mere 20 inches. It’s hard to beat that. Many have tried, 7-piece rods abound, none has reached the uncompromising and effective design of a tenkara rod. This portability and protection of the rod tip are nothing new, but in a time when we need or simply want to go further, this sure comes in handy.
8. Easy to do, and a lifetime to master. Focused on technique, not as much on gear, tenkara is the perfect way to pay attention to what really matters: fishing, and master the most essential part of fly-fishing: presentation. Tenkara gives anglers an easy way to enjoy the sport of fly-fishing, while also giving them something to truly enjoy and work on for years to come.
9. Specialized small-stream angling. Tenkara is THE method for fly-fishing small streams. Particularly in small mountain streams with faster water and pools. Tenkara is nothing new and it is not a new “00-wt rod”, which is fundamentally little different from a soft 4-wt rod. It’s made for small streams: it allows you to reach further and close it when bush-wacking, cast precisely and without spooking fish, get closer and hike further, sense more and carry less, and catch more fish.
10. Why not? Before I tried a fishing lure for the first time I scoffed at friends who used them and wondered why I would try it, my bait worked well. Before I tried fly-fishing for the first time I thought, “why would I try this? It looks too complicated and my lure works well”. Every step of the way in my fishing years I have hesitated and later switched with no regret, and I finally fell comfortable with a fishing style that really suits me and is all that I have ever looked for.
What reasons have you found? What has appealed to you the most?