Written by TJ
During my lunch time I enjoy watching fly fishing shows that I have recorded on my DVR. One of those shows is Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming. Often this show has coverage of Project Healing Waters events and the show I watched today included an elderly war veteran that went blind after a car accident 6 years ago. The nice thing about Project Healing Waters is this group helps veterans fly fish even if their accident was not during combat or when they were enlisted. What a great group supporting this noble cause.
As the story unfolds, this blind gentleman greatly enjoyed fly fishing, but after his accident was unable to fish because he no longer has eye sight. The show moved me as I watched this gentleman enter the water with assistance and start fly fishing to catch trout. Must admit a few tears trickled down my cheeks as I saw the smile on this gentleman’s face when he hook set and landed a trout.
After the show I started to think about how tenkara has already been working its way into Project Healing Waters events and many veterans are getting to enjoy fly fishing once again or even for the first time. Not only are they fly fishing and catching fish, but they are doing so despite their disabilities. In the case of the episode aired today, by using all his senses this gentleman did not have to use indicators or anything special to catch fish. As Darth Vader would say, “use your senses Luke.”
Tenkara is a fairly simple way to fly fish and there really is no need to over-analyze or complicate the way we enjoy fishing. I see posts of folks adding floatant to this and that, adding weights to the line, using multiple flies. To me, all these things overcomplicate fly-fishing and tenkara. Why not try to perfect our techniques and use every available sense we have to catch fish? Why not use our senses of touch, sight, taste, smell, and hearing when we tenkara fly fish?
Now I am not telling you to go lick a fish or anything, although I am sure many of us have taken that magic picture of kissing a fish we have caught and you sure know uncooked trout does not taste that good. But… I feel we can work on better using the light touch of a tenkara rod to detect that very slight take when a trout is going after our fly; or work on better using our sight to see the rise of a fish going after or taking your kebari. We can also envision the great taste of a hard-earned fish in that camping trip. And, we can sense the smell of victory after landing that larger-than-expected-trout in our small 9″ net. And, of course, hearing: hear that rise away from where you’re looking, or later hear your own voice telling great fish stories to your buddies around the campfire.
Here is a little exercise I will be trying this 2013 season. I will try to fish closing my eyes for a few casts. I will line myself up at a target, close my eyes, and ever so briefly feel what this gentleman on Fly Rod Chronicles was feeling. I will enjoy feeling a Tenkara USA rod in my hand, using a very soft touch while casting a line, feeling and hearing the rod work for me rather than overpowering the cast, feeling the fly drifting. Hopefully during the drift I will get a strike so I can feel better with my hands and not my eyes a subtle take of the kebari. All this time I will try to listen for the flow of the water to sense how fast the water is and how far the fly should drift. Hopefully my other senses will kick in and help me fish this way for just a little while.
The goal of this blog post is to just make sure you try all your own 5 senses to their full potential before resorting to “add-ons” that supposedly make it “easier” to fish. I would have to say, don’t make it easier with doodads on your rod and line but practice using all your senses instead in hopes you become a better fly fisherman using the very basic tenkara gear.
Soak it all up and make sure to use all your senses while tenkara fly fishing and I am sure you will go home feeling great joy even if the fishing was not great that day. I know I will!