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TFO's Ronda Webb tries her hand at Tenkara.

Time to Simplify with Tenkara

I have a problem. I have a to-do list and it’s not getting any shorter. At the top of my personal inventory.

Organize Fly-Fishing Stuff

When I started in fly fishing some 30 years ago, I had a box of gear. Now I have an entire room of angling accessories. Rods, reels, waders, boots and fly boxes have created a mountain of clutter. Do I really need all it? No. Does it make me feel better that I have it? Perhaps.

Fly fishing has a lot of cool stuff. And it’s fun to dabble with a different rod every now and then. But, there’s no doubt that I need to simplify.

The essence of Tenkara illustrates this point perfectly. I look like a pack mule when I go fishing. Centuries ago, the Japanese, the inventors of Tenkara, probably used a simple satchel. They caught fish with the essentials.

There’s something to be said for that elegant simplicity. Less is more when it comes to Tenkara. Below are a few reasons why.

Portability

With a traditional fly-fishing setup, you have a rod and a reel, fly line, backing and a leader.

With Tenkara, there’s your rod and, essentially, your leader. And each setup, because of the telescopic aspect of the rod, can be stored in a small sling-pack, backpack, or vest.

If you fish on small streams or have to hike very far, Tenkara can’t be beat for portability. You can set up — and break down — streamside.

You’ll Fish More

Ever dread having to put together your rod when you’re eager to fish after a long week at work? I have.

To me there’s nothing more frustrating than having to assemble a four-piece rod and rig everything before you make the first cast. And if you’re in a hurry, inevitably you will miss threading a guide, which means you will have to re-rig.

With Tenkara, you can set up in a minute, 90 seconds tops. Fewer moving parts means less can go wrong. I like that.

The Drift

Fly-fishing success largely hinges on a line control. Because Tenkara rods extend to 11, 12, 13 feet, it’s ideal for maintaining long, drag-free floats not easily attainable with traditional 9-foot fly rods. Like high-stick nymphing? Tenkara may be the perfect fit for you.

Affordability

Prices vary in the fly-fishing market, but, in general it’s difficult to find a high-quality freshwater setup — rod, reel and fly line — for less than $300, $400. Since you’re not paying for a reel, you can get started in Tenkara for less, in the neighborhood of $200, $250. The TFO Soft Hackle Cutthroat is great for small streams. It breaks down to 20 inches and extends to 8 feet, 6 inches.

You’ll Catch More Fish

Tenkara will improve your overall fishing ability. With traditional fly-fishing, we all crave tighter loops and more distance. Hence, many of us try to reach that streamside brown with a sizzling double haul of a cast. With Tenkara, you quickly learn to art of short casts and stealth. You can catch that same fish, but with different skills.

Any suggestions, comments about Tenkara, feel free to comment on one of our social media pages. Tight lines.