From Heaven?

Confessions of a reluctant Tenkari. Part one.

Actually I don’t even know if Tenkari is a word, as you will see there is a lot I don’t know and just when I thought I had fly fishing taped. Although I have learned that Tenkara means “From Heaven”, right now I am not sure if it is from heaven or hell.

I was recently given a Tenkara outfit for my birthday from a most generous benefactor and have been thrust into a world of uncommon discomfort as a result. Fly Fishing is something that I understand, hell I am actually quite good at it and have the gist of AFTMA numbers, line control, leader construction and a zillion different ways to rig flies avoid drag and play fish. Now I am looking at this admittedly exquisite piece of telescoping equipment and I am at a complete loss. Well out of my comfort zone and struggling to make sense of it all.  I can hear my old corporate colleagues suggesting that I require a “paradigm shift”, but then they are the same people who drove me to escape into a world of fishing in the first place, after a healthy dose of psychotherapy,  so what the hell do they know?

I have skipped briefly through the instructional manual “Tenkara” which seems to have a lot of Zen Buddist, “it is so simple, so pure, so minimalistic” types of information , a few knots and rigging tips  and the entirely useless comment that the author prefers lightweight foam fly-boxes within it, but not a lot that I can sink my teeth into. I mean how am I going to land a big fish with no reel, what am I supposed to do with this piece of line that feels like baling wire to me, and why on earth is the other furled line so darned expensive?

I am intrigued though, the packaging is so gorgeously Japanese, the rod bag is tied in a neat bow , reminiscent of the carefully wrapped Kimono of a Samurai warrior. In fact I would swear it has been starched and ironed. I mean who the hell starches a rod bag?  I rather felt that I should have some doll faced Geisha swirling me a fresh cup of green tea with a bamboo whisk before I even unwrapped it. There are all manner of bits of crisp paper adorned with wonderfully crafted hieroglyphs, pretty but entirely incomprehensible to a gaijin, they may be telling me that the equipment ”has a life time warranty and to enjoy my fishing” or it could be simply saying, “ Ha Ha you are on your own now sucker”. I am to be frank at something of a loss.

I am very used to having a reel on the end of my rod; I like to double haul when I am turning over a long leader and to be able to flip a fly under the overhanging bushes on the far bank. I gain some solace from knowing that I can let the fish run if needs be and I have spent years developing a leader configuration that works for me on my three weight.

Now I am going to venture forth with an impossibly long, although admittedly wonderfully crafted, stick with a single length of line and a pretty little red “lilian” on the end which I don’t understand and nothing to do with my left hand other than to scratch my nose. I am petrified that I shall arrive on stream feeling like the fool who brings and ice-cream to a gun fight.

I can see that some research and practise are going to be the order of the day, I think that I shall rent out “The Last Samurai”, institute a strict regime of “Tenkara practise” in the garden and try to get in touch with my central “Chi”, I have already found myself repeatedly reciting silently “There is no fish”, it is all a bit odd but I shall keep you posted.

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8 Responses to “From Heaven?”

  1. Chris Stewart Says:

    Don’t overthink it. Just fish.

  2. paracaddis Says:

    Thanks Chris, I hope to do exactly that next Friday. 🙂

  3. Craig Says:

    Feel the force Luke. Go with the flow Tim, it’s completely intuitive Tim.

  4. ian Says:

    Let us know how it went Tim. I know the Blue Baboon swears by it. (But he fish for kurpers up in some secret mountain)

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