Posts Tagged ‘Tenkara’

Thoughts on Rods

May 14, 2012

Rods: How Small a Trout, every day in May challenge.

Every Day in May Challenge.. Rod

This challenge brought back emotional memories, tear jerking really to think of it. I have a number of fly rods but I am a long way from a tackle junkie.

There is the Stealth Deep Red 8’4” #3 weight that was broken on a guiding trip just days ago. Darn – it was an inexpensive rod but I loved it, a lithe implement with the ability to cast short lines accurately into the pocket waters that I most enjoy fishing but then the chances are that the damaged piece can be replaced.

I have a Sage ZXL #2 weight which is the first from that manufacturer which I have enjoyed casting in a long time, a good deal more costly than the Stealth but a lovely rod, providing wand like lightness and accuracy. I really enjoy softer actioned rods and so many of the modern hi tec ones just seem too stiff to me for the fishing that I do.

Plus I am now the proud owner of a new Tenkara stick which was a birthday present and remains, as yet untried. A remarkable piece of equipment which un-stacks like some piscatorial Russian Doll, the newly revealed sections apparently endless, as it extends and extends as if by magic.

I DID have a Winston IM6 #3 weight which turned over a long leader better than any rod I have ever cast on a small stream, although that has sadly gone.. It was handed over to a client for onward delivery to Winston in the USA for guaranteed repair and I have never gotten it back. Darn I adored that rod, it just did exactly what a small stream rod should do, or at least what I want a small stream rod to do. It turned over massively long leaders with virtually no line out of the tip. Presented a fly beautifully at short to medium range and protected ultralight tippet with the care afforded by a mother to her children

However with all that said one has to bear in mind that rods are tools, they are workhorses in particular for a fishing guide, but really for any serious angler, and one should avoid sentimentality. Yes the silvered butt caps, the neatly engraved accoutrements, the wrappings of bright tinted gossamer thread, the exotic woods in the reel seats and the gloss finish may all hold appeal but in the end rods are to anglers what hammers are to carpenters.

I feel no pain in the notion of carving a cork handle to provide a neater grip or matting down a gloss varnish with steel wool to reduce the fish scaring flash.

I love the rods that I own, I nurture them and respect them, appreciate them and adore them but I am not sentimental about them. I love them in the same way that a carpenter loves the heft of his favourite hammer, a sculptor his chisel or a writer her pen. For the joy of their use and the practicality of their function. All else falls under the guise of frippery and fashion and I will have no truck with that.

From Heaven?

May 12, 2012

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.