So today I got a chance to try out Tenkara.
If you have not at least heard of Tenkara then you must have been living in a bubble as it is the new fly fishing craze that is sweeping the states and has gradually moved over here. Tenkara as described by my fishing buddy Atkins is “that huckleberry fin shite” where at its most basic level some kind of fish attracting lure is tied on to a piece of string and then on to a pole – no reel!
Of course, it is a little bit more complicated that that as the fly fishing industry must justify selling us lots of “stuff”. Over in the states they are making a big deal of the fact it originated in Japan where Tenkara when translated literally means – from heaven.
And here is some English chaps having a bash with Grayling taking duns, you get the general idea though:
The rods are surprisingly long – anywhere from 11 to 13 feet, but telescope down to just 20 inches and weigh just 3 oz on average. You can buy a rod for around £100 and a line for an extra £10. A few folk have told me I should get into some of the Tenkara action, honorary Kelvinator’s James Bennet and Chuck from the States (you remember Chuck, he was the one that brought all the rain with him) have been going on about it for donkies,
So, my Tenkara rod (a Seiryu 12foot) has been sitting in the car for the last week and I have been gagging to try it out, I had watched a few videos and read up on as many blogs out there as I could. I got myself a half day from work and had a spare 45mins before I had to be home. I walked to the wee burn that should have been ideal to try it out as that was the kind of water it was developed in Japan for. Pretty much everything was against me though as it was a fair bit windy plus the burn was running very low, I reckon if I had been here last week I would have been hauling them in. Still, I was there fishing and managing to cast the Tenkara rod absolutely atrociously. When I have been watching the videos it looks bloody easy however I was surprised at just how hard it is. I was finding it difficult to get a good line out and weirdly I was getting a pain in my hand as you do not grip the rod the same way you do an ordinary set up.
Saying all that after 20mins I was fair chuggging away at some of my wee pools, unfortunately my favourite wee pool was spoiled by a guy pulling out golf balls so moved down to some pocket water – I cast and as the fly drifted down a wee splash intercepted the fly and it was game on. I had no idea what to do, it looked bloody easy in the videos however I found myself with an extremely bendy rod and a wee fish going bananas. Fairly quickly I realised that the rod can put up with a lot more bendy punishment than an ordinary rod.
I think I can honestly say nobody has caught a trout from this burn fishing Tenkara style ever. I then spent some time on a bridge trying to catch some trout below me – a golf cart put paid to them rising though and it was time to head home.
I got home to take over child rearing duties only to find the door locked and the family away to the shops not to be returning for an hour or so. “You’ll just have to go fishing” I was told, I did not have to be told twice.
I headed for the Kelvin and I reckon I am the first punter to have a crack at Tenkara on it (or should that be in it?) and got myself set up again. From a distance the river looked ok however as I waded up I realised it was still a bit colored and high. After about 20 yards I was starting to have doubts, I just could not seem to cast it consistently, once cast would be incredibly accurate and straight and the next it would end up in a pile at the end of the rod. Even though the leader was around 12 feet long it did not feel like 12 feet I was casting – in fact the fly was probably around 24 feet from my hand. I suppose that should be enough eh?
Of course the wind did not help, or the lack of rising trout for that matter. I really started to enjoy fishing it again when I got up to some riffles at the top of the pool. At least here I could target areas that I knew would hold trout, on several occasions I watched trout come up from the depths, inspect my fly and then bugger off.
I will tell you something though, not only is Tenkara accurate it also seems like a breeze to control the fly without any drag – I enjoyed trundling my fly down a seem of fast water without the fly dragging like a speedboat. Because the Tenkara rod is so long I could hover the leader and line off the water. This was much more enjoyable and then…..Fish On!
Tell you something, for such a wee fish it put up a fair old scrap on the Tenkara rod, it had an almighty bend in it. I managed to get the trout in with less fuss than the first, a quick photo and then it was gone.
I am pretty sure that I am the first person to catch a trout from the Kelvin on a Tenkara rod as as well.
I am most annoyed that it is only a few weeks until the end of the season – I wish I had longer to really get to grips with it, I wish I could use it during those dusk sessions when the trout are very willing to take the dry. I will probably get a few more bashes at it before the season is done and then it will really come into its own next season – watch this space!