Before I took the plunge, like all of the rest of us, I absorbed the 'hype', watched the YouTube videos and digested the magazine articles. I learned of the zen-like one fly approach, that tenkara brings a near spiritual dimension to fly fishing and a zillion and one other little things that the non-tenkara angling majority are missing out on.
Actually my primary motives for getting into tenkara were at first purely practical, as only an idiot could fail to see how tenkara might bring real fish catching advantages. I have certainly never been accused of being a purist when it comes to fishing, in fact I am quite happy to mash-up genres and styles if helps put fish on the bank, so to speak. So it wasn't with any delusions of elitism that a tenkara rod eventually came into my grasp. And I must admit that it wasn't without certain reservations over the perceived limitations of tenkara either. Cynical? Me? Well maybe a bit, but I prefer 'pragmatist'.
So to say that my first actual steps along the metaphorical tenkara stream bed have been a revelation is an understatement. True, it is very early days in my tenkara journey, but I have already satisfied myself of its effectiveness for finesse presentations of micro lures like my 'enterprising worm' patterns. In no way a traditional use of tenkara but effective just the same. And many, many others more gifted and blessed with trout streams nearby, demonstrate daily the efficacy of tenkara in its true spiritual home.
You see, it wasn't any of this that took me by surprise. What I didn't predict was how the simplicity of tenkara has changed my experience of the waterside. Gone are the all the concerns over fly lines and reels and how far I can cast. The burden of these responsibilities has been lifted from my shoulders leaving me feeling loose and supple and, well in a way - younger. By this I mean that this feels like fishing as it used to when I was a boy. Before a disposable income and market forces intruded on the fun. So now I am free to travel far and travel light in search of adventure, or .. to not travel at all. And this brings me to the second revelation. What I thought to be the single overriding limitation of tenkara - its fixed line, promises to be for me its greatest asset.
Let me explain. A Scottish ghillie laughingly told me once how the anglers at the loch amused him so. Those on the shore wanted to cast to the horizon. Take the same anglers out on a boat and they wanted to cast to the shore. The grass is always greener I guess but how many opportunities do we fail to spot because we are spoilt for choice with how much water we can cover? The fixed line approach has reminded me to search out those opportunities and make the most of the water I can cover. I am learning to see properly again, to read the environment more keenly and experience my surroundings more deeply. I am noticing all those little incidentals in nature happening around me and becoming part of the story. Yes, this is more contemplative fishing, even meditative at times, where the moment of catching a fish has become one of many possible outcomes.
I know this preaching to the converted but I just wanted to get it off my chest.