TenkaraGrasshopper on the South Platte, Colorado

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Ten Colors of Tenkara and the TenkaraGrasshopper

The Ten Colors of Tenkara
There are always discussions that seem to crop up frequently and have continued to pop up over the years on what is and is not Tenkara. Most of it stems from personal attitudes and beliefs of each angler and how they wish to practice Tenkara. And that is why I am here today to discuss my feeling on the Ten Colors and what my color might be if I can actually identify a color. I have no intentions of starting any fueds or getting people all riled up about what is right and wrong. 

After reading what I have written I would appreciate any comments that you want to make but be aware that I have feelings as well as other readers here and I will be moderating all comments. If I feel that a comment is destructive towards me or any other commenter on this post I will not publish the offending posts.


OK, now that I am off my soap box about rules, God I hate those things but they have to be covered at times to avoid bad blood.

I have been wondering for some time now what color Tenkara is for me and I have been working to find the answer in a number of different ways. The journey has been eye opening and quite fun if not completely time consuming. But it has been well worth the journey and will continue to be till the end of time I hope.

I think one of the first things that struck me right from the beginning of my time as a Tenkara angler came from Daniel Galhardo of Tenkara USA who stated early on that Tenkara was Fly Fishing Simplified. And I glammed onto that mantra from the get go. I had been fishing multiple techniques from bait casting to spin casting and everything in between. I was also using western style fly fishing gear for a long time and eventually I felt as though I was becoming overwhelmed by the cost of a past time that I was told would last a lifetime.

When I first discovered Tenkara USA in a magazine and online, a quote from the most wonderful mentor in the whole damn world struck me from the depths of my mind. My grandfather once told me:

 "Life is about the experience, not the stuff that you accumulate!"

And it still resounds with me on a daily basis almost thirty years later from when he told me this. Because of what he said I was instantly attracted to Tenkara and the simplicity that it offered. I mean come on, a collapsible rod, a line, a tippet, and fly? The true form of simplicity in a world where everything only gets more complicated every day. 

Everything I read on other Tenkara blogs and in a number forums that existed at the time proved that Toyota had it right when they used the slogan "Oh what a feeling, Toyota!" Then I got to hold my first Tenkara USA rod and I said to myself "Oh what a feeling, Tenkara USA!!!" 




I found my Tenkara color and it was green for go. So the journey began in earnest for me although at the time I had no idea how many things there were to learn about Tenkara and what I needed to do to become a better angler where ever I went fishing.


I hit the proverbial yellow light as I continued on my journey deeper into Tenkara. I hit that light as I tried to figure out how to trick the fish I was targeting into eating a traditional kebari fly. I had been told that it was about the presentation of the fly that got fish to eat. Well, I can safely say that I have a long way to go in mastering the proper presentation technique when it comes to the kebari patterns unlike the western patterns that I first learned to use when my grandfather was teaching me to fly fish using the "match the hatch" theory.

I followed the "match the hatch" theory for years when I was using my rod and reel every day that I was fishing and I was extremely successful with it. But I was getting tired of constantly carrying more flies than I knew what to do with and weighed down by a vest that was progressively ruining my body. During the "match the hatch" era of my fly fishing career I found myself slowly but surely shrinking my fly boxes from almost ten of them, down to two sparsley populated boxes with my truly favorite flies. And shortly before I got to Tenkara I was down to one fly box and I am still at one box.


After the yellow period I entered what I would call the blue light special.The blue light special began when I made the decision to start experimenting with longer lines and level lines. My first Tenkara line was a Tenkara USA generation one furled line running at ten and a half feet. I had heard some very cool things about the level lines that were available for Tenkara USA and Tenkarabum and ordered lines from each to test out. Once I recieved the level lines from both companies I cut each weight line to the ten and a half foot length and began practicing with them whenever I could. I loved how the level lines performed in the conditions common to Colorado fishing, gusty winds, weird cross currents on the water, and the opportunity to make longer lines with very little work. Once I got used to the shorter lengths I started to extend the lines out longer and longer and I am now up to a twenty five foot level line that I can cast with some frequency. And that is why I call it my blue light special because I am still working to get the extra line under control and I am slowly getting better with it.


I am now in what I call my purple phase and this is the time when I am starting to combine all of the aspects of Tenkara that I have learned over the years. I am going to be working on using a longer line with an Ishigaki kebari so that I can learn the correct presentation techniques and increase my catch rate.

Obviously I still don't have the experience of all Ten Colors of Tenkara but my plans are to ultimately experience each color!
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