My husband grew up fishing in the many lakes of Michigan and I have enjoyed it here and there throughout my life, but neither of us have ever really fly fished and we are basically clueless. I did read ‘A River Runs Through It’ at some point and developed a long lingering desire to fly fish. The romance, the meditation, the skill, and the trout. With our outdoor adventures often involving lakes and streamsit seems a natural endeavor to take on. However like so many other outdoor activities, fly fishing seems particularly burdened by the need for expensive gear and training.
I recently stumbled across Tenkara fly fishing, which is simply the traditional Japanese style. Like many other traditional Japanese things it is minimal from a gear standpoint. You have a rod, a line, a fly. It is also apparently ideal for fishing small mountain streams, much like those we have in great abundance within 20 miles in any direction of our home. I have been reading Tenkara: Radically Simple, Ultralight Fly Fishing and while we have yet to catch a trout, we have had fun messing around with casting in the rivers and streams we come across. The simplicity of the set up means that (like our sweet packraft), our fishing gear just stays in the van and is ready to pull out at a moment’s notice or a riverside rest stop. The spare set up also means that the financial investment is relatively small, from what I can tell, you can have a reasonable set up for less than $100. We went for the Wetfly Tenkara Package when it went on sale on BackCountry.com, and are so far pleased because it has everything we need.
I am thoroughly enjoying the book. It is sprinkled with quotes from the likes of Mark Twain and Thoreau and uses appropriately spare prose. Underlyinb the instruction is a gentle reverence for the spiritual gains of spending time out doors, and I am learning the basics of casting, fly choice, where to look for fish and other such details. You don’t have to “know what you are doing” to enjoy something and the learning process can start almost anywhere as long as you have the desire and the time. Things like fly fishing can be intimidating (to me anyway) because of the knowledge and skill possessed by experts, but like everything else, you have to start somewhere. When I was a prosecutor right out of law school, I often squared off against men who had been practicing law as long as I had been alive, I always had to remind myself that everyone has to start somewhere and that my inexperience was just that. This type of fishing offers an elegant and simple starting point for the inexperienced. So far Tenkara has really added to our enjoyment of the outdoors, and I’m sure our experience will really deepen if we ever actually hook a fish. As for now my three year son thinks holding the rod from the river bank is about the best thing next to ice cream.