When my friend Mike Garrison sent me a text about going fishing next week he noted, “Also, tribalism is alive and well in fly fishing…never good enough to like all kinds of fly fishing…the ‘purists’ for all kinds are so irritating.”
Garrison is a fan of tenkara like I am, and I immediately suspected he had riled up the mandarins of fly-fishing.
I responded, “As far as tribalism goes you can’t take those trolls seriously, they have missed the point of fishing. Tough luck for them, but I have no truck with them. I wrote about it back in the day when people were clutching their pearls about tenkara…”
So, for your reading enjoyment here’s an article I wrote 10 years ago. It still stands up.
The ever-attentive Mr. Klass of Tenkara Talk fame offered an interesting Twitter observation:
For those just tuning in, there has been a bit of a culture war within the tenkara ranks for a while. Apparently, it stems from what is and what is not tenkara. The discussion has taken a variety of forms from rods to flies, to lines. It raised its ugly head again apparently (although I missed why).
Personally, I think it is a bunch of hooey. Tenkara isn’t trademarked, and the translation in Japanese isn’t even precise. At this point, Tenkara is like Kleenex. How many of us say “bathroom tissue?” You almost feel compelled to lock your jaw and extend your pinky if you do…
So, to squabble over what is and is not tenkara seems pointless unless there is some other game afoot. Probably not an unfounded suspicion truth be told. It reminds me of the old guard of fly-fishing who didn't want women fishing and looked down their collective noses if you didn't just fish a dry fly upstream. Their goal was to exclude others. Is that what you want? In any event, it is unseemly and looks silly to folks just discovering tenkara.
Jason is correct tenkara is fixed line fly-fishing. Just like using a cane pole, bobber and a worm is fixed line fishing. The obvious difference is one uses a fly and the other does not. That is all you need to say when that subject comes up.
If what I do is not what you call tenkara, so be it. Call it fixed line fly-fishing if it makes you happy. It is still fly-fishing and it is still fun and to me that is the whole point of being out there.
A quote attributed to Keanu Reeves goes: “I’m at that stage in life where I stay out of discussions. Even if you say 1+1=5, you’re right — have fun.”
That covers it for me.
The wonderful picture of the Appalachian mountain trout stream reminded me that trout fishing provides a welcome respite from the cacophony of yells, curses, chirps, dings, beeps which comprise our human sonic universe. The muted roar of that much water seeking the ocean is truly our "Music of the Spheres".
I actually just bought a tenkara rod to teach my 7 year old to fish. I took it out myself thinking I’d try to understand the finer points before I tried to teach her. It might be a combination of getting started and the underwhelming fishing of Maryland, but I still haven’t had the lightbulb moment yet. I’ll keep trying it.