Teaching Tenkara

I discovered Tenkara less than a year ago and could never have imagined how quickly it would consume me. When I picked up my first Tenkara rod, I thought it would become a hobby I would partake in once in awhile, when I had nothing better to do. Well, the exact opposite happened – I spent more than sixty days over the course of the summer on the rivers and lakes of Maryland and Texas catching all manner of fish and immersing myself in natural environments I had never seen before.

Tenkara has brought many experiences into my life that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’ve had my “secret” rivers where, not even once, did I see another angler. Then there was the perfect day when two baby deer were playing in the river just down stream from me, and the fish were biting like crazy.

Tenkara also gave me respite from the summer heat while rekindling an urge to explore that I hadn’t felt since I was a kid growing up in the middle of a one million acre National Forest. Some days, I wouldn’t get a single bite, but it didn’t matter. I would look up to the sky while standing knee deep in the water, my fly drifting lazily in the current and just immerse myself in the silence of nature. I would marvel at the century old trees, the wind rustling in the branches, the birds chirping and the occasional cry of a red tail hawk. Those were magical days that I will never forget.

Teaching Tenkara

Tenkara has brought me so much joy and excitement, showing me a side of nature I hadn’t experienced before. The next logical thing for me to do was to share the joy that Tenkara had brought to my life – by teaching Tenkara.

Teaching TenkaraIt only took one outing to “hook” my brothers, sisters and Dad on Tenkara (I’m still working on my wife). If you consider yourself a Tenkara addict and want to get a loved one or close friend hooked, this article will help you to make a budding Tenkara angler’s first experience one that he or she will not soon forget.

  • The first aspect, and the one that’s the most crucial part of a successful “first fishing trip,” is selecting a good section of a river to fish. Nothing will put a damper on someone’s first outing than having to worry about getting tangled in foliage and fauna. Save the challenging water, no mater how good the fishing may be, until they have a better understanding of the nuances of casting, line control and stalking fish.
  • The second most important thing is patience. I used to think I was a patient person – until I started Tenkara. I soon realized that Tenkara requires an entirely different level of patience. Time on the river changes drastically; everything slows down a little and you need to slow down, too. Teaching Tenkara will require even more patience. If you are expecting to catch a bunch of fish while taking someone for his or her first Tenkara outing, you are setting yourself up for a less than pleasant experience. Line will get tangled, tippet will break, casting lessons will need to be taught (and re-taught), fish will need to be released and flies will get lost in out-of-reach branches. When teaching someone Tenkara, I like to set up the line with Killer Bugs from Tenkara Bum. They’re amazingly versatile “flies” that I’ve had great luck with. They’re also cheap and very easy to tie, so you won’t mind if a few get lost.

Teaching Tenkara

  • When teaching someone how to cast, there are two rules to remember: The first is that bad casts still catch fish. The second is that, at first, you shouldn’t worry too much where the fly lands in the water.
  • Some fish prefer to go after a fly drifting along in the current. Sometimes you will need to “pull” the fly through the water. Think of it as manipulating the fly and trying to make it look as “bug-like” as possible. Experiment with pulling upstream, downstream, and across the current. How you manipulate the fly can change throughout the day as the fish feeding habits change, the lighting shifts and the temperature fluctuates. There is no hard and fast rule to Tenkara.
  • A dry run in an open area, like a driveway or parking lot, can be a good way to teach beginners. This allows them to learn the basics of casting, calm the nerves and run through the basic components of the rod. Trying to teach someone how to properly set up their rod and cast in the middle of a rushing stream with the wind blowing is going to be pretty stressful, not only for them but for you, as well.
  • Get everything prepared at home before you leave. I like to get my furled or level line set up with tippet and a fly and then wrap it around a spool (I like the foam spools). Then, all you have to do when you get to the water is attach the line to the lillian, extend the rod and start fishing. Also, start with a short amount of tippet (I go with about three feet), as having too much tippet can result in a lot of tangles, especially for a budding angler.

Teaching Tenkara

  • Lastly, make sure you bring plenty of food and water. I received a LifeStraw as a gift, and it’s an essential part of my kit. There’s no need to carry around large quantities of water. Whenever you get thirsty, simply drink from the water you’re fishing in. Of course, you should bring your favorite snacks as well.

So there you have it: teaching your friends and family how to Tenkara is easy. Now you just have to get out there, catch some fish and watch the smiles – you’ll know that it was worth it.

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