I have always been an advocate for keeping fly fishing simple, at least when it comes to attracting newbies to the sport. So often I hear things like, “I’d love to learn fly-fishing, but I’m not sure I can do that cast… or the knots… etc.”
I have also said that tenkara, a traditional Japanese form of fly-fishing that involves a rod with a line connected directly to its tip (no reel) is an ideal teaching method. With tenkara, you can make intuitive casts, and the focus is on reading water and sneaking up on fish.
The new book “Simple Fly Fishing” by Yvon Chouinard, Craig Mathews and Mauro Mazzo really brings the whole thing home better than anything I have seen. It’s a wonderful introduction to fly fishing through tenkara that lays everything out in clear, concise, and easily remembered chunks. It’s not only one of the best tenkara books ever produced, it’s also one of the best introduction to fly fishing books ever produced.
Even if you’re a seasoned veteran or already a die-hard tenkara fan, you’ll find wrinkles in this book that expand your own thinking (e.g., great chapters on wet flies and fishing still and slow waters).
Patagonia is offering a kit with a rod, the book, and all you need to get rolling, for $279.85. Best of all, the company is already showing that this package and approach can attract new (often young) people to the sport.
Patagonia has completed over 30 clinics at its retail stores across the United States. Approximately 1400 people attended. The company noted that over half of the people attending clinics had never fly fished, and a good percentage were women and kids.
Each rod sold generates a $10 donation to either the Yellowstone Park Foundation (earmarked for fisheries research) or the Madison River Foundation (earmarked for the Odell Creek restoration).
Will tenkara become to fly fishing what snowboarding became to alpine skiing? Probably not. But it is a great boost. And it’s great fun. Kudos to Patagonia. And do check out the book ($25) or the kit if you get a chance.