Japanese translation apparently means “from the heavens” said to be called this because the fly lands gently from above. From an instructors perspective it could also be heaven sent.
I was at the British Fly Fair last month and all the chat at the GAIA fly tying stand was about Tenkara. Louis Noble one of our members from North Wales was totally sold so much so that he was sat tying traditional Tenkara flies on needle sharp traditional barbless hooks that required gut eyes to be tied on as part of the process.
I was sceptical, coming from the western background of short rods, reels and the need to cast, what advantages could this method possibly have over my Helios and weight forward line.
Well to start with its extremely simple just a telescopic rod at the end of which you attach a leader either furled or straight through copolymer or fluorocarbon, that’s it. The rods are long averaging between 12 and 14ft but they are ultra light. You can fish all our normal methods for trout and grayling, dries, nymphs and wet flies. So far I have used it only for dries and it does enable you to position a fly gently and hold it without drag in all those little awkward corners that you would have difficulty casting to. It’s also a joy to play fish with although I guess that when I do catch a big one with this set up I will need to follow the fish and it might well play me!
Tenkara will never replace my normal set up but it does have other distinct advantages. As an instructor I am often asked to take complete novices fly fishing and when this happens normally the issue is being able to get the pupil to get past go and cast a line, in fact most of the day is taken up with casting. Not any more Tenkara solves this, novices and children with very little casting instruction can be introduced to fly fishing in a very short period of time, this to me is “heaven sent”. It’s also extremely light and compact so that it can be carried in the back of your waistcoat or bag ready to use at an instant.