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Zenkara

Andrew M. Wayment The other day I read a good article in The Huffington Post by Blair Smith entitled, “Tenkara on Small Streams: Teaching Kids Fly Fishing, Respect for Conservation, and a Mother’s Love.” In this article, the author asserted that “[tenkara] is the yoga of fly fishing.” While I kind of get what she means, I don’t fully comprehend because I do not do yoga. I have a hard time relating tenkara to Downward Facing Dog or other tortuous, stretchy moves. However, if by this metaphor she means that tenkara is similar to the more meditative aspects of yoga, I would tend to agree. When I first started fishing tenkara a year and a half ago, I read every book I could find on the subject in hopes of finding some spiritual truth or some secret technique. But I found the literature to be pretty basic and—if I am honest —a little boring. I was a bit disappointed. Since then, I realized that I was missing the point. Despite the lack-luster appeal of the literature, I enjoyed tenkara fishing and found it to be effective on the small streams in my neck of the woods. I have since come to understand that the beauty of tenkara is its simplicity.

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In our materialistic world (which has clearly poured over into the outdoor industry) tenkara is fly fishing stripped down to the bare necessities. Tenkara makes the clear statement that sometimes we don’t need all this stuff to catch a fish. Some opponents call it nothing more than cane pole fishing, but coming from someone who has traditionally fly fished for over twenty years (and will continue to do so), tenkara is still fly fishing. More importantly, I’ve found that there is no better way to teach kids the fundamentals of fly fishing. For me, and my six kids, that is reason enough to promote and fish tenkara. After reading Smith’s article, since the yoga metaphor didn’t quite fit my experience, I started to contemplate how I would describe tenkara. In the online Free Dictionary I found that, in addition to its specific religious connotations, the word “Zen” also generally means: “An approach to an activity, skill, or subject that emphasizes simplicity and intuition rather than conventional thinking or fixation on goals.” This definition perfectly captures for me the essence of tenkara; it is the zen of fly fishing.

Profile for Tenkara Angler

Tenkara Angler - Summer 2016  

Tenkara Angler Magazine chronicles the tenkara lifestyle through entries about community, destination, tactics, gear, and creative essays. A...

Tenkara Angler - Summer 2016  

Tenkara Angler Magazine chronicles the tenkara lifestyle through entries about community, destination, tactics, gear, and creative essays. A...

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