We are very excited to announce that Down Wind Sports is the first Tenkara USA dealer in the state of Michigan! We feel that the hard to get to small streams of the Upper Peninsula will make for perfect Tenkara fishing. Tenkara is the traditional Japanese method of fly-fishing, which uses only a rod, line and fly. Simple.
Tenkara is a method of fly-fishing particularly well-suited for stream fishing and for anyone looking for a simpler way to fly-fish. It is the ideal setup for backpacking. Imagine hiking deep into the Upper Peninsula wilderness with this straightforward, compact, light weight and effective fishing system.
The main advantage of tenkara fishing is its simplicity. But, the benefits of tenkara go well beyond simple: delicate presentations with the light line, ability to hold the line off the water and a fly in place over difficult currents, precise casting, and greater control of the fly just to name a few.
Only rod, line and fly are used. The line is attached directly to the tip of the rod (anywhere between 10 and 25ft of the main line), tippet (usually 4ft or tippet) is attached to the end of the tenkara line. There is a fly-casting technique involved, but it’s much quicker to learn. The casting is usually a bit slower, and the casting stroke shorter. Landing a fish is very intuitive and similar to any type of fishing with a rod: angle the rod tip back to bring the fish closer, then reach for the line or the fish.
Tenkara has a long history, though little of it is documented. Fly-fishing in Japan is suspected to have been practiced as far back as the 8th or 9th centuries B.C. The first reference to tenkara fly-fishing was recorded in 1878, a quick passage in the diaries of Mr. Ernest Satow, and English diplomat who lived in Japan, describing the sight of someone fishing for yamame at Mt. Tateyama using flies.
Tenkara was originally the domain of commercial fishermen in mountain areas of Japan where anglers used to catch fish for a living. The original tenkara angler would camp in isolated mountain streams, then come into the nearby villages to sell dried and fresh fish to inn-keepers and other people.
The original tenkara fishermen likely realized they could try to imitate bugs with feathers, silk, etc. At that point they quickly realized the great efficiency of using these flies (kebari) to “harvest” the abundant Yamame in the mountain streams of Japan. As opposed to using bait a simple fly would take seconds to tie and could catch several fish before ever being replaced.
Not much has been documented about fly-fishing and tenkara in Japan because tenkara was primarily a source used to secure food, not a form of leisure or sport. However, it’s interesting to notice that similar styles of fly-fishing are or have been practiced throughout many regions in the world, such as Northern Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Russia, and others. Before reels became widespread, fixed-line fly-fishing such as tenkara was practiced in many parts of the world. Tenkara is the only method that has remained popular and continues to be practiced. For mountain stream fly-fishing all that is necessary is a rod, line and fly.
We are so excited to be offering Tenkara USA products out of our Marquette store! Please stop by and check out all of the new additions to our fly fishing department.
Also coming soon to the store is the new book: Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara and Rod and Reel by Yvon Chouinard, Craig Mathews, and Mauro Mazzo.
Modern-day fly fishing, like much in life, has become exceedingly complex, with high-tech gear, a confusing array of flies and terminal tackle, accompanied by high-priced fishing guides. This book reveals that the best way to catch trout is simply, with a rod and a fly and not much else. The wisdom in this book comes from a simpler time, when the premise was: the more you know, the less you need. It teaches the reader how to discover where the fish are, at what depth, and what they are feeding on. Then it describes the techniques needed to present a fly at that depth, make it look lifelike, and hook the fish. With chapters on wet flies, nymphs, and dry flies, its authors employ both the tenkara rod as well as regular fly fishing gear to cover all the bases. Illustrated by renowned fish artist James Prosek, with inspiring photographs and stories throughout, Simple Fly Fishing reveals the secrets and the soul of this captivating sport.