Tenkara

Tenkara Fishing in USA

Note the lack of a reel on this tenkara rod. Courtesy David Lor
Note the lack of a reel on this Tenkara rod. Courtesy David Lor

Tenkara is a Japanese method of fly fishing that’s gotten a lot of attention stateside in the last few years. like many things Japanese, tenkara is about minimalism—reel and other mechanical elements are eliminated in favor of “string tied to a pole” tackle, though often the pole is a collapsible, pocket-sized, graphite rod. That simplicity is the main attraction of tenkara. No reel means less that can go wrong, get lost, or get fouled up. A fixed line length means less management and easier casting. The focus stays on the fishing, and you can walk down to a creek and be fishing in seconds with rods that can literally fit in your pocket. 

If It Succeeds, Tenkara May Become a Valuable Tool in the Kit of Patagonian Anglers

Like Tenkara first hit the US when Tenkara USA opened shop in 2009. Just six years later, tenkara will make its first appearance in Patagonia.

Tenkara USA has organized destination trips for a few years. Previous Tenkara weeks have taken anglers to destinations in England and Italy. Patagonia Tenkara Week is scheduled to take place from March 8th to 15th of next year—just enough time to register if you’re interested. It comes with a high price-tag of around $5,000 dollars, but that includes lodging board, meals, and a shuttle from the airport to the lodge and back again. The location for the event is well chosen; the Malleo River and other tributaries of the Alumine are the perfect size for tenkara, which is optimized for small-to-medium sized mountain streams.

I’ve said before how much I value simplicity above all else when I’m fishing. Tenkara isn’t equipped to handle every task of a Western-style fly rod. I don’t envision it finding favor with steelhead fisherman, to take one example. But if it tests well this spring, there could be a lot of potential for tenkara in Patagonia. It could be a perfect drop-in replacement for 1- to 3-weight fly rods if you planned on fishing smaller rivers or taking a side-trip up a tributary creek. It could even be the focus of an all-tenkara trip, if that’s what interests you. Personally, I’m really excited to see the results of this.

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