January 25, 2012
Is Tenkara Fly Fishing a Fad?
By Kirk Deeter
Lefty Kreh, who may just be the most recognized authority on fly fishing ever, told Tenkara USA founder Daniel Galhardo that, “Tenkara is a fad and it won’t last long." Talk about candor. What's more interesting is that Daniel posted a recap of the conversation on his blog.
Another twist to all of this is that there have been rumors and rumblings for some time that Temple Fork Outfitters (and Lefty is the leading spokesperson for TFO) has been planning to manufacture and market its own line of tenkara rods in the not too distant future.
We'll see about that. Granted, Lefty has a perspective on the comings and goings in fly fishing that nobody else does. But I'm not so sure I'd consider tenkara a fad, any more than the regional popularity of switch rods and two-handers is a fad. Truth is, they've all been around for quite some time, have their own deep traditions, and are popular among anglers looking to expand their horizons.
One other thing about tenkara that I like (and why Lefty and others might think it is a fad) is that it minimizes the relevance of the cast. There's literally a distance limit with a tenkara rod. If you're all about teaching and honing your own distance casting skills (and yes, to be a bona fide fly angler, you must be, at least to a degree) tenkara won't flip your switch. As for stalking fish, making delicate presentations, and so forth, tenkara may be the best teaching tool of all, at least for trout anglers.
One of the other appeals of tenkara is that it puts some magic in any fish--little bluegills, tiny trout, others. This grayling pictured here was caught on a tenkara rod, and it's the "how" that makes this fish a particularly fond fishing memory. If anything, I think tenkara will grow in popularity as people try to land fish like baby tarpon, northern pike, and other fish. Muskies on tenkara? You'll have to ask John Merwin about that.