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Tenkara: A Higher Method of Survival Fishing

I like fishing, particularly fly fishing, so it’s no shock that I prefer to depend it as considered one of my survival expertise. I imply, who doesn’t have occasional fantasies of with the ability to bug out into the woods and stay off the land? Relying on the place you’re positioned, fishing actually seems like a good way to place meals on the desk. After all, should you can’t pack the gear, you received’t have it. That’s why a plethora of “survival fishing” kits have been produced over time, with some being stable and others being gimmicky as might be. Tenkara is a minimalist fishing methodology that’s surprisingly near what most individuals envision once they consider “survival fishing.” After all, this method does have some drawbacks, however they’re hardly distinctive to tenkara. On this article, we’ll talk about what tenkara is, the professionals and cons, and a few primary strategies.

What’s Tenkara?

Tenkara is basically a Japanese type of fly fishing, and each the gear and strategies have many similarities. As an illustration, each use a weighted fly line to forged an almost weightless synthetic dry fly. In fashionable tenkara and fly fishing, each the rods and contours are produced from comparable supplies. Nonetheless, tenkara {hardware} has many distinctive attributes that make it significantly suited to backpacking and survival fishing functions.

Above: A tenkara rod can match comfortably inside a typical 72-hour pack, resembling this 5.11 Tactical AMP72.

The Tools

The primary piece of kit in each model of fishing is the rod itself. In contrast to western fly, spinner, or bait casting fishing, tenkara rods don’t use a reel to carry the road. As a result of the road attaches on to the tip of the rod, there aren’t any eyelets. The dearth of eyelets permits the tenkara rod to telescope into itself. The collapsed footprint is far smaller than different telescoping fishing rods or multi-part rods, which friction-fit segments collectively.

The scale and weight issue turns into clear when taking a look at a side-by-side comparability, resembling between my Wetfly tenkara rod and my Orvis Recon 7-weight fly rod. The rod tubes solely include the rod. Within the case of my fly rods, I nonetheless need to pack the reel individually.

Above: The tenkara rod is telescoping and totally retracts into itself.

The tenkara line is just like a fly line. One key distinction, nonetheless, is that it has a small section of monofilament extending from the top, relatively than being both naked or supplying a welded loop to connect a frontrunner. This built-in “chief” may be very quick, making using tippet a necessity to connect flies to the road.

The tenkara line itself can also be a lot shorter than a fly line, and in contrast to a fly line on a reel, there’s no backing. The benefit right here is that it packs a lot smaller, however with the apparent drawback of attain. Nonetheless, tenkara approach is constructed across the restricted technique of line administration, so in apply this isn’t that large of a deal — particularly in slim, fast-moving water resembling smaller trout streams.

On the tip of the tenkara rod is a small string, which is used to connect the welded loop on the tenkara line. This may be finished with a easy clinch knot that every one fishermen know and might be undone when packing up.

Above: A typical tenkara line has a welded loop to connect to the rod and a bit of monofilament popping out of the top. Right here you additionally see the loop from the monofilament for attaching tippet.

One other key benefit that the properties of tenkara gear present is that there are fewer elements that may break or want upkeep. In a chronic, grid-down state of affairs, for example, a damaged eyelet in your rod or a damaged mechanism in a reel isn’t going to be simply repaired or changed.

Tenkara gear can also be less expensive than fly fishing gear. The upper-end Tenkara USA gear can are available at round $250 for a full equipment, whereas my Orvis setup (towards the high-midrange) was about $750. My Wetfly tenkara rod value solely $99 once I acquired it, though the identical mannequin is now going for $125 at time of writing.

Above: A easy clinch knot with about 5 twists is all it takes to connect the road to the rod tip. The knot might be simply undone later to interrupt down the rig.

Whereas there’s fishing gear accessible in any respect worth factors, there’s no have to go all-out. My very budget-conscious tenkara rig has caught some good fish, from Wyoming to Texas.

The Strategies

Above: The primary fish I ever caught on tenkara was this cutthroat trout on the Snake River in Wyoming, slightly below the dam in Grand Teton Nationwide Park.

In lots of methods, tenkara fishing is like fly fishing, however there are some variations. The dearth of the reel, for example, means you possibly can’t strip line, so working streamers or poppers like you might be used to is just about out. The shorter line hooked up to the tip means you’re not going to be taking pictures line such as you would with a fly rod, both.

The tenkara forged is exclusive as properly, with many specialists instructing a brief, forearm-based forged with extra play within the wrist, versus a basic fly forged. This makes it supreme for slim streams or areas with first rate tree cowl, resembling lots of the streams I fish in central Texas. Nonetheless, I’ve discovered that tenkara works properly with a roll forged as properly. Moreover, I’ve used tenkara gear to show a fly forged to my elementary school-aged daughter.

Above: Small wrist changes are all it takes to maneuver the rod tip and provides motion to the fly. Right here, we see a financial institution beetle gently creating ripples on the water to draw fish.

So, what are the important thing strategies that result in success with tenkara fishing?

The primary is useless drifting. Casting the fly upstream in shifting water and having it float downstream towards the ready fish, simulating a useless insect on prime of the water. Whereas on no account a tenkara-specific approach (I’ve caught some fairly beefy brown trout on conventional fly gear whereas useless drifting), the way in which the road is hooked up to the tenkara rod, in addition to the way it floats, mix to make this system really feel pure.

Just like useless drifting is pausing. On this approach, you forged upstream and float the fly into an space the place you suppose — or know — the fish are after which pause to present the fish an opportunity to strike. You then pull the fly and recast, or let the fly go to a different spot downstream and pause once more first.

Pulling the fly means that you can work a fly considerably like a streamer, nonetheless, relatively than stripping the road you’re working the rod tip.

Above: The rod tip is up, letting the road come down at a 90-degree angle into the water, which is about 8 ft under me right here. Gently transfer the rod to create up-and-down movement of the fly on prime of the water.

An iconic tenkara approach is pulsing, the place you maintain the rod tip excessive and bob the fly up and down in place to entice the fish.

Tenkara purists are additionally extra more likely to change strategies up earlier than altering flies, in contrast to Western-style fly anglers. Generally it is advisable to match the hatch and typically it is advisable to work the fly proper, so maintaining each approaches in your thoughts will assist get bites.

Above: Casting the fly out and letting the water take it down stream as if it was a useless bug is what useless drifting is all about. That was sufficient to entice this hungry bluegill.

What About “Survival” Fishing Kits?

The market is stuffed to the gills with kits of assorted high quality and composition claiming to be for “survival” functions. These vary from new-style “survival playing cards” to old-school navy survival kits that include a little bit of fishing line and a few hooks. So, why would somebody select to hold tenkara gear relatively than considered one of these “survival” fishing rigs?

Above: Some “survival fishing” setups, like this Ka-Bar, are extra gimmicky than sensible. For me, setting the hook with out the leverage of a rod is the principle problem.

To start with, let’s speak about effectiveness of the gear. One of many “survival fishing” setups that I attempted just lately is the Ka-Bar Backpacker Caster, which offers a option to spool a superb quantity of monofilament and to carry a couple of lures (and possibly some sinkers and floats) in a polymer deal with designed to appear like their well-known fight and survival knives. The compact, self-contained nature of the design appealed to me, and it value about $20 once I purchased it.

Utilizing it, I discovered that each casting and setting the hook have been very tough, despite the fact that I used to be in a position to get bites. I chalk this as much as the shortage of rod. The rod basically is a lever, which permits you mechanical benefit when each casting a lure and in setting the hook within the fish’s mouth. Utilizing this software was basically glorified hand lining. I wasn’t in a position to land a single fish, irrespective of what number of bites I acquired. If I wanted them for my dinner, I’d be in hassle.

Above: Tenkara rods pack down a lot smaller than typical fly rods, and the tubes are a lot smaller as properly. This Wetfly is a couple of third as large because the Orvis rod tube.

After all, my lack of success may simply be as a result of my lack of apply. However that leads us to a different benefit of tenkara — it’s satisfying by itself, which implies you’re more likely to take it out to fish on function, relatively than having it within the backside of your bug-out bag “simply in case.”

You wouldn’t purchase a .38 revolver, by no means apply with it, after which assume you’d be good to go should you have been attacked within the parking zone one night time, would you? So, why would you assume that you simply’d be placing meals on the desk with a “survival fishing equipment” that you simply’ve by no means used, and which is probably going incomplete?

By incomplete, I’m referring again to the shortage of a pole I discussed earlier. I’ve caught many a fish as a child utilizing line tied to a stick, however the stick is essential. There are lots of timber, resembling willow, which give branches which have comparable properties to a tenkara rod. So, even should you have been in a chronic grid-down or survival scenario and the tenkara rod broke, you can style a alternative that also means that you can leverage the talents and strategies you’ve constructed up over time, practising with the gear for the pure pleasure of fishing.

Closing Ideas

Above: This inexperienced sunfish was caught with tenkara and a Chernobyl ant fly sample, simply north of Austin, Texas.

To sum it up, tenkara offers a wonderful selection for an economical low-profile, resilient, fishing equipment to be used by backpackers who wish to cut back weight, folks on the lookout for one thing to maintain in a bug-out or bail-out bag/truck field, or anglers who’re on the lookout for one thing acquainted however with new challenges.

Anybody already accustomed to fly fishing will choose up tenkara rapidly. If you happen to’ve by no means fly fished, otherwise you’re attempting to coach kids with out the distraction of coping with reels and line administration, then tenkara is a wonderful place to begin. It’s satisfying sufficient that you simply’ll wish to spend the time to grasp the gear and expertise, growing your effectiveness and lowering frustration should you instantly end up relying in your catch to feed your self and your loved ones. Tenkara is unquestionably value including to your stock and talent set.

Above: I usually hold my tenkara rod and a small pouch with the road and flies in a Plano field in my truck, the place I hold my roadside and emergency gear as properly.

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