Tenkara Gear: Simple but plentiful

I was very much drawn to tenkara because of the minimal aspects. Rod, line, fly and you’re ready to fish. I’ve been on the water 14 times so far since I started fishing back in August. If I’d started with a Western Style Rod I’m not sure that would be the case. The one time I tried casting a western rod it seemed like a lot to think about, false casting, stripping and mending line, blah blah blah. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every second of it, but it seemed like more than I needed. Had I gone that route the financial outlay would’ve been higher and I may or may not have been as relaxed with my results early on, if I had any catches at all!

Beating Ross’ poor rod half to death on a camping trip over Labor Day 2011.

By going the tenkara route, I was able to get fully outfitted for a summer on the water pretty inexpensively. I’ve added a few pieces of gear slowly over the past few months and I’m starting to see how it can become an addiction. “If I had that wading staff it would’ve been easier to get to that spot in the creek.” “With that net and a GoPro I could’ve had some great pics of fish!” I get it, really, I’m just fighting the urge and trying to spend slowly and deliberately.

So far the best gear addition, and one that I think should be included from the start with all tenkara rods, are the EZ Keepers I picked up from Tenkarabum. My first few times out I’d get frustrated having to wrap my line up before moving spots, I’d deal with snags and sometimes I’d even skip spots because it was too hard to bushwhack through while carrying the rod extended. Now, a simple collapse gives me as much mobility as I’d have if I were just on a regular old hike.

Nippers, hemostats and spare flys all would be transported by whatever pockets I had free. This worked fine but, it really wasn’t ideal. I had one or two fish that I held on to a bit longer than I’d like because I was busy fumbling hemos out of a pocket rather than having them ready to go. To fix this problem and give me a wider selection of flies/tippet/etc I picked up a Goertzen chest pack. Much like the tenkara rod itself, I had my eye on this for a while before finally pulling the trigger. Hand made in Missoula Montana, it’s a gorgeous leather chest pack. Plenty of room for my small assortment of flies and tool connections for nippers, Gink(which I’ve rapidly gotten away from using) tippet and hemos. It really is not only a functional piece of equipment, it’s one that will last a very, very long time and gain a bit of character as it is used, something often lost in new products. For me, that honestly was a big reason for picking one up.

Goertzen Chest Pack & other essentials

The necessary ingredients for a good day on the river.

For now, I’m pretty well set. Wet wading with these items is a dream. I’ve more than once biked to nearby fishing spots and been rigged up in minutes because I have everything at hand. Now that the weather has turned to a more typical October in Montana, my attention has shifted towards waders. After a very chilly stop on the Clark Fork Wednesday, waders have skyrocketed to the top of my list. I don’t want a little cold weather to keep me from fishing and as fun as wet wading is, it stops being fun when you head home on a bike in 40 degree weather soaking wet from the thighs down.

I’ve also been drooling over a beautiful hand-built American Tenkara net by Nets That Honor The Fish. My rationalization is a net would minimize the handling of the fish but still allow for a photo opportunity and in the colder weather keep my hands out of the water a bit more. And of course, I can invent a reason to own just about any rod I find from TenkaraUSA’s ITO to the ‘nymphing/tanago/tenkara‘ rods over on Tenkarabum.

For now, I think I’ll be looking for a decent set of waders to keep the fun rolling. Those of you in warmer climates, be thankful. Those of you in cold locations, I’ll see you on the river, I’ll be the guy shivering in my pieced together cold weather gear, taking the occasional pull off a flask of Jameson trying to stay warm. Happy angling.

Excellent advice from one of the local breweries.

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One Response to Tenkara Gear: Simple but plentiful

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