Tenkara Newbie

My love affair with Tenkara began this summer.

My husband, Dan (alias, The Simpler Angler), bought an Amago rod just over a year ago and since that time has become a crazy fisherman.  He goes out ALL the time, multiple times a week.  But I support it; because he loves it and it makes him happy and he gets to be outside.  Since fishing has become such a passion of his, I decided that I should take a crack at it.  I think when he invited me and I actually said yes it was a bit of a surprise for him.

Using a Tenkara rod is like nothing I have ever done before.  When I was a kid, it was all about the standard fishing pole, from a boat, on a lake.  In high school, a friend attempted to show me how to use his rod and reel to fly fish, but it didn’t quite stick. I got overwhelmed with all the line and the motion involved and basically gave up.  I remember when Dan got his Amago thinking, “This might be something I can do.”  The simple nature of tenkara fishing intrigued me and I’m so glad I decided to give it a try this summer.  Not only was it a way to spend time with my husband doing something he loves, but it has now become something I love as well.  Every time we go out I learn something new and get better.  I can’t ask for much more.  (Plus Dan is a fantastic teacher and makes it fun.)

Today we headed up Rattlesnake Creek.  It was already hot when we hit the creek about 10am and the water felt blessedly cool.  We arrived at a shady area and Dan showed me a nice little spot in the hopes of getting me “into a fish”, as he so often says.  But…no luck.


Dan hopped up on a log to access a deeper pool and was quickly into a little fish he didn’t even realize was on his line until he pulled back to cast again.


Dan stayed at the pool for a while longer, where, apparently, he caught another fish.  I, however, was continuing upstream and missed his second catch.


I tried my hand at reading the water on my own and got a fish on the line, only to have it release itself before I could bring it in.  Dan says this is the best for the fish, so I was okay with it.  Also, I have yet to handle a fish on my own (I know, I can barely call myself a fisherman) so I wasn’t quite sure what I would have done with it if I had been able to bring it in, as Dan was too far downstream to hear my calls for help.

We moved into some deeper water and Dan pulled out the biggest fish I’ve ever seen him catch.  Watching this guy flop up out of the river was really exciting.  Most of the places Dan and I have fished this summer are full of little guys, 6-7” fish, so watching Dan bring in this big guy was a new experience for me.  Frankly, I was impressed by the fish and how Dan handled it.



The above picture is my favorite from the day.  I only wish I hadn’t cut his head off.

At this point, I was wondering if I was doomed to get skunked (as I wasn’t really counting the fish from earlier who had released itself).  We continued on and Dan, sensing my frustration, located some spots that were sure to have fish and let me have at them.  And, to my delight, I caught some fish!



I think my total for the day was four.  Much better than the zero I was feeling like was my fate for the day.  Not too long after my final fish, we decided to pack it in.  It was getting hot and we were nearing an area where people were swimming and had dogs running around in the water.  As we walked out, Dan turned around to take a shot of where we’d been.


This is what I love most about living and fishing here in Missoula.  This trail is heavily used by walkers, runners, and bikers.  But down in those trees, away from the foot traffic, there is clear, cool water with tons of wonderful fish just waiting for my fly.  Days like today make me feel truly lucky to live where I do.

So this summer, I tried Tenkara fishing.  And fell in love with it.  I couldn’t have asked for a better or more patient teacher.  Days like today also make me feel truly lucky to have the partner I do.


So, later, Dan asked me, “Do you think you’ll want to go out when it gets cold?”  Jury’s out on that one, but I have a feeling I’ll miss it too much to not, at the very least, try.  Maybe just from the banks though…  We’ll have to wait and see.

Happy Angling.

*Special thanks to Shannon for writing this guest post. She fished the Daiwa Soyokaze today and did an excellent job. She’s improved her casting, she’s getting nicer sets without me “prompting”, and she’s controlling fish on the line really well. Great job on the water and excellent post!

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