For the first time I am writing something the day it happened. Sitting comfortably in the shade on the banks of the Holsloot river, with the events fresh in my mind.
This morning I took my daughter along, she had a standard rig and I was fishing with a Tenkara rod. Before you get that blank expression on your face, and ask, what the heck is Tenkara? let me explain.
Tenkara originated in Japan and is becoming popular all over the world. It is just like normal flyfishing, except that you dont have a fly line or reel (Huh?), and the rods are a bit longer. Typically the Rods are 11 to 13 ft long, and instead of having to put them together piece by piece, they telescope out just like an old radio aerial, so that before they are extended, they are shorted than a four piece rod tube. They use a furled tapered leader, which is connected to the tip of the rod, and is usually about the length of the rod. To this you connect a standard tippet of about 6X and as long as you dare.
The beauty of this system is that you can cast an easy 24 to 30 feet in front of you, which is ideal for pocket water or the Cape and Eastern Cape waters. In fact it has a much longer reach than you would have fishing just the tip of your line out of the top of your rod. The cast is easy, the fly lands like a dandelion seed, and with practice, extremely accurate. What more do you want?
Back on the river it seems that my daughter was about to out fish me, but with a bit of diligence, and some experimenting with the flies, I soon caught up. After that the code was cracked and it went swimmingly (no that doesn't mean I fell in the water like I usually do).
The fly that did the damage has been featured as the fly of the month.
The simplicity of the method really appealed to me and my concern of what would happen when I caught a fish and wasn't able to pull it in the normal method was soon given the acid test. What do you do, when your line is longer than your rod, and to make it worse the weight of the fish bends the rod, taking the fish even further away. The situation was ripe for an epic comedy of errors. The the fish was given head to go either upstream or downstream keeping tension on the line. Once I 'sort of' have control, the fish was drawn towards me and into the net as it passed. If it is a small fish you can grab the line as the fish goes past, pass it to your rod hand and then grab the tippet. Slide your hand down till you have the hook, and release the fish.
After fishing some time, I took over the standard stream rod from Sarah to show how to get the fly under some bushes, and got a bit of a shock. After the elegance of the Tenkara rod, this one now felt hopelessly inadequate and clunky. It took a bit of adjusting to get back into the standard rod. Having for the first time tried one method after another, there is no doubt that the tenkara rod is going with me on future river outings.
Incidentally the tradition tenkara net differs slightly from the standard one in that the it is bent at the neck, which kind of turns it into a funnel trap for the fish as it swims past. Stephen Boshoff has made a sample of one of these, and it turned out wonderfully.
This brings us back to the simplicity of the system. All you need can fit in two top pockets, and the net is simply stuck into your belt (or Obi if you are going Japanese). A perfect setup for no-clutter, stealth fishing.
Simple and effective, Tenkara is beauty, and stock is in.