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Tenkara....seriously?!

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  • Tenkara....seriously?!

    Just curious. Why is a Japanese style of minimalist fly fishing becoming so popular here in the U.S.? Most Tenkara fishermen claim to be minimalists, but use expensive graphite telescoping rods. My thinking is that cane poles have been used in America for centuries, and they are as minimalist as it gets. Why spend so much money on a fancy graphite telescoping rod that is minimalist, supposedly, when you can use a tried and true cane pole for the same purpose and in the same way. Where is the benefit? I am curious about cane poles recently, and see it as a far superior option to fancy Tenkara rods. Do you guys and gals have any thoughts on the issue?
    Last edited by Killer Kyle; 02-25-18, 09:38 PM.

  • #2
    Spence and me like our homemade bamboo cane pole more then the tenkara one we got for free.
    Just my two cents


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    • #3
      I have a super cheap one from amazon that I use on occasion on blue lines. I think the appeal is hyped up as well, but in some niches it makes sense over a cane pole. The fact that it telescopes (usually has a line holder as well) makes it super handy and quick to get fishing when backpacking, in blue lines, or as a backup to your backup rod in the backseat. Also it can be machined for a super thin and flexible long rod out to like 13ft or longer, which may get heavy if it were a cane pole... but I'd rather a Euro nymph rod, reel, and line for those purposes. In terms of action, price, etc I agree. It's like buying $6 pre-peeled oranges from Whole Foods... convenient? I guess. Worth it? I personally don't think so...

      Also iso1600 is the resident tenkara expert on this forum so I'm sure he can provide a more thorough Point of View.


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      • #4
        My son likes tenkara because it fits in his backpack. Also in the trunk. And adjusts to differenct lengths while fishing. And not expensive for a fly rod, although obviously more than a cane pole.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Stinkbait View Post
          My son likes tenkara because it fits in his backpack. Also in the trunk. And adjusts to differenct lengths while fishing. And not expensive for a fly rod, although obviously more than a cane pole.
          I might also add, that I keep mine in the truck, tucked up under the sun visors. It's super easy, as Sighter says, convenient, to pop out and toss a fly into some water. However, I think they are terrible for bluelines. Most of the time the length is just too long for setting the hook in the N Ga mountains. Maybe in the smokies, a good hike in, etc. But I don't think there is any hike I can make for which my trusty Eagle Claw is a disadvantage. *Sighter is going to love this! In fact, the eagle claw is so stiff that it serves as a walking stick (I am old for goodness sake) and I can also use it to keep bears at bay on those really wild bluelines! I haven't come across any 'squatches yes (besides Big T and Gordon), but I am pretty sure a native, untamed squatch would run in fear of the bright yellow whipping stick.

          To add to that, someone (dredger) once told me that small wild fish like YELLOW - I don't think it's a coincidence that the eagle claw is bright yellow and THE BEST blueline rod ever made... I don't believe in coincidences!

          In all seriousness, Spencer did learn a bit about drift and high sticking on the tenkara at the 'hood pond... and I think if I were to teach another young angler about flyfishing, I might start them on something like a shorter (ISO knows all the various names of these telescopic rods) tenkara rod to teach them about loading the rod and drift, etc.

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          • #6
            This is a bit like asking why Toyotas are so popular. Versatility and lasting quality in getting the job done. Personally, I like my little green maxcatch rod almost as much as splatek likes his yellow abomination.
            -skunked

            Warning: all posts should be assumed to contain sarcasm and misinformation unless stated otherwise. The opinions shared are not necessarily those of the poster.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Killer Kyle View Post
              Why spend so much money on a fancy graphite telescoping rod that is minimalist, supposedly, when you can use a tried and true cane pole for the same purpose and in the same way. Where is the benefit?
              U mad bro?

              So I go drop $100 on a badass Japanese tenkara rod, $15 on a spool of level line that will last me over a year of fishing, $6 on tippet, and whatever on flies/etc....
              The quality of that gear, vs what I could get on conventional fly fishing gear for that same investment, is worlds apart.
              I guess you gotta try it to understand? There is not a single rod sold by an American company that compares to a quality Nissin, Suntech, Daiwa, or Shimano (Japanese) rod.
              Buying direct from Japan lowers prices a lot.
              Resident Tenkara Nerd

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              • #8
                In my experience, Tenkara mostly appeals to hipsters and to n00bs who are seduced by the promise of never having to learn how to actually cast a fly rod. Basically, it's a loser's lunch of marketing hype and shortcuts for people who lack the skill to fly fish.

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                • #9
                  Wow. That was rough.

                  I think tenkara is pretty awesome. It won't make me put down my western rods, but it is fun and unique. I think the same could be said for flyfishing as a whole. There is something to be said for the simplicity of a fixed length of line and a long rod. I love it for backpacking or impromptu fishing while hiking.

                  I would try to further explain, but seems like most guys opinions are pretty set.
                  Jackson Dockery
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                  • #10
                    There's nothing that can be done with a tenkara rod that can't be done better with a traditional fly rod. Thi is why the industry sells tenkara by promoting "simplicity," "authenticity" and other weasealy marketing BS; there's no way to compare on the merits.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dylar View Post
                      In my experience, Tenkara mostly appeals to hipsters and to n00bs who are seduced by the promise of never having to learn how to actually cast a fly rod. Basically, it's a loser's lunch of marketing hype and shortcuts for people who lack the skill to fly fish.
                      -skunked

                      Warning: all posts should be assumed to contain sarcasm and misinformation unless stated otherwise. The opinions shared are not necessarily those of the poster.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Dylar View Post
                        There's nothing that can be done with a tenkara rod that can't be done better with a traditional fly rod. Thi is why the industry sells tenkara by promoting "simplicity," "authenticity" and other weasealy marketing BS; there's no way to compare on the merits.
                        Fit your czech nymphing rod in a fanny pack.

                        Edit:
                        I won't say tenkara is superior to Western style flyfishing.... I don't believe it is. I will say it offers some benefits over flyfishing. If you don't like it, ok, cool. I will say, you can get immensely good drifts with long tenkara rods. You can make a much longer tenkara rod than you could feasibly make a fly rod, the weight of a fly rod past 11 feet just adds up so fast.
                        Last edited by ferrulewax; 02-26-18, 11:34 AM.
                        Jackson Dockery
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Killer Kyle View Post
                          Just curious. Why is a Japanese style of minimalist fly fishing becoming so popular here in the U.S.? Most Tenkara fishermen claim to be minimalists, but use expensive graphite telescoping rods. My thinking is that cane poles have been used in America for centuries, and they are as minimalist as it gets. Why spend so much money on a fancy graphite telescoping rod that is minimalist, supposedly, when you can use a tried and true cane pole for the same purpose and in the same way. Where is the benefit? I am curious about cane poles recently, and see it as a far superior option to fancy Tenkara rods. Do you guys and gals have any thoughts on the issue?
                          ...I grew up in the 50's-60's...every bait store ,(and they were more plentiful back then), had concrete pipes standing on end at the end of the parking spots right in front of the store...filled with various length and size cane poles, (unrigged)...we used to rig them with 8-10 lb mono, a # 4 or 6 Aberdeen hook, and a split shot...with or without a bobber...a little heavy for bream, but you never knew when a big bass or cat might bite...

                          ...I wish I had a nickel for every fish I caught on them...

                          Blessings!

                          Jimmy

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                          • #14
                            I own 4 tenkara rods in different lengths. I use them occasionally when I backpack. I have one that is about the size of a paper towel roll packed up. They have their place. Different strokes for different folks!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ferrulewax View Post
                              Fit your czech nymphing rod in a fanny pack.
                              My 11 wt with reel, 600 grain full sink, and a 6/0 T-Bone on the end weighs less than a pound. It's not going to break your arm to carry a rod in.

                              Edit:
                              I won't say tenkara is superior to Western style flyfishing.... I don't believe it is. I will say it offers some benefits over flyfishing. If you don't like it, ok, cool. I will say, you can get immensely good drifts with long tenkara rods. You can make a much longer tenkara rod than you could feasibly make a fly rod, the weight of a fly rod past 11 feet just adds up so fast.
                              You can get a much longer drift using traditional line handling techniques than you can ever get from a fixed line setup (or a mono-rig/"euro" setup on a conventional fly rod, for that matter), it requires a more advanced skill set than just high sticking with a longer rod, but that just illustrates my point re: tenkara mostly being used as a substitute for casting and line handling skill.

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