I spent almost a week traveling to and from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was rare occasion where I got to work out of town AND have time to fish on both ends of the booking. A sweet, but rare occasion for sure that I took full advantage of. I had a marvelous time camping out, chasing blue lines for better and worse, and successfully logging in not only some great spots but pulling in some nice fish. But the specifics of the trip I will have to write about maybe later.
This post is not a trip report. It is about me finally, breaking my own long held myths about tenkara. I think many of us love tenkara so much that we will sometimes take our passion to the edge. I am guilty of this brand of self-delusion. But the truth remains, “tenkara is not for every situation.” I know that this has been said by many however, I think I have subtly kept in my head the idea that I could at least try tenkara in situations. But arrogance is not pretty or fruitful and ultimately results in a “fool’s errand.”
I see now and forevermore that to use tenkara on larger waterways is a misuse of its “rightful purpose” by design. To borrow an art analogy from my wife, “I was trying to paint a large, oil canvas with my watercolor set using only my small brushes.” A large canvas requires different tools and the right medium. Painting with watercolor has its own style, techniques, and tools. Both watercolor and large canvas oil painting create art but only when you follow those specific techniques that make each unique.
I know that there are those who have had success using tenkara for larger waterways. I see the fish they are catching; I have watched them lecture at fly shows, and I respect their fortitude to test the limits of tenkara. When I see a large fish caught with a tenkara rod it may give me confidence that my gear could do the if needed. Not to brag, I have caught some monster trout on my tenkara rod and can provide witness statements if needed. The truth is, tenkara is not about the fish or size of fish as much as it is the spirit, approach, and experience of where you fish with it.
My final thoughts:
I can honestly say that I certainly wasted time trying to fish those larger waters. Those are full days that I will not get back and those regrets I take as the price for my lesson. I can only encourage you to not make the same mistake. That’s me, making the mistakes so that you don’t have to. I know many have said it and I accept the truth now. Just because you can fish a larger river with tenkara, doesn't mean you should. Make it about the place, the experience and the water terrain that tenkara was meant for. Your fish may not be giants, but you will catch some nicer memories and be less likely to break your rod in the process working for social media "bragging rights". Fish for you and fish from the soul of what tenkara is. Anything else is just your ego wanting to prove something that doesn't need to be proven.