Confessions of a CHEAP Tenkara Newbie
by Andy May
Many years ago I fished small streams in upstate NY with egg sacs on a fly rod. Nice browns and brookies. FUN! But then my wife came along, kids, etc. Not that family isn't fun it just crowded out lots of other fun stuff like fishing.
The kids are grown now with their own little delights so we're happy empty-nesters.
Last spring I read an article in Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine about Tenkara... BOING! I was hooked. Since then I've read virtually everything I can about Tenkara: TenkaraBum, TenkaraUSA, TenkaraTimes, etc., and Kevin Kelleher's masterpiece. (It's on my Kindle and I've read it over and over!) I even drove up to Mossy Creek in Harrisonburg and bugged the proprietors about Tenkara until closing!
BUT here's the rub: I'm cheap. Spending $200 on a rod not knowing if I'll actually enjoy it is not in my nature. So I bought a 14' Gone Fishin' fiberglass telescoping rod for $15, removed a section so that it was about 12', tied on a level line and tippet and headed out. To the backyard. I couldn't cast past the end of the lillian. It was really ugly.
Okay, so I'm cheap but I am also persistent. After trying various combinations of line (even my own furled!) with no improvement I pony-ed up and bought a floating, tapered tip hi-vis fly line. Eureka! I could cast like Dr. Ishigaki. (NOT...but better!)
If you've read this far you either a) need a life or b) are thinking "Where's he going with this?"
So... here comes option b):
Is it really all about the rod? If I shell out the $200 and practice, practice, practice will I ultimately be able to cast an ultralight line?
In conclusion: I'm cheap, persistent AND I have a thick skin, so please reply with brutal honesty. Tenkara seems like the absolutely perfect passion for a guy living in and preparing to retire in the mountains of southwest Virginia so I don't want to give up on something when it feels like I'm on the cusp of something magical!
Thanks in advance for your pithy replies.
PS If you think the rod's the thing, I'll trade all the following:
-a set of old Ping irons in a nice Ping stand bag,
-a pair of nice men's size 12 Callaway golf shoes,
-a complete set of virtually new ladies Tru-Tech clubs
-a pair of ladies size 8 Foot Joy golf shoes
-a host of gloves, towels, balls, etc.
for a nice quality 12' rod. New or lightly used.
Walk softly and carry a long stick. - Teddy Roosevelt (almost)
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin
The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.