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Give Yourself Time

by John Evans
(San Antonio, TX)

Give Yourself Time. The Rewards are Worth It.

Give Yourself Time. The Rewards are Worth It.

I haven’t told anyone this. In fact, the only other person who knows the story is my wife, Robin. Several years ago I tried tenkara fishing for the first time and totally hated it. I mean Hated it with a capital “H”. I had no fly-fishing experience, but I thought a tenkara rod would be fun to try. I purchased an inexpensive setup off the Internet and immediately visited a nearby river. I could almost hear other anglers snickering at me. What a disaster!

The harder I tried to cast, the worse I did. The line whipped me in the face or piled up at my feet. I worked myself into a lather and still hadn’t delivered the fly ten feet into the water! The only way I could have caught a fish is if he’d jumped on the bank. My first thought was, “What nut dreamed this up?” My second thought was, “What a waste of money!” And my third thought was, “Where’s the nearest trash can?”

I drove in a straight line home and chunked ALL of my tenkara gear in the garbage. A more wretched experience on the water I couldn’t imagine, and I just wanted to put it as far behind me as I could.

When Robin arrived home, she could see I was upset. I related every tortured detail to her, and she didn’t say anything at first. Why stick your hand into a hornet’s nest? Later that evening, after I’d calmed down, she suggested gently, “John, I wonder if you gave it enough time? Maybe there’s a learning curve.”

Hmmm . . . A learning curve? I thought about it that night and slept on it. Robin has the knack of saying just enough, but not too much. The next morning I fetched my tenkara rod out of the trash can before the garbage men arrived. I also watched several videos on the Internet to learn how to cast. I resolved to do one thing: One way or another I would catch three fish on my gear before giving up, and then I’d make a decision.

So, I went to my favorite fishing hole—one with lots of panfish and small bass in it—and brought along a container of worms. This time I made sure the wind was behind me, and I stuck one of those worms on a beadhead nymph. Through trial and error, I finally delivered the bait to a likely spot.

And a large, green sunfish nearly ripped the rod from my hand. He tore into that worm like it was his first meal in three days. The rod, even though it was only a cheap one, came alive. “Oh . . . Oh . . . I have to try that again!” That morning I caught a couple of dozen panfish and one or two Guadalupe bass. Eventually I left off the worm and caught a few fish on the fly only. I was amazed that fish would strike a bit of yarn and tinsel tied on a bare hook. Since that morning, I’ve never looked back. How close I’d come to giving up too soon!

The moral of this story? Give yourself time, especially if you have no experience with any kind of fly fishing. If you feel yourself becoming frustrated, take a long, slow drink from your canteen. Or maybe just sit down and think about it a little. At least adopt the “three-fish rule.” My guess, after the first and second fish, is that you’ll be the one hooked.

Comments for Give Yourself Time

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Feb 12, 2017
by: Chris Stewart

...nothing wrong with a little keiryu fishing either.

Feb 13, 2017
by: Dave

Your wife sounds like mine. Sounds like you have a keeper. Good on you for sticking with it.

Feb 13, 2017
by: John Evans

Oh, yes . . . As I always tell people, I married "up." Lack of patience is often my problem.

Feb 13, 2017
It's about more than catching fish, but......
by: John

After years of doing all kinds of fishing, I really do believe that it truly is about more than just catching fish. To me just being in great environments with the beauty and sound of water and nature all around is very relaxing. I also really love the challenge of trying to coax a fish into biting either a natural or artificial bait. It's alright if the fish win sometimes. If you let it, fishing will change you, a little like how your wife's comment did. But its still a fact that catching a few fish makes the experience that much better.

Feb 13, 2017
Great Story - Great Wife!
by: Les A.

I too have a very supportive wife. She grew up in a hunting and fishing family. I too bought an inexpensive Tenkara outfit off the internet, and didn't have the best first experience. I fished Tenkara for the first time with winds gusting to 30 miles an hour. I did catch fish however, and realized two things after my first session. 1. I really love the connection and fight with a fixed line. 2. This rod has way too fast of an action (stiff) for the light fly I was using. Getting a Suntech was like going from a Pinto to a Porsche. More and more I am realizing that Tenkara and Keiryu and not the same as fly fishing. Yes, we fish with a fly, but the principles are different. I am also learning there is a difference in Keiryu fishing and Tenkara. I am enjoying learning new fishing techniques.

Feb 13, 2017
It's a Process
by: John Evans

Thank you for your kind words. It's a process, isn't it?--And you learn something new every time you go out.

Feb 15, 2017
by: Dave

It is a process, just like the best things in life. I am a trad bow hunter as well and I love what the Great Fred Bear said "If you consider an unsuccessful hunt a waste of time, then the true mean of the chase eludes you all together." I think this really captures how I feel about fishing with my tenkara/keiryu rods. Good luck on your future trips!

Feb 25, 2017
Great story
by: Mike W. Tacoma, WA .

Great story. Sounds like when I tried to use a baitcasting outfit for the first time. It was a disaster! I grew up with a spinning rod in hand. Later I took up flyfishing and enjoyed it, but never could get the hang of a baitcasting rig! Eventually I gave up. Glad you didn't with fixed line fishing as its a blast! I now prefer it to both western fly and spin fishing for most situations. My kyotaki and Teton are fun rods, but yes! A suntech is in my near future! Hm30r I'm thinking! Tight lines and no reels!.....Mike.

Feb 25, 2017
Suntech Kurenai 30 is a Great Rod
by: John Evans

Thanks for the encouragement. I have a Suntech Kurenai 30, and it's a superlight, buttery smooth, exceptionally fun rod. I let one of my friends hold it, and his exact words were, "It feel about as heavy as a ballpoint pen!" Just use extra-light tippet to protect the sensitive tip and have fun. Even a small trout will give you a fight you won't soon forget.

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“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” - Benjamin Franklin

"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." -
Col. Robert Venables 1662

As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.


The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.

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