“Our life is frittered away by detail. . . simplify, simplify.”
-Henry David Thoreau
Greetings all! My name is Andrew M. Wayment and I’ve been a fly fisherman for over 20 years now, but I am relatively new to tenkara fishing. For those of you who don’t know, tenkara is a form of fly fishing developed first in Japan hundreds of years ago on mountain streams using a rod of 10 to 14 feet with 15 to 20 feet of line attached to a piece of fabric at the tip called a “Lilian.” With tenkara, there is no reel as in western fly fishing.
I received my first tenkara rod from Badger Tenkara back in the fall of 2014 and have been hooked ever since. I love the simplicity of it. Since I started fly fishing twenty years ago, it seems that the equipment has become more and more fancy and expensive. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fly rod, reel, and all the gadgets as much as the next guy, but there is something to be said about getting back to the basics and simplifying things.
I want to make it clear from the outset that I am not strictly a tenkara angler. I enjoy it immensely, but I cannot say that it is the best technique for every situation. I will say, however, that there are times when tenkara is as effective as any other type of fly fishing, maybe even more so. I’m excited to write about my explorations in this new frontier and I hope you will enjoy taking this journey with me.
Since I started blogging about tenkara on my Upland Ways blog and discussing it on social media, I have been totally astounded at the negatively and hate it stirs up. I’ve read arguments that tenkara is hurtful to the industry because new anglers are not buying traditional rods and reels. I’ve read criticism that tenkara is not even fly fishing, but is nothing more than cane pole fishing. Surprisingly, many of the attacks became personal. I found it hard to believe that other anglers would be so hateful towards another form of angling different than their own. As a practitioner in both western fly fishing and tenkara, I really can’t understand why this is. To me, they are both forms of fly fishing. Despite the negativity, I was not dissuaded in the slightest. Rather, it fueled my fire for tenkara.
Another recent development in my family has further stoked the flames. My oldest daughter Emma just received her call to serve a mission for our church in Tokyo, Japan and her mission covers Mount Fuji and some of the mountainous regions of Japan where tenkara was born. While her primary mission is to teach the gospel, I gave her the secondary mission to learn more about tenkara fishing while she is there and to teach me about it. So, for me, tenkara is a way to connect with my daughter while she is in the Land of the Rising Sun for 18 months.
From the tenkara books that I have read, one thing that really stood out to me is the meaning of the word, “tenkara,” in Japanese. The word means, “from the sky” or “from heaven.” While I don’t yet fully understand why the Japanese named it this, I’ve always personally felt there is a deep spirituality about fly fishing. I even wrote a book about this entitled, Heaven on Earth: Stories of Fly Fishing, Fun & Faith. So the word “tenkara” resonated with me from the get go.
While I don’t know where this journey will take me, I’m excited for the adventure. I hope that the readers of this blog will enjoy my Tenkara Wandering.