As I write this, my 5-weight, two-piece Scott 9-footer sits poised against the piano, in the classic “partially-deconstructed-yet-ready-to-be-fished” configuration . You know, the one that literally guarantees a passing swath of loose clothing will come to cross purposes with a 2457, chemically-sharpened wait-a-minute vine that jerks the two pieces of expensive graphite into oblivion.
I could just do what’s necessary, deconstruct the labyrinthine mess, and case the reel and rod for protection. But for some reason, I do not do this. I’ve lost a rod once to this kind of bad management. The same way I just yesterday tossed an Iphone 4 into the hinterlands of Nevermore by not putting it into a Zip-Lock bag before falling into a pocket of the Upper Sacramento River. Some would say rugged individualist. Wife would say “idiot.” But the moment that led up to my phone’s ultimate perdition? Awesome. One of the prettiest fish I have ever seen there–and it wasn’t even my hookup; it was my buddy Adam’s first haul on my new Tenkara rod.
Neither risk, however foolhardy, recreates the Flight Of Icarus as much as running headlong into one’s local shop with a 7:3 Yamame Tenkara rod and a full tank of enthusiasm; you may as well employ a World Cup Vuvuzela horn in a sound proof room. You may as well deploy a Normandy-esque beach assault on the statues of Easter Island.
I may as well have thrown helium down a hallway.
A normally-loquacious, precocious, over-the-top personality, with one look at the “Tenkara USA” logo on the outside of the diminutive rod case, is now galvanized into the exposition eunuch.
“We’re done talking,” says one long-time friend/associate. His sarcasm BARELY making it to the surface. And not just his. I saw the glances. The whispers. The arm’s-length kind of philosophical struggle that might accompany finding out your favorite MMA fighter does needlepoint. Another friend of mine there has at least managed a tepid nod to the fact that Tenkara has some viable–yea even teachable (please excuse the overwrought term that allows for president’s to do a D.B. Cooper over the Sierra Nevada’s of fallibility) side-effects. But this is all on the down low. In the town square of flydom, he must maintain the face. And me, understanding the more subtle, blacklisting nuances of rhetorical martyrdom, will allow him to lead this double life of strain without any preconditions.
A few minutes later, and a little prodding managed to unplug what must’ve been literal YEARS of pent-up opportunities for the public flagellation of an atavistic driver of a “veritable model T while wearing a dress.” I felt like the Asian guy in the front row of a Don Rickles show. It was hilarious. I enjoyed it. But I work in an environment where affable piranhas feed off the more likable quirks of others, so in reality, the hazing only builds endearment to guys I’ve fished around for some 15 years. No harm. No foul. I get it. I’m gay. All because I’m refining the high-stick with a twelve-foot composite, telescoping rod that weighs less than my wallet.
I also realized that “cane pole” fishing–no matter its breakthroughs, improvements, developments, advances, tweaks, and dare I say equivalencies, will never be treated the same way as the standard approach to fly fishing. I will admit, that walking out of my local shop after that prolonged-but-enjoyable Manchurian bloodletting I was reluctant to “head right out” and fish it. Even brotherly persecution–no matter how well-intended–can be a bit discouraging.
But–if that’s all it takes to kill my enthusiastic pump-priming, then I deserve nothing but foul-hooks and 20-inch trout snapping 15x tippet (if that even exists). I headed straight out from the shop to a perfect vetting venue for my new rod (a venue that shall remain nameless, but let’s just say the spot empties into other spots that eventually empty into the ocean). I say this because fly fishing in standard form can be productive, but also limited to a single take per spot. Within an hour, I had hooked two juvenile trout–BUT–I hooked them in spots that veteran water readers might say would hold nothing whatsoever. Before I had a chance to hit anything that generally holds substantially sized trout, the mosquito holocaust literally had me running away from the river.
So I went home feeling . . . I guess odd. unrequited. Unsure of how a “real” fish is supposed to feel on the Tenkara rod.
The next afternoon, I went back out. Since I do not own mosquito netting, I used a large square of Tool–basically a netting material used in fabric work for weddings as wells a butterfly nets. jammed it in my wader pocket and headed out–and deliberately without my standard rod, so that I would be forced to fish through the pseudo-persecutory haze and the previous day’s diminutive results.
First fish was taken in a little pocket that has never yielded before. 11 inches. The next one was so violent that I only had time to see him jump before breaking the 5x and torpedoing away. I’d guess between 18-20. I had just witnessed the parabolic extremes of this thing in under ten casts.
Re strung my flies, including a little mayfly/midge amalgam with a rich green bead head my daughter had invented called “CEC”(Clara’s Emerald City). Cast into yet another spot that just begs to hold a fish, and yet never seems to do so. This time, it was a perfect storm. Fourteen inches, rigorous strength, my daughter’s fly AND the biggest fish to that date on my Tenkara rod.
All in all I hooked six. All within a .05 mile stretch. Sometimes I don’t hook that many in an entire day in that area. And sometimes in places that, well, “just don’t hold fish.”