Wednesday, May 8, 2013
If you follow proper casting mechanics with tenkara, everything else will fall into place. Sounds simple enough and fairly basic right? While half of the people who fish tenkara will have never fly fished before, a fair number will have some to a lot of fly fishing experience. You would think that with this prior knowledge and experience it would translate into a quicker grasp of proper casting motion for tenkara. Unfortunately due to muscle memory those of us with fly fishing experience find ourselves constantly reminding ourselves to concentrate on the technique of casting. Every single time I have caught myself either extending the arm on the cast or overpowering my cast, I've immediately concentrated on keeping the elbow close to my body, relaxing my grip and slowing down my cast, I have found myself very pleased with the results. For a model of great tenkara casting one only has to look at Daniel from Tenkara USA. His perfect form, beginning with stance and ending in the fluid motion of his kebari landing softly on the water is truly a thing of beauty. I would highly recommend every tenkara angler spend a few minutes checking out his videos and really watch how he cast. Another person with great technique is Jason from Tenkara Talk and watching his videos will prove helpful to both the beginner and experienced tenkara angler.
With longer level lines this motion of proper casting technique becomes even more important. When I first started fishing longer lines I thought more power on the down swing would propel my kebari a great distance. Instead this sudden increase in speed would translate into my kebari slapping the water, tangled in my tippet in most cases or worst yet wind knots in my level line or tippet. I would advise to stick with level lines the length of your tenkara rod until you have the proper casting technique down. Everyone wants to be that guy who can cast his kebari the farthest, but distance does not matter if you are a knotted mess. Also longer lines are truly harder to fish in areas with both trees and wind.
Speaking of wind, I find trying to muscle your kebari out into the wind,is usually a guaranteed way to have a miserable time fishing tenkara. One of my favorite aspects of tenkara is you can fish a river from any angle both upstream and downstream and still catch a ton of fish. This information becomes most useful during windier days. Trout are very perceptive fish, so much so that during windy days many fish will stack up along wind swept areas looking for bugs that have been blown into the water. I remember one trip last summer, where I was fishing a stream that had wind pushing up against the current. The wind had enough strength that it created back eddies at the head of many pools. The water on top would swirl in a frothy almost washer machine motion. The brown trout being the clever hunter they are, positioned itself right on the edge of this froth. When a grass hopper or other bug was blown into the water a brown would rocket up, like a great white shark eating a seal and explode on the hopper. The brown would only explode on bugs that got caught up in the clear edge near the froth. Seeing this I knew casting with the wind up stream and targeting the edge of the froth, would likely be my best approach. Sure enough using the wind to my advantage and capitalizing on the situation, I was able to have a great day of tenkara, landing several large aggressive browns.
In the end proper casting technique is very crucial to becoming a more enlightened and successful tenkara angler. If ever there was a aspect of tenkara worth focused attention and practice it would be proper casting. I know since spending my time more worried about proper casting mechanics and not so much the kebari or fly I have chosen, I've become a way better tenkara fisher.