You’ll often hear it said that there is a lot to be learned from mindful observation. In this video, filmed at the 2019 ONI School on the Provo river in Utah, we captured a great “start to finish” example of tenkara fishing by Rob Worthing that highlights all of the fundamentals and a few “bells and whistles” too.
Here, Rob is positioned mid-river, in a stable casting stance with his casting side leg forward, with a nice spot of pocket water about 15 feet away and parallel to his right. There is an average looking run just above it. He is fishing a rod and line system that is about 30 feet in length, with level line and an unweighted “Red Ass Monkey” wet fly. Rather than target it “point blank”, Rob approaches the pocket water indirectly and pulls a nice brown as a result. Let’s take a look at how he makes it happen.
- 00:07 – After completing an initial drift through the run above the pocket, Rob drops a new cast, which he drifts very briefly, unsatisfied with its position. He quickly launches another cast – adjusting both his arm position and the tip position to achieve the drift he is looking for.
- 00:12 – On the drift, Rob maintains a high tip position to ensure line tension. This generates solid contact, which allows him control of the fly’s speed and position. Having drifted the upper run without a strike, he guides it down into the pocket water, allowing it to enter that target zone as free flowing food would naturally.
- 00:17 – Rob has drifted the entirety of this intended target zone without result, but he isn’t finished. He rotates his elbow outward away from his body, which drops the rod tip upstream and parallel to the water. This stops the fly’s downstream movement and also pulls it to the surface. Rob hovers that fly over the target zone for a few seconds, then…
- 00:22 – FISH ON! As Rob sets the hook and brings the rod into fighting position, he steps backwards with his lead leg. This helps create line tension as he begins to bring the fish under control.
- 00:25 – The fish runs hard for the near bank, but Rob locks it down by countering the force with a light “finger brace” of the rod’s lowest section. He allows the rod to rest against his off hand, but does not grasp the rod (which could potentially change its flex enough to create serious damage).
- 00:53 – The fish is still pulling hard, and Rob wants to move it into calm water below the plunge on the bottom left. To dislodge the fish from its position, he alternates the tip angle between up and downstream, changing the angle at which the fish is feeling pulled, which confuses it enough to move back out into the current.
- 01:16 – Rob begins moving downstream with the fish, careful to keep line tension in place.
- 01:21 – Once the fish hits the calmer water, it is done fighting. Rob carefully hand lines the fish in, then takes advantage of the lack of current to net the fish. He sends it on its way after a quick look.
This is what it looks like when it all comes together. While there is no single “right” way to catch a fish, this video gives us a good look at the fundamental concepts that make for success with tenkara rod fishing.
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