Article by Aldric Meints
Tenkara is the best way to introduce a new angler to the world of fishing. Stripped down to the minimum, the art simplifies fishing to a mechanic that allows even complete beginners to get fish in hand faster than other methods. Tenkara rod casting eliminates the two handed dexterity required to cast a fly rod or conventional tackle. Couple the ease of fixed-line fishing with the eager and foolhardy temperament of bluegill and a novice is almost sure to land their first fish.
This weekend I decided to put this theory to the test and put my girlfriend on her first fish.
My girlfriend’s experience in fishing includes bobber and worm fishing with her uncles when she was young, but the experience was not memorable and certainly not exciting. In fact, she can’t remember ever landing a fish.
When we first started dating, she knew I had a bit of an obsession but it was time to bring her into our world of tenkara rod fishing.
The trout streams in eastern Nebraska are few and far between, and with temperatures in the 100’s, the streams become too hot for safe catch and release. Instead, we made our way to a local state park that features a series of ponds that mostly yield bluegill, bass, and catfish. I grew up fishing these ponds during high school, but I hadn’t been back for almost ten years.
We arrived and found the campsites crowded and certain areas of the ponds packed, but we were able to find a relatively empty corner in one of my old favorite ponds.
Using my Elkhorn Rod Company (Colorado) 12’ tenkara rod and a hand tied kebari, I taught her the basics of casting. I had a level line on my rod at the time, and for ease of casting, I should have taught her on a floating, braided line, but she caught on quick enough! Soon she was wading and casting in the bathtub warm pond.
After a few casts and a short battle with a tree, she had her first hook-up. She was ecstatic! The sudden jerk on the line and the weight of the fish made her let out a little yelp but she quickly realized “it’s a baby!” The size of the fish mattered not, and she beamed as she held the fish.
Our outing was cut short due to a thunderstorm, and while she only netted a handful of bluegill, she had a great time and can’t wait to go again.
It’s important to consider how the overall experience will be when you take someone fishing for the first time. It can be the difference between getting someone excited about your favorite pastime or turning someone off completely. The thought of catching less than slab like bluegill from the shore may seem dull to some, but for someone that’s never had an organic experience with fishing it could be an exhilarating and eye opening experience. A tenkara rod does an excellent job at getting the gear out of the way and allowing the fisherman or woman to get onto a fish in a simple and effective way.
Aldric Meints is an angler, professional photographer, drone pilot and writer, roaming the Great Plains and American Southwest. When he’s not found exploring mountains or streams, you are likely to find him rescuing vintage cameras from thrift stores or estates sales. If you want to go along for the ride and get an inside look at his travels and work, you can follow him on Instagram, @aldricmeints.
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