I did not get into to tenkara because of minimalism. And for years I rejected the idea outright. Something about it just didn’t sit right with me. I’ve always found it difficult being affiliated with a “club”, be it an official organization or simply a group of people united by a philosophy or lifestyle choices. For better or for worse I guess I’m a bit oppositionally defiant (probably for the worse). Maybe because of childhood events I’m afraid of rejection, or maybe it’s just my introvert’s personality. I guess we can leave that for the shrink’s sofa. To quote Pee Wee Herman “I’m a loner Dottie. A rebel.”
I bought my first tenkara rod because I thought it would be a good way to sneak some fly fishing into family hikes. This is the truth. No grand vision or philosophical mission. It simply looked like a way to speed up the transition from hiking to casting and so lessen the irritation factor for the wife and kids when I wanted to stop for a few minutes of fishing during a stream side ramble. Isn’t it funny how all hiking trails run along streams? At least that’s what my family must have thought.
The minimalism of it snuck up on me; it took the form of the grease that lessened the startup friction of activity. I want to believe that I like complexity. But of course that is partly just a way to preserve inertia. An object at rest tends to stay at rest. The more moving parts a thing has the less likely I am to do it. I’m just not very organized and getting past that inertia is difficult. That’s really how tenkara took a hold of my fishing life; by lessening the inertia.
I would plan a fishing trip and I’d pack all the gear. The various rods and reels. All the fly boxes. And when I got out of the car and it was time to rig up and hit the water I found myself reaching for the tenkara gear more and more because it was easier. I didn’t think of it as simplicity or minimalism. I probably didn’t really think of it at all in the moment. I just sort of followed the path of least resistance. Which was tenkara gear.
But gravity has a way of pulling things back in. So following the Big Bang of tenkara epiphany, the Big Crunch started happening. Things I’d shed started coming back. The simple tenkara gear got more and more complicated – or at least it got more and more. That’s the dirty secret of tenkara I reckon. Tenkara rods are like Pringles (and guitars) you just can’t have one. Things were getting complicated again.
A while back I got the Everyday Mini Pack from Tenkara Rod Company to check out and potentially review. And I remember thinking “this is a cool little pack.” But I have to admit to also thinking “but it’s a bit small for me”. With the idea of testing it out, I started using it. And I have to tell you I was surprised. Not necessarily by the pack itself. It’s a pretty simple (though well thought out bit of kit). But I was surprised by the feeling of relief that it gave me.
I don’t want to overstate things and sound too cheesy, but using this small pack gave me the excuse to keep things simple again. It made me feel a bit unprepared and off balance but it also made me be more thoughtful about what to bring along with me. So sort of like tenkara itself, I was a bit resistant to the charm at first, but then it grew on me.
And I’m not blind to the irony of suggesting that you buy new gear to keep things simple. Of course there is absolutely no need for that. You may already have a small pack that you’ve “outgrown”. Get that pack out again and see if it can bring back some simple charms. Or just throw a small box of flies and tippet in your pocket and keep it simple.
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