January 21, 2018

Discover Tenkara's New Book -- Is it worth getting? Absolutely yes!

I have a few books on tenkara in my library, just a few. I don't read Japanese, so I don't have any of the original tenkara monographs published in that country, but I do have three books from authoritative sources published in English.

The first is tenkara: Radically Simple, Ultralight Fly Fishing (Kelleher and Ishimura, 2011). This is an excellent introduction monograph to tenkara, and maybe all that a person needs when getting started in tenkara fishing. It's simple in design and uncomplicated in how it presents its information. I highly recommend it.

The second is tenkara - the book. A complete guide to the techniques, gear, history and philosophy of tenkara, the Japanese method of fly-fishing. A manifesto on fly-fishing simplicity (Galhardo, 2017).  This book is, of course, the must have book on tenkara. Elegantly written and illustrated, it is the reference for anyone trying to enhance and hone their tenkara skills. This book will become a classic for those pursuing the joy and simplicity of fishing that is tenkara. It goes without saying, I very highly recommend this book.

An finally, How to Fool Fish with Simple Flies: The secret science behind Japanese "kebari" and Euro-nymph patterns (Gaskell and Pearson, 2017).  This is the book I most recently acquired and would like to review in this post.

How to Fool Fish with Simple Flies: The secret science behind Japanese "kebari" and Euro-nymph patterns is a masterfully written and illustrated work on more than just tenkara. In fact, if your are just getting into tenkara, this book might not be the first one you should buy. You might want to get one or both of the previously mentioned books first and get some experience under your belt before buying How to Fool Fish with Simple Flies...

But buy it you must if you are at all truly interested in tenkara and the flies traditionally used in Japan. More importantly, if you want to get better at tenkara and learn all methods of fly design and manipulation, then this book needs to be in your library!

If you like the simplicity of tenkara, but don't fish mountain streams for salmonid species, then this book might be somewhat of a disappointment to you. This book doesn't talk about fishing for bluegill in ponds. It doesn't address tactics or techniques for smallmouth bass in rivers or tarpon in mangrove swamps. It doesn't illuminate on how to use a tenkara rod with bait or tiny spoons. That's because those styles of fishing with a tenkara rod are not tenkara. I know that may be painful to hear, but it's not. This book is only about tenkara, and the flies and techniques used to manipulate them. To state it as simply as I can -- this book is not about fishing with a tenkara rod, it's about tenkara. There's a difference (at least as defined by this book -- I'm not an elitist or the tenkara police; you can define tenkara how you like).

How to Fool Fish... is extremely comprehensive. It is quite technical and might be too intense for some, but for me it was an amazing read. I read the entire book on the day I received it, in one sitting. I couldn't put it down! This book is less like a monograph and more like a doctoral dissertation, it's that comprehensive.

Used by permission

Paul and John divided the book into different sections and they thoroughly explore all aspects of those sections. A few of the sections are: Part I: What kebari are - and how they are designed to work, Part III: A summary of kebari "physical fishability" characteristics, Part IV: Outline of key specific fishing methods, and Part V: Bringing it all together - using onstream conditions to choose kebari and tactics. Rich photos and numerous drawings help illuminate the reader and make the text come alive.

Used by permission

Both John and Paul draw from their extensive personal experience from their visits to Japan, and from their extensive interactions with numerous expert Japanese tenkara anglers. This experience is readily seen in the detail of their writing.

Used by permission

The nearly all of the last half of the book is dedicated to individual fly patterns and the recipes to tie them. If you are looking for a fly tying reference for classical kebari, you will love this section.

Used by permission

In conclusion, this is a must have book for anyone interested in true Japanese tenkara, or for those interested in upping their tenkara game by using traditional tenkara flies and techniques. I'm just starting my seventh year of tenkara, fishing on average 65 days a year with subsurface kebari, and I'm just scratching the surface of this fascinating and very enjoyable way to fish.  How to Fool Fish with Simple Flies... has already enlightened me and, I have no doubt, will make me a better tenkara angler.

How can you get a copy of How to Fool Fish with Simple Flies...? As of the publication of this post, there are two links to buy a copy of the book. One is in GBP (Pound Sterling) and the other in USD (US dollar).

1 comment:

  1. Gee thanks Tom. I don't have the Kelleher book so I had to order it.