Tenkara by Stick Pole

By now, you’ve probably heard about the latest buzz in fly fishing; Tenkara, the Japense-style of fly fishing with only a rod, line and fly. This simplistic, yet quite practical technique can be ideal for backpacking trips and for fishing tight backcountry streams. If you’re interested in learning more about the formal technique, equipment and art, you’ll likely learn much more from experienced BHA members or those who fish solely Tenkara-style. Or, you can check out an excellent video on the subject.  

BRook Trout Stick poleHowever, if you’d like to try it for yourself with minimal investment, you will need:

  • A GREEN 6-7 foot willow shoot

  • A pocket knife

  • A 12 foot leader or tip-it

  • Flies (and maybe some floatant)

Last summer I had the fortune to work in Yellowstone N.P. for two weeks, and wouldn’t you know it, I was unable to bring my rod…? Shortly after arriving the rumblings around Gardiner, MT were enough to drive a fisherman without a pole, nuts. The next day I stopped by the local fly shop, bought a license, a leader, 6 flies (enough for 3 dry droppers) and some floatant, then proceeded to hike up a creek reportedly over-run with Brookies (Blacktail Cr.). I tied the leader to the tip of a freshly cut willow and proceeded to have an incredible day on a creek so tight and choked by willows that the short homemade stick pole was definitely the instrument of choice. The Brook Trout were small but plentiful, and mighty hungry – multiple doubles were landed with ye ole stick pole.

From this tripe values of Tenkara-style seemed clear. But before you go out and buy a fancy pole, try a stick!

About Caitlin Thompson