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It appears that tenkara fishing—a no-reel form of fly fishing that involves the use of special lines and very long rods—is beginning to build momentum in the United States. The latest evidence of that is the launch of a new “simple fly fishing campaign and kit” by the apparel maker Patagonia. The kit includes a 10-foot, six-inch tenkara rod; a newly released book on tenkara fishing called Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara and Rod & Reel; a box of one dozen soft hackle flies; a level-floating tenkara line; a 7.5-inch 3x tapered leader; and a quick setup guide. As this is written, the package is available on the Patagonia website ( for $279.85. You can buy the book alone on Amazon for $15.78 or the kindle version of the book for $10.09.

What’s intriguing about the book (and the kit offer, for that matter) is its emphasis on taking the mystery and complexity out of fly fishing and making it feel accessible to more people. “Simple Fly Fishing clears the fog of complexity that often surrounds the sport and delivers simple explanation and easy-to-understand instruction,” promotional material about the book says. “Readers new to the sport can be fishing effectively within an hour; expert fly fishers will learn why these techniques [i.e., tenkara fishing] work in highly technical situations when nothing else will.”

Importantly, the book appears to focus almost exclusively on freshwater trout fishing, which is where tenkara tackle and techniques work best. Maybe a close reading of the book (when it’s available) will reveal otherwise, but it seems to steer completely away from saltwater fishing, where longer casts and bigger fish are the name of the game, along with brute rod power at times and impeccably executed double hauls. Viewed from this perspective, the Patagonia offer oversimplifies the multifarious art of fly fishing. Maybe a book title with the words “stream” or “trout” in it would have been more accurate?

On the other hand, it’s unfair to dwell on the limitations of tenkara tackle in a review of this sort. And it is somewhat beside the point, too. The book and the tenkara kit are designed to bring new people into the sport of fly fishing for stream trout and smaller fish generally. Presumably, once these new entrants get hooked on tenkara fishing, they will want to dig deeper into the special pleasures and enjoyment of long-rod fishing. Viewed from that perspective, what’s not to like about the Patagonia move? Nothing, in my view. Kudos to Yvon Chouinard and crew for attempting to grow the sport we all care so much about. Enjoy!

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