And Trout Were Rising
The day was gorgeous- down on Boulder Creek-- in the center of town where I was to show off Tenkara fly fishing tackle to any who cared to drop by. And about fifteen did. A remarkable event, it seemed to me. I showed them how to extend the rod to eleven feet and to attach the eleven foot line to it. I have thought that method and act of attachment to be just plain “charming” and so did they. I showed the rig’s casting versatility on the creek and gave everyone a chance to try it. As a friend has put it, Tenkara fishing is so “new, different, and old”.
But the point I want to make is that the whole event was new, different, and old. These people were so cordial, open, friendly, and gently eager. I can’t remember quite the same sort of gathering , that sort of behavior among anglers. They were eager but patient, reticent but persistent, friendly with a slight formality, really smart but modest, everyone of them bringing some personal excellence, for which I had to pry to learn. This is not the way right down regular post-modern people on the make are expected to behave in this day and age. They stayed an hour. I was exhilarated.
The thing is, dear reader, that this is but another bit of evidence that things have changed in fly fishing. It is indeed the Sixth and New Period in American fly fishing. Anglers are renewing themselves, refreshing themselves. And, most of all, looking for and craving simplicity. The strains of economic recession, wars and rumors of wars, even a volcanic cloud out of Iceland have tended to turn us inward, to find a new habitation for the spirit, nearer to the heart’s desire.
Some have said that Tenkara partakes of Zen in its processes. I’m wary of such claims and doubt this one, but, that said, there is in Tenkara the possibility of discovering a new sort of complexity, but now, in simplicity. A deep complexity in that which is simple-- what the artist is working at, forward and back, in and out. I must not claim too much for something as basic and old-- and different and new-- as Tenkara. But there it is….
It leads us, I think, to the conclusion that we have “profited” as much as we can and are now moved beyond the largely mechanical complexities of the TU Period with its competitions, anxieties, and great power. It’s over. Now the flicking, gentle cast of the Tenkara fly is a modeling of the new sensibility.
And if that is hard to believe, you should have been on the creek that day to see that new sensibility clearly manifest in those fifteen New Period anglers throwing that hookless fly-- as good trout sipped at the surface.