- Associated Press - Saturday, April 9, 2016

HANOVER, Pa. (AP) - Tenkara rods have no reel. Averaging 12-feet in length, they telescope down to about a foot - perfect for fishing on the fly.

When Jason Konopinski gets into something, he really gets into it. That might explain why he owns six tenkara fly-fishing rods, at least two of which are in his car at any given time.

Tenkara, an ancient Japanese style of fly-fishing, omits the reel and uses a telescopic rod that, fully extended, averages 12 feet in length. Compacted, that same rod is only about a foot long, which is how Konopinski can keep his Toyota Corolla fully stocked for fishing on the fly.

Being out in the water has become a kind of meditation for Konopinski, a freelance writer and yoga instructor. An hour outside clears his mind.

“That’s an hour that nothing else matters,” he said. “It’s an hour of just casting.”



Konopinski wouldn’t call himself a evangelist, but he does love to share his tenkara knowledge - which is how his friend David Magbee, who hadn’t been fishing in years, found himself in Konopinski’s spare waders one Saturday in March with a borrowed rod in his hands creeping into the cold, fast-moving water of the west branch of the Codorus Creek.

Getting hooked

“Fishing should be fun,” Konopinski said. “You don’t need to spend enormous amounts of money and over-complicate it.”

Konopinski, 36, took up fly fishing when he was in college, about 15 years ago. Two years ago, he was on vacation in North Carolina he saw a man using a tenkara rod. While Konopinski was getting snagged in overhead brush and tripped up by tricky currents with his traditional fly-fishing rod, the man with the tenkara rod was hauling in fish.

Konopinski was hooked.

He loves fishing small, fast-moving streams. This is where tenkara really shines because it’s portable and precise. Konopinski, of Hanover, says he can carry a rod, small fly box and a line with him on a hike. That way he can fish if he comes across a stream.

“I like being able to hike in, sometimes crawling on my hands and knees to get to that gem water,” Konopinski said.

Not having to constantly focus on choosing the right fly, reel and casting technique frees Konopinski up to concentrate on the fish.

“It got me to slow down,” he said. “Got me to focus on where the fish sit and how can I get the fly down to their level.”

Keeping it simple

This simplicity is what makes tenkara easy for new anglers to pick up, said Rob Lepczyk head guide with Great Feathers Fly Shop in Sparks, Maryland. Some fly-fishing beginners have trouble with line management. Tenkara rods eliminate this.

It’s not the simplicity that appeals to Lepczyk, though.

“It’s the effectiveness of the method,” he said. “I can control my fly in a way that you can’t come anywhere close to in a moving stream (with a traditional fly-fishing rod).”

They’re also relatively inexpensive.

“People don’t feel like they have to get a second mortgage for their rod,” Lepczyk said. An average tenkara rod is $150.

Feeding the fish

There’s no big cast with tenkara fly-fishing. The line is held off the water by the length of the rod.

The flies - thread, hair and feather tied onto a hook and manipulated to resemble an insect - are a little different, too. Traditionally, tenkara flies are wet flies, said Konopinski, and imitate an insect underwater. What makes them different is the way they’re tied. The hackle is tied forward in a funnel shape towards the eye of the hook as opposed to sweeping toward the end. This allows them to open under water and imitate life and motion, Konopinski said.

“The flies are generically buggy,” Koponinski said. “They don’t necessarily try to imitate a specific type of insect. But they look like the kind of bug trout eat.” He says you can still use traditional flies with a tenkara rod, but he usually choses not to.

“You’re getting the fish to eat instead of relying on them to make a mistake,” Lepczyk said. When it’s warm, Konopinski says he can sometimes see and cast to an individual fish. That’s how precise the rod is.

Catch of the day

Magbee has only been fishing once since he was a kid, at a bachelor party. After about an hour in the stream, a brown trout nibbles his line. His is the only catch of the day. It’s about 50 degrees, less-than-ideal temperatures for this kind of fishing, Konopinski said.

He loves catching fish. But he says he’ll take any excuse to get outside.

“Even if I’m standing out there for an hour and not catching fish, it’s better than being inside. That’s an hour that nothing else matters.”

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Online:

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Information from: York Daily Record, https://www.ydr.com

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