Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara and Rod and Reel is a beautiful coffee table book full of gorgeous trout photos, exotic fly fishing locations and anecdotal stories about fly fishing with the world’s greatest fishing guides.
The authors, Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia Inc, Craig Mathews, Mauro Mazzo, and illustrator James Prosek go to great lengths to explain how simple, economical, and egalitarian Tenkara fly fishing is compared to the elitist vocation of fly fishing as they describe their fishing expeditions jetting around the world.
no doubt on the Patagonia corporate jet. (Patagonia asked me to strike this remark, since Patagonia does not own a corporate jet) But if the goal is to inspire by example, this book is a complete failure.
Tenkara fly fishing isn’t nearly as difficult or technical as the authors make it out to be, nor is regular fly fishing with a rod and reel. Get a friend to lend you a rod and some flies and show you the ropes. You’ll be fishing in an afternoon. Or if you want to get serious, take a three hour lesson from a local river guide, buy a basic rod and tackle, and you’ll have all the knowledge and skills you need to start catching fish.
What’s Simple Fly Fishing about? I’m honestly still trying to figure that out. It’s definitely NOT a book for beginner fly fisherman or anyone interested in learning the Tenkara or rod and reel fly fishing basics.
The thing that makes this book so curious is the authors’ side by side comparison of Tenkara and Rod and Reel fishing techniques. They advertise their disdain for those elitist rod and reel fly fisherman who emphasize long casts over close-in fishing. The reality is that most fish are caught within 25 feet of where you’re standing no matter what kind of equipment you use. But you get the impression that they’re trying to convince
their country club buddies (again Patagonia asked me to strike this because Yvon does not belong to a country club.) that Tenkara is a worthy pursuit because you can use the same representational flies, match the hatch, and wiggle the line the same way as with a rod and reel. That’s all true, but the tone makes you wonder who the intended audience for this book really is.
Simple Fly Fishing is not a complete waste of paper. There is some good information about the lifecycle of different bugs, trout behavior, and practical information (towards the end) about how to fish different stream habitats. But there are many places to obtain the same information more concisely on the Internet for free.
If you’re looking for a simple introduction to a simpler way to fly fish, I’d recommend looking elsewhere.
Disclosure: The author paid for this book with his own funds.
Written 2017.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.