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"A Boy, a Bus, Tenkara" by TJ Ferreira

"A Boy, a Bus, Tenkara" by TJ Ferreira

TJ, the man in charge of customer service here at Tenkara USA, is a Volkswagen Bus aficionado. He put together this neat video of him going to visit a pond in his area with his VW bus, in search of some panfish. Even with the VW bus sound it is a very peaceful video. I love how fitting tenkara seemed to the whole thing. The quick setup was fun to watch: drive, stop, setup and fish, pack and go home. Enjoy it.

Here’s the article he wrote for the 2013 Tenkara MagazineI head down a backcountry road in my 1967 VW Westfalia bus and my mind drifts as I gaze out the window. My destination is simplicity and all the beauty of nature that surrounds it. All I need is a nice ride to get me there, and what better than an old Volkswagen.

This gorgeous place that I call home is Grass Valley, a small gold rush city in the California foothills. Today my old VW bus and I are on an adventure, and as we drive down these old winding back roads I have tenkara on my mind. My mission this day in the summer of 2013 is to catch some fish. I’m off to a secret pond a few miles away to do some tenkara panfishing. Normally I prefer the harder-to-catch trout but I’ll tell you, having a bluegill or bass slam my kebari (fly in Japanese) sure is a hoot.

Maybe I am waxing nostalgic as I grow in years but there are a few things in this life that make my ticker beat like nothing else. One of those things is my passion for everything old. Another is the simple way things used to be done. I find beauty in that old stuff and in that old-fashioned simplicity. These old air-cooled VW’s are a simple, effective and fun way to get from point A to point B. Tenkara is a simple, effective and fun way to catch fish. A perfect match. And so Yeti, my Westy VW bus, and I head off to the pond for a couple hours of tenkara.

This pond has many bluegill and bass, and they are a blast to catch on a stick, string and fly. Well to be fair, tenkara gear is a bit more advanced than simply a stick, string and fly. But really other than the updated materials, the concept and its simple nature has not changed much in the centuries since it first evolved in its home country of Japan.

The tenkara rod is a simple yet elegant device, much like the simple beauty of an air-cooled VW engine. The modern tenkara rod is made of carbon fiber and telescopic in design. In the olden days of Japan it would have been an un-split hollow bamboo rod, and its segments could be stored inside the handle when done fishing. Today we just remove the plug from the tip of this 20” cork and carbon fiber handle and like magic out telescopes 11 to 15 feet of carbon fiber beauty that we can tie a line to.

So compact! So light! So effective! So simple!

Line, meet lilian. The lilian is a short cord that is attached to the end of a tenkara rod and it makes for the most quick and easy method to connect a line to a rod. No reels or guides to run the line through or around. Just a simple slipknot or girth-hitch and I can change out lines in a snap—from a super-short 10 foot line to a super-long 20-foot line, they are all quickly at my disposal.

It is a direct connection to the fish. And when a fish takes the fly and the line tightens, the tenkara rod sings to you. Imagine if you will a super-long one-string guitar. The tenkara line vibrates with a fish on the end of it and it actually sings. This harmonic noise not only stirs my emotions, but also heightens my experience when catching and landing a fish. I have never experienced this song with any other form of fishing. My old VW has an AM radio, and although the sound is not high-definition quality, the AM stations do come in from a long way off. AM was an effective way to transmit music long distances years ago and still is today. Like that classic AM radio, my tenkara rod sings to me. These tenkara songs too come from a long way off, and from long ago, from a place I have never visited and yet they seem so familiar. The song is the Song of Simplicity.

My little VW Bus and my tenkara rod served me well on my fishing adventure this day. Within seconds I threw my gear into the back of my bus (my gear equaled one rod, one line, and one vial of 3 flies), and headed to my little pond in the foothills. Within seconds of arriving at the pond I began to catch gill after gill and even one of those more stubborn bass. But too quickly the day was ending and darkness was coming in to take over the light, so I packed up and headed back to my little homestead. As I drove Yeti home I was already starting to daydream of my next trip—farther away next time, to a remote place at a river in the California foothills—with visions of going after a rainbow, a rainbow that is 12 inches long and makes my tenkara rod sing a simple song.

Life can be simple but many ignore this for far too long. An old VW Bus and a tenkara rod have taken my soul back and have made my life beautiful again.

Come share today’s tenkara journey in an old VW Bus and watch a Boy, a Bus, Tenkara!