Welcome to Just Old Flies

Welcome to 'just old flies,' a section of methods and flies that used-to-be. These flies were tied with the only materials available. Long before the advent of 'modern' tying materials, they were created and improved upon at a far slower pace than todays modern counterparts; limited by materials available and the tiers imagination.

Once long gone, there existed a 'fraternity' of anglers who felt an obligation to use only the 'standard' patterns of the day. We hope to bring a bit of nostalgia to these pages and to you. And sometimes what you find here will not always be about fishing. Perhaps you will enjoy them. Perhaps you will fish the flies. Perhaps . .

Part Sixty-eight

Tenkara and the Fine Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

By Old Rupe

Pappy is my motorcycle expert. He told me once that God gave everyone something they could do better than anyone else in the world. Then Pappy said "God gave me a wrench."

It's not just that Pappy is a good mechanic, he's an artist too. On a good day, if he hasn't been into to the sauce too heavy he can convert a Toro lawnmower into a shovelhead Harley and have pieces left over. Like he said, "God gave me a wrench."

He had done some time in college, but never talked about it. I think it conflicted with his self image so strongly that college stories were never a part of his anecdotes on life. It must have been economics, since one night I was telling a story about the macro economics class that everyone dropped by me, and I mentioned the final examination question which was: "Show a question and answer which shows your grasp of the subject." My thing was, "A mathematical justification of a four year business cycle."

He said he would have probably done, "Fourier analysis as it applied to cyclical stocks." At that point I told fewer college stories and drank more beer. I didn't try to pick up any wrenches either.

Pappy and I weren't really close, but we had done several little greasy wars together and happened to end up in the same town. He went into the motercycle thing and I went into fly fishing. He always said motercycles were cheaper and it supported a better class of honeys. He was probably right. I never saw him with an ugly girl. We seem to get together every three to four months and tell lies and ride a bike or two and drink more beer than most could and just be rowdy.

A month or so ago he asked me what I was into and I told him, "Tenkara."

His reply was, "Yeah, I did that back in the 60's when we were in Nam." It seems he did two R&R's and a leave or so to Japan to practice the art. I guess he did the whole thing. He said he had the flies, hat, cape and long rod and basket, but he gave it up.

Tenkara Fly

I was amazed. I would gamble not one person in a thousand would know the meaning of the term, let along have the chance to practice it under one of the old teachers.

Tenkara is the traditional Japanese art of fishing trout with a ten-foot loop rod (not the Swedish company) and centuries old flies. It's a fine art, as fine or better than modern trout fishing. I fish a loop rod and use some of the traditional flies. I'm kind of a bumbler at it, but I enjoy it.

I asked Pappy why he gave it up. I don't think I'll ever forget his reply. "That fly fishing thing is worse than dope, I could see that I couldn't handle it."

The next time you see someone breeze by you on a Harley, remember there goes someone smarter than you. He at least knows what he can handle, and the honey on the back is probably better looking than yours. She probably behaves better too.

PS. Do a web search for "Tenkara" and remember never try to pick up a wrench in the presence of your betters. ~ Old Rupe

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