The oldest tenkara angler I’ve met.

by Oleg Stryapunin, CZ

Fishing with the fly in 70s

I met Alexander Vasilchenko–the tenkara angler, bamboo rod maker and my compatriot, who now lives in Germany–on the forum

Being intrigued with bamboo tenkara rods, I went to visit him in Ansbach.

It is a town with a population of 40 thousand; the home water is the small Fränkischen Rezat River so I was very surprised to learn that the local fishing club includes 1200 members.

I never knew that fishing is so popular in Germany. Again I was surprised when we went to the river together to try each other’s rods and saw the riverbanks were absolutely virgin. Not one angler or even angler’s track was seen! Alexander confirmed my impression that the rivers are absolutely not pressured, even being stocked with trout regularly every year.Let me note that, according to German regulation, the fish caught there can’t be released. I supposed that Alexander himself caught all the stocked trout every season and he confirmed it smiling.

Fishing with the fly in 90s

He used to live in Siberia, Russia. There he fished often with artificial flies and did so without a reel. The Siberian anglers have fished this simple and effective technique for centuries. It is similar to tenkara, the most known fixed line fly fishing technique. Joining the tenkara angler’s community was completely natural for him. At the river I observed his perfect fishing skills, which he has developed over dozens of years. Our meeting was in the middle of August; at that time of year Alexander focuses on deeper pools and prefers fishing with small streamers, using a level line and a high visible indicator section. With his great skill in animating the streamer, it received many strikes.

Tenkara bamboo rods.

Fishing now with bamboo tenkara rod
Bamboo rod building is Alexander’s second hobby. Being a tenkara angler, he tried to make a bamboo tenkara rod. He makes the glued hexagonal blank using the traditional technology for building bamboo fly rods, with metal ferrules and a cork handle. Being solid, the rod is definitely heavier but much stronger than those made with carbon.

The heavier blank loads itself when casting, making the rod very slow. Alexander’s casting is perfect and precise. I’ve tried it and failed because I have difficulty slowing my stroke down that much. The main advantage of a solid bamboo rod is the strength: Alexander’s record catch with it is a 3 kilo barbel.

He also tried to make a replica of the traditional segmented cane tenkara rod. The first sample looks fine, but is not yet ready for trial. I hope to try it when I visit Alexander next.

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