Yvon Chouinard: Finding Perfection in Fly Fishing through Simplicity

The latest issue of the Big Sky Journal has an interview with Yvon Chouinard. The focus on the interview is on Tenkara fishing and finding simplicity in fly-fishing.

Read any of what he’s written or said, and it always comes down to the guiding principle for Patagonia from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in Wind, Sand, and Stars, “In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.”

He has embraced that through his love of Tenkara fishing. As he says in the interview, “the more you know, the less you need.” Tenkara, if you’re not familiar with it, is an import from Japan that involves only a telescoping rod, a line, and a fly.

Beyond his love for Tenkara fishing, he had something interesting things to say on the rest of the fly-fishing industry: “Fly fishing has built itself into a corner,” he reflects. “There’s a dad with so much gear, the kid looks at it all and goes ‘forget it.’ The daughter looks at macho fly-fishing magazines and doesn’t want to do it. It’s a dying sport, dying so fast you can’t believe it.”

And later, “The industry survives by convincing consumers the only way to catch the fish of a lifetime is to buy more stuff. When did fishing become less about spending time outside, feeling the sun on our faces and the water swirling around our legs, and more about one-upping the guy downstream?”

Some might think that’s too cynical, but his insights have changed the face of the outdoor industry.

Not everyone can use Tenkara gear. Fishing in saltwater (either cold or fresh), chasing steelhead and salmon – regular fly fishing gear with reels and backing is mandatory. In fact, if you’ve seen Buccaneers and Bones on The Outdoor Channel, he’s using a bonefish-weight rod and reel like everyone else.

But principle is the same – take only what is mandatory; the rest is distraction.

You can read the interview here.

Author: Tom

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