Since 2015, Patagonia founder and lifelong fly fisherman Yvon Chouinard has been using a single type of fly (the Pheasant Tail and Partridge) and says he’s caught more fish with it than he’s ever caught in his life.
In an interview on NPR’s “How I Built This” podcast, Chouinard opened up about his “the more you know, the less you need” approach to fly fishing. “I’ve learned that all these hundreds of thousands of fly patterns in different colors and shapes are totally unnecessary. You can replace all of them with knowledge and technique.”
This wisdom is the premise for Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara Rod & Reel (Patagonia, Jan. 19, 2019, paperback), a tenkara technique book that Chouinard co-authored with fly-fishing gurus Mauro Mazzo and Craig Mathews. Releasing in January 2019, a fully-revised second edition of Simple Fly Fishing offers new personal accounts from seasoned anglers and updated information all with the same message: the best way to catch trout is simply, with a rod and a fly and not much else. High-tech gear, confusing flies and tackle, and pricey fishing guides not necessary.
Speaking to a new generation of young anglers and a growing contingent of women to the sport, Simple Fly Fishing offers an introduction to the ancient Japanese no-reel, tenkara technique. Stripping away the complexity, elitism and expense of fly fishing, tenkara takes us back to a simpler time when the joy of fishing came from a willow stick rod, wiggly worms and wet boots.
“Most anglers soon discover simple fly fishing helps preserve our capacity for wonder,” says Chouinard. “It can teach us to see, smell, and feel the miracles of stream life, with the beauty of nature and serenity all around, as we pursue wild fish.”
With chapters on wet flies, nymphs, and dry flies, the authors employ both the tenkara rod as well as traditional fly-fishing gear to cover all the bases. Readers will learn to discover where the fish are, at what depth, and what they are feeding on as well as the techniques needed to present a fly at that depth, make it look lifelike, and hook the fish.
The upcoming second edition of Simple Fly Fishing features a new cover design by artist Dwight Hwang using the traditional Japanese Gyotaku method where Sumi ink is brushed onto a fish, then a sheet of Washi paper is pressed onto the inked surface. It boasts eight new fly designs in full color, added stories and instructional illustrations by renowned fish artist James Prosek, a quick setup guide for tenkara rod, and photos from the featured anglers’ latest adventures.
YVON CHOUINARD, a noted fly fisherman (chosen by Fly, Rod, and Reel as “Angler of the Year” in 2009) and environmentalist, is the founder and owner of Patagonia, Inc. He co-founded, with Craig Mathews, 1% for The Planet, a group of businesses giving back to the environment. A bestselling author, Simple Fly Fishing is his third book and first release in the hunting and fishing genre. He lives in Ventura, California, and Moose Jaw, Wyoming.
CRAIG MATTHEWS, with his wife, Jackie, is the owner and founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, a retail fly-fishing outfitter based in West Yellowstone, Montana. Craig has authored five books on fly fishing in the western U.S. and Yellowstone National Park and is renowned as an expert fly fishing guide.
MAURO MAZZO is an FFF Certified Master and THCI Casting Instructor, and he writes and photographs on a regular basis for European fly fishing magazines. He has fished around the globe from the Italian Alps to Himachal Pradesh, from Cuba to the Kola Peninsula. He lives in Milan, Italy.