The Patagonia School of Fly Fishing

In a new book, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard evangelizes a back-to-basics Japanese technique for fly fishing

SUPER FLY | Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia, with his tenkara rod at Foster Park in Ventura, Calif. Peter Bohler for The Wall Street Journal

SUPER FLY | Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia, with his tenkara rod at Foster Park in Ventura, Calif. Peter Bohler for The Wall Street Journal

FOR SOMEONE WITH a vested interest in selling goods for exploring the great outdoors, Yvon Chouinard, the owner and founder of the outdoor-apparel company Patagonia, takes a surprisingly stripped-down approach to one of his favorite pastimes. “Heaven knows we fly fishers are suckers for every new gizmo we think will give us a leg up on catching fish,” he writes in “Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara and Rod & Reel,” to be published by Patagonia Books on Monday. With what could safely be described as ornery skepticism, Mr. Chouinard, along with his co-authors, Craig Mathews and Mauro Mazzo, questions the rise of $1,000 fishing rods and tackle boxes overflowing with flies. “I would offer,” Mr. Chouinard continues, “that this proliferation of gear is supported by busy people who lack for nothing in their lives except time.”

Therein lies the book’s charm. Part straightforward how-to, part back-to-basics manifesto, the volume is also a bit of a sermon that seeks to spread the good word about a centuries-old Japanese technique known as “tenkara”—which calls for a long, flexible, reel-free rod—that Mr. Chouinard believes is the hands-down easiest and most pleasurable way to fish.

“Some people say, ‘I don’t fish because I don’t have patience,’ ” Mr. Chouinard said by telephone from Patagonia’s headquarters in Ventura, Calif. “Well, it takes no patience whatsoever to fly fish. It’s not like sitting in a boat and dangling a worm down below and waiting for a bite,” he said. “It’s proactive. It’s like dragging a toy mouse across the floor for your cat. If you just drag it, the cat just looks at it. But you stop it and give it a little twist, the cat pounces on it.”

Granted, Patagonia does stand to profit from a surge of interest in tenkara; the book is part of a kit they’re selling—complete with a rod, lines and flies. But a portion of the proceeds from the book, which can be purchased separately, will be donated to various conservation organizations. And Patagonia stores around the U.S. will offer free clinics on the technique. We asked Mr. Chouinard to highlight beginner-friendly techniques from the book. To learn more, the full article can be found here.

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