Just One Thing: Adam Trahan

Adam Trahan is an early adopter of tenkara here in the U.S. and though I cannot recall exactly where I first ran into Adam – it was pretty early on in my tenkara days. So I wanted to make sure to get a “Just One Thing” piece with Adam.

If you haven’t read the other “Just One Thing” posts the main idea is that I ask the anglers “If you could tell other anglers just one thing what would it be?”

Without further ado – I turn it over to Adam.

Adam Trahan

Minimalism is everything.
It is a process of carrying and using just what you need. My tenkara can be considered
minimalistic and the process of how I arrived to carry just what I need is simple in form.
I use a list to prove to myself what I use and what I don’t need.
My definition of tenkara is more about skill than my equipment. The skill of reading water, the
way you approach a stream and the equipment you use to be able to deliver the fly all can be
honed by using only what you need.
To arrive at a minimalistic set, I suggest a process of improvement by using a written list.
Write it all down, every last piece of your kit and go fishing. When you come back, the things
that you didn’t use, cross off. The things that really helped you, circle. Carry the same kit next
trip and when you get back, cross the things you didn’t use off the list again and circle the
things that helped you or write down what you liked or didn’t like about your tenkara rod.
Now remove the things you didn’t use and think about improving the things that you used the
You carried two rods but only used one?
Next time only carry one.
It’s a process of identification and elimination.
Focus on what you use, eliminate what you don’t and do that by being honest with yourself.
Why choose minimalism?
Because it is your skill that makes a great fisherman, not the rod you carry or the hundred flys
or the many lines.
Or do you need all the extra stuff you carry?
I bet you use very little out of your kit, most people carry far too many things.
I carry one rod, two lines, a few flys, a nipper, a hemostat, rod un-stick pads in a small bag and
that’s it. The rod I carry is compact and so is the bag it all goes in.
I use a zoom rod to handle a variety of stream sizes and shapes. I carry a long and short line to
enhance the diversity of the zoom rod at length and shortened. I use a slightly heavier line to
be able to handle a little wind and they are easier to cast when you are tired at the end of the
day. My flys are a couple of beads, wet flys and a few dries, chosen from what worked in the
The process of maintaining a minimalistic kit is based in efficiency and success. It’s a process
of focusing on what works and getting rid of unnecssary habits or equipment that you do not
use. In the process of not having an item, you improvise with your skill.
Carry just what you need and nothing more.
Focus on improving the things you need the most.
Your fishing becomes a process of improvement.
Minimalists are constantly sharpening their fishing skill. People that carry a lot of gear are good
at shopping.
YOU only need what works.
Your skill determines your success.
Improve your skill by efficiency.

About Adam Trahan
Adam Trahan is a husband, father and friend. He caught his first small stream trout on a fly rod in the mountain streams near St. George, Utah in the late sixties and has been a fly fisherman ever since.

And don’t forget to check out Adam’s website Tenkara Fisher (http://www.tenkara-fisher.com). Adam has been operating it for quite a while now and it is a tremendous resource for tenkara information and interviews.

3 Comments on Just One Thing: Adam Trahan

  1. Paul Nielsen // April 23, 2019 at 12:12 PM // Reply

    I often fish 2-3 streams a day, or start up in the headwaters and work my way to the mainstream I need more than just a couple of lines to cover the different water throughout the day, I have busted my main rod and then the backup rod on one occasion, I carry an extra rod hanging off the back tab of my Columbia vest in an improvised travel tube and extras in the car now. When it comes to minimalism a rod line and kebari are where its at for me, its all I have used for the past three seasons but I carry enough gear to see me through the day. If I were a backpacker and only fishing smallish headwaters streams I would certainly consider a more minimalist approach but for now my vest is what I use, the only other system that might work would be a Guide Sling, looks like it might provide the capacity I’m comfortable with. As far as that goes it appears that the recognized masters of tenkara mostly carry vest on the river and i would guess enough gear to get the job done on small and larger more challenging water. Improve your casting and presentation skills to push the limits of what a tenkara rod, line and kebari are capable of is my credo. The guy who can cast 6-8+ meter level lines read water and catch challenging fish is going to have an advantage on bigger water and be as successful on smaller water as anyone.To each his own.

    Paul N

    • I’ve come to have a minimalist approach more out of personality, and in spite of myself really. I never had an intent to minimize anything – but my scattered personality leads to procrastination and that leads to disorganization … so rod, line, fly – tenkara type minimized approach fit into my life because it is just easy to contain … Adam’s ideas of an organized approach is probably beyond my organizational skill level – but I think is great advice to an approach that works

  2. Jerry Milam Emmert // April 25, 2019 at 6:37 PM // Reply

    I really enjoy an organized life. That includes my fishing. My sling is filled to the top with almost anything you can think of for fly fishing; mostly from my western fly fishing days. I always take it with me when fishing. But, leave it in my vehicle. I also, take a document /art tube; containing four or five tenkara rods. I am seldom far enough away from my vehicle, I that I cannot easily get to it.

    I can have my cake and eat it too.

    Since discovering tenkara, I now carry a slimline fly box, a spool of 5x tippet and a scissor clamp. I find that minimalism appeals to me. I am more comfortable, not carrying a load around. Tenkara forever!

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