Brian and Colby Trow own the Mossy Creek Fly Fishing shop in Harrisonburg, Virginia. They saw the opportunity in carrying tenkara at their shop very early on, embracing it to the extent of having the first dedicated tenkara guide in the country, Mr. Tom Sadler. Rather than seeing tenkara as a threat to the industry or a fad, they saw it as a possible “gateway drug to fly-fishing” or something that would once again excite their long-time customers. I believe what makes a fly shop a great fly shop is that open-mindedness, the ability to embrace diversity in a sport perceived as traditionalist. The Trow brothers give aways their secret here.
This is a guest post kindly provided by a tenkara enthusiast about tenkara and his time with his family. Enjoy it! I sure did.
By Adam Dailey-McIlrath
I love living in Hawaii. We are surrounded by water, and therefore surrounded by fish. Within fifteen minutes I can be hunting for bonefish on the flats, whipping into the waves for trevally or casting my tenkara rod into tide pools for brilliantly colored reef fish. But about once a year I start to dream of the water of my youth, of cold, clear, mountain streams sliding and splashing their way down canyons, pooling and rolling through valleys. It is water that stirs the passion of every fisherman who has held a fly rod. And so I am very fortunate that my family still lives in central Oregon, near the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers and the countless miles of trout water that flow into them.
However, fishing while visiting family can be a challenge. Like so many of us, I can fill a water bottle, grab a couple of snacks and disappear upriver for six or eight hours at a time. Time just slides by. Plans and schedules are swept up and float away on the current. This is difficult for non-fishers to understand, and can be frustrating for them. So instead of just disappearing to fish alone I have always tried hard on these visits to combine family with fishing – but this presents it’s own set of challenges.
We always say that tenkara is much more about the experience rather than gear. I suppose we mean that literally in every way.
The other day I was talking to a friend who recently took up tenkara. Tenkara has been her first experience fly-fishing, Then she went out fishing with a group of anglers using reels.
The other anglers caught fish that day (1 or 2 each); she didn’t.
As she proceeded to tell me the story she said, “maybe the other kind of fishing would have been better there.”
The point of this post is that our natural tendency will always be to blame the equipment, yet with more actual experience one can distinguish what really is important. Read on for what led me to reflect on this.
Over the years Adam Trahan produced good content about tenkara, particularly in the form of interviews, on his website tenkara-fisher.com. But, while he’s often been the interviewer Adam has not yet been the interviewee. I thought you’d enjoy learning a bit more about who Adam is and where his experiences with tenkara have taken him.
Daniel: Adam, I’ll start by talking to you about Japan. You just put out a nice resource asking a few people who have spent time in Japan learning tenkara about their experiences. This includes yourself, who went to Japan last year and spent time visiting tenkara anglers. It has been very cool to see more people going to Japan with a focus on learning more about tenkara. What made you decide to visit?
Adam: Adventure! That’s the main reason. Going to Japan, a country that I have been pouring over in historical tenkara research for years, sharing time with Japanese friends on Facebook seeing their pictures and information feed, reading about your trips to Japan, I had to go.
There were other reasons too, I wanted to fish with my friend Satoshi Miwa. He is a Western Fly Angler, we met at smallstreams.com We had been conversing about his favorite streams and I came out and asked him if he would help me visit. “Of course!” he said, thinking that I was being diplomatic and not really going to visit. Continue reading
Today I received a copy of the new edition (2nd) of his book “Trout from Small Streams”, a classic book that certainly helped inspire my love for small mountain streams and some of my own philosophies on fly-fishing.
He had told me the new edition of the book contained a chapter on tenkara. Yet, I was not prepared to see such great content about tenkara in the latest version of his book. There are 21 pages devoted to tenkara. The tenkara chapter is part anecdotal with his stories using tenkara, part philosophical, and part instructional too.
In this chapter Hughes describes the experience of learning tenkara from me, writing, “[fishing with Daniel] turned out to be an education in a couple of ways. The first was in the simplicity with which Daniel lives…The second was my first in-depth, rather than shallow, instruction in the art of tenkara fishing. Daniel has gone to Japan to learn from traditional experts there and has obviously become one himself.”
Dave Hughes is one of the American legends of fly-fishing. In fact I can say I owe much of what I have learned about fly-fishing to him. Yet, unknown to many is the fact that Dave Hughes has been tenkara fishing for many years, longer than I have actually. Dave’s enthusiasm for the method can probably be attributed to the fact that he’s a big fan of fishing small streams, he’s also an open-minded inquisitive angler unafraid of trying something new, and his wife is Japanese and so they have been going to Japan together for many years. In one of those trips he picked up a tenkara rod and started playing with it, teaching himself some of the concepts of tenkara. Yet, he recognized there was a lot more to this simple method of fishing than first meets the eye. So, a few years ago we connected, and I had a chance to teach him what I had learned about tenkara from teachers in Japan (and, yes, I also have a hard time with the fact that I could teach Dave Hughes anything) .
Even I can find myself with a broken tenkara rod tip in need of repair. The odds implied that it was bound to happen. After about 6 years of tenkara fishing and opening and closing tenkara rods thousands and thousands of times, this weekend I was fishing in the Pacific Northwest when I broke the tip of my tenkara rod, for the first time ever not on purpose. It was my fault, I hurriedly tried to pull the line out and didn’t heed to my main advice: always keep the hard tip of the rod inside the handle segment while pulling line out of the spool.
Still, even though we were almost done for the day I tried to make the best of the situation by making a field repair of my tenkara rod tip with some spare replacement lillian I had on the rod. It was my first time attempting a field repair of the tenkara rod tip out of necessity. Watch to learn what to do if you find yourself with a broken tenkara rod tip.
The words below are one of the nicest testimonials about how our Tenkara Care program is ensuring customers use our rods more often than any other, because they know we “have their back”.
By customer Jacob Johnson:
“I love companies that stand by their products. Tenkara USA is such a company. I break a rod on the weekend. I post a photo of a big fish and a broken Tenkara rod. John Geer from Tenkara USA sees the photo and figures out what is broken on his own. He then contacts me to confirm his findings and magically a day later the part shows up and my rod is back in business. That is customer service, that is quality, that is awesomeness in action. I have dozens and dozens of Tenkara rods. They look cool but I am afraid to fish them frequently or chase the “Monsters” because I know that if I break them, some of them would be impossible to get fixed. Tenkara USA rods are functional pieces of art, that I know I can rely on even if I am rough on them and put them through their paces. The Tenkara USA team has my back.”
A few months ago I wrote about what has become my best hydration solution while fishing. For years I used to carry a water bottle, but then would run out of water, even while surrounded by a lot of fresh clean water. I drank from streams directly on occasion, but then tested positive for giardia (never had any symptoms).
So, I picked up an ultra-light and very small water filter made by Aquamira, the Frontier Pro. It was cheap, super light and easily fits in a pocket. To go with it, I found the Platypus 500ml water pouch to be the ideal companion. I had finally come my across the best solution for always having water with me but without carrying a lot of weight. It kind of changed my life for fishing.
If I’m on the stream pretty much the whole time I’ll carry just the filter by itself, pull it out and drink directly from the stream.
When walking any distance to or from the stream I’ll take the bottle with me. And, of course, this has become my go-to water bottle for traveling anywhere or using on a daily basis as it is foldable and slim, so it fits in my back pocket and reduces in size as I drink from it.