Last Friday I flew to La Crosse, WI, the heart of the famous Driftless region of Wisconsin. I came to the area to participate in the Midwest Tenkara Fest, organized by Badger Tenkara. This was my first time fishing in the area. And, although the Driftless had been on my radar for many years, it took me a while to get here. It was a phenomenal region to fish and I already can’t wait to return. Tenkara is made for the Driftless, where good presentations and drag-free drifts are the key to catching trout.
A few days before coming to the Driftless I received an email from fly-fishing author Jason Randall who had learned I would be in “his area” at the same time he and Ed Engle. Jeremy Shellhorn and I were planning to camp around here anyways, so we decided to camp with Jason and Ed. On Friday we fished the stream that ran by the camp.
I absolutely loved that stream. In a very short distance the spring-creek changed from looking like a mountain-stream to a slower meadow water, to typical limestone spring creek. Despite the rain earlier in the day the stream was running very clear.
Although the stream we fished is no secret, there is no need to mention specific stream names here. The Driftless regions has over 500 miles of publicly accessible trout streams, so you wouldn’t have a problem finding waters.
Another very cool thing, as is usually the case when fishing for trout in different areas, was the coloration of the brown trout we were catching. More specifically most of the trout we caught had a red coloration on their tail and a well-defined red mark on their adipose fin. It was fun to notice that when Ed Engle pointed it out.
After fishing for some time and getting my own fishing fix, it was time to get Jason Randall to experience tenkara. He had been out with someone before, but they really just fished it like a fly rod. I talked to him about the differences in the way we normally fish with tenkara, just as keeping the line off the water for better presentations. Shortly after his first couple of casts Jason hooked into trout, and then caught a few more.
That’s the thing about tenkara, when it is fished “the tenkara way” it will hook even the best anglers into its advantages; but if it is just fished like a western fly-rod then there is little to keep them using it.
Then Jason turned his buddy Tom into tenkara. Tom was just a tad skeptical about it to begin. After Jason caught some fish he insisted Tom try it. I hiked down to where Tom was and gave Tom the rod. On his first cast he hooked a trout, and immediately exclaimed, “I like this”. And thus we had another convert.
Of course, Jeremy also hooked a bunch of trout that day. And, of course, the big one got away. After dinner and before it got dark, Jeremy went back to the water close to us and caught some more fish to cap the day. Then he hooked what would likely have been the largest fish of the day, he played it well but the hook eventually came off. Well, here is a video of one that didn’t get away.
I have to go visit a supplier in a minute, and then catch a flight, but will see about posting some more information on the Driftless later. On Sunday we got to fish with tenkara guide Mike Warren and also Matt Sment in a completely different kind of stream. You can see a short video I made on Mike’s guide page here.
Today I had the pleasure to speak about tenkara and my recently released book with Nathan Heffel and Ryan Warner at the Colorado Public Radio (an affiliate of NPR).
As I mention in my segment, I started Tenkara USA with the aim of introducing more people to the joy fly-fishing, and tenkara was a great tool to do that. I was honored the CPR picked up my book and decided to cover tenkara. This introduces a lot of people who may not even be thinking about fly-fishing to our sport, in a simple way.
Many have noticed the cover for my new book spells tenkara out in lower-case, and a couple of people have already asked if that was done on purpose.
YES! Good eye!
I made a very deliberate decision to have tenkara written in lower case on the cover of the book, as well as throughout the book whenever I discuss the method of fishing. I see the word Tenkara with upper-case in many blogs and magazines. But, you see, tenkara is not a proper noun; it is a simple noun, like “fishing” or “fly” and it shouldn’t be capitalized. However, tenkara can become a proper noun when discussing a brand, like Tenkara USA.
I’d make the case that one should write tenkara in lower-case when discussing the method. Although I suppose we could just choose to end up with our own version of fly-fishing, flyfishing and fly fishing and never be certain which is the correct one (I always write it fly-fishing).
Simplicity is a choice. It is easy to make many things in life complex, but these complexities don’t usually add to our experience. Even when we learn that we don’t truly need a lot of flies we can choose to carry multiple fly patterns with us “just in case”. We can carry multiple line weights and change them any time winds change. We can carry accessories to indicate the presence of fish when we could have kept an eye to line to do that. It may seem like carrying additional items in our fishing kit will make fishing easier or more effective. Often it does not.
Tenkara shows us there is a different way of thinking about fly-fishing – and often about life too. It shows us we can leave the unnecessary behind. But, we must choose to do so.
This is short excerpt from tenkara – the book
It’s been a long, long road.
I typed its first words nearly 5 years ago. But, as I continued to learn more about tenkara, continued visiting Japan and meeting more teachers, and continued to look at words I typed with an increasingly critical eye, the completion of the book I envisioned a long time ago just kept getting further away. Yet, (at last!) tenkara – the book has been received at our warehouse and is now shipping!
With the help of Jeremy Shellhorn, our resident artist, I believe tenkara – the book turned out to be even better than what i could have envisioned years ago. It is something I’m very proud of having produced.
This has been a rewarding project. It has also been challenging trying to put all I could think of in pages that wouldn’t feel overwhelming; to give those who are deep in tenkara all they may want to know while also attempting to convey tenkara’s simplicity. I believe that has been accomplished.
With this book I also launched a new division of Tenkara USA, the Tenkara Press™, which will help us accomplish the mission of sharing the tenkara story. It has been interesting to learn so much about the publishing industry in the last several months. From concept, to writing, to designing and layout, and then finally the printing (which was done close to us in Denver and I watched the entire process) and now working out the best distribution for it, this has been quite an experience. I hope to get some other tenkara titles in production next year.
Those who have backed our Kickstarter campaign will be start receiving the book momentarily as we took care of shipping them earlier this week.
This weekend Tenkara USA reached a milestone when the first video we created to introduce tenkara to the US and beyond reached 1 million views!!! Not exactly a viral video, but certainly a cool number to reach.
I have certainly learned a lot since that video was created, and some of it makes me chuckle, or even cringe a bit these days. But that video certainly did its job and introduced a lot of people to tenkara. I will save you from it and not embed it here, but you can watch the video and subscribe to our YouTube channel here.
Thank you all for watching!
And, make sure to watch our newest videos at www.tenkarausa.com/tenkara-videos
Every time I go back to Japan I bring a few cameras along to try to capture the experience of fishing with the masters. In the last several years I have shared quite a few videos through this blog and our YouTube Channel. Yet, I realized a few weeks ago while I was reviewing some of the photos and footage from those trips that I haven’t really done a great job at creating the longer-format videos I have once envisioned.
Now that tenkara – the book is mostly done, and available for sale! (the printers are placing the cover on the book today and will ship this weekend), I have decided to focus more of my attention on longer-format videos.
The first video I decided to put together is the 9-minute video below, of when I spent a few days backpacking in Japan with Mr. Yuzo Sebata and then, sitting by the stream, he showed me how he ties tenkara flies with very few and simple materials, and without a vise. I hope you enjoy it.
We just recently launched our new weekly video series, the 2-Minute Guides to Tenkara. In this series, I’ll be going through all the basics of tenkara in short 2-minute long videos. Today we uploaded the 2nd episode, in which I show you how to use the tenkara rod. Stay tuned for a new episode every week.
In episode 4 of our series, the “2-minute Guides to Tenkara”, Daniel Galhardo talks about tenkara flies and focuses on the reverse-hackle style tenkara fly,...
In the first episode of our new series, the “2-minute Guides to Tenkara”, Daniel Galhardo introduces viewers to the basic concepts behind the simple Japanese...
In the second episode of our new series, the “2-minute Guides to Tenkara”, Daniel Galhardo shows viewers how to use a tenkara rod. This video will show you...
Learn the “one knot” you need for tenkara. By using the fisherman’s knot in this video you can tie your tenkara line to your tenkara rod, tippet to the...
In this video you will learn how to cast with a tenkara rod in under 2 minutes. You can also watch this video for more tips on how to cast with a tenkara rod...
Got some news about the book: the files have been sent to the printer!!! YEAY! We are told about 2 to 3 weeks for delivery. The book will be printed in Denver, so I’ll be going to the press checks and keeping an eye on it as it comes out. I’ll be sending out a survey to ask for addresses from those who have pre-purchased it.
Meanwhile, as Jeremy worked on wrapping the files up yesterday I recorded a new podcast episode, in which I talk about my favorite rod, the Ito.
The Ito is The Ito is my favorite as well as that of many of the most experienced tenkara anglers. Yet, people are intimidated by its length. Listen to this episode to learn about what makes the Ito a favorite of so many anglers and why you should give it a try!
Referenced in this episode:
Landing a large brown on tenkara with the Ito
Facebook live video catching carp and bass with the Tenkara USA Ito
Unfortunately the Rip’Em & Lip’Em videos I mentioned are no longer available on Youtube, I’m trying to get the video files to share soon.
Mr. Sebata with the Ito
Shaun Lezotte with a large 29″ pike caught on tenkara
Me with a large size brown trout caught on the Ito (right after the header image for this podcast was taken)
This is an update on tenkara – the book, which will soon be arriving.
The book is now in its final stage before we print it and mail it. Thank you for your patience! After seeing the near-final product I can promise it will be worth the wait!
Over the last two weeks I holed myself up and focused exclusively on finishing final text revisions for tenkara – the book. The current version is looking so much cleaner than how it started. I don’t say this easily very often about my own work, but I am very proud of how this book has shaped up.
On Wednesday the book designer and illustrator, Jeremy Shellhorn, flew over to Boulder and we got to work together non-stop on the book. It was 3 long days of doing the final layout, placing the final images and touching up every single detail on every single page we touched. It was quite a amazing experience to see Jeremy do the work in front of me and bring words and photos to life in a way that just feel so…tenkara. We did a Facebook live video when we started working on it yesterday morning where we show a bit of what we have done.
The most interesting thing was our process in this last leg of the journey. We sat next to each other at the office, I would send him sections of text that were finalized and he would lay them out with the suggested photograph. But, because Jeremy knows our photography portfolio and tenkara so well, he would remember images that could be even better in a certain section. I’d find the image and send it to him and we would see how it worked. Other times we explored the text and found better, usually simpler, ways of saying things. This is a big contrast with traditional publishing, where the publisher requests that the text and images be completely done and sent over, then there are some several rounds of back and forth between author, designer, editor. In our case, the instant collaboration on every single page of the book has undoubtedly created a better produce. We can not begin to imagine doing this phase in any other way.
I expect about 5 more days to send the file to the printer, then about 3 weeks for it to be ready to ship. So, we are looking at approximately March 15th at the moment.
I feel embarrassed that I originally promised the book would be in your hands in January and I didn’t get it ready on time. I am not sure I underestimated the scope of this project or whether I just kept finding ways to make it a better book. This has been the toughest thing I have ever done, but I am incredibly excited about how it is turning out. I do apologize for the delay, if any would prefer a refund for me not meeting the timeline, I’d completely understand.
Now the finish line is very clear and we are just about to cross it. tenkara – the book will be something you’ll be very happy with. Next time you hear from me will be to get your address.
My best regards,