I use all sorts of guide books. Whether for fly-fishing, for hiking a new wilderness area or rock-climbing, they are invaluable resources that will save you a lot of time and potentially keep you out of danger.
A few years ago I visited Colorado for my first time. A mandatory stop, of course, was Rocky Mountain National Park. One of our customers and tenkara angler Steve Schweitzer happened to be the author of the acclaimed book “A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park”. He caught wind of my visit and asked a local fly-shop to put one of his signed copies aside for me. The moment I picked it up I knew this was going to be a very high quality fly-fishing guide book. Flipping through the pages confirmed my first impression.
Now Steve, along with Mike Kruise, released the long anticipated guide book to Indian Peaks, a beautiful wilderness area just West of Boulder, Colorado, and “essentially a southern extension of Rocky Mountain National Park”. There wasn’t a huge of amount of information for fly-fishing the area, and now “A Fly Fishing Guide to Colorado’s Indian Peaks Wilderness Area” makes it easy to know where to go
Like his first book, the Indian Peaks guide book is beautifully designed and thoughtfully laid out from cover to cover. I loved the format of both of his books, which featured topographic maps as well as elevation gain charts – after all, in this mountain region you will certainly want to know whether a stream that is just one mile away has a 500ft elevation gain or 2,000 ft!
The most unique thing about this guidebook is the inclusion of tenkara on multiple fronts. I don’t know if you noticed the picture of the cover above, but the cover itself features an angler using tenkara. This may be the first time a tenkara angler is being featured in a book designed for a larger audience and not specifically written about tenkara. And, this is fitting, for the Indian Peaks Wilderness (like most areas in Colorado) is absolutely tenkara-perfect. The book has over 120 destinations, and admittedly the majority of the destinations are lakes. But, there is also an abundance of streams coming out of lakes, joining lakes together. Each of those streams is best fished with a tenkara rod, in my biased opinion. And, since the majority of lakes requires long hikes, a tenkara rod is, again in my biased opinion, best fished with tenkara.
In addition to the cover, Steve asked me to write a section about tenkara for his book. So, I wrote a short section about the use of tenkara in the area. Most guidebooks feature a section early on about the best equipment and techniques to use, Steve and Michael are ahead of the curve in realizing that tenkara has a legitimate place and must be mentioned. The second edition of the Rocky Mountain National Park book also features a section on tenkara.
In the tenkara section of the book I briefly discuss the philosophy of “one fly” and the fact that, in my experience, one can use just about any fly in the area. At the end of the book there is a section with flies recommended for the area, featuring 54 flies. I was delighted to see a couple of tenkara flies included this time, the Ishigaki and the Oki kebari.
Anyone planning on visiting this area must get a copy of “A Fly Fishing Guide to Colorado’s Indian Peaks Wilderness Area”, it’s a great resource for an area that I love and is absolutely tenkara-perfect.
The other day I talked about how empty my fly box was starting to look. I have been fly-tying for a long time, as a matter of fact fly-tying is what got me into fly-fishing. But these days I don’t tie as much as I used to. Part of it is time (or lack of time to be more exact). Part of it is the fact that I often get flies in bulk when we get them for our site; though these days we’re selling through our flies quickly and I don’t like taking them from our inventory. But, what would you know, a man’s gotta have flies.
Before I discovered tenkara I had been fly-fishing for nearly 13 years. I picked up western fly-casting fairly quickly, and because of that I thought I was at least adequate at fly angling. But, I could not consider myself a good fisherman. Indeed, casting is not all there is to fly-fishing. I wasn’t bad, but I think for too long I focused on the wrong things. Thinking back about my fly-fishing career, and especially looking at my last 6 years practicing tenkara, I know I have learned much more than 6 things, but here are 6 things that immediately come to mind and may be helpful to you right away:
Lately I must have been giving too many flies away (and sure, a few were “given” to trees too!). Yesterday I went fishing with some friends and this was what my fly box looked like when I arrived. I had only 7 flies to use for the few hours I would be fishing, and each one was identical in size, color and shape. Size 8 Oki kebari.
Four years ago (WOW! Typing that just made me feel like time is flying way too fast…pun totally intended), I wrote a post about finally letting go of my “just-in-case” flies. It was a turning point for me. After 12 years of being indoctrinated in matching-the-hatch, and one year after learning that I could use one fly (or, rather, any fly), I was finally gaining some confidence in the approach.
It had nothing to do with tradition, rather, it was a step I saw toward liberation. How cool would it be to learn how to use my fly and not worry about hatch books or stopping by a shop to ask what to use? On that post, I also posed the question: “If you only had one fly pattern in your box, could you still catch fish? If you ran out of your “go-to” fly pattern, would you feel okay and continue fishing, or would your day be ruined?”
When I started getting into fly-fishing, it was for me a solitary activity. Perhaps I wanted to hide the poor line management and inaccurate casts; or perhaps it’s just that I was usually seeking solitude. Nowadays I absolutely love fishing with others, and it’s not because my casts are now accurate and I don’t have to worry about line management, I just realized it’s a lot of fun to share my experience, my evening in the water, with others. Sometimes, I find it is actually a little sad to have a wonderful evening in the water, witness fish rising around me, watching a spectacular sunset, colorful fall foliage or a majestic bird and have no one to turn to and say, “did you see that?”
This week I went fishing with people on a couple of occasions. When you fish with others you have two choices: stick together, take turns at each good spot or leapfrog one pool at a time, always staying in sight of one another. OR, fish more on your own, leapfrogging longer distances and leaving a lot of pools in between for one another. I find the second option a good compromise between seeking solitude and desiring company.
Now, if the second option is the approach you’ll be taking with a partner, or a few friends, I have found that there must be a system to tell your partners where you started fishing. After all, if they can’t see you, and you already fished an area, fishing for them won’t be all that great. When leapfrogging, I suggest using the Duck system. Continue reading
Yesterday I wrote a post I titled the “The Tenkara Industry”. It would have been equally apt to title it “The Tenkara Movement”, for that’s what it is. I talked about how I enjoy not being the “only crazy dancer” around, with a link to a 3 minute video. I suspect most people wouldn’t have clicked it. This video, narrated by Derek Sivers, is one of my favorite video clips and I wanted to share it with you. It shows, in under 3 minutes, how a movement is started. This is exactly what’s happened to tenkara, which is not just a category within fly-fishing but a movement of sorts. Thank you all for joining in the movement and making me not feel like a “lone nut”. Just pretend that instead of dancing in the park you’re seeing people fishing without a reel.
“As more people jump in, it’s no longer risky. If they were on the fence before, there’s no reason not to join now. They won’t be ridiculed, they won’t stand out, and they will be part of the in-crowd, if they hurry.” – Derek Sivers
In 2008/2009 I started creating the business of Tenkara USA. The objective was to show people how simple fly-fishing could be by introducing the method of tenkara outside of Japan. In the course of developing the business, before I officially launched it, I realized I was about to create a brand new category within the fly-fishing industry. I also realized a new category would eventually become bigger than ourselves.
A new category within an industry is not something that happens very often, but when it does it has the potential to create a movement. And, of course, it also has an even greater potential of not taking hold. When a new category successfully gets established, one clear sign of its success is that it supports an entire range of companies entering the market to support it and to compete in the space.
One day, as I started working on Tenkara USA, I was talking to a colleague at my previous career and talked about my vision for what would happen. I told him I suspected there would be a range of companies that would emerge in support of tenkara: backpacks, guides, accessories, lines, flies, and eventually others would compete by offering rods too. It was far fetched at the time, but I believed one measure of success would be when more companies started offering tenkara too. Fast-forward 5 years and that original vision has started to realize.
You, tenkara anglers, have just adopted a highway!
If you’re anywhere near Boulder, Colorado, drive up Boulder Canyon. On mile 37 going upstream, and mile 35 going downstream (just about 6 miles into the Canyon), you’ll now see this sign. If you see it, stop by, take a picture and share it with us here, on Twitter or Facebook with the tag #TenkaraHighway.
The Tenkara USA Rhodo, an adjustable tenkara rod we released earlier this year, just received the “Kudo Award” from renowned author and tenkara angler Dave Hughes and Fly Rod & Reel magazine (and yes, we do love the fact that a magazine with “Reel” in its name just gave us a Kudo Award”).
When I emailed Dave to thank him for the nomination, he responded of how he was showing the rod to someone, “I held my fingers on each side of the +/- 3″ section that has the extension ferrules, and said, ‘This three inches of rod deserves the Kudo.’ Then I caught a fish on it.”
Along with the 12ft Tenkara USA Iwana, which received an award in 2012 as a Best of Show at IFTD, the Rhodo is the second award given to a tenkara rod by the mainstream industry.
Dave has been doing tenkara for probably longer than anyone else in the USA, and his latest book “Trout from Small Streams” has a terrific chapter on tenkara.