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.
A duck, also known as a cairn, is a small pile of rocks designed to mark an area. You’ll often see these in trails, especially more faint ones,where they are used to indicated you’re going in the right direction. I like using them to tell my fishing partners where I started fishing. When they come upon they may knock it down and then proceed to find me and fish upstream from me. Where they start fishing they can build another duck to let me know where they started and so forth.
Ducks don’t have to be complicated structures. You can pile 2 or three rocks on a very visible place and be done. But, sometimes I like taking my time and making some very cool ones, balancing rocks that seem too round to be piled on one another. It will amuse your partner, and since they will be observing your beautiful work you may just have a chance to fish one more pool before they start fishing.
Yesterday, as I made my duck pictured above, I thought about the people that like piling rocks for fun. What if you come across their work? Or, what if other people are using the duck system? Things can get confusing and you may start skipping spots. So, I also thought that you and your fishing companions could agree on a mark to identify your own ducks for the day. For example, place a leave between two of the rocks (can you see the leave below), or if you are good at making cairns agree that they will be 5 rocks tall (another way to get more pools for yourself :). This will be a good way to tell it’s a pile from your own party.
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.
My 1st Kotsuzake….. been waiting 4.5 years for this. It ended up being a solo adventure and that was probably how it was meant to be.
In almost 5 years since becoming a tenkara fisherman, I had never taken the life of a trout for edible enjoyment. I happily released each trout go to be caught another day. But… my tick-tock clock been ticking for a while now and I knew soon, even after all these years, I would do the deed.
This morning I decided to explore new places to fish along with hopes of finding a nice mountain lake where I could take my wife for some Fall kayaking fun. I was a bit all over the place, driving around a lot, but with little fishing…. but I still did fish and caught a nice Brownie right off highway 49 in Northern California. I did eventually find a cool mountain lake to take my wife to this coming weekend. So my efforts were being rewarded…but I still needed to get some serious fishing in as most the day I had been putzing around in the FJ Cruiser.
Around 1:30PM I decided it was time to head to my secret Mountain Meadow, which I have written about before, in hopes to catch a few brookies. So off I went figuring I would be fishing again around 2:30PM and could get in at least 2+ hours of solid fishing. I went prepared with the normal goods…. Sato, Rhodo, 3.5 Orange Level Line, Salt & Pepper Sakasa Kebari, some snacks and drinks. When I arrived out came the Rhodo and I went to work. Continue reading
Everything we do revolves around tenkara and we strive to give you good information whenever you visit our site or calls, and that involves making sure everyone at Tenkara USA knows their stuff. The two people you are most likely to communicate with when calling (888.483.6527) or emailing us (email@example.com) are TJ and John, our customer service team. Both are anglers and always on the water, and both are terrific at what they do. Over the last couple of years they have learned tenkara from me and also directly from Dr. Ishigaki, and as you can see from this picture, both are great folks whom you’ll enjoy speaking to. Give them a call if you have any questions about tenkara, they know their stuff.
Occasionally I’m asked what it’s like to run a business where a long-time passion and work intersect. “Do you get tired of fishing?”, they ask. No, I don’t. I love fishing now as much or more as I did 17 years ago when I caught the bug. But sometimes it feels different.
It’s not that I get tired of fishing or like it less, but there is a difference between fishing for sake of creating content, teaching others or taking people fishing and fishing for sake of fishing. Continue reading