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Tenkara Summit – the 4th one is behind us now

On September 29, 2014 • Comments (0)

Tenkara Summit

Wow. What an exciting past few days we’ve had here in Colorado. Hosting Dr. Ishigaki and the TUSA team, taking them fishing and entertaining them kept me away from writing in the blog, sharing live broadcasts of the Summit, and make you feel like you were here. But, I’m happy to report we had an excellent Tenkara Summit, and I hope this report will make you get a flavor for what you can find at future Tenkara Summit events.

This weekend a record-breaking number of tenkara anglers under one roof got together in Boulder, Colorado. Nearly 200 people came together for the Tenkara Summit to celebrate tenkara, meet one another, learn tenkara, and just have a great time.


Jason Klass at Tenkara Talk also attended and wrote a nice overview of the event, with the conclusion, “If you haven’t been to a Summit yet, I highly encourage you to make the effort to attend the next one. You won’t regret it. Hope to see you in 2015!”

Officially, the purpose of the Tenkara Summit is to bring the community of tenkara anglers together to share knowledge and experiences with one another and to learn tenkara and how it is practiced in Japan, which is why we always have people from Japan participating. It is certainly not intended (and has never been) a commercial event to sell rods. But, as I shared with those who attended, in reality the Tenkara Summit may just be an excuse for Dr. Ishigaki and others to come and fish in different parts of the country. 

IMG_2848We could say the event started a couple of days prior to the scheduled date. In order to fish the area, Dr. Ishigaki arrived on Wednesday, and I heard of many others in the community trickling in to Boulder starting on Wednesday. On Thursday I took Dr. Ishigaki fishing at Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a short day. We caught a few browns, but the main attraction and the reason I wanted to take Dr. Ishigaki there was for the elk. It’s rutting season and we were sure we’d see some. The highlight was finding a large herd after we left the park, with a large bull guarding his harem.

The next morning we left at 6am to attempt catching some large trout. We went out to the Colorado River and Williams Fork,  a couple of hours away. We were joined by one of the tenkara guides in our network, Allen Seagraves, his son, TJ, John and another tenkara guide Steve Conrad. The day started off painfully slow. No bites, no nothing, no matter what we were attempting. The water seemed to be running a bit high and off color, so we suspect the water levels had just been changed by the dam above. We crossed paths with 5 or 6 other parties and everyone reported the same thing. Regardless of whether they were using reels or not, matching the hatch or staying with a simple fly, not much luck. At lunch time, while we ate, Allen fished in front of us and hooked the first fish of the day, a very nice rainbow.

Tenkara Guides fishing the Colorado river

It’s always so hard to deal with a situation when fish are not biting. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced angler, it always shakes your confidence a bit. But, mostly it makes you wonder what is happening??? I’ve had days when things were slow and I really wished someone more experienced than I was fishing with me. I have thought to myself in those cases, “I wonder what Dr. Ishigaki would do here?”. But, in this case, we had a team of very experienced anglers all fishing together. I’d venture to say that this was probably one of the most experienced teams I’ve fished with. Among us we tried many tactics, flies and rigs, yet, just about nothing was working. Dr. Ishigaki and I stayed with traditional tenkara flies; Allen tried those too but also some multi-fly rigs, split-shot with tiny nymphs and other rigs. Steve tried dries. The fish you see above was caught on a traditional tenkara fly, but after that fish nothing else and we fished very hard.

Dr. Ishigaki and Daniel Galhardo in ColoradoAnother reason we thought the fish were really not biting was the bright sun. And, perhaps that was the reason after all. At around 3:30pm we were about to give up and go home. We would have a long day the next day after all, and I still had a lot of work to do. And suddenly a nice cloud cover came in. That changed everything. Almost immediately a couple of people hooked up. Then I noticed some bugs fluttering out of the water and trout rising. I suspected caddises were breaking from the surface and fish were going after them with gusto. I still had my tenkara fly on, an Oki kebari at the time, and I decided to skate the fly. But, it was a different skating technique, a bit like pausing and drifting and skating combined. I had my first fish on. Then a second on the same technique. Dr. Ishigaki was upstream from me. I tried explaining the skating technique I was using, demonstrated it and had a third fish on, he proceeded to the same and hooked a nice fish. Well, I finally had a chance to show Dr. Ishigaki something new. In the next hour all 7 of us were on to multiple fish with that technique. 


Dr. Ishigaki and Tenkara USAThings slowed down when the sun came out again, which was probably for the best. I had a big presentation to give the next day, and ever the procrastinator had not even started on it. A two and half hour drive home awaited for us. We still caught a bit of the magic hour, which shined upon the yellow aspens and stunned our honored guest.

Tenkara autumn

This year we had an incredible team of volunteers helping out and a great event coordinator. But, for me it was hard to fathom what 200 people would look like in an event I was organizing. We started preparing early, meeting with the volunteers and getting all roles sorted out. And then people started trickling in, and the auditorium started filling up. My heard started palpitating fast, but thanks to a great team of people I could see things were under control. This was it. The biggest tenkara event ever put together was about to start.

Tenkara Summit vendorsThe day ran smoothly. After welcoming people to the 4th Tenkara Summit, we had a presentation and Q&A session with Dr. Ishigaki. Then we headed downstairs to the vendor and demonstration sessions. Between 10:30AM and 2pm volunteers setup fly-tying demonstrations and clinics, rigging sessions to show how to tie it all together, and casting clinics. Dr. Ishigaki also did a fly-tying demonstration and followed that by doing a techniques demonstration on Boulder Creek a few steps away. He managed to hook and land a trout in front of the captive audience.. Just about 80 people watching, no pressure! Lunch was also served, along with some great beer in our commemorative pints (a few were left over and we’ll make them available soon). It was one of the nicest atmospheres I have experienced in an event, very casual. The tenkara community is super friendly and just a lot of fun to hang out with, I’m very proud to the movement that has been started in this country and the people it has attracted.

Dr. Ishigaki

Dr. Ishigaki tenkara fishing on Boulder Creek

The outside time was followed by a tenkara magic show by Dennis Michael (aka Dennis Vander Howen) who entertained the audience by first showing a beer can that may as well have been discarded on the stream come back to life and getting full with fresh beer again (talking about an environmental solution, I think he needs to teach that trick to the world).
Presentations by Trout Unlimited on the state of streams in the area, by Rocky Mountain Anglers on the waters near Boulder and by Steve Schweitzer on fly-fishing Rocky Mountain National Park followed.


ImageThe next day we drove up Boulder Canyon meeting people along the way. We started with a relatively large group at the indicated starting point. From there on we drove and stopped whenever we saw a tenkara rod or Tenkara USA sticker. I completely overestimated how many groups we would be able to meet as the day went on. This portion of the Summit was a very loosely organized part. It was intended as a fishing day for all, where we encouraged people to fish up the Canyon and have a good time. We probably met up with 6 groups in our time there. It really was a great time and very good opportunity to get to know some excellent people in the community and of course, catch fish! After Boulder Canyon Dr. Ishigaki asked if we could catch some brook trout. I delightfully obliged. And, we were also rewarded by a few very unexpected cutthroat trout, which I had never seen in those waters before.


So, some of your are now asking, where is the next Tenkara Summit??? NO IDEA! We still have time, and there will be a 5th Tenkara Summit. Please let us know where you’d like to see it next and what time of year would be best for it.

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Dr Ishigaki is in da house

On September 24, 2014 • Comments (2)

Dr Ishigaki is in da house. He arrived a few hours ago…
We are taking it easy today. Enjoying the view of the Flatirons from Chautaqua park, which I just learned could mean “jumping fish” (though I highly doubt it that’s what they named it after, I’ll look it up later)…
We also took our time to visit the location of the Summit. It’s beautiful there right now…

And now to enjoy some of the famous Colorado brews…


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Tenkara Summit Shirts

On September 24, 2014 • Comments (0)

We just received the Tenkara Summit T-Shirts. These were primarily made for the event, but we will try making them available for sale after the Summit as well. A sweet design by our artist Jeremy Shellhorn. IMG_2719.JPG

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Boulder Creek Fish – Brown trout

On September 22, 2014 • Comments (0)

My neighbor and tenkara guide Allen Seagraves just came over to show me a fish he had just caught out of Boulder Creek. I figure this should definitely get you pumped for the Tenkara Summit happening this weekend. Allen is one of the tenkara guides in the Tenkara Guide Network, and if you’re wondering, he’s still available on Friday. He was using the Sato, which has been sold out for over a month but is coming back into our stock this week, as well as a tenkara fly.


While on Saturday the event mostly consists of presentations and demos, Sunday is a free and not organized fishing day. We will be encouraging everyone present to fish up and down Boulder Canyon, and throughout the day a group of experienced tenkara anglers will join you in different parts of the creek to help with any questions you may have. This will be a great weekend.

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Fall has arrived in Boulder

On September 22, 2014 • Comments (0)

Fall has arrived in Boulder, Colorado. At least that’s what the leaves are telling us. There is splendid color change, a vivid explosion of bright yellow among green forests happening all around Boulder. The weather is terrific right now. Those of you coming for the Tenkara Summit are in for a treat. See you all soon.

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Tenkara Summit Vendors

On September 18, 2014 • Comments (0)


Hard to believe, but the Tenkara Summit is just one week away! We are expecting over 160 people to attend. If you haven’t registered yet, please do so here. We will also take on walk-ins but would appreciate pre-registration to ensure we have enough food for everyone. This year we are bringing Dr. Hisao Ishigaki as the keynote speaker and to provide casting and fly-tying clinics along with a range of tenkara enthusiasts who will be available to teach anyone the art of tenkara.

While this is not a commercial event, we are bringing a few vendors with products that the tenkara community will appreciate having access too. In addition to a full booth hosted by Tenkara USA with Tenkara Summit shirts, some very cool beer pints and a few other goodies, here’s a list of the vendors you can expect to see at the Tenkara Summit this year.


Colorado Mountain School will be offering a chance for people to sign up for a climbing clinic to be held the day after the main event, because we all know the best trout are always the hardest ones to reach. On Sunday those interested will join them to learn how to climb and rappel. Take up TENKARA+ Climbing at this year’s Tenkara Summit.


Native Sunglasses makes some of our favorite sunglasses. If there is one items that we find essential besides just a rod, line & fly it is polarized sunglasses. Theirs are super lightweight, flexible and feature great lenses. If you don’t have polarized sunglasses, get them from them at the Summit.



Neptune Mountaineering is an institution in Boulder. They have been around since 1973 offering the best in climbing, backpacking and camping equipment. Since many in the tenkara community also enjoy backpacking adventures we invited them to bring some sweet tents, sleeping bags and other goodies you need for TENKARA+ Adventure!

Neptune Mountaineering at Tenkara Summit


Richard Kolodny makes authentic bamboo tenkara rod cases, and will make the unique items available at the Tenkara Summit.


Rocky Mountain Anglers is one of the premiere fly shops in Colorado and a few blocks away from the Tenkara Summit location. They will be selling Tenkara USA gear as well as making available waders and wading bootsRocky Mountain Anglers tenkara

Trout Unlimited is one of the main organizations in the country devoted to protecting and restoring trout habitat. We’ll have two local chapters attending the Tenkara Summit to provide more information on how you can become involved.


Upslope brewing company makes their beer with “snowmelt”, and their beer tastes great, but the coolest thing is how the people that work there are also super into fishing and they also donate a portion of their revenues to Trout Unlimited. Our favorite beer will be available to you at the Summit.


Vedavoo creates and builds packs in America. With innovative designs and high adoption by tenkara anglers throughout the country Vedavoo has been building a name with the tenkara community for great quality durable packs.

Vedavoo packs

Zimmerbuilt creates lightweight packs specifically designed for tenkara anglers looking for innovative features and great designs.



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Is Fishing a Sport?

On September 17, 2014 • Comments (13)


I have never considered fishing to be a sport, at least not the way the word is used by most people. Perhaps the best way to put it, in my opinion, is how I once heard a comedian say it, “fishing is the only sport where the opponent doesn’t know he’s playing” (I believe this was said by Brian Regan, but can’t find the joke right now). But, at the same time I’m not sure there is another word that really encompasses what fishing is. It’s a leisure activity, it’s a hobby, it’s a way to experience and commune with nature, and yes, it can certainly feel like an outright sport sometimes. Even if the way I fish often involves climbing gnarly boulders or hiking for hours, I continue to hesitate on using the word “sport” to describe fishing. However, today I realized that an angler and an athlete have a lot more in common than I had thought. More specifically, I realized how the three pillars of an athlete’s life: sleep, diet and training, also affect an angler’s performance. Continue reading

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15 Hours

On September 7, 2014 • Comments (5)

There is a 15-hour difference between Colorado and Japan. They are one day ahead of us. While right now it is 10pm in Colorado, it is already 1pm the next day in Japan. Due to the time different and having just returned from the trip, right now I feel absolutely miserable.

I wonder how much of that “misery” is due to the time difference and how much it is due to many 15-hour long days in Japan. When I arrive in Japan I always feel fresh and ready to go. My main strategy to cope with jetlag is to focus on my breathing and meditating during the flight. It works well on the way there, but on the way back I am never able to do it; there are too many things going on in my head, too many ideas. And the 15-hour travel time between the last place I visited, Yamagata, and our home in Boulder was certainly not easy on my body this time.

You may have noticed I haven’t shared as much “live” content in our blog. I typically shoot images and videos and then work on content as I travel between different cities. I do well most years, just look at our “Japan” posts here. But, this time, in between places I was utterly exhausted from many early starts, long days and  late evening beer, sake and yakitori outings. This trip was much more introspective and reflective than usual. That is not to say I don’t have a lot to share still, there are some highlights that are spinning in my head. For now I’ll share a brief journal of the trip as a whole:

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Capsule hotel

On September 1, 2014 • Comments (3)

As most of you are waking up, I’m now preparing to sleep. Tonight I will have a new sleep experience. After many nights sleeping in the countryside, to the sound of streams and crickets, tonight, for my first time, I will experience sleeping in a capsule hotel at the Tokyo Narita airport. Tomorrow morning I’m headed to China for a few days to meet with our factories. I feel more like I’m in a Sci-fi movie set. Luckily I’m not claustrophobic, and this doesn’t feel any smaller than the tents I use while camping. Only thing I wish for right now is the sound of crickets, a gushing stream nearby, the smell of a campfire and a sleeping bag. We will see how this goes. Good night…er…morning.

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Fish of the day: Amago

On August 26, 2014 • Comments (1)

Was out filming with a TV crew this morning. We had a 6am start, yikes (contrary to popular belief, not all fishermen like starting that early). Caught plenty of fish today, but couldn’t take picture since we were in the middle of filming again. But as I brought this fish in I couldn’t resist but to pull out my cell phone. The film crew wasn’t particularly appreciative of me stopping to take photos, but I believe you will understand why I had to do it. This is an amago, a Japanese trout, one of the prettiest I have caught I’d say.

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