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February 05 2014

[Video] Tenkara Fly Tying at Field and Stream

Check out this piece and video I did with Tim Romano for Field and Stream yesterday. In this video I show you how to quickly and easily tie a tenkara fly as I talk a bit about the philosophy and reasoning behind tenkara flies. Article here.


September 23 2013

Tenkara Tie-a-thon Raises $761 for CO flood Relief Efforts – #Tenkara4COFlood

This weekend we held the first Tenkara Tie-a-thon to help victims of the devastating Colorado flood. The recent floods have swept homes, displaced thousands of people and took a few lives right near the Tenkara USA headquarters (which, luckily, was mostly untouched). The Colorado community has been super welcoming to Tenkara USA. we are at home here, and we wanted to help in some way. We also wanted to engage the community for support. It’s one thing to send a check out, it’s another thing to send a check out and have hundreds of people sending their thoughts and moral support to those affected.

So, we proposed that for every fly the community tied and shared a picture of this weekend we would donate $1 to help flood victims. As we expected, the tenkara community showed their support en masse. According to our tally, 701 flies were tied and pictured this weekend (and 12 videos, for which we’re giving $5/ea., were made). That’s $761 going to flood victims this week on behalf of the tenkara community. The donation has been sent to United Way’s Foothills Flood Relief Fund. Thank you all who contributed for your show of support.

Here are a few pictures shared with us. To see all flies visit our Facebook page, or type #Tenkara4COFlood on Twitter.

Tenkara flies for flood relief

1st batch of tenkara flies by Rob Gonzales

Tenkara fly by Gary W. Clark

Tenkara flies by Alfredo Navas for Colorado flood relief

Some tenkara flies by Alfredo Navas

John Geer of Tenkara USA also got in on the fun and tied 42 tenkara flies this weekend

John Geer of Tenkara USA also got in on the fun and tied 42 tenkara flies this weekend

Tenkara for CO flood relief fly-tying

Fly by MKFlies.com

A tenkara fly by Anthony Naples

A tenkara fly by Anthony Naples

30 tenkara flies by Dennis Vander Houwen

30 tenkara flies by Dennis Vander Houwen


September 20 2013

Reverse Hackle Tenkara Tie-a-thon for CO flood victims
Sep 21-22nd

For every reverse-hackle tenkara fly you tie tomorrow and the day after (September 21-22nd MST) and share a picture with us on our Facebook page or Twitter (with the hashtags #tenkarausa #tenkara4COflood) we’ll donate $1 to help flood victims in Colorado. If you make a short video of yourself tying the fly, we’ll donate $5 per video. No limits on how many flies you can tie and share pictures of.
Tenkara fly with reverse hackle
If you don’t have a Facebook account or Twitter account, please get one and connect with us for this initiative as that will allow us to keep track of the activity. You don’t have to even send the fly anywhere, it’s yours to keep, but we do ask that the flies be tied tomorrow or Sunday.
Never tied a fly before? Don’t have a vise? No worries. Tenkara flies are very easy to tie. You just need a hook, sewing thread, and feathers (even a pillow’s feather can work). Watch these tenkara fly tying videos for some inspiration:


June 10 2013

Wata kebari – Cottonwood fly

Cottonwood falling from the sky

Fly tying can be a wonderful hobby in itself. But since I have  personally embraced a philosophy in which the fly pattern is not all that important, it has been a while since I have done any creative fly tying.  Last week Anthony Naples provided some inspiration for a fly I thought I should tie using the cotton from the cottonwood trees as dubbing. Anthony himself was inspired by the Japanese tenkara angler’s use of the zenmai, or fuzzy material found on the stem of certain ferns to tie flies. But, while zenmai is available, it is difficult to find stateside. His post was very timely.

I have never lived anywhere with a lot of cottonwoods, but we have plenty in my new neighborhood.

Cottonwood on sidewalkAt the time of Anthony’s post, the cotton from the cottonwoods was not yet falling. Then, this past Saturday I started noticing a few falling here and there. They fell sparingly and I collected a few I found on our lawn. I had no idea what to expect from the cottonwoods, but it is as they say, “when it rains it pours”. Yesterday, a very warm day with some breeze, the cotton was to be found everywhere, and at moments it felt like it was snowing. Whereas the day before I labored to find and collect a few, yesterday they collected by the handfuls on the streets.

Margaret, my wife, just told me that cotton is “wata” in Japanese, so I’ll call it the Wata kebari. Here is my first fly tied with the material.  Like Anthony I found the cotton to be very easy to spin on thread. It did not require any wax or anything like that. I did remove the seeds, which come off very easily, lest they find themselves in a land where they don’t belong and become an invasive species. I also decided to do a quick test with the material in water. I was expecting it to absorb water, especially when spun tight, and thus help sink my fly. But, it seems to have a hydrophobic property that keeps it floating well even as I tried to push it down. I have no idea how they fly will stand the test of time, but I thought it would be a neat experiment. I’ll probably have to bring some of it to my friends in Japan when I come visit later this year, so I’ll collect it while I can.


How to tie a tenkara fly with cottonwood, fly fishing fly with cottonwood

How to tie a tenkara fly with cottonwood, fly fishing fly with cottonwood

How to tie a tenkara fly with cottonwood, fly fishing fly with cottonwood

How to tie a tenkara fly with cottonwood, fly fishing fly with cottonwood

How to tie a tenkara fly with cottonwood, fly fishing fly with cottonwood

How to tie a tenkara fly with cottonwood, fly fishing fly with cottonwood


April 12 2013

Tenkara Diaries 2 – April 11, 2013

Headed out for a phenomenal afternoon of tenkara fishing. Carried a prototype tenkara rod I’m working on, tenkara line and two tenkara flies I tied before heading out. Shot entirely with an iPhone. There are a couple of tips in this short movie too. This video is 5 minutes long, with a song by Takenobu. Make sure to watch it in HD (click on the gear icon, and then 720 or 1080). Hope you enjoy it.


March 16 2013

Tying Tenkara Flies II, in progress

Had a terrific evening of tying tenkara flies and talking about them with Gordon Wickstrom at the Tenkara USA headquarters. This is the beginning of working on Volume 2 of the Tying Tenkara Flies DVD, the conversation was fantastic. Gordon has decades of tying knowledge and has been interested in tenkara for sometime, the back and forth was certainly one of my favorite conversations this year.



March 12 2013

Tying the Tenkara “Little Thingy”

This video was too funny not to share. The Tenkara Guides, based in Salt Lake City, UT, outdid themselves in this fly-tying video. I can see it going viral in short order. The commentary is quite hillarious, though I wish we could see their faces and figure out how they were not cracking up when narrating this good fly-tying video. It’s R-rated only if you’re an adult with a dirty mind, but you can have kids in the room, no problem.

For more fly-tying videos by the Tenkara Guides visit their site, or their Youtube page.


February 03 2013

Tenkara Guides Tenkara Fly Tying Video

The Tenkara Guides of Utah put together this really cool fly-tying video below. I love their use of multiple cameras and embedded picture-in-picture editing. Check it out:


November 08 2012

The Story of Vagabox Continues

Written by Daniel

Forum user Acheateaux had a brilliant idea: the Vagabox. The Vagabox is a traveling fly box that will be “bringing surprise, intrigue and fishing stoke with it wherever it goes. You fish with the box, enjoy it’s humble offerings and post up some stoke here.” Since our post on the Vagabox back in July, the box has enjoyed a journey to a few new spots. Here’s the updated map, you can click on the faces to see what the Vagabox experienced in each of the places it has visited.

View The Tale of the Vagabox in a larger map
Read the rest of this entry »


September 09 2012

The Sasaki Kebari
Hiroto Sasaki of Sansui shows us his tenkara fly

Today is my last day in Japan. Margaret and I returned to Tokyo yesterday to spend time with some friends before we leave to China tomorrow morning. I decided to stop by the Sansui store again and say hi to Mr. Sasaki before we left. As we entered the store it looked like he was tying tenkara flies on the counter. It turned out he was putting together some rigs for ayu fishing. The conversation obviously turned to tenkara flies, and with me asking if he would tie a tenkara fly for the camera. He was a bit shy about it at first, saying he considers himself a “beginner” fly-tyer, but he eventually agreed. I captured this film in one go as he was still working and customers were coming through the door as we worked on the video. It was also edited as quickly as I could as it was a full day and we depart to the aiport in about 5 hours.

One of the most interesting parts of the way he ties his tenkara flies is the way he finishes them. He uses what he calls a “tokkuri” knot, which I was not familiar with. Also, the video is a reminder that not all tenkara flies are in the “sakasa” style. Tenkara flies come in a variety of patterns, the sakasa (or reverse-hackle) being the most characteristic ones but certainly not the only ones.

I hope you will enjoy this video.



September 07 2012

The Fly Tying Kids of Maze

In 2011 I taught a kid in Maze, a village in Gifu, Japan, how to tie tenkara flies. Kyosuke was his name. He really enjoyed the craft and pretty soon started teaching it to his friend Taichi. They took to it pretty quickly and were soon tying tenkara flies just for the fun of it.
Earlier this year, my host Ikumi and Rocky sent me pictures of the kids of Maze tying tenkara flies at the Mazegawa Fishing Center (Mizube No Yakata). They seemed to be having a ball. I was super proud when I got those pictures.
They continue tying tenkara flies and spreading tenkara fishing to their friends. Most kids in the area had no idea what tenkara was when I visited in 2011, now it may be turning into part of their regular conversations. Tenkara introduced to Japan…from the US. Here’s a fun video I put together of some of their tenkara fly-tying experience:


August 01 2012

Tenkara Fly Tying DVD Now Available Here

written by Jason

The first in a series of tenkara fly tying videos is now available on the Tenkara USA website.  If you’re just getting into tenkara and buying a rod and line, it might be a good idea to add on this video which shows you how you can also save money and deepen your engagement in the sport by tying your own flies with minimal cost.  Aside from saving money, catching a fish on a fly you tied yourself is extremely rewarding.  I always encourage newbies to try tying.  It’s not as hard as you might think and this DVD shows you just how easy it is in high definition video with clear, easy-to-understand instructions. I wish they had videos like this when I was first learning to tie.



Read Daniel’s review here.

Read Jason’s review here.

I’ve watched a lot of fly tying videos and none of them hold a candle to this one in quality or volume of content. Plus, you get a booklet outlining all of the patterns in the video with their recipes which makes for a convenient vise-side reference.  2.5 hours of video, 17 patterns, and tips & tricks from the masters for only $25.  In my opinion, it’s a huge vale.  Get the DVD here.