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.
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting the Orvis headquarters in Vermont. It’s always fun spending time with those guys and in that area. We got out and fished a couple of times, including floating the Battenkill river with Shawn Combs at the helm of his drift boat, and me swinging a big streamer on tenkara flies! Yes, you heard that right!!! With fish seemingly sleeping and little activity I put on a big bright gigantic streamer at the end of my line to see what would happen. The next day I sat down with Tom Rosenbauer to chat about tenkara and that experience.
You can listen to our conversation at the Orvis podcast here. The tenkara portion starts at 27:45
Orvis is now selling a tenkara kit with the Sato rod.
This was the second Orvis podcast on tenkara, you can listen to the first Orvis podcast on tenkara that Tom and I did here.
It’s been overdue for sometime, we know. But, I’m happy to announce we finally built up the functionality on our website for you to download the digital version of the Tenkara Magazine.
You can order the 2014 and the 2015 versions online. The 2015 is available in two electronic formats, one is the original layout of the magazine, the other is a narrow layout optimized for reading on a phone or tablet. Either costs $4.00 (print version is $9.00). The 2014 magazine is only available in one electronic format, the original layout, and costs $2.50.
Three years ago, on January 22nd, 2012, I rode an elevator with the legendary fly angler Mr. Lefty Kreh. In the 30-second elevator ride I was able to ask Mr. Kreh what he thought of tenkara, and his response was, in short, “I think tenkara is a fad and it won’t last long.“. I wrote about this experience. Within hours the post went viral, with nearly every fly-fishing blog reposting it in the following days and, by my estimates, well over 700 comments being written in response.
Fast-forward to January 24th, 2015 and we officially have a change in the status of tenkara in the fly-fishing world. On that Saturday morning we were getting ready for the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, when Mr. Lefty Kreh appeared in our booth looking for me. Oh, oh…was I about to get an earful for publicly writing about our conversation? Not at all. Mr. Kreh said he wanted to talk to me about our conversation three years earlier, to “clear the waters” as he put it, about his comment on tenkara being a fad.
I confess, I had wanted to talk to him in the years since but never felt very comfortable approaching him. I never felt there was any animosity between us, but he is Lefty Kreh, a celebrity usually surrounded by many people. I was delighted to see him coming over. He sat down and we chatted for a good 20 minutes. Those around me will tell you I had a smile from ear to ear, Lefty, after all, is an angler I have looked up to since I started my career in fly-fishing, and I rejoiced at the chance of chatting with him for longer than 30 seconds. Two of my favorite things about having created a business in the fly-fishing industry are that I can talk to like-minded people all the time, and that it has put me in touch with those I had looked up to since I first learned I could imitate bugs with hooks and feathers.
Lefty told me that in the several decades he’s been fly-fishing he’s seen many things coming and going, so tenkara could have been one of those. But, he has had a change of heart and has been looking into tenkara a lot and “no longer think[s] tenkara is a fad”. In fact, he said, tenkara has “many great applications, particularly for the trout angler and for teaching people how to fly-fish.”
I was particularly delighted when he told me we have a great website and that he’s been spending a lot of time looking into tenkara right here. He knew a lot about tenkara, and could tell me about the knots and the flies, and more. And, yes, Lefty has fished with tenkara and has been experimenting with it too.
By far my favorite part was when he told me:
“make sure to keep it [tenkara] simple; you are doing a great job, just continue to keep it simple.”
In 2013, we were pitched the idea of sponsoring a film about two brothers who absolutely love fly-fishing. The story would be centered on the Trow brothers, who own and run the Mossy Creek Fly-Fishing shop in Virginia. I have gotten to know those guys well, Brian and Colby are some of the early adopters of tenkara, were one of the first shops to offer our products and also helped host the 3rd Tenkara Summit. I knew they would be a great presence in a film, and in their waters there would be great opportunities to capture some awesome tenkara footage in the streams of the Smoky Mountains. So, we sponsored Blood Knot. The film was accepted into several film festivals, and deservingly won accolades from all of them, including “Film of the Year” award by Drake Magazine. Enjoy the clip below (can you spot tenkara?), and pre-order a DVD or rent it on Vimeo if you want to see one of the best fly-fishing films ever (with plenty of tenkara footage), and keep an eye out for the digital versions coming soon.
Rent on Vimeo
Coming to iTunes and fly shops near you in early 2015.
Scott Hunter created his company, Vedavoo, at around the same time we were starting Tenkara USA. He learned to sew and soon realized there was good demand from tenkara anglers for packs that would fit their needs, and his designs fit. I have been fortunate to get to know Scott through the Fly Fishing Show tour, which we both attend in the winter months. Scott just released the first issue of their ambassador publication, Torch. I was delighted to see his piece on tenkara in it, which he kindly let us republish below. Check out their publication (This is an exclusive publication intended only for their “Torchbearers”, but Scott let us share it with the tenkara community. Little secret: some sweet discount codes in there).
By Scott Hunter, founder/CEO of Vedavoo
I’ll be the first to admit it. I was that guy. I thought tenkara was a fad… and never saw myself without a reel mounted firmly to the butt of my rod.
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.
This is too good not to share. Tenkara was named one of the “10 Manliest Hobbies on Earth” by Men’s Health magazine! Sure, considering how many women are taking up tenkara these days, the honor may have an ironic twist. But, hey, we’ll take it. Now we can tell Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal and Bear Grylls that tenkara is in their league after all.
When I started Tenkara USA 5 years ago, I knew that tenkara fishing was destined to take off. Teaching tenkara through these years has taught me that people are hungry for simplicity and connection to our environment. Tenkara created a revolution in the fly fishing industry by improving the way people fish and changing the way they think about and teach fly-fishing. We are always excited to see more people learning about tenkara and want to welcome Patagonia to the tenkara community. Whether you’re a large company or one person teaching a buddy how to cast, you are spreading tenkara and that’s what we love!
A big part of why we exist is to get more people fly-fishing, simply. And, we believe the simplest way to fly-fish is to look at the tenkara anglers in Japan, which is what we have done for the last 5 years with innovative rod designs and sharing techniques.
If you are intrigued by tenkara, then you’ve come to the right place. Here are some highlights about the tenkara story and techniques to get you started. We hope that you will dig into our resources and let us know if you have any questions or want to learn something specific.
1) How to cast with tenkara
Tenkara casting does not have to be fanciful. It is super simple actually. Here’s a good video on how to cast with a tenkara rod:
2) How to setup your tenkara rod
3) Main techniques for tenkara
Here are the 6 main techniques I have learned from tenkara anglers in Japan to help you entice fish.
Ever wonder how simple fly-fishing really can be? Tenkara fishermen in Japan don’t even change flies! Seriously. This is the hardest concept for most fly anglers to embrace, but by far the most liberating. Over the last several years we have followed this philosophy, and have not lacked for fish. Learn more about how to use only one fly and simplify all the way!
6) How to Tie a Tenkara Fly
And, of course, we invite you to continue perusing our blog. We have some great posts and videos accumulated over the years, such as this one combining canyoneering and tenkara fishing, or this “Tenkara Diary” video of spending time with one of the tenkara masters in Japan, or this story about the last commercial tenkara angler in Japan.
This is one of the great articles found in the Tenkara Magazine we recently published. The article was written by Jason Klass, illustrations done by Anthony Naples. Unfortunately we missed a small portion of the article, specifically between technique #4 and #5. So, here is the complete article, which we hope you’ll enjoy and will give you a small flavor for the content in the first magazine devoted to tenkara in the world.
Ten Techniques for Tenkara
One thing beginning anglers often find daunting and mysterious is what to do once they set foot on the stream. They may have confidence that they bought good gear, but how do you actually present the fly effectively?
In this article, I will cover just a few presentation techniques that work well with tenkara. Some are Japanese in origin while others are western (and some are both), but all have been proven highly effective. Learning them can go a long way toward advancing a beginner to a highly skilled angler.
It started off as a magazine but I’m tempted to say the end-result is much more like a book. This year I decided it was time to add value to the tenkara community by creating the Tenkara Magazine. The first print publication dedicated to tenkara in the world, the Tenkara Magazine™ is a beautiful collection of essays, interviews, how-to’s, and philosophical thoughts revolving around the tenkara lifestyle. The magazine is 112 pages long, printed in high-quality paper, with submissions from talented writers and photographers who have been practicing tenkara.
Get it here
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Beginnings: A Japanese Story by Paul Gaskell
Tenkara: Me and the Past by Gordon M. Wickstrom
Taking a Chance by Daniel Galhardo
Home by Dinner by Graham Moran
Arctic Grayling Ultralight Tenkara Backpacking in Utah’s High Country by Rob Worthing
A Gal Who Loves to Double-Haul by Aileen Lane
Q&A with Dr. Hisao Ishigaki and Masami Sakakibara by Adam Trahan
I Love the No-Tarin Club by Kiyoshi Ishihara
The Tenkara Summit by Daniel Galhardo
Tenkara and the Beginner by Tom Davis
Ten Techniques for Tenkara by Jason Klass
Finding the Perfect Tenkara Water by Steven B. Schweitzer
Forgiving Boulder Creek by Sasha Barajas
The Basics of Tenkara
The Guide School by Mark R. Cole
Tenkara Guide Network by Daniel Galhardo
Tenkara Brothers by John Vetterli
A Homecoming by Paul Vertrees
A Great Way to Catch Trout by Morgan Lyle
Tenkara Fly Tying: Sakasa Kebari by Chris Kuhlow
Tenkara Flies by Daniel Galhardo
People Who Fish by Tienlon Ho
Small Streams: There and Back Again by Anthony Naples
From the Heavens to the Peak District: A Short History of the
Rise of Tenkara in the UK by John Pearson
Under the Ruins of Nero’s Villa: Tenkara in Italy by Vito “Tsurikichi” Rubino
A Boy, A Bus, Tenkara! by TJ Ferreira
No Need to Choose by Allison Pluda
Uptown Tenkara: A Crappie Experience by Ron P. Swegman
Gyotaku from the Water, to the Paper, to the Plate by Kirby Wilson
Destinations by Adam Trahan, Paul Vertrees, Daniel Hoda, Rob Worthing, Judy W. Cole, and Guillaume Chavanne
The Colors of Tenkara by David Dirks
***The Tenkara Magazine is currently only available for shipping to the USA (or Canada and Australia if ordered with other items as shipping costs are prohibitive.) We are researching our options for overseas shipping and digital publication.
The Tenkara Guides’ TROutreach (Tenkara Recreational Outreach) is featured in the March/April issue of InMotion magazine! Erik, John and Rob of the TenkaraGuides.com are doing a terrific job in bringing adaptive tenkara to people interested in fishing.
TROutreach was started with the intent of teaching physically impaired individuals how to fly fish – INDEPENDENTLY – through the elegance of tenkara. While the program is still in its infancy, TROutreach is gaining steam every season. This is a program supported by Tenkara USA.
They teach tenkara to amputees, polytrauma Veterans, and others who find themselves in a position that makes it tough to enjoy the outdoors through fly fishing.
Awesome work guys!
As a good follow up to the post I wrote yesterday, the Denver Post is featuring a story on tenkara in today’s paper. It is a well-written piece by Scott Willoughby. Check it out: http://www.denverpost.com/outdoors/ci_22576834/simplicity-is-sacred-japanese-tenkara-technique-fly-fishing