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How many tenkara anglers are there?

On January 29, 2014
Comments (20)

Five years ago virtually no one had heard the word tenkara. Now, 5 years after we introduced the method outside of Japan it has become a part of the fly-fishing vocabulary. When I was working towards creating Tenkara USA, taking a huge leap of faith in introducing a very foreign concept here, I knew I could write many books and articles but if people didn’t get to experience tenkara on their own the method would never spread. So, I decided to invest my life savings, quit my job and start a company making tenkara rods, lines and flies. The method took hold and has been spreading quickly, because it makes sense, is fun and effective and its simplicity appeals to a large number of people.
Five years later the number of tenkara anglers has grown, and grown, and grown. It has been a dramatic movement with exponential numbers of anglers adopting the method. But, there has been a question we have been asked over and over again: “so, how many tenkara anglers are there.”
I still debate whether it is a number I want to share. But, I am curious, if you were to guess how many anglers there are in the US, how many would you say? I can tell you it is more than 1,000 but less than a million.

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20 Responses to How many tenkara anglers are there?

  1. N S says:

    How many rods have you sold to date?

  2. tsegelke says:

    Well the number of rods sold would give an idea, but some people own two or more rods so it would not be accurate. There is also a number of people who have purchase from Japan or competitors.

    Market data or sample surveys? Are they even out there?

    Purely a guess, but I would think 650,000 in the west (US, Canada, Europe).

  3. TJ Ferreira says:

    I know the answer…. tomorrow there will be another tenkara angler added to the fold. The next day another. The next day… another. Just like an nut tree creates lots of nuts, every year it grows back and adds a whole lot more nuts to the ground. Long live the nut tree. TJ

  4. Jason Klass says:

    Do you mean in the world? In the U.S.? In the West? I saw an estimate online that said there are a million tenkara anglers just in Japan but I think that number is exaggerated. In the West, I have no idea. But if I had to guess, I’d say there are maybe 10,000 in the U.S.

    The number of rods sold isn’t an accurate measure since one angler could buy multiple rods or could buy just one rod and give up on the method, thus disqualifying them as a tenkara angler. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s possible to really accurately nail the number. Any claim would be nothing more than than an educated guess.

    • Meant in the US.
      It will be five years on April 12!!! Hard to believe.
      I am fairly certain we have estimates that are within a 2-3% margin of error. And, I can say we are just about at the same number as tenkara anglers in Japan according to my sources.

  5. Jason Klass says:

    Daniel, one more thing, it just hit hit me that you said “five” years since you introduced. I have been saying “four”. Wow! Can’t believe it’s been five years already!

  6. Adam says:

    I would think in the US there has to be around 60,000, give or take 5,000. I believe there is more than my initial though of 20,000 because i tend to think about each state and where i have seen popularity, and it’s more than what I realized.

  7. Mark says:

    Also folks buy in the used market …

  8. Timmy! says:

    Let us ask the “all wise” Tenkara-Yoda” san! Strong is the “fishing-force” with this one is, yesssssss! (Of course this would include off-world sources from galaxies far, far away and a very long time ago…)

  9. Martin says:

    Why not taking a survey?

  10. Stephen says:

    I don’t care how many tenkara fishers there are. It really means nothing to anyone except the marketing weasels and has nothing to do with actual fishing….except when you run into another fisher on stream, in which case, there are then too many fishers.
    Also you can’t count rods sales….I am one tenkara fisher and I have 18 tenkara, keiryu, and seiryu rods. All numbers are about selling, not using. The number of actual tenkara fishers, both here and in Japan is quite small I’m told. I believe it.

    • Stephen, this is a question I get asked all the time by users, so I take issue with you saying it means nothing expect to marketing “weasels”. There is a community of tenkara anglers and people often want to know how many others are in the “tribe”. And, yes, the numbers are small here and in Japan, just define small.

  11. Joe says:

    I’guessing, but it may be as many as 85K.

  12. Stephen says:

    Daniel, let me repeat…the number of people in the “tribe” has nothing to do with actual fishing….until you run into one on the river. Fishing and hunting are solitary endeavors. You can go with others…but if you are serious, you hunt and fish alone.

  13. JDSmith says:

    In regards to the inquires, I wonder how many of those inquiries are from potential or future marketers who are trying to get a gauge on the market numbers.

    As far as #’s in America? I think there are more here than in Japan. My conservative guess is 16,000 in the US.

    I have a better question though. Why is this information being so guarded if they are just estimations?

  14. David says:

    I sometimes wonder how many Japanese working in the USA tenkara fish while living here. I have never met another person tenkara fishing. Only three or 4 people have ever asked about my tenkara gear. ( I think the local culture is to mind your own business on the water ; – 0)

    One guy did tell me about once seeing a Japanese guy, fishing up river from himself, fishing with a long rod. But he did not recall if he did a lot of casting.

    A couple of times I have found the same Japanese blog, wherein the blogger posted that he learned to fish for trout while living in WV. His blog post was about modifying his tenkara rod to have a wooden grip.

    A local sushi chef told me he once catered a fishing trip for Toyota or NGK employees, at the request of the governor. He was not familiar with tenkara rods, but he said they all used long rods. And the outing was on the Cranberry River, a popular trout stream.

    I haven’t a clue about how many tenkara anglers there are in the USA. Except that enough rods, lines, flies, are being sold to pay the yearly wages of more than 8 people.

  15. Jeremy (achilles38) says:

    It’s an interesting question, and I’m sure there are tons of people eager to know the answer. In the almost 2 years I’ve been using tenkara I’ve fished all over the Sierras in CA, in several rivers in Montana and Idaho within 50 miles of West Yellowstone (also inside the park), in AZ, all over Southern CA, in Utah, WY, and I’ve never run into another tenkara fisherman on accident. I did run into some Japanese tourists in Mammoth Lakes, CA a two summers ago and they knew exactly what I was using, my Amago rod and sakasa kebari flies, and they were heading out later that day but did not have tenkara rods. I’ve run into more and more people that have heard of tenkara, but none that had a rod.

  16. Larry (pieguy) says:

    One of my very first times fishing on Bear Creek I met a Tenkara fisherman in the parking lot. That was 2 years ago. We became friends. People who fish Tenkara are a special breed. In a way I’m glad that it is a “small” portion of the fishing population but I am so glad that it is growing. Daniel has done a wonderful job of bringing Tenkara to the USA.

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