Tenkara USA’s designer, Jeremy Shellhorn, sits streamside and lets nature inspire his work as he takes viewers along his drawing process.
Jeremy’s work beautifully captures the essence of tenkara. One guiding principle in much of his art is “mujo”, the Japanese concept of leaving things incomplete and giving as much importance to what is left out as to what is drawn.
In Search of Tenkara is a series of videos where people capture what makes tenkara unique and what its essence may be.
Our 2-week long trip to Japan is now over. At the end of the trip we experienced the beginning of the rains that have been ravaging Western Japan. In fact, the night before we left we were at a guest house having dinner as heavy rain fell outside. Our hostess came to inform us that there was a chance the river nearby, the Maze, could flood and she explained the contingency plan. It was not likely she said, but just in case there was an alarm they would guide us to the school on the hill nearby.
The Maze, a river we had fished just the day before, didn’t flood, but much of the areas around where we were experienced landslides and devastating floods. The disaster has been hardest felt farther west from where we were. Our hearts are with the people as they deal with the difficulties of yet another disaster. We were lucky to escape unharmed. It has been bittersweet to get to the comfort of my dry home knowing people are suffering. But, as I review footage and images from another good trip to Japan I keep the Japanese people in my heart.
Today I worked on a short film where I was able to capture an epic fight Dr. Ishigaki had with a large rainbow trout in Hokkaido. I wish my microphone was closer to hear his tenkara rod singing, as I am sure it did. I hope you’ll enjoy the short film above.
If you’re interested in helping, here’s some information on relief efforts taking place.
Press Release, Boulder, CO
Fly-fishing equipment company Tenkara USA has named industry veteran Patrick Stratton CEO. He will join Daniel Galhardo on the senior management team.
Stratton has held senior management positions at The North Face, REI and Mountain Equipment Co-op, among others. His experience will help Tenkara USA build momentum and grow the brand as it works to expand sales and dealer networks to grow fly fishing’s audience.
“Patrick’s product management and entrepreneurial experience are a perfect match to help take Tenkara USA to the next level, where we can continue to provide the best product to an ever-growing audience of people who spend time outdoors and may want to add fly-fishing to their list of preferred activities,” said Galhardo, Tenkara USA’s founder and chairman.
“I’ve known Daniel for a long time, and have envied his ability to communicate the technique and simplicity of the sport,” Stratton said. “I see many opportunities for the brand and the sport, and I look forward to being able to introduce Tenkara USA to new audiences while maintaining a strong connection with our existing customers and ensuring we tackle the challenges faced by a growing brand.”
Galhardo will focus on product development and storytelling, and will work closely with Stratton and the rest of the Tenkara USA team to continue pushing forward their mission to “enable people to enjoy the benefits of tenkara by sharing the philosophies of simplicity, open-mindedness and caring for the environment while providing the best tenkara information, gear and service.”
Mountain Home, Arkansas
In March, Tenkara USA had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Sowbug Roundup “Celebration of Fly Fishing” event. Daniel, Jeremy and I were on hand to represent Tenkara USA and additionally, Daniel also gave a tenkara presentation and a couple of casting demonstrations.
[Daniel’s note: a new podcast episode of the Tenkara Cast, in which the 3 of us sit down and chat about the finer points of the philosophy of simplicity, is now available via iTunes, other podcast apps, or directly at ]
The Sowbug Roundup is a basically a fly tying show with a selected vendor list chosen to augment the content of the event.
It was quite an honor for me to attend and I do appreciate the welcome that the community gave to us. The tenkara vendors did a great job and we made the front page of the area newspaper.
What follows is a few photographs that I took from the event.
I am a strong believer that companies shouldn’t release new products simply with the goal of loading people with something new. Too often a need for growth rather than customer interest is what drives product releases. But we were missing a product that I feel completes our lineup.
I wanted to create an adventure rod. It would be strong to handle just about whatever was thrown at it in terms of fish; and it would be super portable but not compromise durability or feel. At last that rod is here.
If you are interested in a rod that will fit in your small carry-on when you travel, your daypack when you go for hikes, or your bike’s saddlebag, check out the Hane ($150). It is a great rod to tag along in all your adventures.
I’m an American tenkara angler that is influenced by Japanese tenkara and my own experiences at home. I initially learned about tenkara nine years ago from Tenkara USA (Daniel Galhardo) and subsequently deepened my knowledge from researching Japanese blogs and web sites. I used what I knew from my own fly fishing knowledge and by researching and interviewing famous Japanese Tenkara anglers. I shared many of those interviews with the community here.
What follows is a basic look into the equipment that I use to wet wade and fish my own home streams and as I travel around North America and beyond.
My primary tenkara rods are the Ito, Sato and Rhodo. I’ve been fishing these rods since they have been available. I own a couple of Japanese brand rods in my quiver but my Tenkara USA rods are my first choices to go fishing in my home streams. I think if I had one rod to choose, it would be the Ito. It is a rod where I can hunt small native trout in wild places and then further down the mountain where the stream flows into the high meadow lake, I can catch stacked up big trout coming from out of the lake. It’s a rod that has length and makes a small fish fun yet I can catch 20” fish with it all day long.
A new episode of our podcast, the Tenkara Cast, is now available through your favorite podcast listening app, or right here on our website. This time Daniel chats with Chris Johnson about tenkara fishing in Texas.
Most of the time when I am interviewing or having a written conversation with a person, I ask them for a couple of paragraphs to tell me who they are. I meet Jeremy at the 2017 Tenkara USA Summit and he and his wife are super nice, like all the people that I have meet in Tenkara USA. I knew he was an artist and a family man but beyond that, I did not know much about him. So I asked him if he would pen a brief “about me” so that I could develop a deeper understanding of his interests to develop our Interview.
What caught my attention in his response was not the things that I thought I needed, it was an actual fishing moment describing resting a pool. He brought me there with his words.
I’m excited to have a chance to share a conversation with Jeremy with you as he is an interesting and aesthetic loving individual.
Adam: I’m not sure I discussed the process of these Interviews with you Jeremy so I will do it here. I write the thing in one single whack and send it to you. You fill it out and send it back. When I create the document, I think about the subject and then bring out his or her interests and hopefully get them to build a picture, a interesting inner view of who they are.
Your answer to my request about fishing, spooking a pool and then sitting down and drawing, waiting for the pool to resume it’s peace struck a cord with me. I was taken to one of my own streams, I have been fishing it for 50 or so years. There are distinct pools that always have dinks flitting about chasing flys on the surface. If you approach too quickly, they scatter for the undercut or the log. But if you sit down, have a drink, check your fly, lay back and relax for about 10 minutes or so, the trout slowly come back to their feeding and playfulness.
“You have obviously been fishing for a while so let me thank you for taking this interview and sharing with us a little bit about you.”
Jeremy Shellhorn: Thanks for interviewing me. Yes, I guess I have been fishing for most of my life. I am glad my Dad took me when I was young. My family has always encouraged me to pursue the things I love to do…fishing and design. I am very very fortunate.
Interview with John Lawrence Geer
I’ve known John for a little while now, I met him through social media. Recently, I joined Tenkara USA as a writer and contributor. At the 2017 Tenkara USA Summit, we shared some time together. Having met him in person, he is a super nice, knowledgeable about fly fishing and tenkara. In short, I look forward to the next time we meet and I hope I am able to do a little fishing with him. So with that and without any more introductions, I want to get into the interview.
Adam: Hey John! I know this might be a stretch for you (the interview) but I appreciate you doing it. Outside of Tenkara USA, I want to tell you that the pictures you post tell a thousand words. You are an experienced fly angler, a tenkara fisher and your story is worth telling, even if it’s just a little slice here.
Let me begin with a thank you for accepting my invitation. I appreciate it and I’m sure our community will enjoy getting to know about you.
“Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?”
John Lawrence Geer: Hi Adam. Thanks for interviewing me and the nice intro. I grew up fishing in southern Illinois on strip pit lakes and farm ponds. We’d took most of our family vacations when I was younger to fish in Missouri on their trout parks, which are basically spring creeks managed as put and take fisheries, and then the large warm water fisheries there when I got older.
Adam: John, thank you for allowing me this interview.
I’ve read your new book; “All Fishermen Are Liars” and I really enjoyed it however I would like to start the interview with a question on an older book of yours. I’ve spoken with a lot of people that are into Tenkara that know nothing of this book of yours and I would like to make them aware of it. I think it is a great way to look at fishing a small stream and even a good introduction to fly-fishing.
“Can you tell us about your book, Fly Fishing Small Streams”?
John Gierach: “Fly Fishing Small Streams” was published by Stackpole Books in 1989 and is still in print. It was essentially a second installment of my earlier book “Flyfishing the High Country” (Pruett, 1984) for those who didn’t have 14,000-foot continental mountain ranges in their backyards. Small stream fishing wasn’t unheard of in the late 80s, but at the time it wasn’t considered sexy enough to be covered by the fishing magazines. Everyone wanted to catch 20-inch trout in big water in Montana or fish for steelhead and salmon; fishing for ten-inch trout in little creeks was considered kid’s stuff.
I’ve since been accused of popularizing small stream fishing and I’m certainly not blameless, but I think it would have happened anyway. As your readers know, it’s just too much fun to have stayed a secret for long.
Adam: I really like it and still pull it out from time to time to reference or lend it out. In the chapter, “The Comforts of Stuff” you describe your time searching for the “all around fly rod” and then the specialty rods for small streams. I enjoy the parts you wrote on the lite lines of 1 and 2 weights. It is this natural interest that you have that probably brought you to Tenkara rods and fishing that sort of equipment, I don’t know, maybe you could comment on that.
In my own experience, the search for a rod that will deliver a fly with such delicacy yet have so much control over it that brought me to Tenkara. The simplicity is sort of “anti comforts of stuff” but it is all fishing.
It has been some years now since I’ve learned about tenkara, an efficient form of mountain stream fishing. Through my experiences using this simple, old style of fishing, I have found that I can apply principles of minimalism to nearly everything I do. I’ve learned about efficiency and different ways of looking at everyday challenges. In applying these concepts, I have come up with a formula that works for me. It can be summed up with the following sentence.
The more you know, the less you need.
For this installment, I will approach traveling and using what I call, the tenkara lifestyle, to promote efficient travel.
In my own experience, I have realized that nothing is better than experience to realize just what you need. Packing for a trip shouldn’t be difficult. There is some homework involved if you are new to traveling light but as you reduce the contents of your pack, you will realize that each component of your travel kit becomes more important on its own and as an integrated system.
Key to the concept is to check the weather where you are going and make a pack list for up to a week. If you can get through a week with your packing list, you can easily live for two weeks or a month or longer. Packing for one week, I have a comfortable pack size and I am able to be prepared for just about any activity. Hiking, fishing, going out to dinner, hot springs or lounging with friends or distant family. At the end of the week, I’m going to do some laundry whether it be washing my clothes in washer or in the shower, bucket or near a stream and hanging them to dry but I’m ready for another week.
Interview with Mike Willis
by Adam Trahan
I asked Mike to sit for this Interview with me based on a small group of anglers that I have been following from afar in social media. Over the years, we have had conversations on our interests centered on tenkara. I know Mike has an interest in bicycle moto cross like Christophe’ Laurent and I. Like many anglers that I meet, we all have varying interests but Mike and I seem to be on the same page on many fronts.
Adam: Hello Mike! Hopefully this Interview will not be awkward for you as we have had some discussions about how I manage the process. Actually, it may help you with your own development in that skill having been the target of it. We have had some conversations about my Interviews and you and I have similar interests.
With many of the Interviews that I do, the story of how we get into fishing and ultimately tenkara is always interesting. I would like to start our Interview that way.
“Mike, how did you get into tenkara?”
Mike Willis: Sup adam?! Sup Tenkara-Fishers?!!!
I found tenkara in September of 2012. I was searching the internets for information about western style fly fishing and looking to buy a new rod. I’d recently bought a house next to a bigtime western fly fisher and he’d been after me to expand my quiver from a 7 1/2′, 5wt. L.L. bean special and the ultralight Ugly Stik I kept in my trunk. My fly fishing experience to that point had been a trip to the west walker river and a couple float tube excursion to mountain lakes – all with my neighbor, Doug. Doug has been fly fishing most of his 65 years. He’s fished all over the world, and he knows his poo. Doug and I would often have long conversations about the sport, but when I’d ask what I should get for my “next” rod, he’d always reply with, “Well, what do you want to fish for? Where are you going to fish? How much do you want to spend?”
Interview with Thomas “TJ” Ferreira
by Adam Trahan
I already have meet TJ (online) from my own web site and Tenkara USA circles. He is a super nice guy and I want to start off by apologizing to him because this Interview was delayed. I had planned to ask him because he is such a nice guy and really enthusiastic about tenkara. So I did ask if we could do the Interview and not kidding, the next day I got a letter asking for a couple of writing projects. The detail of finishing those projects was that they needed immediate attention in order to time the different parts to get done. I had to ask TJ if we could delay his Interview. As I thought, “No problem Adam” and all those projects got done and here I find myself pecking away, thinking about TJ.
So, TJ, I apologize that it took so long, thank you for your patience.
I’ve have been wanting to do this interview with you since I found out a little bit more about you on Facebook. You are a VW bus enthusiast! Still! I dig that. Some of the best times I’ve ever had on the road have been in my 1971 bay window, VW microbus. So let’s just start from there.
Adam: “So what is in the stable? What kind of buses do you have?”
T.J.: Hi Adam… hope equally you don’t mind that my answers to this interview come slowly. LOL.
My stable of VWs has changed over the years but today I own 3 Volkswagens. 2 older Air-cooled and 1 Water-pumper. My 1st VW is a 1960 Single Cab. I still have this but between money and laziness and time, it sits in my garage after I pulled the engine and started brake work. That was like 8 years ago . I have other running VWs that I soaked my money into instead so figure the 1960 Single Cab may not run again until I retire (yeah right!) and have time for a full restoration. My next VW is my favorite… a 1967 Westfalia Camper. I enjoy driving this one to local VW shows and to our local VW clubs Ice Cream socials. Then the granddaddy of them all is a 1987 Syncro Vanagon Camper. This is a 4×4 camper that VW only made a few of. This is the one that gets the most money and time. We camp in this yearly and take it on 2-week camping trips. Nice to have more comfort in the dual beds and more room to get around. I have owned more and over years sold them to get what I have now. It seems to be a never-ending cycle but I think I am now locked into these 3 and hope to have them forever. I would not mind though getting a Karman Ghia convertible one day. Oh and another VW Thing. Oh and a… you get the picture. LOL
The biggest tenkara event – ever! – happened this weekend.
The 2017 Tenkara Summit brought together the largest gathering of tenkara anglers anywhere. Just over 300 people from all over the US as well as Argentina, Norway and Japan attended. Attendees enjoyed a great series of speakers, clinics with experienced tenkara anglers (including Dr. Hisao Ishigaki), vendors, and a very fun fly-tying evening that featured a live band as well as tying contests timed to their songs, plus magic by Dennis Michael.
I am still stunned by the participation. In the past Tenkara Summits we had up to 150 people show up. I was fully expecting this year to count on the same number of people, so when I went to pull the final tally I was shocked to see about 240 people registered and another 60 walk-ins. I had tremendous fun meeting so many people in the community as well as spending time with an incredible crew of staff and volunteers that made the event possible.
After a week of taking Dr. Ishigaki fishing around Colorado, hosting our staff and then working at the Summit I will say that I am pretty beat. In fact, I may even take a nap in a few minutes, which is a very rare thing for me to do. But, I wanted to share a little update as well as post some photos from the event. These are photos that some of our crew or myself took; we actually had a professional photographer shoot photos and video at the event but it may be a few days before we get to process and post some of those.
There were several highlights that stood out for me. One of them was once again spending time fishing with my teacher, Dr. Ishigaki. The Tenkara Summit really started as an excuse for Dr. Ishigaki to come fishing in the US; in 2011 he wanted to fish in Montana but said he wanted to speak at an event to justify the trip to his wife. Since there were no events taking place I decided to put the Summit together. It turned out to be a tough week of fishing, with us visiting several different places that didn’t seem to be “on” (I will have to add “river otters” to my “Excuses to use when not catching fish“).
Another highlight was meeting and talking to a large number of people about how tenkara has had a positive impact on their lives. It always gives me a warm feeling when I hear those stories of how people are enjoying tenkara in one way or another, of how sometimes it gave them a different perspective on some aspect of their lives. And I absolutely loved meeting a few young kids who are in love with tenkara and asked their parents and grandparents to bring them to the Summit.
The fly-tying evening was a pure fun part of the event. In the evening the band Paper Moonshine entertained the audience as people tied flies, enjoyed their beers and whiskey, and shared stories or made plans to fish the next day.
The event was recorded in its entirety and we will be posting some of it online in the near future. More photos to come as well.