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.”
The much anticipated 2015 Tenkara Magazine has arrived!
The second annual issue of the Tenkara Magazine has an incredible lineup of stories, how-to articles, and tenkara photography. This high-quality print publication is intended to continue sharing the tenkara story and features pieces submitted by the tenkara community and curated by the Tenkara Publishing team. And, yes, this issue also has larger font size!
A digital version will be made available in February/March of 2015.
Catch And Release, By Jack E. Williams
Tenkara+ Bouldering, By Daniel Pierce
Mid-River Boulders, By John Geer
Encountering Yuzo Sebata, By Daniel Galhardo
Interview With Yuzo Sebata, By Adam Trahan
First Summer Of Tenkara, By Hannah Williams
Purple Fly, By Michael Agneta
Cooking Trout On A Campfire, By Daniel Galhardo
Grand Slam, By Jen Kugler Hansen
Tenkara+ Saltwater, By Chris Kuhlow
Tenkara And Dry Fly, By Mark Cole
Hemming The Seam, By Tj Ferreira
Tenkara Underwater, By Ralph Cutter
Thinking Outside The Fly Box, By Jason Klass
A Weekend Hike, By Jourdan Arenson
Tribes Of Itoshiro, By Paul Gaskell
Visiting Japan, By Rebecca Milner
The Tenkara Flower, By Daniel Galhardo
Discovering The Fish Of Japan, By John Pearson
Tenkara Journeys, By Dave Southall
Incidents With Tenkara, By Dave Hughes
Fly-Fishing The Enchantments, By Daniel Silverberg
Fish Tales From Wales, By Dyfan Morris
Plus: The Basics Of Tenkara And Tenkara Summit
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.
Here’s the opportunity for the trip of a lifetime. Join me for a week of tenkara in Patagonia, Argentina in March.
Tenkara USA founder, Daniel Galhardo, will be hosting a week-long Tenkara Week, in Argentina Patagonia. The Patagonia Tenkara trip will take place March 5-12, 2015.
It’s been a long-time coming and with many requests from our customers. We have been working for a while on putting together a tenkara fly-tying kit that has everything you need to tie a variety of tenkara flies, and nothing you don’t need. The Tenkara Fly-Tying kit is our way of showing you that fly-tying is actually pretty simple.
Both kit options feature a booklet we created to teach you how to tie tenkara flies as well as a vise (two options available), a set of tools, soft-hackle, dry rooster hackle, peacock herl, two spools of thread and 50 hooks in two sizes. There are also a lot of resources we’re putting together to help you get into fly-tying, such as our weekly Tenkara Fly-Tying Video Series, with one video released every week. Both kits feature enough hooks to tie 50 flies, and materials for more, so it would pay for itself pretty quickly compared to buying flies.Kits will start shipping on December 16th but order now to make sure you get one.
The Basic Tenkara Fly-tying kit features a spring-action vise by Terra. This vise is great for beginners as it requires no adjustments, all you do is press the lever to open the jaws and put whatever size hook you are using. This is a clamp-style vise, which you will clamp onto a table/desk. All materials are the same as in the Upgraded kit. Ships December 16th.
$95, Basic kit
The Upgraded Tenkara Fly-tying kit features a high-end vise made by Peak Fishing in Loveland, Colorado. It’s a pedestal-style vise, which can be used on any surface. It is a beautifully crafted vise made in the USA. All other materials are the same as in the Basic kit. Ships December 16th.
$145, Upgraded kit
Our new tenkara hat and shirt designs just arrived and we’re psyched to now have these on offer for you. This year we have been focused on trying to figure out our brand and we have been fortunate to have run into Jeremy Shellhorn, who’s helped us find a unique look to share.
The trucker hats are very comfortable and have fit on every head that has tried them so far. It features the Tenkara USA “Te” mark on the front and a dark underbill to keep reflection off your eyes. Get it here.
“Tenkara fishing is very simple, which makes me feel I am a part of the mountains.” – Yuzo Sebata
The shirts are based on the 2014 Tenkara Summit shirt design by Jeremy Shellhorn. The artwork will be a classic; it embodies the tenkara ethos in its simple line drawing with you, as the angler, becoming one with the mountains. Get your shirt here.
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.
Before I discovered tenkara I had been fly-fishing for nearly 13 years. I picked up western fly-casting fairly quickly, and because of that I thought I was at least adequate at fly angling. But, I could not consider myself a good fisherman. Indeed, casting is not all there is to fly-fishing. I wasn’t bad, but I think for too long I focused on the wrong things. Thinking back about my fly-fishing career, and especially looking at my last 6 years practicing tenkara, I know I have learned much more than 6 things, but here are 6 things that immediately come to mind and may be helpful to you right away:
In 2008/2009 I started creating the business of Tenkara USA. The objective was to show people how simple fly-fishing could be by introducing the method of tenkara outside of Japan. In the course of developing the business, before I officially launched it, I realized I was about to create a brand new category within the fly-fishing industry. I also realized a new category would eventually become bigger than ourselves.
A new category within an industry is not something that happens very often, but when it does it has the potential to create a movement. And, of course, it also has an even greater potential of not taking hold. When a new category successfully gets established, one clear sign of its success is that it supports an entire range of companies entering the market to support it and to compete in the space.
One day, as I started working on Tenkara USA, I was talking to a colleague at my previous career and talked about my vision for what would happen. I told him I suspected there would be a range of companies that would emerge in support of tenkara: backpacks, guides, accessories, lines, flies, and eventually others would compete by offering rods too. It was far fetched at the time, but I believed one measure of success would be when more companies started offering tenkara too. Fast-forward 5 years and that original vision has started to realize.
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.
Everything we do revolves around tenkara and we strive to give you good information whenever you visit our site or calls, and that involves making sure everyone at Tenkara USA knows their stuff. The two people you are most likely to communicate with when calling (888.483.6527) or emailing us (firstname.lastname@example.org) are TJ and John, our customer service team. Both are anglers and always on the water, and both are terrific at what they do. Over the last couple of years they have learned tenkara from me and also directly from Dr. Ishigaki, and as you can see from this picture, both are great folks whom you’ll enjoy speaking to. Give them a call if you have any questions about tenkara, they know their stuff.
Brian and Colby Trow own the Mossy Creek Fly Fishing shop in Harrisonburg, Virginia. They saw the opportunity in carrying tenkara at their shop very early on, embracing it to the extent of having the first dedicated tenkara guide in the country, Mr. Tom Sadler. Rather than seeing tenkara as a threat to the industry or a fad, they saw it as a possible “gateway drug to fly-fishing” or something that would once again excite their long-time customers. I believe what makes a fly shop a great fly shop is that open-mindedness, the ability to embrace diversity in a sport perceived as traditionalist. The Trow brothers give aways their secret here.
The words below are one of the nicest testimonials about how our Tenkara Care program is ensuring customers use our rods more often than any other, because they know we “have their back”.
By customer Jacob Johnson:
“I love companies that stand by their products. Tenkara USA is such a company. I break a rod on the weekend. I post a photo of a big fish and a broken Tenkara rod. John Geer from Tenkara USA sees the photo and figures out what is broken on his own. He then contacts me to confirm his findings and magically a day later the part shows up and my rod is back in business. That is customer service, that is quality, that is awesomeness in action. I have dozens and dozens of Tenkara rods. They look cool but I am afraid to fish them frequently or chase the “Monsters” because I know that if I break them, some of them would be impossible to get fixed. Tenkara USA rods are functional pieces of art, that I know I can rely on even if I am rough on them and put them through their paces. The Tenkara USA team has my back.”
On June 4th I participated in the internet radio show Askaboutflyfishing.com. Roger Maves and I talked about “Tenkara’s Evolution”. We started with the basics of what tenkara is, then moved on to discuss how it evolved from an activity of commercial anglers to a sport, and finally talked about the endeavor of introducing the method here and creating a small revolution in the world of fly-fishing. We also discussed quite a bit the business of Tenkara USA, how I started it, our marketing strategies and more. Take a listen:
This was the second time I was invited by Roger to talk about tenkara in his podcast / internet radio show. The first time was in July 2012. That show is available at Askaboutflyfishing.com for subscribers.
It is finally here! The much anticipated USA version of the DVD Discovering Tenkara, volume 1 has finally arrived at our warehouse and is ready to order.
Filmed on picturesque British upland streams and presented by the UK’s first certified Tenkara Guides – Paul Gaskell and John Pearson – this volume demonstrates key elements of the method that is “Japanese tenkara” – its history, philosophy, equipment and flies. Join the Discover Tenkara Team together with Japan’s foremost tenkara expert – Dr Hisao Ishigaki – for a look at the fundamental elements of this beautiful and effective fly fishing tradition.
- Tenkara with traditional dry fly
- Fishing with Japanese wet flies
- Dr Ishigaki explains short drifts
- Note on fish location & tenkara
- Tenkara casting
- Dr Ishigaki on casting into the wind
- Advantages of long lines
- Hand-lining skills
- Dr Ishigaki on playing larger fish
- Kebari – Japanese tenkara flies
- Dr Ishigaki’s choice of kebari
- Dr Ishigaki ties his kebari