We often underestimate kids and what they can do on their own. At least I think I do, and sometimes I forget what I was doing as a kid too.
My wife and I are currently hosting a family from Japan for a month. We don’t have kids ourselves, but now we have a full house with a 1 year-old, a 9 year-old and their mother. I met the 9-year old Kyosuke a couple of years ago when I was spending a couple of months in the small mountain village of Maze, a town of 1,400 people. Kyosuke is a river boy, he likes to spend all his time in the water, and he loves fishing. When I first met him I taught him about tenkara, and also how to tie tenkara flies. But, in the small mountain town of 1,400 he doesn’t get a lot of exposure to the outside world. So, his mom decided to show him there are different cultures to learn from. But, as always, it goes both ways and we’re learning a lot by having them here. Continue reading
This is a guest post kindly provided by a tenkara enthusiast about tenkara and his time with his family. Enjoy it! I sure did.
By Adam Dailey-McIlrath
I love living in Hawaii. We are surrounded by water, and therefore surrounded by fish. Within fifteen minutes I can be hunting for bonefish on the flats, whipping into the waves for trevally or casting my tenkara rod into tide pools for brilliantly colored reef fish. But about once a year I start to dream of the water of my youth, of cold, clear, mountain streams sliding and splashing their way down canyons, pooling and rolling through valleys. It is water that stirs the passion of every fisherman who has held a fly rod. And so I am very fortunate that my family still lives in central Oregon, near the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers and the countless miles of trout water that flow into them.
However, fishing while visiting family can be a challenge. Like so many of us, I can fill a water bottle, grab a couple of snacks and disappear upriver for six or eight hours at a time. Time just slides by. Plans and schedules are swept up and float away on the current. This is difficult for non-fishers to understand, and can be frustrating for them. So instead of just disappearing to fish alone I have always tried hard on these visits to combine family with fishing – but this presents it’s own set of challenges.
One of the messages I want to spread far and wide through tenkara is that you don’t have to be a fisherman to fish, nor do you have to go on a dedicated fishing trip to enjoy fishing. Fly-fishing, and more specifically tenkara, can go with any activity you choose to enjoy.
This past weekend I put a couple of tenkara rods and some climbing equipment in my pack and flew to North Carolina to explore some canyons with the guys of Pura Vida Adventures. The canyons were expected to have plenty of water, and thus fish. The idea was to fish as time allowed and hopefully catch some of their purely wild and native brook trout. The beautiful thing about tenkara’s simplicity is that it can go with anything. And the beautiful thing about its minimal and portable nature is that it doesn’t take long to setup and fish along the way. That’s the idea of TENKARA+, tenkara plus ANYTHING.
One of the best things about keeping fly-fishing simple and that it allows us to combine fishing with a lot of different activities. That’s the idea behind TENKARA+.
Here’s a very nice article written by Allison Pluda for our Tenkara Magazine (Allison’s awesome photography can be seen on her website: http://www.senecacreekphotography.com/). It illustrates perfectly that there is indeed no need to choose between fishing and other activities you love. Read on! PDF available here.
NO NEED TO CHOOSE
by Allison Pluda
For me, tenkara is more than just a fishing technique I’m trying for a while. Tenkara is a tool that helps me to become more in tune with all of the goals in my life. It’s part of a lifestyle choice— to strive toward making everything in life as simple as possible, to eliminate unnecessary details internally and externally and to rely more on my senses and technique rather than gear. There is a beauty to tenkara that fits into the flow of the river and is compatible with a slower pace and a simpler style of life.
As a photographer, I tend to have details to fuss over and a heavy backpack full of gear and lenses to pack (why do lens caps always want to lose themselves?) before I even head out into the wilds. I used to feel that I had to choose: fish well, photograph well, or be bogged down trying to do both. When I got my first tenkara rod, I found that finally I didn’t have to choose between photography or fishing; I could do both. A small bag of fishing supplies, a box of flies, and a tenkara rod could all fit into my photo bag without weighing me down with gear to the point where I’m moving slower than my old-timer dog.
I take my modest tenkara set-up with me on backpacking trips and on long hikes to shoot the sunrise or sunset, just in case one of those high alpine lakes I stumble across, deep in the Snowy Range Mountains in Wyoming, is holding some little hungry trout I did not expect. When bushwhacking around branches and brush, between trees and over rocky uneven ground, I can easily collapse the tenkara rod, stow it in the side of my backpack and navigate any tricky terrain without missing a beat and with as much grace as possible while lugging a heavy camera bag. When I find my way back out of the brush (after of course snagging a few branches on my myself) I can be fishing that perfect-looking fishing hole within a minute, and with my camera still hanging around my neck.
To me, that simplicity is priceless and allows me to maintain the ease of mind I am striving for in the woods. Of course it’s still a challenge to maintain peace and grace when a fish I really had my eye on swims away into the deep just as I finally get my line untangled after what seems like an eternity. But that is just one of the many mental challenges that fishing teaches you to overcome.
Tenkara teaches me more than just a different style of fishing. It teaches me to be fluid, to adapt, to really feel the flow of the water, to worry less about the gear and more about my own connection with the river. It teaches me that the more in tune with my surroundings I am, the more I can concentrate and clear my mind of cluttered thoughts, and thus the more fluid my casts will become and the more energy efficient and graceful my fishing will become. Ideally, all of this results in me catching more fish as well as gaining a sense of active meditation guided by the river itself. But even if the end result is just a few nibbles, working on improving my tenkara technique always gives me some type of lesson to take home. These lessons that are the reason tenkara has become more than just fishing for me. It is a lifestyle and a philosophy of mind. Lao Tzu once said, “I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest
Tenkara+ is the idea that tenkara goes well with anything you already enjoy doing outside. You should not have to choose between activities. I wrote about this a while ago here. Read on to see how to win a Tenkara USA shirt and a hat.
That’s the beauty of this simple fly-fishing method. Because it doesn’t take a lot of equipment nor a lot of room, and it is super quick to setup, you can always bring tenkara along. Sure, sometimes (very often actually) we head out with the sole purpose of fishing. Tenkara can be its own excuse for us to head out, but what if you are planning to do other things? Do you need to choose one OR the other? We don’t think so. And, what if you’re going on a hike and happen to find a nice looking stream, will you wish you could cast your fly into its waters? Tenkara can make your next hike more interesting; it can ensure you’ll not go bored at rest days during your next climbing trip; and it will surely complement your backpacking trip very nicely.
So, we’re starting this “TENKARA+” campaign to illustrate there is no need to choose.
Share a picture or story of something you have done along with tenkara with. You may share that here on our blog or on our Facebook page or Twitter. At the end of the week we’ll be giving out a Tenkara USA shirt and a hat to one winner from Facebook, one from Twitter and one who posted on our blog. Please include the hashtage #tenkara+ at the beginning of your comment, or on your Twitter or Facebook post. You’re welcome to post in all three but if we select your photo or story we’ll only give you one prize.
Whether climbing, backpacking, foraging or hiking, make sure to bring a Tenkara USA rod along in your next adventure.
Forgiving Boulder Creek is a story written by Sasha Barajas about her discovery of tenkara and renewed connection with Boulder Creek, which was subject to alarming floods last year. It is a feature story in the first Tenkara Magazine. The story has been receiving great feedback and we thought you’d enjoy reading it. Photographs by Kate Mason
Forgiving Boulder Creek
About a quarter-mile from the hustle and bustle of downtown Boulder, Colorado runs a small creek. In the heat of the summer giggles are frequently heard as children wade in the water and college students aboard black tire tubes float by. This autumn, with several days of heavy rain, the creek grew to monstrous proportions, enveloping the landscape and ravaging our mountain town.
Just one month later the creek runs swiftly within its previously defined banks. Although we have resumed biking, running, and skateboarding along the winding Boulder Creek Path, for many of us our relationship with the creek is still on the bedrocks. Continue reading
I may say this every year when December 30th comes, but I’ll say it again, “I just can’t believe the year has already come to an end!” So much has happened through one more year of introducing tenkara to the US that a big chunk of it just blurs together. It is a strange feeling. But, luckily we can look back at all our 2013 blog posts and relive the year. Here are the posts that saw the most view and/or most comments this year:
1) The More You Know the Less You Need: Some specific examples of things which tenkara show you you do not need.
2) Tenkara Podcast: If you’re looking for something to listen to while you drive or work, checkout the first Tenkara USA podcast which we recorded with Jason Klass from Tenkara Talk.
3)Tenkara Testimonials: With the Fly Fishing Show season just about to start again, checkout this video we made the last year’s Fly Fishing Show where we asked people what they thought about tenkara.
4) In Search of Tenkara [VIDEOS]: In 2013 I made a series of 3 videos titled “In Search of Tenkara” where I tried understanding more of what made tenkara, tenkara.
5) The Last Commercial Tenkara Angler, Bunpei Sonehara: one of our most popular posts this year was the story written by Bunpei Sonehara, largely considered to be the last commercial tenkara anglers in Japan. We translated the story to give folks a glimpse of what tenkara was like back in the day.
6) The 30-second tenkara pronunciation guide [VIDEO]: This was a fun video where we asked several tenkara anglers in Japan to show us how to say certain words, including “Ten-car-ah!”
7) 2013 Japan Trip, 1st photographs: Every year I go back to Japan to learn more about tenkara and share its story here. This is my first post of this year’s trip. I love the photographs and memories of that trip, which I took with Mr. Yuzo Sebata.
8) Tenkara Flies Map: A map with the placement of some of the most recognizable tenkara flies of Japanese tenkara anglers.
9) Shower Climbing (Canyoneering) and Tenkara: This is probably just my personal favorite as it combined two of my great passions, climbing adventure and tenkara.
10) Tenkara Techniques and How to Cast with Tenkara videos: two of our most recent videos highlighting how to cast with tenkara and 6 main techniques used with tenkara
11) Release of two new rods, the Sato and Rhodo triple-zoom rods: After 2 years of working on 2 rod models, we were finally able to release them. Very proud of their successful launch.
12) Tenkara Magazine: another successful item, we finally created the first magazine in the world dedicated exclusively to tenkara. Very proud of that 2013 accomplishment.
A few years ago I went fishing with a friend. After a few hours my water bottle was empty. Yet, in a twist of irony 350 cubic feet of water passed by me every second. He smiled, pulled out his bottle and gave me a sip of his precious water. I noticed the bottle was full, and it also had something inside. “It’s a water filter. Never run out of water!”, he said. GENIUS!
For someone who spent so much time in the water, it baffled me that I hadn’t come to that solution sooner by myself. For years I’d either run out of water and tough it out for a bit ; or I’d simply drink water directly from the stream I was fishing. If I was fishing high elevation water I never thought twice before taking a sip from the stream. Not the smartest idea in the world, I know. I know it because after years of drinking from streams, yet never having any symptoms, I finally asked my doctor to get tested for Giardia. I told him I often drank directly from streams which could have giardia and never used hand sanitizers. He gave me a dirty look but prescribed the tests. Sure enough, I had giardia. Never a symptom, I was just a carrier.
To a minimalist who doesn’t like carrying a backpack, but who is usually out long enough to require more than a “mere” 8 cups of water, the small water filter was like discovering fire for the first time. Immediately after fishing I went and bought myself a water bottle with a nifty filter built in. More often than not I am also surrounded by water, so it isn’t a matter of supply. It is a matter of clean supply.
I wasn’t crazy about the bottle solution. It was bulky and difficult to carry. Luckily the filter didn’t last me very long, so I did some more research and came across the minimalist’s water filtration dream. Straw-type water filters that I could put in my pocket when not hiking far, or couple to a water bottle if I was going to be away from the water for any period of time. The straw filters allow me to drink directly from the stream whenever I needed, and are very compact.
So, in case you’re looking for a solution not to run out of water again, carry a small water filter with you.
My preferred filter at the moment is the Aquamira Frontier Pro. They run only about $20, are only as thick as the handle of your tenkara rod, but 7 inches long. If will be hiking for any period of time I couple it with a flat bladder. My preferred one at the moment is the Platypus Softbottle, 0.5L for most of the time, 1L for slightly longer hikes. Often I just leave the bladder folded in case I need it, but drink directly from the stream otherwise.
Nearly 30 years ago my parents started teaching my how to fish. At first it was just a plastic toy rod, probably when I was 1 year old and played make-believe fishing next to them. Then they taught me some knots, how to put bait on my hook, how to throw the bait out, how to use a spinning reel. And, then, I caught the fishing bug.
Perhaps they thought it was a little strange a teenager was more interested in fishing than hanging out with friends at the mall, but they supported me in my obsession for fishing. I started teaching myself how to use different types of reels, how to cast lures, and then how to fly-fish. They probably thought I was making fishing more complicated than it needed to be, on our weekend outings I’d carry multiple rods, a tackle box full of shiny objects, then multiple flies I made myself and a myriad of leader formulas. They didn’t question why I was making fishing complicated, but supported my hobby probably thinking those shiny lures were better than drugs.
As most of you know, I’m originally from Brazil. I came to the States when I was 17 years old as an exchange student. I decided to stay here for college, then I met my now wife, Margaret, and made the US my permanent home. I see my parents every couple of years when I go back to Brazil. They had not had a chance to come visit before, having a thousand excuses in the last 13 years I have lived here not to come. Mostly I think they were just terrified of traveling abroad. This year I just told them I got them both tickets and they’d have to visit.
One of the main reasons I wanted them to visit so badly is that, despite all the fishing we’ve done together over the years they have never had a chance to fish my favorite type of waters, cold mountain streams. And, they have never caught my favorite fish, trout. Further, over the last 4 years I have taught thousands of people how to fish with tenkara in these types of waters, but not the people who first taught me how to fish.
Today I was absolutely thrilled to take my parents fishing in my new home-waters of Colorado. And, I put them both onto their first trout ever. It felt so gratifying to take them both fishing, teach them tenkara in my new home and put them in touch with the fish I have been telling them about for so many years. I’m very grateful for everything they have taught me, and for their support as I pursued my passion for fishing. Because of them I have been able to discover tenkara and create Tenkara USA.
p.s. if you have communicated with me in recent days and haven’t heard back from me, it’s mostly because they are visiting. I’ll be trying to catch up with emails….thanks for your patience.
I have just returned home from a 30-day round-the-world journey that took me to 3 countries (Japan, Italy and the UK). It will take me a little time to digest the experiences and share more insights, tenkara how-to’s, videos and photographs with you.
But there was one photo that jumped at me the other day and I wanted to share it with you.
During this trip I tried many tenkara flies which were given to me by friends I made along the way. I used most flies given to me, even if they were not the “one fly” that I normally tie. After all they were in my box and because they were there, if the catching slowed down I had to experiment. Interestingly, not a single time did changing flies started producing more fish. I did catch fish on at least 3 other flies (one dry, a bead head nymph and a very small nymph), but switching back to my usual fly produced fish too and I can honestly say I didn’t notice any difference.
I realized a big part of my confidence and reliance on “one fly” stems from having left the others behind, and the biggest reason I like the idea of one fly is so I don’t have to think much about what I’ll be using, nor spend a lot of time working on flies or second-guessing my fly choice.
Regardless, in the last 30 days I have caught 8 different species/types of trout (Amago, Yamame, Yamato Iwana, Nikko Iwana, rainbow, leopard trout, Mediterranean brown trout, and brown trout), in addition to grayling, 2 types of minnows and a chub. I caught each one of these species on the Ishigaki Kebari. I caught these fish, with that fly, in shallow water and in deep waters. I fished with it in slow and super clear spring creeks, in steep tumbling mountain streams, in large rivers, in dark tea-colored waters, in notoriously difficult tailwaters, and in clear water for spooky fish. I also fished in hot and humid days, bright and dry days and in torrential rains.
Why did I do it? It was not a mission to catch as many fish species on “one fly”, it really was not that at all. I just did it because that’s the fly I had most of in my box and over the last few years I have gained a great degree of confidence that it works in a variety of waters and for a variety of fish. The greatest thing about it for me is freedom. This approach allowed me to travel to 3 countries with the same small fly box, without once having to go online to see what would be hatching in the waters. As I often say the one fly approach in the most difficult concept in tenkara for people to embrace, but I also find it to be the most liberating concept from this wonderful method.
I’m in Italy at the moment. I came here to teach a tenkara class and meet people that have been spreading tenkara in Italy like wildfire.
Here are a few pictures I took with my phone yesterday and today.
Edited: The group class was held in the town of Ascoli, a quaint town about 2 1/2 hours NE of Rome, in a gorgeous mountainous setting. I’m being hosted by my new good friend Vito Rubino, who is active on Facebook. The class was organized by our first dealer in Italy, Ale-Fly, which is in the town of Ascoli.
I decided to let the images speak for themselves in this video of an epic adventure this week. I think there are few places in the world that you can combine epic “shower climbing” as they call it here (or sawanobori) and fishing. Luckily Japan has an abundance of it. And, even more luckily Japan also has an abundance of onsen, or hot-springs, which can come in very handy when you’ve been swimming in 40 degree water all day.
P.S. I’m contemplating hosting a small group trip to Japan in 2014. This would be an opportunity to learn from some of my teachers as well as do a combo “shower climbing/tenkara” adventure trip. Let me know if that could be of interest. I’m still very much on the fence about doing it, as I’m used to traveling by myself, but this is something I’d love to share with those truly interested.
I’m now working on a new tenkara diaries video showing yesterday’s shower climbing and tenkara trip. It was epic, gnarly, cold, but tons of fun!!! Shower climbing and tenkara make for some real epic and memorable adventures. After talking to my friends here yesterday I’m starting to consider more seriously bringing a group to Japan next year to learn from some of my teachers and also do a shower climbing/ tenkara trip (let me know if this would be of interest to you). Here are some of the pictures.
The canyon you see cutting the mountains in the middle of the picture is what we ventured through yesterday
Jun Kumazaki, a local canyoneering guide contemplating the options for the first pool of the day. “Can’t go around it, can’t go over it, gotta go through the cold water” came to mind. Yes, the water was super cold.
Admiring the waterfall ahead, more tenkara above it
Tenkara: all you need is a rod, line, flies, carabiners, belay devices, ropes, ascenders, and an adventurous spirit.
This is a quick video of my time with Mr. Yuzo Sebata, a well-known tenkara anglers in Japan. I have a lot more footage that I captured in that trip, but figured I should share a quick video with you. More to come soon.
Mr. Sebata showed how he ties tenkara flies, a bit of tenkara casting and much more. Also, happy to report he really liked the Ito rod and asked for one to possibly replace his 20-year old tenkara rod, that was quite cool too.