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.
It is with a very heavy heart that I must share that a great friend and positive influence in the tenkara community, Doug Heggart, has passed away.
I am absolutely devastated by the news of Doug’s untimely death. Doug was an incredibly generous and kind person. We shared some great times on the water and on dry land. Doug was a super positive individual who was ready to share fishing with all in the community. Doug always showed a tremendous disposition to help; his energy and enthusiasm was always contagious when I spent time with him. I will really miss him, and my heart is with his family.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 19th at 11am at the Odd Fellows Lodge, 434 Main St., Longmont, CO
Things are coming together nicely for the 6th Tenkara Summit, which will take place in Estes Park on September 16th. This year we are counting on the presence of Dr. Hisao Ishigaki and Yvon Chouinard who will be speaking at the event, along with Adam Trahan, Jason Klass, Steve Schweitzer. In addition we’ll be featuring clinics and demos on fly-tying, casting and more. This is promising to be a great event, and we hope to see you all there!
You can register for the Tenkara Summit here.
Further details, such as the schedule, lodging, food, etc, on this page.
This past Saturday I joined colleagues, old friends, and about two hundred potential new friends to clean up Boulder Creek. The crackle of the velcro on my safety vest alerted me that it was “go time.”
Daniel Galhardo and I proudly led a group of volunteers up to the Eben G. Fine Kayak Park near the mouth of Boulder Canyon. This is one of two areas adopted by Tenkara USA (our other location is just a few miles upstream).
As Boulder Creek sees a lot of action, our part in tidying it up is essential. Aside from friendly fisherman it is also frequented by wildlife, quick dippers, rope swing enthusiasts, inner tube travelers (our town boasts a 9-year running “Tube to Work Day”), and as the park name suggests, kayakers. What does this all mean? The possibilities of what we could find were endless.
What comes to mind are those large bins you have to dig through at those post holiday sales, or stealthily navigating a garage sale for that long forgotten treasure. On this particular adventure there were finds a-plenty, including bed springs, and this “like new” bike frame. Oooh, ahh. And though I was not looking for it I found loads and loads of poison ivy (I wasn’t aware of it until the following day). Surprise!
Overall it was a fantastic day with great vibes, and awesome after party at Rocky Mountain Anglers. If asked for any take-home advice, I’d say “Be careful where you step”.
by TJ Ferreira
You ever have the kind of fishing day where nothing seems to go smoothly? On the 1st cast the fly gets stuck in a tree, then a few casts later your fly is lost in a rock snag. Heck just walking to the river seems like an obstacle course where your line gets snagged in tall grasses, stuff rolling out of your pack, bumping your noggin on low tree branches, twisting your ankle, <add your non smooth issues here>. To add insult to injury you just went through all that and forgot something important at your car and need to go back and do it all over again.
Needless to say if someone says this does not happen to them, they are lying. Remember, all fisher-folk are liars. I have been fishing tenkara for well over 6 years now and I know it has happened to me. Bottom-line is we all have days of greatness and in return, we have days when greatness is not so present.
Something I enjoy almost as much as fishing tenkara is watching a dear friend fishing and cheering them on. Just the other day a friend and I made a quick pit-stop on our way down the highway at a fishing hole he had only been once. I myself have hit this spot a number of times and have had some great fishing days there. I really wanted to see him catch a fish here but we only had maybe 20 to 30 minutes.
The funny thing is, as we drove down the highway heading to our destination, we were chatting and I mentioned that just the other day I felt like a bumbling dolt trying to get started fishing for the day. Getting in snags just walking to my spots, casting like crap, of course I could blame it on the bazillion mile per hour wind that was smacking me around. Yeah…. Thats it! The wind is to blame!
I have fished a decent amount this year, enough where not every trip was as smooth as it could have been. It seems to take about 30 minutes to maybe 1 hour before I get settled in and cruising. I told my buddy about that and funny thing, it started happening to him on this day. Was I contagious? So sorry my friend, I promise I did not want you infected.
As expected, within a few casts he was stuck on a tree over a great spot. This is where the Tenkara Cheerleader can step in. Rather quickly, so he did not spook the whole run, I offered him my rigged up Sato. He moved slightly to cast to a new spot and continued to fish. This is where you the reader will say, “and he then proceeded to catch his 1st fish”. Well no, that did not happen. But close.
So we moved onto spot #2 as all the fish in spot #1 had been spooked. We get to spot #2 and oh it looked so fishy. He proceeded to make a few nice casts and them wham…sorry reader, still no fish…he got stuck on a tree again. A few choice mumbles came from this buddy to the likes of “that’s it, lets head out”. I could tell he was a bit disgruntled, as I would be. But as I have aged, I have let more things just slide off my back. I have learned to quickly simmer down and not worry about these things so much as I well know there should be another tomorrow.
I was already in cheerleading mode, and as soon as I saw the snag, my rigged-up Sato became an offering again. I was almost as fast as a gunslinger at a wedding whipping out tissues to crying mothers. The great news…. this time it worked. Within a few minutes he caught 2 trout and the whole mood of the day was saved. It was exciting for me to watch his wonderful casts and set the hook on a couple trout. It was just as pleasurable as if I were the one casting and fishing at that very moment.
My buddy said I was infectious with my tenkara spirit, or something like that, and that remark has helped me to write this story in hopes I can spread this feeling to all. But…. did you know you can also be a Tenkara Cheerleader from afar? Social media these days is owned by the likes of Facebook. I must admit, I am a bit of a Facebook junkie. As much as it can be a time consumer of minutes, I have kept in touch with friends I will probably never see face to face again, older school friends, co-workers I don’t see all the time, and even new folks I have met through tenkara.
I know my day seems to spruce up when I can feel like I am part of their life, but from afar. I enjoy “liking” their posts as much as I enjoy those liking mine. Feels like someone is listening and always seems a like or a comment on a post I made from a friend can spruce up my day. It really is a small gesture but one that can go far. I get a kick out of reading others’ fishing tales, checking out pictures of fish they catch, and make sure to let them know I am here and cheering them on. Sometimes I offer advice and am also happy to take in advice too. Along with participating at tenkara forums by letting folks know you are reading by making a quick comment, or if at Facebook a quick like or comment, you are helping promote tenkara as a passionate sport, one that is inviting and cheering folks on. You just may brighten someone’s day and they will pass that on with their own tenkara goodness. I know I enjoy being part of the tenkara story and you can too by spreading the word of this great method of fly fishing. Come be a cheerleader of tenkara. 3….4…..6…..8…. who do we appreciate? Tenkara…. Tenkara….. TENKARA!
There is a town in the United States where its entire population fishes tenkara. 100% of its people has a Tenkara USA rod! I know it because I just stopped by there last week and got to meet the town’s mayor, who himself is a huge fan of tenkara too.
Although it sits in between several of Wyoming’s famous rivers, it is not one of the West’s fly-fishing destinations. I myself know the town because it is right by a somewhat popular rock climbing destination, Vedauwoo (which is where Scott Hunter got the name for his own fishing pack company, Vedavoo).
That town is Buford in Wyoming. Dubbed the “smallest town in America”, Buford has a convenience store/gas station, and one resident, who is himself the official town’s mayor.
A few months ago I went climbing in Vedauwoo, but arriving there with freezing temperatures and high winds my friends and I decided to drive 5 minutes to Buford and get ourselves some coffee. Unfortunately the store was closed for renovation. Outside sat a silver Toyota Tacoma. Someone in our group noticed a Tenkara USA sticker on its back window, though we couldn’t see its only resident anywhere. If it hadn’t been so windy I would have tried to find out whose truck that was, but that day I decided to get back inside my cozy car.
This last week I was driving back from Utah and just as I came near Vedauwoo I noticed my car was running low on gas and I was starting to run out of water. Conveniently there was Buford’s only business to save me. I got what I needed and then struck up a conversation with the store’s clerk, “Is that your Tacoma with the Tenkara USA sticker, by chance?”
“Yes”, he replied. “I’m a huge fan of tenkara, I love it!”
He turned around to look for something, and a second later produced the third volume of our Tenkara Magazine! He opened its pages to a photograph I instantly recognized, it was the photo and article by Alison Pluda on fishing in Wyoming. I had read it, but it never clicked with me that she was talking about the Buford I had driven by a few months earlier and was also talking about its only resident, Jason.
I jokingly, with a smile, asked Jason if he was also the mayor. He seriously responded that “yes”, he was indeed its mayor. That made a lot of sense, the smallest town is incorporated and of course it has to have a mayor.
We then chatted a bit about his favorite waters in the area, which mostly consist of beaver ponds with lots of brook trout.
I couldn’t stay very long, I had been driving for nearly 7 hours and still wanted to make it home for dinner. I gave him a few more stickers and copies of our magazine which I had in my car and left with the promise of returning soon.
He’s not that far away. He promised to take me to his favorite spots, perhaps on horseback. Plus, where else in America can we have the claim that all 100% of its people, including the mayor fishes with a Tenkara USA rod?
We hope you all enjoyed a happy Thanksgiving and got to go fishing in the last few days. In the last week we gave you a chance to acquire a tenkara rod for excellent prices. We decided to start the sale early so you wouldn’t feel you had to stay on a computer to get the deals. Now, on Giving Tuesday, we want to make it easy for you to generously give something to your friends and family. As the Giving Tuesday website put it, “On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.” In addition to the 1% of our sales that we donate to environmental organizations (and we can attest a lot of money will be donated as a result of this previous week’s sale), we thought the best way for us to get everyone involved today would be with the coupon below. Print it out, give it to a friend and take them fishing.
Our 5th annual Tenkara Summit took place this weekend in Estes Park and by all accounts I’d say it was a big hit. We had approximately 180 participants this year, with nearly 1/3 of that being people who travelled from out of state to attend. We also counted on the presence of two guests from Japan who came to share their experience with tenkara. Mr. Yoshikazu Fujioka came to share his vast knowledge of tenkara flies and Mr. Go Ishii spoke about his experiences fishing in Japan and did a demonstration on casting and approach techniques.
There is a lot to be said about this event. Every year, because of the huge amount of work involved (and the big expense) I think it will be the last time I want to do it. But every year I’m so grateful for the opportunity to meet so many people passionate about tenkara when the Summit time comes. And, I’m so grateful to all the amazing volunteers and support staff who made this an incredible community event. Their help always allows me to contemplate holding more Tenkara Summits. So I’m sure 2016 will see one too.
A huge hank you all those who attended and those who couldn’t be there in person but were with us in spirit, you made it the incredible event it turned out to be. A toast to another incredible tenkara experience. Below are some pictures of the Summit as well as the slide presentation given by Mr. Fujioka, which I promised I’d post on the site today.
More Tenkara Summit 2015 photos
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.
The other day I talked about how empty my fly box was starting to look. I have been fly-tying for a long time, as a matter of fact fly-tying is what got me into fly-fishing. But these days I don’t tie as much as I used to. Part of it is time (or lack of time to be more exact). Part of it is the fact that I often get flies in bulk when we get them for our site; though these days we’re selling through our flies quickly and I don’t like taking them from our inventory. But, what would you know, a man’s gotta have flies.
Yesterday I wrote a post I titled the “The Tenkara Industry”. It would have been equally apt to title it “The Tenkara Movement”, for that’s what it is. I talked about how I enjoy not being the “only crazy dancer” around, with a link to a 3 minute video. I suspect most people wouldn’t have clicked it. This video, narrated by Derek Sivers, is one of my favorite video clips and I wanted to share it with you. It shows, in under 3 minutes, how a movement is started. This is exactly what’s happened to tenkara, which is not just a category within fly-fishing but a movement of sorts. Thank you all for joining in the movement and making me not feel like a “lone nut”. Just pretend that instead of dancing in the park you’re seeing people fishing without a reel.
“As more people jump in, it’s no longer risky. If they were on the fence before, there’s no reason not to join now. They won’t be ridiculed, they won’t stand out, and they will be part of the in-crowd, if they hurry.” – Derek Sivers