Tenkara Angler - Spring 2018

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Spring 2018 tenkaraangler.com


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Front Cover: John-Paul Povilaitis Back Cover: Landon Brasseur Logo Design: Nick Cobler

Photo: Melissa Alcorn


From The Editor Some Small Changes...

I feel bad for my friends in the Northeastern United States. It seems like every week they're getting snow. While that's good for the streams, it's gotta be driving everybody in that area of the country absolutely crazy. But with April now here, I'd think it's finally safe to say that winter's over, and it's time for spring fishing to begin!


In this issue of Tenkara Angler magazine we're going to do a deep dive into the "Definition of Tenkara"... Okay, we're not, as social media has done a ton of that lately, but I did want to call out a minor change that you may have noticed in the table of contents. We're going to start to try and better identify articles that feature styles of fixed-line fly fishing that are not tenkara, yet are (and should be) embraced by our larger "tenkara" community here in the West. Now, before you get upset, this isn't to minimize or degrade other types of fixedline fly fishing. I live in Florida, I LOVE fishing for bass & bluegill with my tenkara rods. You should too. It's a blast! We are not going to stop publishing articles about warmwater, saltwater, heck, all water species in the magazine, (ex: Bob Long's excellent piece on smallmouth bass fishing in this issue). However, at the end of the day, as the Editor of the only regularly published tenkara magazine in the U.S., I think it's


my responsibility to make clear to our readers that this magazine does understand the difference between the sport & techniques originally developed in Japan as Tenkara, and the subsequent adaptations and deviations that have taken place as fixed-line fly fishing has become more popular around the world. There was a wonderful podcast by Daniel Galhardo (Founder, Tenkara USA) that may have better articulated what I'm getting at; you can listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/tenkara/what-istenkara-part-2 I sincerely hope this doesn't come off as "elitist." Tenkara Angler will always remain the voice of the larger, allinclusive "tenkara" community. I simply want to make sure our consolidated voice speaks with correct dialect moving forward. If you have any questions or concerns about this minor change, please feel free to email me: mike@tenkaraangler.com. I'd love to discuss in more detail. Please enjoy the Spring 2018 issue!

Michael Agneta


Editor In Chief




Do you want to contribute to the next issue of Tenkara Angler? Tenkara or conservation-themed articles, essays, fly tying recipes, gear reviews, tips, tricks, & photography are all fair game!

See www.tenkaraangler.com for more information

Photo: Tom Davis



The Legendary Yuzo Sebata Paul Gaskell

The man who solidified the use of the term “tenkara” in Tsuribito (Fisherman) magazine in the 1980s has dedicated his life to developing and promoting a philosophy and practice of tenkara. That philosophy is one that retains and honors many of the values and skills prized by the mountain professionals that include the “Kijishi” (foresters and wood craftsmen), “Matagi” (winter mountainforest hunters) and “Shokuryoshi” (professional tenkara anglers). It is a mission that he has been on for almost 60 years now.


Photo: John Pearson

Perhaps he is most well known in the West for his sugegasa conical bamboo hat, mischievous twinkly grin and his electrician’s tape/pantyhose thread handtied flies (!!). Rest assured, though, that there’s an avalanche of other factors that have created his legend in Japan. For instance - the epic rescue tales involving broken limbs and marathon descents from mountain-sides (you can read more details and stories in the Sebata-san page on discovertenkara.com). Beyond that, there is his incredible

knowledge of the natural environment and a fearless explorer’s spirit. In Sebatasan’s tenkara, it is every bit as much about the adventure and the journey as it is the fishing destination. His charisma and unique skillset has inspired entire generations of outdoor enthusiasts in Japan. He has even been the catalyst leading to the creation and popularization of new outdoor pursuits such as waterfall climbing (a bit like reverse canyoneering) and genryu tenkara. The core aim in his genryu-tenkara approach is to use a river as “line of weakness” (basically the easiest pathway) into pristine mountain headwater regions. The ultimate goal is reaching the foot of the final waterfall where the fish, themselves, can go no further. Along the way, you have to fully embrace all the different “faces” or personalities of each section of the river, including its surrounding forest and its rock formations. Those personalities take in the full range from downright mean to kind and generous. Beware – because all those faces are beautiful! The remote, hard-to-reach headwaters (which can be surprisingly large with incredibly powerful flows) known as “genryu”. This is not really about paddling ankle-deep in a small trickle of a typical small-stream headwater though. These are waters that will kill or maim those whose concentration or skillset is not up to the task. Even Sebata-san has been caught out. Trapping his foot between


Sebata san and Iwana from Kurobe River System Photo: Kikushi Minamiya


rocks on one expedition, the power of the genryu current washed him backwards with such force that his leg broke instantly. It was only the heroic actions of the group of 20 or so students and experienced companions that saved him from drowning and managed to move him to safety... Even normal trips, without such dramatic incidents, are impressive physical feats. Sometimes it may be necessary to cross from one river valley to another to reach


your target headwater and continue upstream on that new blue line. That can mean hours of slogging up a steep valley side and a rough descent down to the new river. If a river is readily accessible, it isn’t really considered a true genryu. This “full immersion” experience (literally when it comes to swimming through gorges and making treacherous whitewater crossings with full 90L packs) also extends to becoming part of the ecosystem food chain that you enter.


Because genryu trips involve rough camping for at least one night (and perhaps up to several weeks), knowing how to forage and prepare wild edibles becomes invaluable. At the same time, Sebata-san believes that it cuts both ways – so as well as foraging, he willingly accepts leeches getting their own meals from his blood during the time that he has entered their environment. “Quid Pro Quo Dr. Lecter” indeed...

trips. This would be standard practice for all the original mountain professionals. But now, this is less and less sustainable and it is time for genryu anglers to increasingly embrace catch and release.

For these reasons, Sebata-san eagerly absorbed knowledge and philosophy from the matagi that he would meet as he was developing his skills. He also relished the opportunity to re-use matagi shelters and secret pathways used by these mountain hunters whenever he could. Up until more recent years, when this type of exploration has greatly increased in popularity, it was possible to get most of your protein by keeping a proportion of the fish (typically iwana – the whitespotted char) that you caught on genryu

Perhaps the most fitting comparison suggested by his friends is that Sebatasan actually shares the same personality as the iwana that he pursues. Those fish are always compelled to keep questing further and further upstream – way beyond the limits of the yamame and amago (trout). Sebata-san too has an unstoppable urge to keep questing upstream to find his own limits, as well as reaching -and possibly climbing - the obstacle that defeated the iwana in each river system.


There's "wading," then there's Sebata san wading! Photo: Kikushi Minamiya

Although I can’t do anything like proper justice to the story of Sebata-san, his fellow genryu tenkara pioneers and the people his adventures have inspired, I feel I need to make at least a brief special mention here in this short piece.


In particular, I wanted to avoid underestimating the role played by his long-time “partner in crime” Kikushi Minamiya. As well as the regular camping, climbing and fishing gear, Minamiya-san had to carry and manage his beloved camera gear which he used to video and take still pictures to document the pair’s epic adventures. He is also a talented cartoonist – although many of his sketches are way too risqué for general publication! Go Ishii kindly (and miraculously) managed to obtain and share the handful

of Minamiya-san’s slides that you can see in this article and on the DT website. When you compare the pictures that John took in September 2017 of Sebata san at age 78, it is striking to see the – almost intimidating – intensity and steely determination of Sebata san in his 50s shown in Minamiya-san’s images of the early 1990s. But what an incredibly valuable window into their outrageous adventures – most of which defy description in words... With recent ill-health, Sebata-san is facing some tough times right now. Please do check out the information on http://www.discovertenkara.com/sebatasan.html for updates and also ways that you may be able to give back to the man who has given so much of his life to tenkara.

Photo: John Pearson




Photo: Landon Brasseur

The Short Game


Tom Davis

I enjoy fishing small and technically challenging streams. Actually, I think you might call them creeks, brooks, rivulets, or the like, rather than streams. Streams connote that there’s a good amount of water flowing, but the waterways I’m talking about are much smaller. Some people's creeks are other people's rivers, but here in the west a river is large, a stream is smaller, a creek is smaller yet, and a brook or rivulet is tiny. It's these tiny running waters that I seek out and love to play around in.


I fish little waters for three main reasons: 1) there are no other people on them, 2) I am curious if they contain fish, and if they do, what kind and how large, 3) they are very technically challenging (or, more like, frustrating!), and I love a good challenge! These are the waters that are less than five to six feet wide at their widest and shallowest spots. They typically run about three to four feet wide. They are often so over grown with tree branches that you have to select your casting spots carefully, often walking past long

sections of water, as there is no place open enough to cast. Casting is frequently accomplished with a sling-shot cast (also called a bow and arrow cast) rather than a more traditional overhead cast. Because these creeks have such a tight canopy they frequently require really short rods; 270 cm is often times too long! That's what I'm taking about -small, tight, fun, and yet frustrating creeks. There are three main casts used when fishing these small waters. These include the sling-shot cast, flip cast and overhead cast. Each has it’s own place and each has pros and cons. Let’s review these casts one by one. The sling-shot cast. If you've seen any of my videos (YouTube - Teton Tenkara) when I've fished these little waters you'll see me use this cast frequently. It is a mainstay for waters in which two situations occur.


First, when you have low hanging branches right over head or to the side and you can't cast your rod in the traditional manner. If you are standing, and you have low hanging branches, you can just drop to your knees and cast normally. What I am talking about are low hanging branches when you're on your knees! The sling-shot cast will allow you to deliver the fly without whacking your rod into the branches. The second situation is when despite having plenty of room to cast normally, the target area is too concealed (like deep under overhanging branches) to effectively get a fly into -- even with a really tightly controlled casting loop. We all know that fish prefer lies where they have opportunity for easy food, get plenty of oxygen, and they feel protected. These are called prime lies. Many of these lies are tucked back under branches where it is impossible to deliver to fly using a

The sling-shot cast



traditional overhead cast. This is because the angle of descent is too steep. To combat this problem you could switch to a side arm cast and try to get the fly in under the branches, but there are frequent issues here too. On these small waters there is often too much vegetation to side arm cast, even when you are tight against one bank and the rod swings out over the water to the other. In these situations, consider using the sling-shot cast. The sling-shot cast allows you to deliver the fly parallel to the water surface. This in turn allows you to get that fly way up under the branches and right into that hidden prime lie. I guarantee you this: if you can execute this cast perfectly,


allowing the fly to land softly, without it splashing down hard, you will have a ďŹ sh in seconds! Trout feel so comfortable in these types of prime lies that they will take any fly placed there. Trust me, it's a beautiful thing! When setting the hook, you have to be spot on. Any misjudging and the line will sail over your head and get hopelessly tangled in the branches. It's amazing how fast you can knit a sweater with just one errant hook set! Does the sling-shot cast have any downsides? Sure. For one, it's not as fast working water with this cast as with a traditional overhead cast. Another is that despite being able to cast a fly pretty

much anywhere, you may not be able to set the hook and fight the trout because of all those branches that kept you from casting in the first place! I've had many instances where I've said to myself, "I wonder if there's a trout in there", only to shoot the fly in, watch the line go tight, and not be able to set the hook. Still, I find that pretty fun. You know that no one else would ever try to reach that trout -they'd just walk by -- but you said hello to mister trout with a quick prick to his lip -even if it is for just an instant. The second cast is the flip cast. This cast is also used when you have no room behind you to cast traditionally. It is executed very similarly to a roll cast, except that your line and fly are hanging in the air, not lying of the water. Raise your rod to the vertical, allow the line to hang straight down towards to water, then with a quick flick of the wrist arc the line and fly towards their intended target. The flip cast works very well, but you need to watch for overhead branches, as the fly will arc up and away on its way towards the fish. If the canopy is too tight you just might end up catching the trees instead of the intended fish! The last cast is the overhead cast. This cast is executed exactly the same way that you’d use it on larger waters. The main difference is that unlike when using a 360-390 cm rod, the little 240 cm rods for these creeks don’t load very well. Because of this they don’t have that nice


"tenkara casting" feel to them. They feel more stiff than most rods, but that stiffness comes in handy sometimes. On these waters I generally prefer a short and relatively stiff rod. Nowadays it’s not uncommon to find "tenkara" rods in the 270 cm length, but 270 cm is often too long for these waters! I prefer a 240 cm rod (but I've been forced to fish with 180 cm rods on occasion). Two hundred and forty centimeters is short enough to be able to handle really tight quarters, but long enough to still be able to actually cast. Yes, that 30 cm (one foot) really does make a difference here. It may not on open waters, but in these tight situations it makes all the difference in the world. As far as rod stiffness, for really tight waters I prefer a rod that is somewhat stiff, say around a rod flex index (RFI) of 5.5-6.5. This means that the rod is not full flex, but it stiff enough to react instantly to the trout, like when setting the hook. However, it’s not so stiff that it can't be cast effectively. A rod with a flexible tip section, but that stiffens up in the third section seems to work best for me (BTW, the tip section is the first section). The stiffness also means that you don't have to move the rod much to keep the fish from darting into snags and breaking off. Remember, you are in tight quarters to begin with. You don't have the luxury of


Utah Killer Bug


open water in which to fight the fish! As for lines, I tend to use a 6.5-7.5 foot fluorocarbon level line. I like #3 weight best. I use 5.5X tippet that is 18-20 inches long. This combination keeps the line short, thus allowing very precise control. Because the rod is short and the line is short the overall fishing length is short!


This type of fishing is full contact, yet demands stealth. You are literally within feet of your quarry. You must keep low, go slow, and blend into your surroundings. This is hunting; be like a chameleon. Remember, since you can't use a longer rod or line, you will be right next to the fish. They don't like that! Any sudden movement and they are gone! Fortunately, if the water has a brisk current you can often get pretty close and set up your shot. Flies for these small creeks? Pretty much any pattern will work, but plan on losing a lot of them! For this very reason, I tend to use the venerable Utah Killer Bug much of

the time. Nowadays, on a "big stream" tenkara trip I won't lose any flies -- OK, maybe one. But on these tight creek adventures I'll lose half a dozen or more. If I overshoot my target hooking a branch, yet didn't scare the trout I was targeting, I'll just break off the line, tie on a new fly and shoot again. After I've caught the trout I'll move up into the lie and retrieve my snagged fly. If you don't like losing flies then this is not your type of fishing. So that's what I call the short game. This type of fishing separates the men from the boys (metaphorically speaking). Be prepared for the most frustrating fishing experience you'll ever have, but also be ready for some amazing fun and satisfaction. Stalking the creek, setting up your next shot, flawlessly executing that shot, and taking a wild, native trout from a small lie is very exhilarating. It’s my favorite way to fish. If you meet a guy in camo, crawling around in a mountain rivulet, that just might be me -- or maybe it's some other insane and eccentric angler!



Tenkara: More Not Less Karin Miller

More not Less... or does less require more, hmmm... Through my travels and meeting people I'm constantly asked whether I guide, do seminars, or clinics. I usually respond with hesitation because I'm a born teacher and love to coach but have limited time. Beyond being on the water and fishing, my next favorite thing to do is mentor and coach people on fishing. When I do work with others, rarely is it about which fly to use, sometimes it's


about which line or where to fish, but mostly it's about problem solving on the water. Because when it's all said and done, pretty or not, we simply want to catch fish. And while that seems basic, there's a skill set that's required to be successful. Take away your reel and well, it takes even more of that skill set. Oh no, she did NOT just say that, did she? Yes, I did. It takes more skill and more finesse to land fish without a reel than

with one. It also takes more skill to get into fish without a reel than with one because you have a fixed line thus a fixed length. And, because you're somewhat "fixed" in your distance, you need to be efficient at finding fish that are within your reach, which equates to reading the water and understanding fish habitat. Once you find the fish, you also better be accurate with your cast, because you can't tweak it like you can with a reel. Finally, since your casts are determined by the line lengths you carry, you better be thorough and know how to dissect and break apart water based on what you can and cannot reach. All this and we're not even into managing and landing the fish once on. So, while the whole tenkara method is "less", in many ways, it is actually "more." Tenkara requires more contemplation and thought. You must use your noggin and get creative, which is my very favorite part of the entire process. The strategic


hunt if you will, that makes the landing oh-so glorious. And the bigger the target, the more strategic it becomes. I tell regular fly fisherman all the time, if you want to up your game and improve your skills, fish tenkara exclusively for a season, then go back to your reel (if you still want to that is), and you'll notice a huge improvement. Your reflexes will improve, your cast will be more accurate, and you'll be more efficient at landing. Promise. Why? Because it's going back to the basics, the fundamentals of fishing and honing your angling skills without having to worry about working a reel... just working the rod and what's on the other end of it. Further, since matching the hatch is not a great focus in tenkara, you get to indulge in experimenting without guilt. Simply tie on a fly and allow yourself to play and see what happens. It's time on the water like this, that improves overall skills.



Another reason tenkara requires more skill is it's highly tactile. So much of fishing the tenkara method is about "feeling". Feeling the rod load, feeling the take, feeling the hook-set, feeling the fish fight, feeling when to move in with the net, and feeling that fish fully revived and released out of your hands. Do I sound a little bit like a junkie? The whole thing is a very tactile experience, much more than when fishing with a regular fly rod. In tenkara, the rod is your tell-all, but it's only useful if you can interpret and understand what it's telling you. When I coach anglers I'm usually cueing them to notice what their rod is doing, how it feels, and then helping them


understand what they can or cannot do with it when in that position. Because when you are fighting a fish, particularly big fish, you don't have the luxury of carefully or slowly getting into your power arc. Things are happening fast in the water and you need to respond quickly, get into position fast, then maintain it. That can happen only when you have an intrinsic understanding of rod flex and fish management. Clients often get so consumed by the fish and what it's doing, that they forget about their rod. Until you possess an intimate understanding of its parabolic bend, you must pay attention to it. The more skilled you become at getting into a deep arc

fast, the better you'll become at landing fish and the more successful you'll be. Anglers often lose the fight, lose the fish and/or break their rod unnecessarily because they lack this.


Mind you, some rods are not built to bend and be the drag. Some don't have the backbone for the fight, so know your rod and its flex... and that's what I'm talking about anyway. When I coach people, I'm

essentially introducing them to their tenkara rod, helping them to understand the range of their tool, and facilitating their on-the-water thinking so that they can respond quickly, react effortlessly, and calmly use their tenkara tool to tame the beast. So tenkara offers a unique experience in which more is actually less, and less requires more.

For those looking to up their game, improve their fish management skills, and have outrageous fun, check out the Tenkara Calendar at the back of this issue for more information on where Karin & Zen Tenkara will be conducting instructional clinics: Indianapolis with FlyMasters Fly Shop, Indiana (May 5), Long Meadow Ranch with 5280 Angler, Colorado (May 19), & Rapids Camp Lodge with Deneki Outdoors, Alaska (June 22-29)


Early Spring Stream Angling Jim Wright

Trout are cold-blooded creatures and are active in relatively cold water conditions. Generally, trout need water temperatures between 35 and 75 degrees to survive. And just as in summertime angling, the stream thermometer will give you an idea of how productive winter and spring ďŹ shing may be (see chart, below).



80 degrees

Lethal to trout


Trout seeking cold springs & tributaries


Feeding slows


Optimum temperature


Trout become active & looking upward toward water surface


Trout sluggish, feed sporadically, and look for food on stream bottom

IMHO, the ideal flies for cold water angling are such creations as the Killer Bugger, midge, and worm imitations or any small dark kebari. But considering the chart, nearly anything that looks like a meal, and that sinks well could mean success.


Try using a weighted kebari, but be sure to size it for the weight of the rod that you are using. Choose a copper wire underbody for lighter rods, shallower depths, and warmer water. Move to a brass or tungsten bead head for heavier rods, deeper or colder water. The best tackle goal is to use the lightest weight kebari possible (given the conditions) to avoid any unnatural appearance. Trout are less biologically active in cold water and won't move very far for a meal. Timing is important. If water temperatures have been steady, but then a cold snap drops them again, it's better to put the gear away and spend time with the family or play video games. Wait a few days for sun and high pressure to raise water temps again. Water temperatures often follow air temperatures but take a while longer to have any effect. A big however; if rising air temperatures cause snow to melt into the streams, it often has the opposite effect, chilling things down again. Rivers that have a steady water flow usually ďŹ sh best. Rapidly rising or falling water levels tend to turn trout feeding activity off, sending them to cover. Accurate casts to the most likely holding lies becomes very important. The most productive holding spots are under deep undercut banks and exposed roots or overhanging vegetation. Along with deep holes and plunge pools, these spots will often hold the largest ďŹ sh in a stream.

Photo: https://pixabay.com/en/winterfishing-fishing-snowbank-954075/

The dead drift is the most common technique used in early season, and it often produces when other methods fail. The only difference between this and the traditional wet fly swing is the added weight of the kebari. Cast upstream and across and allow the fly to swing past you and around at the end of its travel. Be careful to fish it out completely and avoid the temptation to lift the kebari early for another cast. Although dead drift is the most common technique recommended when the water temperature is less than 50 degrees, there are other methods which often prove more enticing to fish. Try casting upstream to allow the fly to sink, trying to keep it as deep as possible for as long as possible. When it is directly across from you, lift the rod about a foot then drop the rod and let the kebari drift another three to five feet downstream, then repeat. The idea is to manipulate the fly a little, but at the same time keep it as deep as you can. Once the kebari gets to a point downstream it will rise to the surface as your line tightens. Although the fly is no longer deep in the water column, you should still fish it out as it comes to the


surface. Then lift it for another cast. If this slow-motion effect fails after half a dozen tries, try a slightly faster raising and lowering of the rod, but still attempting to keep the kebari as deep as possible. If this trick fails, try a faster manipulation closer to the water surface. The idea is to give the opportunity for a trout to spot and move to intercept the fly near its holding level. The strike often comes during the movement of your fly, so stay alert for any change in line movement. The take may not be as evident as with later spring and warmer water when fish are more aggressive. Fish also tend not to hold the lure in their mouths very long in cold water, so a quick strike will likely be needed. These guidelines can change not only with the season, but also with the location in any stream. So, to summarize, trying a variety of methods until the correct one for that location is found, is the expert anglers secret weapon. That combined with knowing where fish will hold in a stream, being aware of water temperatures and the skill to present your kebari to drift past a fish's nose.




Photo: Landon Brasseur


Simply Appalachia Brad Trumbo

"Are you comfortable taking your rig up there?" I asked Derek as we peered up the 30-percent grade ahead. "Oh yeah!" He replied, as he dropped the 2000-model Jeep Cherokee into fourwheel-drive and dumped the clutch. Water had eroded a formidable crevasse across the old Forest Service road, but the Jeep lurched ahead. Contorting and clawing its way across the gap, the rig leapt up the far side, seemingly excited by the challenge, and successfully conquering the only obstacle separating us from a trailhead leading into one of Appalachia’s brook trout strongholds.


In February, 2018, I returned from the Pacific Northwest to my Virginia home for a brief visit with family. The weather was unusually warm and attractive and the Blue Ridge Mountains were calling. I moved to Washington State in 2011 where I reside, working as a fish and wildlife biologist, but I will forever be faithful to and mourn my separation from my Appalachian roots. Derek Blyer has been one of my best friends for nearly twenty years, and we share a passion for deciduous forests and adipose fins. Hence, some time on the water is not an option, but a requirement

when my boots land on Appalachian soil. Although I brought a rod for just such an occasion, I decided to head down to the local fly shop and grab a couple choice flies. I had read about tenkara fishing for the past five years, but had little legitimate reason to pursue it in my area of Washington, as headwater fishing is generally prohibited for the protection of Endangered Species Act-listed salmon, steelhead, and bull trout.


Furthermore, I have a cabinet full of custom rods of my own design, making it even less appropriate to buy a new one, but rational thought can overcome passion and curiosity only so long. With a small assortment of flies in hand, I strolled by the Tenkara USA display and mistakenly hesitated to glance at the different rods. The end result goes without saying. The simplicity of tenkara fishing hooked me immediately, and as Derek and I put boots to the trail, I carried only the rod, line, tippet, clippers, and a tiny box with four classic patterns of nymph and dry flies. I knew this stream well from a decade of monitoring, researching, and fishing wild brook trout populations in Virginia. I also knew that a fifty-degree day in February would set us up for a fine morning. Working upstream, we approached the first long pool carefully, sizing it up for delivering a short, soft presentation without spooking fish while positioning.

The stream cut into a steep ridge, revealing a granite outcrop doused brilliantly in green moss that shadowed exposed bedrock about six feet below the water surface. The upstream run rolled into the head of the pool and met the granite at a near perpendicular angle. Flow seams and minor eddies flanked the flow, deflected downstream and sweeping the bedrock clean. Working along the right side of the pool in protracted fashion, the last fifteen feet were gained on hands and knees.

Derek Blyer deaddrifting a nymph on a Tenkara USA Rhodo


A number twelve elk hair caddis served as my strike indicator with a number sixteen red Copper John trailing about fourteen inches below. A soft flip of the Tenkara rod laid the flies out smoothly about midpool, and as the caddis gently bobbed into the tailout, a fat, orange-bellied brookie lazily rose up and inhaled the caddis. A novice to the rod, I swiftly snatched the caddis from its mouth, and recast for an immediate repeat performance, thereby educating both the fish and myself. Several casts later, the Copper John enticed a young, brightly freckled brookie from the tailout, which made it to shore. As the fish slid softly into the shallow water where I knelt, I admired the brilliance of the pink and blue spotting. I have always found brook trout to be most attractive during winter, possibly because



the terrestrial world can be so drab at that time. Derek followed up at the head of the pool with a few casts into the flow, sweeping a small prince nymph into a divine dead drift as it entered deeper water. The presentation was met with alacrity as a brookie snatched it up. This fish a was a bit larger, between six and eight inches, exercising the tenkara rod significantly more than my previous fish. We landed approximately five fish from the pool and missed several others before deciding we had disturbed them enough for one day. The first hole set a high bar for the morning. With luck, a trend continued as we cherry-picked the best runs, pools, and pocket water. Fish were hungry and more active with the warmer weather, but fishing was still indicative of early spring

conditions. While brookies quickly hunt down a good meal most of the year, the frigid water being fed by fresh snow melt required proper drifts through prime feeding lanes to produce a hookup, not to mention the added challenge of close quarters to present the fly cleanly. A twenty-five-year veteran of fly fishing, I have experienced many rod types, lengths, weights, and purposes, and built in the ballpark of forty for customers, friends, and myself. I have come to enjoy technical fly fishing as part of the attraction of the game, but the minimal tackle and intimate proximity required of the tenkara style brought the purity of headwater stream fishing back into focus. Tenkara fishing could just have easily originated in Appalachia as it did Japan. The style fits Appalachian stream features and fish behaviors perfectly, and


brings the angler closer to the fish and the natural environment; the fundamental draw of fly fishing. Derek and I rounded out the morning on a staircase cascade with the sun breaking through the clouds, warm on our backs. We broke down our gear, found the trail, and strolled out among the terrain we had grown to love and understand, and my deep homesickness began welling up. Out west, I repress my homesickness by stalking mule deer and cutthroat, and chasing pheasant with my setters, but nothing can replace a timbered Appalachian draw seeping the cold lifeblood of wild, native brook trout beneath the dendritic canopy of hardwoods and white pine. When folks out west ask what there is to love about the east, I respond that it’s simply Appalachia. Simply perfect for tenkara.

Prime pools like this provide refugia under thermal extremes and hold a number of trout year-round


All You Do Is Fish Melissa J. Alcorn


The day he was born I dashed from the laboratory and took a grad school hiatus to welcome him into our flock and amuse his big sister for a few days. I’ve always looked into his Irish eyes and seen a funny, smart, and happy soul inside. Add years, miles, and the confusion of parents pulling him in two directions—the young man standing beside me at one of my favorite fishing holes is a shell of the child I once thought would run the world. I hoped time in our mountains and beside our waters would spark the light within, but then he breaks my heart with one question: "All you do is fish?" The answer is no, but in his defense, it could appear that way. Our second stop after I picked him up at the airport was the Colorado Parks and Wildlife office to get a five-day, non-resident fishing license for the boy. The plan for the next five days all involved standing beside water. I didn’t have access to size 13 wading boots to put him in the water and Texans seem averse to sandals for reasons that escape me. The three pairs of sneakers pulled from him suitcase were not well suited to wading. We had lakes on the to do list, and a firm conviction that this teenager caught up in angst and city ways just needed a chance to be still. Although at six this child could have engineered his way out of any physics issue, the simplicity of tenkara was ideal for the issues he faced now. He fished with a rod and reel on other trips with other people but no one had


taken him fly fishing. As we stood beside one of the Grand Mesa’s plentiful lakes and handed him one of our rods he looked puzzled, but soon he was casting with mixed emotions about catching. It was good we each landed trout first so he could experience how it all worked. The rainbows we caught were sufficiently attractive that he found motivation to get one of his own. When his line jerked and his first trout swam in, he recoiled a bit and waited for me to retrieve his fish. He hesitantly took the net from me and dipped hands in to rescue the fly and release the slimy fish. This trout was uncooperative and the boy needed assistance but he maintained his calm and curiosity to handle this wriggling mess. He smiled like the wild Irish boy of old when he proudly held the rainbow, but joy flickered away as quickly as the trout swam away. His hands and shirt were messy and he wondered how to clean up. I pointed out the large body of water in front of us and the attractiveness of a man with fishy hands. He wasn’t amused. We hiked to Leon Lake, a distance into the woods along meadows strewn with wildflowers and graced with warm sun, and the boy bounced along with more enthusiasm than I might have anticipated possible given the apathy he exuded. Perhaps the plan was working? Leon Lake was beautiful, the boy’s casts improved, but we could not find the right combination of fly and luck to pull trout from the blue. We packed up to return to our original lake. The shallow water was


buzzing with trout and we had better luck. The boy got over being fishy and even set out to rescue a gorgeous trout trapped in the rocks by line caught in its cheek, thus making him the first one I’ve seen to reach in and pull out a cutthroat by hand. His look of satisfaction of having released a trout from sure death was one of the moments that will stay with me from his sojourn. By the time the afternoon at the lakes ended we had caught a baker’s dozen between us, and kept a few so he could have the chance to taste the prize. We advocated to him that releasing is the better path to fishing karma but it seemed unfair to expect him to give them all back when he was clearly curious as to their culinary merit. After our dinner of grilled trout, he is more willing to put them back. It was not his favorite Colorado meal. We had a reasonably authentic Kotsuzake ceremony by the backyard fire pit to further seal his loss of tenkara virginity and pay respect to the trout. The second day we handed him a backpack, loaded with his borrowed camping gear and tenkara rod, and forced him to hike five miles up to Crater Lake in the Weminuche Wilderness. He complained very little, but moved slowly, so slowly, and stopped often to check if cell coverage would give him an avenue to text someone out there in his world. In our world, the mountains are sufficient company. I told him early in our upward walk that the thing about backpacking is



that it gives you abundant time to learn all the voices in your head and come to peace with at least a few of them. I assured him he could be mad, he could be ecstatic, or he could just be tired, but the goal was to keep moving the feet and seeing the forest and peaks. That seemed to work, and for a few brief moments even led to conversations of family life and how things had changed. Just as that chat found its groove, we arrived, set camp, and lost him to teenage slumber. When he resurfaced, he was ready to go fishing. Crater Lake was a busy place that day and not the tranquil backcountry we sought for him, with a dozen obnoxious men partying at a campsite perched above the lake. As we fished, they hurled insults and taunts at each other and down at other campers trying to enjoy the scenic space beneath Twilight Peak. We found their presence distracting and it deterred some from the fishing experience we wanted him to have. He had a hard time settling into the pattern and his casts reminded me of being on the sidelines at his lacrosse tournaments. He always had a strong arm and accurate toss. It was almost like his discomfort and anxiety were departing through his casts, and that he hoped to just clobber a trout with the tip rather than tempt it with the fly. We lacked surprise when he announced he was going back to our campsite. We fished on awhile, but actual bugs were floating past



us without consequence and we conceded to a campfire instead of continuing futility. The gents on the far side of the lake ramped up as we attempted to wind down. Our boy came out of hiding to sit by the fire with us awhile and shared our disgust as fireworks launched into the beetle-killed treetops. The boy laughed with a bit of grimace when I suggested he remember this revulsion when he was out with his pals and someone suggested a certifiably stupid idea. Happily, we all went to bed without the forest ablaze and the inebriation sent the fools on the cliff to slumber relatively early. The two of us woke and dressed for morning fishing as the sun emerged and began to melt heavy frost from late summer wildflowers around the lake. We worried our boy was encased in ice as well, Texans apparently also refuse to pack appropriate warm layers, but we left him to sleep knowing that he too would thaw when the sun found his tent on the ridge and turned it into a sweat lodge.


The fish were no more interested in our flies than the previous sunset and I envisioned them hiding out at the bottom of the lake traumatized by the explosions and spark rain. Try as we might we could not lure them higher, so we took a shot at enticing the boy out of his tent for breakfast. He did not like the rehydrated scrambled eggs and Spam, but at least we knew he was not hypothermic. He

asked to go fishing and we obliged eagerly. There was no rush to make the downhill trek back to the truck, or he was eager to push off the walk. He possessed a gentler cast that morning as I watched him illuminated in golden sun with steam rising at his feet, and he seemed truly anxious to catch and hold a trout. Regrettably, it was not to be and he took that in stride. As we moved back through the forest, past all the places we had stopped to rest coming up, he commented with more frequency on the beauty of the landscape and value of the opportunity. He’d found some mountain peace, but he also told me could not fathom doing many miles of backpacking and never, ever wanted to do it alone. He said his head was too noisy and he’d rather have company to talk to, even if a dog or maybe me. Perhaps this was progress. I left the guys behind after our last snack break and bolted ahead to retrieve the truck and move it closer to spare the boy an unfortunate uphill finale. Further, I hoped the two of them would talk more. I was extremely pleased when I found them beside Andrews Lake with the boy casting into the water and Stephen hanging back with a contented look. The boy possessed the sweet smile I remember from when we took him on his first away from home overnight adventure to our place many years back. Then it was a trail ride sharing a horse with Stephen around the lake in Oklahoma and the three-year old thought




he was big stuff. It was salve for my heart to see that joy again. It was the fourth day when I took him to East Portal to fish the big pool in the Gunnison River as it moves nearer to the heart of the Black Canyon. It was just he and I. The vibe was distinctly different, as if I was not to be trusted as a fishing guide. It was the last time I would attempt to force him out of the house and I wasn’t sure why I’d bothered. I thought he was ready for the new challenge of moving water and one place I thought he would enjoy was deep in the canyon with wrens calling and trout swimming at our feet. I was wrong. He never gave it a chance. In the span of twenty minutes he lost two flies and I saw my faith in the power of



nature to get through to this one float away. He said he was going back to the truck but not before asking his question. We do more than fishing. Indeed, fishing really is not the point. It is just one avenue to be quiet outside. It is a chance, whether right beside the truck or five miles into the hills, to stare off into the depths or the heights. We have plenty of other means to fill that niche of experience. Fishing was just what we offered him, and what we thought would benefit him. But perhaps it was too quiet. Fishing, particularly without catching, left him too vulnerable to thoughts and, given his lack of experience with trout, his hope that another cast would break the spell was lacking. If so, he was done. So was I.


We did not fish again. His fifth day was spent sleeping and texting rather than adventuring. I cannot understand the ways of a teenage boy but I thought, with conviction, we had failed in the mission to give him relief from the stresses of home. What I hoped would be a turning point to rebuilding his hope, felt more like consenting to gloom. Then he started texting Stephen, random post-trip things

that indicated at least at some level the boy reconnected to one of us. And that may be sufficient. I wanted to land a big success for him but perhaps that was too ambitious. Instead we just planted a seed that I hope will someday sprout into more adventures in fly fishing and mountain walking. We gave him a chance to be still and listen to himself. I just wish I could have pulled a few more trout off his line and worries off his back.


Brookies and Beer Log Volume 23 John-Paul Povilaitis

It was an early cold spring morning; the fog was thick on my way up the mountain. Creedence tapes playing in the background of my Toyota 4 Runner. Rocks bouncing off the tires as I navigate up the dirt road on public land in Pennsylvania. The sun is peeking through the trees, I have a great feeling about today. As I drive through the forest, I take it slow, always a good idea to scan the area for certain types of trees and the wild mushrooms that grow near them. I make it to my parking spot, not too far of a walk to one of my favorite fishing spots. Time for some action I put my Five Ten water tennies, Wetsox, and keiryu gaiters, grab my Zimmerbuilt sling pack. Oni Type 3, check. Tenryu Furaibo, check. Suntech Kurenai 30, check. Big canopy, low canopy, no canopy I’ve got it covered with a theatre of magnificent rods. Fly box, lanyard, sunglasses, good to go.


One last thing. 3 session IPA’s, 2 double IPA’s and my Sawyer Mini Squeeze. Gotta stay hydrated. I know I’ve got some beef jerky and protein bars in this bag somewhere. I’m set. Bases loaded. Watch out brook trout here comes the Mustard Tiger. I pounce my way down the trail, full of excitement. I know what lies ahead, cold water, beautiful native trout, and a darn good time! I’m here, first hole looks amazing. Soft eddy on the right, I know a trout’s in there. The current is circling behind a rock, I ask myself “do you even tome-zuri bro?” Why yes, I do! Flick of the wrist, stiff hackle kebari lands first right in the strike zone. BAM! Fish on, one in the net. A small native gem of the mountain. Back in the water you go. Tell the trouts. I use barbless hooks and keep my hands wet. He’s not bad. Next cast, another trout on. Time for a sip of sunshine. I’ve earned it. You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning! My adventure continues... Cheers!


Microfishing? Christopher Seep

Fringe elements exist in every religion, so it probably shouldn't surprise that there is a group of fixed-line anglers dedicated to catching tiny fish--chubs, minnows, and darters and the like. In fact very short rods are sold just for this purpose. Now, I think I'm a pretty open-minded guy, but there's something a little creepy about microfishing; kind of like piscatorial pedophilia. Don't get me wrong, I can spend all day on a quiet Appalachian brook trout stream, where a ten-inch fish would be a trophy, and feel completely satisfied. But, on the other hand... Nine inches is good if you're a (anatomical reference deleted), but not a trout. Once in a while give me a trout with some heft, some shoulders. A trout that will go toe-to-toe with me and maybe bite off a piece of my ear. An old kype-jawed Dick the Bruiser who will break my Iwana in two and shove the pieces up my (anatomical reference deleted), then post the pictures on the internet. But until that day comes, perhaps I'll try microfishing. Question: does one extend the pinkie when casting?


Photo: John-Paul Povilaitis


A Rod, a Line, and a North Country Spider

Partridge & Orange


Chris Stewart

The path that lead me to tenkara was circuitous, and it started with a North Country Spider. The term "North Country Spider" generally refers to a style of fly that was developed primarily in the north of England, particularly in Yorkshire. The North Country Spider is a sparsely dressed, soft hackled, wingless wet fly whose hackle looks for all the world like the ribs of an umbrella. They don’t angle forward like a sakasa kebari, but they certainly don’t angle sharply backwards either. The fly bodies are also sparse, often consisting of just the silk trying thread. The flies that are dubbed mostly have just a wisp of dubbing that allows the silk thread to show through. The first photo I ever saw of a North Country Spider was striking. It had an austere beauty that I found captivating. The saying, "Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away," describes North Country Spiders perfectly. I don’t remember what pattern it was that I saw – it could have been a Partridge and Orange – but it could have been a Snipe and Purple or a Waterhen Bloa or really, just about any North Country Spider. All I know is that as soon as I saw it I wanted to learn not only about the flies but also



about how such a little nothing of a fly could catch fish. For much of their early history, North Country Spiders were fished with loop rods. If you Google "loop rod" you will get pages and pages of hits about some unfortunately named Swedish fly rod company. If you dig deeply enough you may eventually get a hit that describes a long wooden rod with a loop of horsehair at the rod tip, to which a horsehair line was attached. That knowledge set me on two tracks, one researching loop rods and one researching horsehair lines. As suggested by the Google results above, researching loop rods was an exercise in frustration. One day, though, going deep into Google

listings looking for information on horsehair lines I came across a page showing that horsehair line had been used by the early tenkara anglers in Japan. Tenkara? What’s that? Google translation was as bad then as it is now, but it was possible to learn just enough to know that tenkara also used a long rod with a line tied to the rod tip. The best part, though, by far, was that the rods were commercially available! I didn’t have to make a 14’ wooden rod, which would have been extremely difficult since I had no access to a woodshop. I could finally fish my North Country Spiders the way they were designed to be fished! Even though it was horsehair line and a North Country Spider that first connected me with tenkara, once I really got into the fishing and then the business, I got distracted by hi-vis fluorocarbon and sakasa kebari. Lately I have been moving to a more stealthy approach, prompted to


a large extent by Rob Worthing’s experiments in Tactical Nymphing. I’ve gone full circle, though, and am again making horsehair lines. They really are quite stealthy and they are also very traditional. I’m going full circle on flies, too. The latest round of Facebook discussions on what a fly has to be to be a tenkara fly is pushing me further (and faster) away from the whole controversy about what is and what is not tenkara. There is a much longer history of fishing with just a rod, a line and a fly in Europe than there is in Japan. Perhaps it’s time to explore traditional European fly fishing. Robert L. Smith, in his book The North Country Fly, writes that, "In all probability, the earliest North Country patterns were imported to England by the Romans and later adapted by both Christian monks and French stonemasons who (prior to the dissolution of the monasteries from 1536 to

Light Spanish Needle (left), Dark Snipe & Purple (right) tied by Adam Rieger


1541), had established and inhabited the great monastic centres of the north from the 11th and 12th centuries." That statement supports the comments of a fishing historian friend who told me wherever the Romans went they took fly fishing with them. Do you suppose one of the Portuguese Jesuit monks who served in Japan between 1549 and 1600 took fly fishing with him? The first clear indication of fishing with a fly in Japan was almost 40 years after the Jesuits arrived. Probably just a coincidence, but you never know. The Jesuits would have known of fly fishing, and the Daimyos who recommended their samurai practice kagashira fishing (with long rod and fly, but outside the definition of tenkara) would have known of the Jesuits. Apparently, Japan imported fly fishing hooks from Portugal in 1635 - more than 240 years before Ernest Satow’s dairy mentioned tenkara fishing. Probably just a coincidence, but you never know. Back to reality. A tenkara rod is a perfect modern reincarnation of the loop rods with which North Country Spiders were first fished. The horsehair line that Charles Cotton recommended in 1676 casts very nicely with a soft tenkara rod like a Daiwa Expert L LL45M. He wrote that you could "cast your fly to any certain place, to which the hand and eye shall direct it."


I have fished with a line made to his specifications, and he was right. On the other hand, the much heavier horsehair lines the Valsesian anglers use to this very day with long rods of Arundo cane (very similar to bamboo) cast nicely with the firmer tenkara rods like a Daiwa Expert LT H44. The lists of North Country Spiders, from John Lister’s 1712 diary on down, encompass dozens and dozens of flies. You couldn’t tie them all, but if you enjoy tying and if you enjoy the traditional aspect of simple fly fishing, you have a lot of patterns to choose from. Some of the feathers are no longer legal and some of the furs are not sold commercially but many of the flies can be tied with readily available materials. And as for the fishing, I remember watching an excellent Oliver Edwards DVD on fishing North Country Spiders in rivers. He described how one should fish a short line and keep the rod tip elevated to keep as much line as possible off the water. Sound familiar? I couldn’t help but think how much easier a time he’d have if he just fished with a tenkara rod rather than his 9’ 4 weight. From the Macedonians on down, there’s almost 2000 years of traditional European fly fishing to explore. The North Country Spiders are beautiful and beautifully simple. They’ve been catching fish since London was Londinium. Give ‘em a try.


Photo: Landon Brasseur

Wazao & Bamboo Tenkara Rods This past February, Adam Rieger was able to travel to Japan on business. During his stay, he was fortunate enough to mix in some fishing, meet up with friends, take in some culture, and spend time in the workshop of master bamboo rod craftsman, Masayuki Yamano. The pictures on the next few pages are the result of Adam's day, a basic, but highly functional tenkara rod. The embedded video below also shows some of the steps Adam took under Yamano-san's guidance (with the support of Go Ishii) to shape the raw materials into a beautiful final product.

Video URL: https://vimeo.com/262657561

Adam Rieger: @rieger_flies__fishing Masayuki Yamano: @yamanobamboo



My Perfect Fishing Pack:

A Search for a Minimalist Pack with Everything I Need for a Day on the Water Stephen Myers

For months I've been adding and subtracting items from my Zimmerbuilt Strap Pack, trying to find the optimal balance between everything I want and everything I need while fishing in the backcountry. It had to be small and light enough to fit in my backpacking base-pack, while still providing me with the supplies to have an enjoyable fishing experience while on the trail. Below are some photos and descriptions of the items that made it into the pack, all thought out based on their usability and overall weight. I have to laugh while writing this because it's a chilly 17 degrees here on Colorado’s Front Range and I'm dreaming of icefree alpine lakes and not having to wear snowshoes. Needless to say, I’ll definitely be prepared when the time comes to get back up into the higher altitudes. I hope that you’ll find the list of items helpful in adding a few tools and accessories to your pack for this coming season. EMPTY STRAP PACK WITH ITEMS DAISY CHAINED OR SECURED TO THE OUTSIDE (TOP TO BOTTOM):

1. CRKT Minimalist Fixed Blade Knife

2. Custom Braided Paracord Lanyard 3. Abel Nippers (native trout pattern) & Abel Zinger 4. Umpqua Forcep Pliers attached with S-Hook connector 5. Tenkara line spool (Size 2.5 Fluorocarbon Line, 12ft); 4,5,6x Umpqua Tippet. Both on shock cord with an end clamp



1. Single Leaf Fly Box w/ Foam Insert

2. Umpqua Dry Shake Floatant 3. GoPro Hero 5 Black 4. Costa Lens Cloth 5. 8 Compartment Nymph Box 6. 4 Compartment Split Shot/Putty/ Indicator Box 7. Thingamabobbers 8. Business Cards 9. Streamside Leaders Nano Dragon Floating Furled Line


1. ABEL NIPPERS - By far the best investment and most used tool on the pack. While replacement jaws (blades) are offered, my nippers are still as sharp as the day I got them and completely rust free. A must have for changing flies and snipping tag ends off flies and leaders. 2. SINGLE LEAF FLY BOX - The ability to carry enough flies for an extreme variety of fishing conditions combined with the lightweight polymer box is essential for my fishing experience in Colorado. I have enough flies to fish traditional tenkara kebari in high mountain streams, then hit a tail-water system on the way home without having to carry and keep track of multiple fly boxes. It’s great! 3. CRKT MINIMALIST KNIFE - A perfect, lightweight neck knife that provides no nonsense ergonomics and impressive blade edge retention. It’s a no brainer. 4. GOPRO HERO 5 & GOPRO APP - This little camera is great. Forget the DSLR, the batteries, and the lenses. Take a couple videos, upload them to the app via bluetooth, and it creates a little clip of the highlights from your day. No editing experience needed. In addition, the camera sports a waterproof frame with no case needed and snaps great photos on the fly. 5. ZIMMERBUILT STRAP PACK - This pack will always be at my side or around my neck. It's spacious (for its size), provides multiple pockets and sleeves, has a ton of mounting spots for tools, and doesn’t break the bank. Visit Zimmerbuilt.com for availability, as I don’t believe they’re currently available from Tenkara USA in the US.


Smallmouth Bass:


A Wonderful Fish for the Tenkara Rod Bob Long


Smallmouth bass are, what they are. Not what they are not. If you can accept the integrity of those statements, marvelous! Some great smallmouth fishing awaits. If not, it may be useless for you to read further. “I know what you’re trying to do.” – Neo “I'm trying to free your mind. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one who has to walk through it.” – Morpheus If those first two lines intrigue, and you


intend to get serious about fixed-line fishing for smallmouth bass, the first thing I request of you – before rods, lines, tippets, flies - is to curtail or stop using “smallmouth bass and trout” in the same sentence or thought (e.g., “like trout, smallmouth bass are...” or “look for smallmouth in those trout like riffles…,” etc.). If you are willing to do this you will be on your way to a greater understanding of smallmouth bass as the fish they are where they live, what they do, how they feed, and how to appeal to them. You will be on your way to enjoying greatly increased success for them using your tenkara rods.

Background: I conduct on-the-water, flyfishing workshops in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan for smallmouth bass in Midwestern rivers, creeks and streams (I am that specific as to fish and location as to keep the minds of workshop participants, and readers focused on the particulars of the task at hand. It helps). The workshops last four-to-five hours (usually 3:00 PM until dark in the summer). Although I feature tenkara rods in the workshops, the lessons therein are applicable for western fly rods and spinning rods too. “My workshops, though technical and detailed in many ways, seek a playful and unpressured approach to tenkara fishing for smallmouth bass as an action to be lived in, experienced and discovered in real time (while in the water catching fish), not as a craft or job to be mastered or completed over time away from the water.



Learning will come, especially if you are catching fish as you go. What I want for you initially is to have fun catching as

many smallmouth as possible with your tenkara (or western fly) rods.” – Bob Long

As such, one of the first things I teach is that the rod, line, flies and lures (equipment) are nice, but have little to do with the “Who, What, Where, When, Why & How” of the life of the smallmouth in the waters we are fishing.

The WWWWW&H? That’s the good stuff! Know your fish, you can catch your fish – with relative ease. Equipment can be fun, but ultimately, its meaningless to the fish. But the WWWWW&H of each species of fish is of great importance for your immediate and long-term success. Combine this WWWWW&H knowledge with my fishing system, which I call, “Information + Experience + Interpretation = Knowledge = Fish” and take it to heart, and your tenkara fishing for smallmouth can be marvelously rewarding and fulfilling. You will catch a lot more fish (assuming that is your goal in fly fishing – it isn’t


always for some). The Caveat. Learning to fish from reading (including this) and watching videos has some value, but it is limited. I liken it to trying to learn to throw a football or a curveball from reading articles or watching videos. Can’t do it. Mainly because you can’t stand outside of yourself and see yourself to evaluate yourself. Reading piques the interest, I believe, but long lasting and deep fishing knowledge comes on the water, working with a mentor, teacher, facilitator, experienced friend or Sensei. This is where the lessons and the learning really dig in. That is how humans have been teaching each other for thousands of years. “Find people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” – Amy Poehler


And, it will only be your ego that will prevent you from doing this. Don’t let it. Also, this article is not a preachy/teachy “I know best,” story, but meant to offer possibilities to be considered or explored when standing in a smallmouth river, tenkara rod in hand. I also hope you will resist the urge to consider the following material as either simple or complex, truth or non-truth. Just read it and let it settle in. Or not. It is a start, but only so much will come to you reading words. You gotta get out there.


So, let’s assume you have decided that a tenkara rod and smallmouth bass are for you. If you decide to try this system and give it a consistent use on the water, there are some things you will also need to unlearn. First, that smallmouth bass are not trout – period. Can’t state this enough. However, when most of us think of fly fishing in moving water, we are thinking trout (sub-consciously, unconsciously, or by choice). For many fly fishers “fly fishing is trout fishing.” However, many of the particulars of trout – reading the water, presentations, forage, equipment, flies/ lures - hinders your ability to successfully fly fish for warm-water smallmouth over the long term. Many will disagree – vehemently. Understood. But I stand by that statement. (Some of you may now need a moment to breathe into the proverbial paper bag.) In my workshops I ask if you can stop filtering your smallmouth fly fishing through the lens of trout fishing. Don’t look for similarities or differences. Just look at smallmouth alone. Try to leave trout out of the discussion altogether (yes, it can be done although it may be a challenge for many). I’ll say, “You don’t need a frame of reference from one fish to another to be successful with either,” (e.g., you don’t reference crappie when fishing for bluegill in the same lake or pond, do you? Or reference channel catfish when fishing for walleye


in the river they both occupy. So, why reference trout for and about smallmouth when they don’t even occupy the same river or types of waters?). Do we reference trout for smallmouth just because we have a fly rod in our hands instead of a spinning rod? Actually, yes, we do, as that is how deeply ingrained trout are in fly fishing. Let’s try to break that link in the chain. If you are willing to leave trout out of the discussion about smallmouth (and that is a big if – I can feel the resistance rising in many you) you will find your average daily catch rate for smallies going up appreciably. If not, it probably won’t.

Will this letting go be hard? If you feel letting go of trout-think and learning smallies with be easy, it will be easy. If you feel it will be hard, it will be hard. Easy and hard are simply our interpretations of a neutral act: learning. It is neither easy nor hard to learn. How we feel about learning is often a choice up to each of us. Finally, it helps if you let go, for crying out loud, of the joy-killing, “yeah, buts!” “Ok, that sounds nice, but...” “I agree with you on that, but...” “Yeah, probably, but what about...?” “Always with you what cannot be done.” – Yoda to Luke Skywalker


Some who come to my workshops simply will not make the change. They will use trout tactics almost the whole workshop (and yes, I do wonder why they came). It almost physically pains them to try. They take the “blue pill.” Or they mumble about some kind of magic, secret lures or home-stream advantage when they see me catching fish – often from locations I call out before casting to. It isn’t magic, lures or just home field. It is learned techniques. Available to all. Here’s my approach for using tenkara rods for smallmouth bass in rivers, creeks, and streams. Each day I come to the water, I bring a small box with three types of flies, and



another with three types of plastic lures and some jigs. I try to come with a fresh mind – even if I was just there yesterday. I need to figure out anew the who, what, where, when, why & how of today: · This fish (smallmouth bass – biology, habits, needs, behavior) · In this particular river, (each river has similarities and differences, and sections of each river can vary markedly) · On this specific day, (season, time of day, weather) · Under today’s water conditions (water low/high, fast/slow, rising/falling, clear/stained, cool/warm) I run this info through my fishing system,

“Today’s Information + My Experience + My Interpretation of it = Informed Knowledge.” And thus, an informed course of action to take that day. Where to start, which lures or flies to use first, how to fish them, etc. Are the fish where I thought they would or should be? If not, where else might they be? Adjust. Am I getting hits on this color, shape, size, action of fly or lure? If not, what else, how else? Adjust. And on.


We all do this is one form or another, some do it more in depth than others. When I get it right, I catch fish. When I don’t, (for a variety of reasons) I struggle and catch fewer. Information + Experience + Interpretation = Knowledge = Fish. And so it is with tenkara rods and smallmouth bass.


[Side note: Tenkara rods are superb tools for smallmouth bass in rivers, creeks and streams (just having a max cast of 30-feet or less for starters. It really helps with keeping one focused on what’s directly in front of you – no small feat in today multitasking world. Love it). For the last three to four years I have used them exclusively when fly fishing for smallies. But they are only tools. Marvelous tools, yes, lots of fun but just tools nonetheless. It isn’t the rod, it isn’t the line, it isn’t the fly or lure that get fish. It’s you. As one of my 22-year-old, Harry Potter-loving, fishing friends put it: “It ain’t the wand, Mr. Long, it’s the Wizard.”]

TENKARA RODS: I know and use these. They can handle large smallmouth (up to 21 inches so far) in current as well as the size flies and lures I use: Badger Tenkara Wisco 2, Daiwa Expert LT39 and LTH44, and the Tenkara USA Amago, (all rods with either 7:3 or 8:2 action), in lengths of 12 – 14 feet. Other rods will no doubt work. I just don’t know them. You need something geared for warm-water, not just “larger trout.” A 20 inch smallie in current is a way different fish than a 20 inch rainbow or brown. Get a rod rated for warm-water use. FURLED LEADERS: Because of the rocky nature of many smallmouth waters, and the length and weight of the flies and lures I use (up to 3 inches length and to a weight of 1/12 ounce or so) I suggest using furled leaders, 12 – 14 feet in length (same as the rod) not level or mono lines. You can go a foot or two longer once you are used to it, but not to start. Remember, most smallmouth fishing is sub-surface. You won’t see many takes, you’ll mainly feel them (although many of my workshops attendees can’t feel them, and I have to say “You had a hit. You’ve got a fish.”). So, a sturdy yet soft, tapered, furled leader that more strongly transmits energy and vibration works best with smallmouth. Tenkara is not about distance (this you already know). The further you are from your fly/lure the less you feel; the slower


you feel it. The less you know about where your fly is down there and what it is doing, the slower your reaction times, the more strikes you miss, the more hangups you’ll find. Leaders the length of your tenkara rod, with three to four feet of tippet is fine for most situations. Learn to love the intimacy and sharpness of being so close to your fish – not see it as a potential limitation. Most times one must exhibit discipline and simply wade closer to a spot, not try to cast farther. Delicacy and accuracy of casting are not issues here either. Neither is being able to repeat a narrow range of specific drifts or presentations. In addition, keeping line off the water means very little for smallmouth fishing (as do the concepts of drag, drag free drifts, delicate casts upon the water). Being able to cast your flies, work them purposefully in current, feel strikes, set hooks, fight and land fish are what count. Smallmouth "tenkara" is not about trout (again, resist the urge to make it so with comparisons). So, furled leaders with tenkara-styled are the way I go. Yes, furled leaders and larger, heavier flies/lures will affect your casting motion. Know this, accept this. And, so what? Adjust. The beauty of the 10-to-2, or the graceful casts one gets with tenkara rods and kebari flies, will not be doable nor desirable here. Let that thought go. You need a larger and slower transfer of energy to get your smallmouth flies and lures out and to take pressure off the tip



sections of tenkara rods. I have wide, open, looping casts that may look weird to many fly fishers, but they are graceful and pretty in their own way, and effective too. Furled leaders are essential to do this. (I always point out much of this info before and again at the start of a workshop. I have extra leaders with me. I offer them to participants. Some say yes, some say no. Some request them after they’ve seen how I work them while fishing. Seeing is believing. Sometimes.) Plus, I suggest you get your leaders in bright colors you can see. Chartreuse, bright red, fluorescent orange, bright green. I’ve not found smallmouth to be put off by such things. Period. But seeing where your line is in the air and on the water, can be quite helpful to you. I use Oudachi and Tachi lines from Moonlit. Note: I have not yet tried the Badger-Lite floating tenkara line, but I will this spring. TIPPET: I use name-brand, good quality, non-stiff, four to six pound test monofilament line (mainly four). I prefer Trilene XL in light green, and Cabela’s NoVis Fluorocarbon (clear,) but others will do. As long as it’s fresh, quality line, don’t sweat this. I don’t lose lots of flies or lures to break offs or fish. Still, I am careful to grab the tippet or the leader and pull it to break off, not putting pressure on the rod. Right about now – as I share all of this - I usually ask workshop participants, “How

are you doing? What are you thinking? What’s working for you? What isn’t?” So, I’m asking you as you read. Why? Well, because while “Resistance may be futile” to quote the Borg, it is very much part of being human. Work hard to recognize when resistance appears. Work harder to overcome it and make the necessary changes for fishing success. Breathe. Relax. You can do this, because remember, you can go back to your old ways anytime. Reminder, this is about tenkara for smallmouth bass in rivers, creeks, and streams. Not tenkara for anything else. Ultimately, while a structured approach and attention to detail is rewarded when


fishing, I am not offering trout-styled “perfection in concept” or written-in-stone “this is how it must be done” rules. Let go of the notion there is, and you’ll grow. Hold onto them, and your attention is on doing things the “right way,” not seeking possibilities to more effective ways to fish. Still, these are all suggestions, considerations, not directives. I realize, you could reject everything I’m saying, and still happily go about catch fish. “We humans love consistency. However, nature is anything but. Allow for that.” – Bob Long PRESENTATIONS: This is where people really freak out. I only wade, cast and fish going downstream. I only fish while



wading and casting, facing downstream (like “NY, NY,” that was so nice I had to say it twice). Here is where words fail. Most really need to see the things I am saying, on the water, to get it. So many of my workshop participants say upon seeing me in real time, “Oh, I didn’t think you really meant THAT straight downstream” or “I didn’t really think you meant THAT close” or “Really? Move the fly all the time? NO dead drifts?” (No, 99% of the time I am giving my fly a little jigging action.) I am often still surprised at how markedly different their interpretation of what they read or even see in a video will be from what I am asking of them. They can be so


far off. That is why - teachers, mentors, facilitators, coaches, Sensei. First thing. Wading upstream, casting up stream, trying to keep control of your drift and maintain contact with your heavier, larger fly, feel takes, prevent snag ups and get a good hookset with tenkara rods is exhausting. You’ll be busier than a onearmed man trying to hang wallpaper in a wind storm. I recommend against it and teach an alternative. Again, smallmouth aren’t trout. I don’t approach them as such. I never wade or cast up, up-and-across, or across stream when smallmouth fishing – with a tenkara or any other type of rod. The road to hell (loss of feel, of flies, snagged lures,

missed strikes, tired legs, knees and arms), is thus paved going upstream for me. My casting is across-and-down, down-and-across and downstream. I can go downstream effectively hitting fishy locations, carefully covering specific fishy-looking parts of the water in a 180degree arc from my left to right, and right to left. Lots of flexibility of coverage. “Oh, I didn’t think you meant really THAT straight downstream.” Yes, I am in the fish’s face. I’m not sure how well the smallmouth can see you from 20-30 feet away, but over the course of time, I’ve found it doesn’t tend to matter. I’ve caught hundreds within 10-15-feet or less of me. Many times, they are only a rod’s length away (I use dapping, flipping or pitching to such fish, not casting). Wading and casting downstream – tenkara rod in right hand, wading staff comfortably in the left (which supports me and keeps me from taking baths) allows me maximum control and feel of my flies and lures, all done with hand and rod position. With one hand, I can work my fly/lure deep, mid-depth, high, on the surface. I can move it left, right, move it forward or drop it back, or leave it in place for as long as I wish. Move it fast or slow or not at all, just let the current move it in place. You can thoroughly, consciously and purposefully cover water fishing downstream. (I even do this the few times I use surface flies too.)


Fishing downstream has another benefit for the tenkara rod. When it comes time to cast, my line and fly are already tight downstream from me. Little to no slack. I simply pick up the line and fly, bring it up high in the air, swing it behind me, and then bring the rod tip forward (softly, slowly) and put the fly down again where I wish. Using my wrist, arm and upper body I can move, pivot, turn and place the fly anywhere in that 180-degree arc of water. No false casting, seldom a correction cast, light pressure on the upper sections of the rod. As soon as it hits the water, I’m in contact with the fly or lure, ready for strikes (smallies often hit as soon as a fly or lure hits the water or soon thereafter. Most guys still getting situated, finishing the cast and preparing for the drift, and are not ready for that. I’ll see their line twitch, their rod tip bounce slightly. “You just had a hit”). All of the above can so greatly increase the depth of your ability to put the “Information + Experience + Interpretation = Knowledge = Fish” system to work wherever you go to fish smallmouth in flowing waters. FLIES/LURES: Yes, lures (small spoons, tiny Japanese crankbaits, itty-bitty, inline spinners, up to 3 inch plastics) with the tenkara rod. Another hard pill for many to swallow. But, smallmouth are not trout. So, why not? Don’t switch to trout stuff – little nymphs and 1.5 inch streamers - just because you pick up a fly rod. Stay with things – or as close to –


that you would normally use successfully for smallmouth. They respond to lures far better than they do to flies. Lures have size, shape, color, action, vibration, scent. Flies not as much. This is a big part of the workshops. Easy for some to accept. Hard-to-impossible for others. The Daiwa Expert LT39, LTH44, and the Wisco 2 mentioned earlier have handled these larger flies and lures easily. (There were issues for me with the Amago. Not sure this is recommended for that rod – just maybe larger flies.) Smallies are aggressive in ways trout are not (not better or worse; just different). Smallies have no feeding lies, seldom holding stations. They are hunters, not grazers. They attack, not wait. They move around; a lot. Once past 6-8 inches they don’t eat little things, but the biggest things they can swallow.


Their prey – mainly crayfish and minnows - is sizeable, running 3-5 inches (think river crayfish (not pond crabs) to 4-5 inch hellgrammites to medium-sized golden roaches, not crappie minnows, crickets, or beemoth). Crayfish and forage fish can seldom be found or seen dead-drifting helplessly or casually with the current. Crayfish can hold in strong current and hustle any direction. They can also fight back. Minnows swim away and must be chased or ambushed. I suggest the flies and lures you use with your tenkara rods mimic these aggressive actions and tendencies when possible.


“When you feel doubt creeping in, remind yourself – tenkara has no smallmouth in its past. No defining or confining traditions. It is a book in which we are right here, right now - writing the first chapters. I feel no constraints other than those I might discover along the way. We are free to play and discover what does and doesn’t work for each of us. We are at the forefront. Can you feel that excitement?” - Bob Long

When I use flies, I use 2-4 inch woolly buggers 95% of the time (black, white, olive, brown/orange). On occasion I’ll use some other concoction I create, like the Fuzzy Creeper (tied on 1/16 ounce, size 4 jighead), or on more rare occasions a cork or foam-headed surface fly. Mainly I use 2 to 3-inch plastic lures on 1/16 - 1/64 ounce, thin-wire, (Mustad, Gamakatsu, Matzuo, etc.) custom-poured jigheads I get from guys on the internet (they are usually surprised to know I tie flies on these hooks and use fly rods). I use these because they have sharper points, longer shanks and wider gaps than the usual fly hooks, and that aids my hook setting and fish holding. For the last three-to-four years I’ve been using Keitech 2 inch and 3 inch Swing Impact swimbaits, Cubby Mini Mite and Mini-Mite 2 lures, and 3 inch Spring Grubs by Producto lures. Man, I catch a lot of fish with these, all while using my tenkara rods in ways as described above. And as I do, I learn more and more about smallies

in rivers, creeks and streams on my tenkara rods. Does any of this sound or feel like the tenkara you currently know? Probably not. Does it matter? Willing to try something new? I admit, I love using my tenkara rods in new, exciting, innovative and productive ways – learning what they can and cannot do well. I love the casting, the movement of lure and fly as I work the water, the feel of the take, the hookset, the fight. I feel free to create techniques for it and for a fish (the smallmouth bass) and its water that doesn’t exist in Japan. Still, I am not seeking to create new, highly-structured traditions with my tenkara rod for smallmouth bass in rivers, creeks and streams that are the “right way” to fish. You can try it in whole, in part or not at all. Mix and match with your own base of knowledge. My fishing system of “Information + Experience + Interpretation = Knowledge = Fish” isn’t designed to replace existing ones. It isn’t against anything. It exists for itself and works marvelously for me. Wanna’ try? Let me know.



Tenkara in Canada's Beautiful Forêt Montmorency Danièle Beaulieu

People always talk about the wonderful fishing destinations in the United States like Colorado, Montana or the Adirondacks, but we have a secret place here in Quebec, Canada and it's called Forêt Montmorency. It belongs to the University Laval and is the largest teaching and research forest in the world, totaling 412 square kilometers of pure fishing pleasure with two lakes and three rivers. Before coming to the Forêt Montmorency, you will want to stop in the beautiful city of Quebec. You will be going back in time by visiting the majestic Chateau Frontenac followed by a walk in the streets of old Quebec. Then you will


certainly stop to visit the Citadelle of Quebec and the Plains of Abraham. There are so many popular things to see and do in the city. After falling in love with Quebec City, you will be heading out to the Forêt Montmorency for some quiet time and to fish in the wild. There too, you will fall in love, again. The Forêt Montmorency started introducing tenkara fly fishing in their activities last summer and it was a success. They are repeating the same formula this year, but with some new rods made exactly for the kind of rivers they have.

Students learning the basics of kebari

Hugues Sansregret instructing tenkara in front of television cameras


Their program that teaches tenkara fly fishing is called ''Taste the Forest – Trout'' organized on 4 individual Sundays during the month of July and August that include fishing with a guide and how to prepare your catch. If you do not want to take part of the organized activities, you can also fish by yourself or with friends. You will want to stay for a few days for sure. For lodging, there are a few nice cottages to rent, or you can stay in their dormitory if you have a big gathering (like the Tenkara Summit!) and are looking for more rooms. You will find small brook trout as the primary the species in the rivers. For the kebari (fly) size #14 is a good choice and dry fly fishing can be very effective, (I have success with the Ishigaki kebari). Be prepared to find a lot of active fish in the Montmorency River, where trout can be present at every cast you make. They are very difficult to catch because they are very quick to release the fly from their mouth. As such, my choice of line is a level line the length of the rod or shorter. There are a lot of nice places that you can do the bow and arrow cast to get exactly between two rocks that possibly hold some bigger trout. There is a part of the river that has very big pools. There, you can fish without wading in the river if you do not have the equipment. There is very easy access by car, as the river follows the road almost all the way, so you can stop to a lot of places to fish.


The Forêt Montmorency are very active in the fishing world as they hosted the Provincial Fly Fishing Competition last summer, as featured in the Fall 2017 issue of Tenkara Angler. The personnel of the Forêt Montmorency are currently working to make the other two rivers accessible to fish in the near future. They are small rivers that will be challenging for the angler, just my kind of river. Stay tuned! If you don't have a tenkara rod or forgot to bring it, they also have some to rent. Don't be intimidated by the language barrier, the staff will welcome you in English. If this interests you, visit the YouTube video below that I made to let you see what a beautiful place it is.

Video URL: https://youtu.be/EVoBEYdjt6c Subscribe to Tenkara Canada: https://tinyurl.com/tenkaracanada

Students learn how to clean ďŹ sh Chef Arnaud now shows Hugues how to prepare trout for cooking


North East Tasmania Dean Price


I really like Tasmania it is just lovely and the fishing was really good on this trip. I hired a pushbike and it slowed things down for me to really experience the locations in a way that motorized transport cannot. I met some other pushbike riders and they said they cover anywhere between 60-100 kilometers a day. I probably did about 30-40 a day as I was fishing a lot of the time. One of the advantages of tenkara is the minimal gear that I could carry on the bike. I had three rods, several spools of different level line and more than enough flies. A great place to fish tenkara style is the North Eastern part of Tasmania. Medium and small streams of great variety are offered to fly fisherman with a week or two to spare. January has nice summer weather with the occasional day or two


that can be cold and wet. Bridges and high banks reveal cruising hungry fish often feeding and ready to eat flies. Grasshoppers and other insects become the fish’s main diet in the summer, so dry flies work well.


Occasionally you might see a stationary figure with a spinning rod. Most trout fisherman seem to head south a bit to the more world renowned places attracted to rivers because of their famous name like some sort of river brand appeal. A chance meeting took me off track to the northern seaside and away from the streams for a couple of days. This only makes me want to go back to next year to the places l missed and it was good to catch up with a mate I hadn’t seen for many years who now runs a pub. The people are really friendly, and the scenery is beautiful. I found myself in a relaxed state very quickly and was very pleased with the quality of the fishing which was all sight fishing to rises or cruising fish with dry flies.

Fishing a well-known camping ground that borders the Saint Patrick's River proved challenging as fish had adapted living alongside mankind becoming familiar with anything on a hook. Many casts in the park only produced one fish although the rises here where in there hundreds. A short travel away from the park and the fishing is not so challenging. Predominately brown trout are the main target in these rivers. I have never had brown trout fight as hard as these North East Tassie fish. One of the fish caught took to the air just like a rainbow, others rushed hard at any available snag shaking their heads to remove the hook fighting right ‘til the end. There aren’t many fisherman in this part of the island.


Friends of Tenkara Angler











Contributors & Credits This issue of Tenkara Angler Magazine was made possible by the extremely generous contributions of the following members of the tenkara community. Danièle Beaulieu

(aka) the TenkaraBum, grew up in Colorado and is currently based in NYC. He is the owner, CEO, & shipping clerk of TenkaraBum LLC. He usually can't be found because he's wearing camo.

Dean Price

Stephen Myers

Dean Price is an Australian tenkara and keiryu rod fly fishermen who enjoys travel, photography, riding old motorcycles and blogging. Contact; tenkaraflyman773@gmail.com

Paul Gaskell

is an environmental scientist/writer and fishing guide currently living in Colorado. He has been practicing tenkara since 2014 and operates a fly tying company, 303 Flyworks.

Karin Miller

Paul (along with John Pearson) blog at Discover Tenkara and have a free email tutorial service that teaches tenkara step-by-step. He is also one of the hosts of the video series, Tenkara in Focus.

is the owner of Zen Tenkara/Zen Fly Fishing Gear. Since its start in 2012, Zen has looked to push the traditional, established boundaries in an effort to "define American Tenkara"

Jim Wright

Christopher Seep

Owner of TenkaraFlyShop.com, Jim Wright has pursued trout, studied stream entomology and tied trout flies since 1967 and retired his Western fly gear, taking up Tenkara in 2012.

Christopher Seep began fishing while still in diapers and hopes to finish that way. Since adopting tenkara six or seven years ago, he has never looked back.

John-Paul Povilaitis

Adam Rieger

Resides in South Central Pennsylvania where he enjoys spending time with family and friends, & sharing beers and stories around a campfire. If he's not at a local spring creek, he's probably in the woods snagging trees.


Chris Stewart

Started fly fishing in 2000 and tenkara in 2014. She fishes rivers all across Canada & New England. and started a business selling tenkara rods and accessories called Tenkara Canada.net.

works for a wine/sake importer and distributor in NY/NJ. If you are fishing in the NYC area and see a guy in business casual dress with a bluetooth headset on eating a sandwich and fishing... please say hello.

Tom Davis

is an avid tenkara angler located in Idaho. He prefers to fish small creeks with moderate to high gradient flows for native cutthroat trout. He shares his experiences and perspectives on this most efficient form of fly fishing through his blog Teton Tenkara.

Bob Long

Bob is in charge of Chicago's Fish'N Kids Program which takes kids age 8-12, teens, adults, seniors and people with disabilities of all types fishing. He also teaches many tenkara and fly tying

Landon Brasseur

Melissa Alcorn

Based in Colorado Melissa and her husband Stephen spend all their spare time playing outdoors. Drawn to tenkara as backpackers, they have stayed due to its simplicity and beauty. Follow her adventures at TenkaraChick.com.

Brad Trumbo

Brad Trumbo lives in southeast Washington State and serves the public as a fish and wildlife biologist. In his spare time, Brad volunteers with Pheasants Forever, pens tales of outdoor pursuits, builds (and sometimes uses) custom fly rods, and reminisces of his Appalachian homeplace. www.bradtrumbo.com

Trout Addict and photographer of all things fly fishing related! https://www.instagram.com/lbrasseur/




Photo: Landon Brasseur

TenkaraCalendar.com is a simple community-driven resource to organize, keep track, and promote tenkara-based events, get-togethers, "takeovers," meet ups, and seminars. The current events through July 2018 are listed below, however please feel free to visit the website to submit and publicize your upcoming tenkara or conservation-themed initiatives, or simply to learn more. Utah: Modern Fly Fishing with a Tenkara Rod with Luong Tam Thursday April 5th, 2018 - 8:00 AM Mountain America Expo Center, 9575 State Street, Sandy, UT Wisconsin: 2018 Midwest Tenkara Fest Saturday May 5th - Sunday May 6th, 2018 Coon Valley American Legion, Park Street, Coon Valley, WI California: Mammoth Lakes Cinco de Mayo Tenkara Clinics Saturday May 5th, 2018 - 7:00 AM Mammoth Lakes Area, Mammoth Lakes, CA California: Owens River Fish Outing with Tenkara Workshop Saturday May 12th, 2018 - Oakland Casting Club Brown's Owens River Campground, Benton Crossing Road, CA Utah: Introduction to Tenkara Wednesday May 16th, 2018 - 6:00 PM University of Utah, 201 Presidents Circle, Salt Lake City, UT Colorado: Big Fish Tenkara Clinic at Long Meadow Ranch Saturday May 19th, 2018 - 10:00 AM Long Meadow Ranch, Shawnee, CO Alaska: Tenkara with Deneki Outdoors & Zen Tenkara Friday June 22nd - Friday June 29th, 2018 Deneki Outdoors Rapids Camp Lodge, AK Utah: Introduction to Tenkara Wednesday June 27th, 2018 - 6:00 PM University of Utah, 201 Presidents Circle, Salt Lake City, UT


Oregon: 2018 Tenkara Bug Out Friday July 6th - Sunday July 8th, 2018 Oakridge, OR


Photo: Melissa Alcorn


News & Notes From Around Social Media A new Facebook group was launched focusing on custom tenkara and fixedline fly fishing rods...

A new Tenkara Cast podcast hits close to home regarding our abuse of the environment via plastic consumption... Tom Davis has started a stellar review of the Shimano Maystone 36 NW tenkara rod, with a follow up promised...

Zen Tenkara has released a new "big fish" rod called the Taka. Described as the tenkara 7-10 weight equivalent... The Tenkara Rod Co. successfully "Kickstarted" a new Teton Zoom Rod with over $140,000 from supporters...

Yonah Packs has started selling small tenkara-specific gear bags on Etsy, enough room to support a quick outing...


Photo: Brad Trumbo

Spring 2018