Winter 2016-17 tenkaraangler.com
WINTER 2016-17 2 FROM THE EDITOR 4 TENKARA SCENES 6 THE 2016 TENKARA JAM
10 GILA TROUT SWIM MINERAL CREEK 14 LANDLOCKED SALMON ON TENKARA 22 FISHING THE ADIRONDACKS 24 CHOOSING KEBARI FOR NEWCOMERS 28 THE UGLY TENKARA FLY 30 SUMMER SMALLIES 34 THE LLANO BUG 36 RESPECTING OUR ROOTS
42 TRAVELING IN JAPAN 48 THE MASTER & THE STONEFLIES 54 FOSSILS AND FISH 60 INFLUENCED BY THE MASTERS 64 SEARCH FOR THE PERFECT HAT 70 ANGLING WITH GHOSTS 72 THE INTRIGUE OF TENKARA 74 GETTING LOST IN THE FINDING 76 TRACE RIDGE 78 THE BROOMSTICK 80 NO SUCH THING AS BAD WEATHER 86 THE STORY BEHIND THE TINY TEN 90 WHAT I CONTRIBUTE TO THE TENKARA COMMUNITY 92 FRIENDS OF TENKARA ANGLER 104 CONTRIBUTORS & CREDITS 106 TENKARA CALENDAR
108 #TENKARA Front Cover: Peter Vordenberg Back Cover: Nina Niedermair Logo Design: Nick Cobler
Photo: Isaac Tait
From The Editor Happy Holidays!
Thank you for taking the time to page through this issue of Tenkara Angler. As this magazine goes to publish in late December and the bitter cold begins to hold most of the country in its wintry grip, this is one of the toughest times of year for many the avid angler to handle. Hopefully the chill, or perhaps even snow, won't keep you from extending your tenkara rod and chasing some ﬁsh. However, if it does keep you indoors, fear not, there's some really great content in this issue of Tenkara Angler to keep your ﬁshing ﬂame fueled. We've got some tips on how to battle the elements, some excellent ﬂy tying recipes, strategies on tackling landlocked salmon, and even a suggestion on where to purchase a really nice ﬁshing hat... yeah, that's not a typo. And if that doesn't work for you, well good ol' TenkaraBum wrote an article on catching Summer Smallmouth bass. As if July couldn't come soon enough!
You'll ﬁnd plenty of superb photography and essays as well. I know one will certainly catch your attention, as the author attempts to deﬁne, (or perhaps re-deﬁne), tenkara here in the United States. Controversial? Perhaps... but it doesn't mean you still can't have fun ﬁshing for bluegill with your tenkara rod. As for me... well, it's been fun being the steward of this publication for yet another quarter. In addition to all of the familiar online efforts, I actually got to physically take the magazine to the 2016 Tenkara Jam in Cherokee, North Carolina in October. It was an absolute blast to meet many of you face-to-face. I was certainly humbled by the reception and support for the magazine! So from my home (in sunny Florida) to yours, here's wishing you and your family a Happy Holidays and a safe and prosperous New Year!
Michael Agneta Editor In Chief
Photo: Peter Vordenberg
Do you want to contribute to the next issue of Tenkara Angler? Tenkara or conservation-themed articles, essays, ďŹ‚y tying recipes, gear reviews, tips, tricks, & photography are all fair game!
See www.tenkaraangler.com for more information
Photo: Adam Klagsbrun
Photo: Peter Vordenberg
Photo: Isaac Tait
Photo: Anthony Naples
The 2016 Tenkara JAM Stephen Myers
Photo: Justin Ide
What do you get when you combine some of the most progressive individuals in ﬂy ﬁshing with hot food, cold beer, and the best wild trout streams in North Carolina?
Welcome to the 2016 Tenkara JAM!
The “Tenkara Jam” is an annual event hosted by the Appalachian Tenkara Anglers, a group of over 1500 tenkara ﬁsherman that organize and mobilize via Facebook for one mass gathering every year, led by the group's founder and spokesperson, Jason Sparks. This year's JAM, the 3rd annual, was held
in Cherokee, North Carolina and surrounding waters. I'm proud to say that we had over 170 attendees, six rod builders, and 11 gear vendors attend this year's show, drawing members from as far as Nova Scotia, California, Colorado, Wisconsin, Indiana, Florida, and more. The event featured a “jam” packed lecture series on topics like tenkara 101, focused ﬁshing, minimizing frustrations on the stream, and even how to practice proper catch and release principles. Intertwined between speakers were a ﬂy swap, rod demos, how to’s, gear showcases, mingling, and of course shopping from
walls lined with the newest products from industry leaders. The event ran from 8:00am to 5:00pm on Saturday and 8:00am to 2:00pm on Sunday, serving lunch daily, and still leaving enough time to explore local waters such as the Oconaluftee River, Bradley Fork, Ravens Fork, and many other streams on the Cherokee Indian Reservation and in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
It seems like it’s said every year, but this year's JAM will really be the benchmark of excellence to model future events from. Big camp ﬁres, late nights, new friends, and early mornings on the water set the stage for a terriﬁc weekend. I can't imagine being part of something that brings me more joy than this group of folks. While on the ride home back to Florida, I can't help but to have even higher hopes for next year's JAM, all the while feeling like this weekend passed by in the blink of an eye. This year's JAM was a truly unique experience that I won't soon forget.
Members were asked to share a few thoughts on this year's JAM. Here's what they said:
"My favorite moment was meeting so many nice people and watching a tiny trout leap out of the water across the river." -Ben Giacchino "I liked learning to tie ﬂies and meeting all of the tenkara celebrities." -Hugh Hill "I liked the lack of stuff. I have gone to so many ﬂy ﬁshing shows and been overwhelmed by the gear. I love the simplicity of tenkara." -Kenny Brower "The seminars were very interesting. I always learn something." -Dani Long “Hands down, my favorite thing was the community. Tenkara would not be what it is without the people.” -Joe Deppe “I really enjoyed meeting with folks. It was great to see old friends and meet new ones.” -Anthony Naples, Three Rivers Tenkara “My favorite moment was getting my ﬁrst tenkara rod, then bringing some nice brown trout to hand 30 minutes later.” -William Yowell
Gila Trout Swim Mineral Creek Craig Springer, USFWS
Andy Dean, Gila trout biologist New Mexico Fish and Wildlife Conservation OfďŹ ce, releases Gila trout into Mineral Creek
Wear and tear on boot soles and a helicopter - that's what it took to get 1,033 Gila trout safely placed in the remote headwaters of Mineral Creek, well inside the Gila National Forest of southwestern New Mexico. On November 18, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service working with its partner agencies, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the U.S. Forest Service, released two age classes of Gila trout into Mineral Creek ranging up to a foot long. The rare yellow trout were spawned, hatched and raised in captivity in 2015 and 2016 at the Service's Mora National Fish Hatchery. Hatchery ﬁsh are carefully paired and spawned to maximize genetic diversity of offspring which provides a safeguard for their survival in the wild. The captive ﬁsh also purposely face rigorous swimming conditions in the hatchery to further ensure their ﬁtness when released.
forward in conserving Gila trout, noted Andy Dean, lead Gila trout biologist with the Service's New Mexico Fish and Wildlife Conservation Ofﬁce, based in Albuquerque. “This repatriation into Mineral Creek adds another stream to harbor Gila trout, as outlined as a necessity in the Gila Trout Recovery Plan,” said Dean. “Not only does this add a population within the San Francisco River drainage, it also helps establish Gila trout populations across a larger geographical area. More Gila trout over a larger area adds greater security to this rare ﬁsh.” That desired security will be achieved when the Mineral Creek population is naturally reproducing, and multiple year classes swim its waters, perhaps in 2018.
These 1,033 trout traveled by truck eight hours to meet a helicopter at the Gila National Forest's Glenwood Ranger Station. The aircraft made multiple ﬂights carrying an aerated tank at the end of a long-line, each time full of Gila trout. Biologists from the three agencies had hiked in several miles in the rugged country to meet the trout and place them in the cool, shaded runs and pools of Mineral Creek. Mineral Creek is tributary to the San Francisco River near Alma, New Mexico. Streams in this watershed harbor one of ﬁve known relict genetic lineages of Gila trout. The species lives only in New Mexico and Arizona along the Mogollon Rim, an area of conservation emphasis for the Service. This release is a large step
Gila trout arrive at the treetops over Mineral Creek, Gila National Forest in aerated helitank
Mineral Creek came to the attention of biologists as a candidate stream to receive Gila trout following the massive Whitewater-Baldy Fire of 2012. Destructive as it was, the forest ﬁre made Mineral Creek suitable for Gila trout. The ﬁre burned in the headlands of the stream and summer rains washed a slurry of ash and debris down its course, removing unwanted competing non-native ﬁshes. Though the mountain slopes and streamside vegetation are not fully stabilized post-ﬁre, sufﬁcient habitat exists to harbor Gila trout in Mineral Creek. With so few suitable streams available to repatriate Gila trout, biologists seized the opportunity. Mineral Creek Canyon is steep to be sure. It's certainly among the more remote and more difﬁcult Gila trout habitats to reach, but it's not the only stream to receive Gila trout from Mora National Fish Hatchery this autumn. Another 8,621 Gila trout have been placed in several other waters that advance the species’ recovery and should entice anglers to go after native Gila trout stocked in Mineral Creek, Gila National Forest
trout in native habitats of southwest New Mexico. Willow Creek received 3,039 Gila trout; Gilita Creek, 1,022; Sapillo Creek, 2,270; and West Fork Gila River, 2,290. These waters are readily accessible and won't require shedding lots of boot tread to reach them as is the case with Mineral Creek. These trout—shards of sunshine— lie in dark water behind boulders and in the scour pools beneath log jams, waiting for bugs to come drifting by. They also wait for what anglers may throw their way. Anglers should visit the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish website to learn more about ﬁshing regulations, which requires a free Gila trout permit. The Gila trout is protected under the Endangered Species Act. The species was listed as endangered in 1973, and through conservation measures it was downlisted to threatened in 2006. A year later select Gila trout populations were opened to angling for the ﬁrst time in 50 years. To learn more visit: www.fws.gov/southwest
Top: Nate Wiese, Mora National Fish Hatchery loading Gila trout destined for Mineral Creek Bottom: Gila trout biologist Jill Wick loads Gila trout for dispersal in Mineral Creek from helitank
Top: Andy Dean readies an aerated helitank for pickup by helicopter Bottom: Andy Dean holds a Gila trout to be stocked in Mineral Creek
Landlocked Salmon on Tenkara Bart Lombardo
Landlocked salmon have always been one of my favorite ﬁsh to pursue with a ﬂy rod, so it seemed natural to discover if they can be reliably taken on Tenkara. Landlocked salmon are a freshwater version of the sea run Atlantic Salmon, living in large freshwater lakes instead of the Atlantic Ocean. In the United States, landlocked salmon were originally found in four lake systems in Maine, as well as the Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain drainages. The Lake Ontario population went extinct over a hundred years ago, but the original range of the landlocked salmon has since been extended to over 175 lakes and 44 rivers in Maine alone. Native populations can also be found in Canada, Scandinavia, and eastern Russia. They have also been introduced to far away places such as New Zealand and Argentina.
It is unclear why these ﬁsh choose to live in fresh water. While certain populations seemed to have been trapped by changes in geography over the millennia, others appear to taken to living in freshwater voluntarily as is the case in the four lake systems in Maine. At one time all of these watersheds had access to the ocean before being restricted by dams. Landlocked Salmon will live one to four years in rivers before migrating into
freshwater lakes. They return to rivers and streams to spawn in the fall, and they will often follow smelt, their primary forage, into rivers and streams in the spring. It is during these times that I chase Landlocked Salmon with a ﬂy rod.
In Maine, where I usually target landlocked salmon, they average 16-18 inches and weigh between 1.5 and 2 pounds. Fish over 20 inches are not uncommon. Combine the size of the ﬁsh with their propensity for going airborne when hooked they can be a real challenge to land using tenkara.
If you decide to ﬁsh tenkara for landlocked salmon you need to consider your equipment carefully. Rod choices will have to lean in the direction of those that can handle larger ﬁsh. Many of the streams that harbor these ﬁsh can be quite large so a longer rod is advantageous. I have two rods in my current arsenal that are up to the task. The Ito and the Amago, both by Tenkara USA, had no problem handling these hard ﬁghting ﬁsh. The Amago is a rod that is designed for larger ﬁsh. At thirteen feet six inches in length, it is ideally suited for larger streams and small rivers. The Amago has a little more backbone than most tenkara rods, making it an ideal
choice for landlocked salmon. The Ito, though not necessarily designed for big ﬁsh, proved to be up to the task as well. The Ito is a zoom rod meaning it can be ﬁshed at two different lengths, in this case, thirteen feet and fourteen feet, seven inches, making it perfect for larger water. Of course, these two tenkara rods are not your only options. There are other makers here in the US and Japan that are offering rods that are capable of landing ﬁsh more than sixteen inches. One rod that has been on my wish list for a while is the Tenkara Tanuki 425. Everything I have read about this set up indicates it should work well for these larger ﬁsh; it has the length and backbone to get the job done. Another that comes to mind is the Owyhee model by Tenkara Rod Company. I have not had an opportunity to ﬁsh it, but it is being marketed as a “big ﬁsh” rod. I'm sure there are other tenkara rods out there, that I am unaware of, that would also be up to the task.
The type of line to use depends on conditions, personal preference and the ﬁshing method you are using. Either level lines or furled lines will work well. My personal preferences lean towards level lines because I can easily create the line length I need. In most conditions, I start with a line one and a half times the length of the rod. Under some conditions such as presenting a dry ﬂy, a line length twice the length of the rod can be advantageous. When ﬁshing nymphs with a tenkara rod, I will shorten the length of my system considerably. I may use a line and leader combination no longer than the rod itself. One of the advantages of Tenkara is the extra reach allows for nymphing beyond that of a standard ﬂy rod. In some cases “just because you can, does not mean you should.” On more than one occasion I have hung my ﬂies on the bottom and have not been able to wade far enough out to collapse the rod and grab hold of the line top break off the flies. You should never
attempt to break off ﬂies by applying pressure with the rod. Doing this may result in a broken rod. By ﬁshing a shorter line, you can avoid this problem.
Since casting distance can be somewhat limited by the ﬁxed length of the rod and line, a stealthy approach is warranted. By wading carefully and reducing your silhouette as much as possible, you can easily get within casting distance. Fortunately, landlocked salmon are not as spooky as their trout cousins, but that does not mean you can march right up on them. What this does mean is long distance casts are not needed if you can make a stealthy approach.
Fighting a landlocked salmon will put your skills to the test. This ﬁsh loves taking to the air, sometimes tail walking across the surface of the water. I ﬁnd that dropping your rod tip in these situations usually spells disaster. While the technique may work with western tackle, you never want to point a tenkara rod at a ﬁsh. The ﬂex of the rod is your friend when ﬁghting a ﬁsh. The soft tip of a tenkara rod will usually absorb the impact of a leaping ﬁsh. Lowering your rod tip may result in the ﬁsh running and leaving you pointing your rod directly at the ﬁsh. The best you can hope for with a powerful ﬁsh like a landlocked salmon is a broken tippet. The worst-case scenarios can result in rod sections being pulled apart or a lillian being yanked off the tip of your rod. With even pressure kept on landlocked salmon, they tire pretty quickly and can be brought to hand and netted. I do my best to discourage the ﬁsh from getting into heavy current and running downstream. If this happens your only option is to chase it. You may be tempted to use heavier
tippet when ﬁshing for landlocked salmon, but I don't recommend it. When a big ﬁsh gets into fast water, and I can't follow it, I would rather lose the ﬁsh to a broken tippet than put undue strain on my rod.
One of my favorite ways to ﬁsh for landlocked salmon is throwing streamers at them. Landlocks readily take streamer patterns, as their primary forage include smelt and other baitﬁsh. Fishing a streamer on a tenkara rod is not an ideal situation. Fortunately, landlocked salmon show a preference for feather wing streamers and sparsely tied bucktails. Unlike many streamer patterns, feather wing and bucktail style ﬂies are quite light and are easily presented on a larger tenkara rod. The only difﬁculty I encountered is setting the hook properly. Lighter tippets and very ﬂexible rod tips can make this challenging. Fortunately landlocks slam streamers so hard they usually hang themselves. I have also started tying some of the most effective landlocked streamer patterns as wet ﬂies and have enjoyed success with them. These smaller patterns are very easy to cast. In addition to streamers and wet ﬂies, swinging soft hackles can be an effective method for taking landlocked salmon. Fished as a single ﬂy or in tandem, soft hackles can be ﬁshed upstream or down and across very effectively with a tenkara rod.
Once landlocked salmon return to moving water they take on the feeding habits of their youth and they will readily feed on insect life as well. Traditional nymph, wet and dry ﬂies all work well. When ﬁshing for landlocked salmon in the spring, the ﬁsh are in the rivers following the rainbow
Author's version of a very popular landlocked salmon streamer called the Barnes Special
Emerging Hendrickson Kebari
smelt migration. However, they will also key in on the Hendrickson and Caddis hatches that occur during this time of year. Reversed hackle tenkara ﬂies tied to imitate these two insects can be deadly. Last spring I tied a “Hendrickson Kebari” which worked quite well. Even though it only has one season under its belt I think it will be a keeper. I ﬁshed the kebari pattern as a dropper behind a traditional Hendrickson dry ﬂy, and the kebari outperformed the dry ﬂy two to one.
Are landlocked salmon another species to pursue with Tenkara? Absolutely! Just be sure to choose a tenkara rod suited for them. If you have a river or stream nearby that holds landlocked salmon give them a try.
Emerging Hendrickson Kebari Recipe: Hook:
TMC 101 size 14
Crinkled Zelon color to match natural in this case a caddis tan
Brown pheasant tail ﬁbers
Hackle: Brown hen
An Actual Emerging Hendrickson
Success With A Nymph!
Fishing Tenkara in the Adirondack Mountains, NY Danièle Beaulieu
The Adirondack Mountains are located in the Northeastern state of New York. It is a playground of 2.5 million acres of wild forest with thousands of lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams in all shapes and sizes. The beauty of these mountains is breathtaking. With regions such as the High Peaks, Hammond Pond Wild Forest, Debar Mountain, Dix Mountain, St-Regis Canoe Area and so many more, it will make you come back again and again.
The NYSDEC (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation) is doing a fantastic job of maintaining the Adirondacks as a nice place to ﬁsh by stocking thousands of ﬁsh annually. Sometimes transporting the ﬁsh by plane if they do not have the access by foot. Their web page is the perfect tool to learn everything there is to know about ﬁshing the Adirondacks, and much more.
Both warmwater and coldwater ﬁsh species can be found in the Adirondacks giving you the ability to ﬁsh year round, and several sections of water feature "catch and release" regulations.
With all of this opportunity, the license fee to ﬁsh in NY State is a very good value.
There are plenty of parking lots all along the popular rivers and ponds. It gives you the opportunity to decide if you want to try your luck or move to the next parking lot because you think there are too many
cars. For those with boats, there is also great access to the many rivers. Once you are all set to to ﬁsh, you can either follow some of the more established trails, allowing you to go ﬁshing near your car. Or, if you are seeking adventure or solitude, you can explore some more remote places. If you choose to stay more than one day in the wild forest of the Adirondacks, some areas have primitive camping in which you can bring your own camping gear. Other places have lean-tos suitable for everybody that are "ﬁrst come, ﬁrst served." For those seeking more comfort there are both State and private campgrounds as well. The policy of "Carry in - Carry out" is typically well applied by the people enjoying the area. You should make sure to do so as well. As always, in areas such as this please be respectful of others, and look for the signs of the public and the private land.
All of this is why I feel it is one of the greatest places for anglers to go ﬁsh.
Have fun ﬁshing in the Adirondack Mountains, Fish on !!!!
Public Use Area As soon as you see the NYSDEC big, brown wood signs, you know you are in the right spot to go ﬁsh!
Information/Maps Posted signs will give you much of the information you need to ﬁgure out where to ﬁsh and what ﬁsh you can catch.
Camping Site When you see this sign, it indicates camping is allowed. Be respectful of the area, nobody is going to come and pick up your trash!
Lean-To "First Come, First Served," but you can certainly welcome other happy campers. Sharing the shelter can be fun!
Choosing Kebari for Newcomers Jim Wright
This article was inspired by previous correspondence with new customers. I help a lot of new Tenkara anglers, as well as those new to ﬂy ﬁshing in general. The single most numerous question is, "What kebari should I choose?" "K" writes ...
"Hi, I posted this question in a forum and I haven't gotten an answer (and I suspect why now that I am reading your website)... but I'll ask anyway.
As a new Tenkara ﬁsherman (and a somewhat new ﬂy ﬁsherman), I've always been told to match the hatch. Apparently that's not necessarily the same in Tenkara, and I guess that you don't necessarily advocate that. I'm looking for a "starter kit" of Tenkara ﬂies but I thought I'd need to get them more regionally in order to keep them similar to the local hatches. Is not matching the hatch a hard and fast rule? Thanks in advance, K"
Hi K. Thanks for your query. That is a very interesting question and I hope that I have some interesting ideas in response. I do not consider myself any kind of expert, but a student of trout. A laying on your belly in the mud kind of student. With that in mind, here goes.
A lot of folks ﬁnd choosing ﬂies a subjective topic with hundreds of different opinions, but I do not. Once you
spend time studying ﬁsh behavior including stream trout, as well as "on stream sampling" and examining of aquatic creatures and understanding their role in the aqua-scape, we can clearly see the reason for the approach that I am going to suggest. While it's true that Tenkara equipment and techniques offer a big advantage for close-in (as opposed to distant) ﬂy ﬁshing on streams or ponds and lakes, it's a well established fact that a few well-chosen patterns will up your game considerably. Fish see a lot of the same food items day after day, which vary among watersheds. Offering a kebari or Western pattern of a similar size and coloration of these local "commodity ﬂies", will prove the worth of a bit of streamside sampling.
1. Generally speaking, when ﬁsh are feeding upon a speciﬁc size and coloration of insect, they may not ﬁnd interest in anything else for the duration of what is called a hatch. A hatch is the culmination of the life-cycle of many aquatic insects, of breeding and depositing eggs for the continuation of the species. This is what you would call a "Match the Hatch" situation. I say may not ﬁnd interest, because I have successfully tempted trout with ﬂies other than the ones that are on the menu during a hatch. Something to remember: There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing lures for ﬁshing. There are numerous reasons why a ﬁsh might choose to take one of our patterns, and some of them are only understood by the ﬁsh. But understanding your quarry is the key to successful angling.
2. However, unless you have a very productive stream, most of the time when
you go out, you will not be ﬁshing over an insect hatch. Unless you are lucky or have kept close track of the hatch cycles on your speciﬁc stream, it might seem that you are looking at unproductive water. "Where are the ﬁsh?" In a decent stream, they will be there somewhere, you just need to know where to look. Check out this site for more information of reading water to determine where ﬁsh might hold: http://howtoﬂyﬁsh.orvis.com/video-lessons/ chapter-eight-reading-water
3. So here we have another variable. Where are you ﬁshing. In the mountains? Lowlands, ponds, giant lakes? And, when do you hit the stream? Early morning? Middle of the day or at dusk? Once we know the answer to a few questions like this, we can really zero in on your ﬂy kit needs. Initially however, you don't need to worry much about that. Over time, anglers have found that a few basic colorations and sizes which present at several depths and/or speed of current will sufﬁce quite nicely for many occasions. Your deeper
involvement in angling will likely spur your interest in a deeper examination of your quarry. Then you can begin to discover the ﬁner details which will lead to opening the door to mastery of your favorite stream.
The short story... 3 or 4 patterns in a couple of sizes will get you by quite well.
4. So again, generally you will do ﬁne with four types of ﬂies: First, a ﬂoating one (actually I prefer one that ﬁshes sitting down in the surface ﬁlm, as opposed to right on the top of the water). Second, something that ﬁshes on the bottom sometimes hitting the rocks or silt. Third, a ﬂy that imitates an insect that is either swimming up to the surface or diving to the bottom during hatching and egg laying behavior. Or more often, just being carried along with the current. And ﬁnally, a larger ﬂy that imitates a baitﬁsh, worm, sculpin or large insect.
Now if you wish to simplify even further, in my humble opinion you can easily get along just ﬁne with one type of ﬂy. One that does most of the work in 3, above. And that ﬂy type is a traditional Japanese style sakasa kebari (sub-surface soft hackle pattern).
Because most larger ﬁsh will be found most of the time near bottom, actively pursuing dinner or hiding under obstacles, I prefer a heavy quick sinking kebari most of the time. On a heavy, size #12 Klinkhamer hook, I would give it a wool body. This combination provides a better sink rate when soaking wet. A hackle, preferably from the body or neck feathers of a game bird like a partridge or pheasant. Or, a grizzly domestic hen chicken. And ﬁnally, for the pièce de résistance, a Peacock herl collar right behind the hackle. And please, use barbless hooks!
With this ﬂy in four colors; let's say a Black, Medium Brown, Olive and a Yellow or Cream and making it even more versatile by adding a second size, a number 16, I could fish these flies very
effectively by varying my technique of presentation. In the surface ﬁlm by applying a ﬂoatant, as a hatching insect, as an insect being washed downstream, or as a tiny minnow trying to escape the jaws of death. I could ﬁsh it upstream, down, in fast water, or I could even ﬁsh it as a nymph in deeper water. Why can we get along with just a few patterns? The fact is that most ﬁsh are largely opportunists and don't routinely limit themselves to just one food source. Unless that food source is so abundant that they loose interest in almost anything else (except of course by a big 'ol killer bugger ﬁshed at the right depth... as they say, killer!). Also understand that ﬁsh that live in still water, or low and clear water require a whole different approach (and skill) than those in faster water. The later have little time to examine their breakfast than does the slow pool dweller. The slow water trout have plenty of time to shut the door in your face, while the fast water swimmer only has seconds while braving
the full, energy robbing force of the main current lane.
prefer the soft hackles, you can then be more selective in your choices.
Now you can go either speciﬁc with your ﬂy colors and sizes, or more general. However, if you are new to this, I would go with a mixed selection of my cheap-butgood imported ﬂies, since you are going to loose them while you learn, by throwing them into trees and brush piles, but you are also going to catch ﬁsh in those environments. If you ﬁnd that you like the multipurpose rooster hackle style ﬂies, like the Dr. Ishigaki types, or instead
The ﬁnal, most important piece of information that I can give you, is to plan on ﬁshing for Bass or Sunﬁsh in a pond or lake in advance of your trip. Then when you head for the mountain trout, you will have some tactical experience under your belt.
I Hope that this information helps you. Feel free to write back with any more questions. All the best to you, Jim
The Ugly Tenkara Fly Adam Rieger
I ﬁrst heard of Ishimaru Shotaro through Daniel Galhardo's Tenkara USA blog post... link below:
Eyeless, or you can use your favorite wet ﬂy/ nymph standard hook
Red silk - I used beading silk
Coats & Clark black sewing thread
Hackle: Grizzly rooster hackle
It is a great post. One of the things that struck me was the simplicity of the ﬂy and the "ugliness" of the ﬂy. My tenkara mentor, Adam Klagsbrun, instilled in me the idea that trout like ugly and buggy ﬂies... many of his favorites are Fran Better's ties like the Ausable bomber or the Usual... both hairy buggy ﬂies... and another of his favorites is the Ausable Ugly tied by Rich Garﬁeld - guide extraordinaire in the Adirondacks.
So having said that my leaning, especially as a new tier and new to the sport, was for ugly and simple ﬂies... so off to work to try and ﬁgure out how to tie the Ugly Tenkara ﬂy!
In my search, I noticed a post by the Discover Tenkara guys Paul and John about Shotaro and the ﬂy and voila they had already done the research and had made a very good replica so I got in contact with John Pearson to learn his thoughts on the method...
Here is what I understood him saying to do :)
Select a grizzly rooster hackle and tie in the tip of the feather so it extends up and over the eye at a 45 degree angle. Bind down the hackle to the hook shank with open wraps to the bend.
Tie in a loop of red silk to form the eye. If you would like you can coat the loop with head cement, Hard as Nails or other adhesive to stiffen the loop.
Use the tags of the silk to form a taper in the body and wrap your thread to the bend and then back to near the loop eye. Cut any excess red silk and cover with black thread.
Twist the hackle around your thread and ﬂair out the barbules. Wrap the feather and thread "rope" up the hook shank and tie off near the eye the feather and clip excess.
Wind thread through hackle with zig zagging motion (to not tie down barbules) if you want to build up the body more or further secure the feather. Alternatively you can simply whip ﬁnish that point when you are satisﬁed with the body.
The ﬂy on ﬁrst casting or when blot dried will ﬁsh in the surface ﬁlm like a low riding dry or Grifﬁth Gnat... and then quickly sink as the thread absorbs water.
I oversize the hackle and keep it sparse... I also do not use top grade hackle which I think helps the ﬂy as the feather is less "stiff" and has more action in the water.
Could be its mystical powers but my ﬁrst cast with this ﬂy yielded a very aggressive strike from a small stream brown!
Summer Smallies Chris Stewart
It is winter and what is a tenkara angler to do? I can offer only two choices. One is to go ﬁshing anyway and freeze your Nuggies. (Yes, I know this is a family magazine, but for anyone who may have been offended, “Nuggies” are a type of soft plastic lure used for ice ﬁshing. I can only assume that if you are on a frozen lake sitting on an overturned 5-gallon bucket with your back to the howling wind, your Nuggies are going to freeze.) The second choice is to stay home, tie some ﬂies and read about ﬁshing at a time when the bite isn't frostbite. For tying the ﬂies, you're on your own (although I do have some nice kits to offer). For the ﬁshing, I can offer a tale of summer smallies. Now I am well aware that the tenkara anglers in Japan do not think that fishing for smallmouth bass is
really tenkara. The keiryu anglers wouldn't consider it keiryu either. Nor would the mebaru or the ayu or the kajika or the tanago anglers claim it. They don't know what they're missing! Shakespeare got it right, though, when he wrote “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” What it is called doesn't matter, as long as you get a ﬁshy smile on your face and some ﬁshy slime on your hand. (I had never before realized it, but “smile” and “slime” are anagrams. Now they're forever linked.) For many years now, starting well before I learned about tenkara, my friend Rex and I have been going to a lodge on an island in a lake in Maine for smallmouth bass ﬁshing the ﬁrst week of June. castleislandcamps.com My friend is a spin ﬁsherman, and I used to be. Once I started ﬁshing with tenkara rods and keiryu rods, though, I never looked back. Even with a 6.3m keiryu rod, I can't cast as far as Rex with his spinning rod, but I can certainly cast far enough to catch ﬁsh. The smallmouth bass are in the shallows at that time of year and we fish from a boat,
Castle Island Camps
so we can slowly cruise just far enough offshore to target the bass. Occasionally it is sight ﬁshing to speciﬁc ﬁsh, but we are generally just far enough away and the water is just deep enough that we don't see the ﬁsh before we cast. I often do see the ﬁsh just before the take, though. There's something about seeing a good sized smallie emerge from the depths, slowly swim up to your ﬂy, open its mouth, take the ﬂy and then turn to go back down that is more satisfying than seeing the rapid splash of a trout taking a dry or the subtle line twitch that signiﬁes a trout taking a wet. All three are exciting, but the smallie take almost seems to be in slow motion – the whole sequence lasts so much longer. There's often time to say “Take it!” at least three times before it actually does!
Then the ﬁght is on – and what a ﬁght! Inch for inch, a smallmouth bass will outﬁght a trout. They bulldog like a brown and jump like a rainbow. If you have never caught one, you need to plan a smallie trip! You might not have to travel far. According to the US Geological Survey (the government scientiﬁc agency that deals with natural resources – including ﬁsh), smallmouth bass are found in every state but Alaska and Florida (Mike, you'll just have to move). I have to admit that I am not an expert smallmouth bass ﬁsherman. Although I have caught them in rivers, virtually all my smallmouth bass ﬁshing has been in lakes (and to narrow it down even further, to a few lakes in Maine in the ﬁrst week of June). So with that as a caveat, all I can tell you is what works for me.
I have to level with you and say the list of ﬂies that WON’T catch smallmouth bass is probably the shorter list. At the time of year when we ﬁsh, they're hungry and they'll eat almost anything. I've caught ﬁsh with everything from a very sparse North Country style Partridge and Orange trout ﬂy in a size 12 to a deer hair mouse to a six inch long “Tabory Snake” striper ﬂy in a size 2. Even a fairly small foam grasshopper works surprisingly well. Cast….wait…. twitch….wait….twitch….BAM! My most productive ﬂy, though, has been what I call a Keeper Kebari. It is tied on a size 6 nymph hook (1XL) like a Daiichi 1560. The body is yarn. The Black Killer Bugger yarn has worked the best for me, but I haven't found a color that didn't work. The hackle, tied sakasa-style, is either a large feather from a hen pheasant breast or from a Hungarian partridge ﬂank (the largest feather on the partridge skin). I add a copper wire rib because the bass teeth (very small but very sharp) will catch the yarn and unravel the body without it. Keeper Kebari
Bass are not tippet shy, but you should deﬁnitely heed the manufacturer's recommendation for maximum tippet. You never know when the next ﬁsh is going to be a lot larger than you expect, or when your cast will snag a log just as the wind starts to blow your boat. You can't let out more line so the tippet has to be the weak link. I generally use 5X and do ﬁne, but I check the tippet after every ﬁsh and replace it frequently (bass teeth would make very effective sandpaper and they will abrade a tippet quickly).
I prefer level line, even when ﬁshing ﬂoating ﬂies on a lake. I've used everything from size 2.5 to size 4 level line, depending on the ﬂy and the rod. A wind resistant ﬂy will require a heavier line, as will a stiffer rod, so you'll have to experiment. I've also used the Nissin PALS SP Pro twisted ﬂuorocarbon lines and they work quite well for casting wind resistant ﬂies.
Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori 63
The easy answer to this one is “What rod do you have? Use that one.” However, as with any type of ﬁshing, you really should match your equipment to the ﬁsh. What I have found (not surprisingly) is that longer is better. After all, I'm ﬁshing from a boat on a lake. Overhead tree branches are not generally a problem. Also not surprisingly, given that many of the ﬁsh I catch there are 14-17”, a beeﬁer rod handles them better than a soft, full ﬂex rod. Although I have caught bass with a Daiwa Zero rod, designed for 8” trout and 1.5# test line, with each two-pound smallie I was afraid the rod would break and it didn’t take many ﬁsh at all to realize that continuing to use it was foolish.
My favorite tenkara rod for bass is the Daiwa Enshou LT44SF, but it has been discontinued. Diawa replaced the LT44SF this year with the Expert Tenkara LTH44, which should be an even better bass rod. My favorite keiryu rod for bass is the Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori 63 (although the 53 is a close second – it doesn't have the same reach, but it is so light it is a joy to ﬁsh). Since it's the dead of winter and you have lots of time on your hands (between shoveling snow and thawing pipes, that is), plan a smallmouth bass trip for the coming season. You'll enjoy it. (And if word gets out, the Japanese tenkara anglers will be coming here to ﬁsh!)
The Llano Bug Rob Gonzalez
I learned this ﬂy from its designer Kevin Huchinson at my ﬁrst tying session over twenty years ago. It's a quick, easy tie and can be tied in many variations of colors, size, and materials. This is one of my favorite top water ﬂies for warm water tenkara here in Central Texas.
There are endless color and size combinations of this ﬂy that can emulate anything from a hopper to a beetle. If you tie on a larger hook, vary the foam width accordingly for buoyancy. Flash can be added out the tail if desired. Legs can be barred or more legs can be added.
Foam: Yellow 2mm foam from Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. It can be found cheap in 5 ½ x 8 ½ multicolored packs. (Any color can be used, yellow works well)
Llano Bugs are my go-to ﬂies for top water action in warm water tenkara here in Texas – sunﬁsh and bass love ‘em! They're cheap, quick and easy to tie, and durable.
Tight Lines from Tenkara Texas! 34
Hook: Gamakatsu B10S size 12 (it can be tied at any size – this is my most commonly used size for tenkara) Thread: UTC70 yellow (or any color and size of your choice)
Dubbing: Dave Whitlock’s SLF in Sculpin Olive (or chenille can be used) Rubber Legs: size small to medium, barred or solid. (Can also be barred with a marker) Elk or Deer Hair: Natural or colored; stacked
Glue: Your choice, but not necessary
Steps 4 & 5
Step 1: Prepare the foam by ﬁrst cutting a ¼” wide strip from one of the sheets and tapering one end. Advance the thread to the barb of the hook. Line up the foam at this point where the taper meets the ¼” width and tie down the foam advancing forward to the tip of the foam, then back to the hook barb. Step 2: Spin some dubbing onto the thread and advance all the way to the hook eye. Step 3: At the hook eye, tie down the foam. The foam will wrap slightly around the shank making a curved body from top. Leave the tag end of the foam forward of the hook eye for now. In one motion, pull the thread back over the top of the foam to about on third back from the hook eye and secure the foam again. This forms the head and the thread over the foam will be hidden later. At this point you can use a dubbing brush to brush out the dubbing a little to give it a more leggy appearance.
Step 4: Cut two legs about 1 ½ ” long. (For larger versions of this ﬂy either larger rubber legs can be used or two legs can be left attached together). Attach one leg on each side (length will be trimmed later). Step 5: Use a stacker to align the tips of a small bunch of Elk or Deer Hair. The hair will be tied in above where the legs are, so measure the length of hair from this point to the back of the hook. (The tips of hair wing should be visible from below). Wrap on a small amount of dubbing over the hair and legs tie in point just to clean up. This is also helps splay the legs. Add a small amount of glue over the hair attachment point. Step 6: Remove any remaining dubbing and pull back the foam tag end and tie it down in this same location as the hair and legs. Whip ﬁnish and trim the foam leaving about a ¼” tag end. Pull the rear legs back and trim evenly and pull the front legs forward and trim slightly shorter than the rear legs.
Respecting Our Roots: Making A Case For Modern Japanese Tenkara In The USA Adam Klagsbrun
Fixed line ﬂy-ﬁshing may be centuries old, but as it is practiced today, Tenkara is new. Tenkara is modern. Tenkara is not from the USA - Tenkara is from Japan.
There's been a lot of discussion over the years about what Tenkara actually is, and what the deﬁnition of Tenkara should be. There has also been discussion about what Tenkara is not, and that seems to have created some really interesting, and in some cases intense, dialogue. What perplexes me the most is why some people immediately get defensive and upset about being told that ﬁshing for bass or crappie in local warm water ponds and slow-moving rivers isn't “Tenkara.” My goal in this article is to lay a foundation of understanding, to make a case for why it is important to keep Tenkara from being redeﬁned, and to explain why we shouldn't be the ones to re-deﬁne it here and now.
At this point most of us know the story about how Daniel Galhardo started Tenkara USA around 2009. What many do not know, or have not paid attention to, is how he honored Tenkara’s roots in Japan and did not try to sell it to us as something that it was not. Sure, he added a more minimalist pitch in his marketing, but it made sense, given that from what I recall, the earliest adopters of this sport here appeared to be, in fact, ultralight
backpackers who were largely exposed to Tenkara USA via Ryan Jordan at backpackinglight.com.
What Daniel did was to go spend time with Japanese Tenkara anglers who were involved in creating and naming Tenkara, the people who actually deﬁned it for modern times, in Japan. He asked them questions. He listened to the answers. He watched the anglers. He learned from them. He got the deﬁnition. What he brought and packaged for us here in the USA was very close to Tenkara as it was in Japan, and so began our adventures with Tenkara here in the USA.
Since that point, Tenkara has grown to encompass a larger group of ﬁshermen and a broader range of styles. As soon as there was a market established, other companies jumped in. Many of them became known as “me too” companies some survived by producing great quality products at reasonable prices and attained a permanent seat at the “table” of Tenkara rod-makers. Others did not. A lot of anglers here “grew up” on these rods when it comes to their personal journeys into discovering Tenkara. But there has been a bit of an elephant in the room… Most of these rod companies never looked to the Japanese for anything in creating companies that were selling a Japanese-
designed product for a Japanese sport. Does this make any sense?
While some people may have taken advantage of Oni school, most of the owners of these other companies didn't appear to seek out relationships with the creators of Tenkara the sport, they didn't travel to Japan, but, most importantly, they didn't learn about what a Tenkara rod taper was all about, and they didn't license any Tenkara mandrels from Japan. They still haven't. The result? The result is that the consumers got the short end of the stick. Many of us never learned what Tenkara was, where it really came from, or why any of that matters. Many of them still have never cast a rod that ﬂexes like many of the most popular Japanese Tenkara rods do.
As one example, Patagonia made an early impact of this type, offering not only a completely incorrect taper and action in a “Tenkara rod” but then going one step further to apparently take credit for Tenkara here in the USA. Chouinard
painted a picture of ﬁxed line ﬁshing for his ﬁshing kit that was loosely inspired by Pesca Mosca Valsesiana and Tenkara, without truly representing either style in their kit. He calls it “simple ﬂy ﬁshing.” It is not Tenkara.
This was particularly disappointing, as Patagonia, usually working hard to truly engage locally with their marketing and environmental/business campaigns and to understand what they were getting involved in, didn't do any of the necessary legwork at all. This helped to create a complete misunderstanding within the market, and helped to foster an idea that somehow, anything could be Tenkara. I believe this is just one element of what created a lot of the early anti-tenkara “hate” from other ﬁshing communities online, and is something I'd like to delve into deeper at another time in the future.
It is clear there was no mal-intent in any of this, but the results were less than stellar on many levels, and some may argue that “damage” has been done. I'm glad to see
other companies beginning to put effort into all of this, and I think it will go a long way to undoing some of the damage that may have been done early on. There's more work to do.
But I digress, this article isn't really a history lesson on the Tenkara industry, it is meant to make people think. Furthermore, I truly love Patagonia as a company for many other reasons… I don't bring this up to judge any company or person, or to be negative. I bring it up to paint a picture of how Tenkara began to lose its way here in the USA, and how Tenkara went from a style of ﬁshing to a becoming a marketing term.
I believe that bringing this reality to attention is important, because it has the potential to be dangerous for the knowledge and the future of the sport. If we allow Tenkara to simply become a marketing term to sell rods and gear, not only will we dilute the meaning of Tenkara, but we will all be personally responsible for undoing decades of work that the masters such as Ishigaki-San, SakakibaraSan and countless others have worked so hard to create. Do we, the USA, want to be known for effectively destroying a welldeﬁned niche sport with established teachers & sponsors, established methods and styles, and be happy about that? I certainly do not think so, and I believe most Tenkara anglers here do not want to do that either. Do we?
What is it about? Honor. Honor is important in Japan. Honor is important everywhere. It would surely be dishonorable to have taken this wonderful sport from Japan and to then turn it into something completely different, simply because we don't want to create a new
word for what we are doing now, wouldn't it? I don't see how these shortcuts would beneﬁt us, or the sport of Tenkara here.
We have all advanced to the point where we understand why Tenkara is not cane pole ﬁshing, and how it is not simply dapping. I believe at this point, now, we have ﬁnally gotten to a point where we have learned enough to know that Tenkara also is not ﬁshing for bass or warm water species in slow and still water. There are enough Japanese anglers, facts and history to support this claim. IshigakiSan and many others have deﬁned Tenkara – so yes, Tenkara has a deﬁnition already.
As Ishigaki-San and many of the others have conﬁrmed, Tenkara means ﬁshing for trout in bubbling brooks and raging rivers with some elevation change, using a ﬂy, utilizing a long rod and a very light line. Tenkara is as much about casting as it is about drifting, something I used to incorrectly speak about by saying pretty much the opposite. I am just as guilty in doing damage to the deﬁnition and image of Tenkara as any company or blogger or early adopter who decided to use western ﬂy lines, ﬂoating lines or dry ﬂies.
I didn't mean to dilute Tenkara by pitching bead heads, ultra-short lines and nymphing techniques… but I did - heck, they worked! But I now know more about how to cast correctly, how to ﬁsh a slightly longer line effectively, how to manipulate ﬂies more effectively, as well as more about what Tenkara actually is – and with this knowledge comes new understanding. What follows that for me is just a lot more good old fun while ﬁshing, a lot more success catching the “hard to catch” ﬁsh, a more “zen” attitude on the stream, and a mission to spread this all to others.
Dr. Hisao Ishigaki
Tenkara was deﬁned by the most active, important anglers within the sport at that time, many of whom we know of today. They are the “masters.” The word Tenkara was chosen by this group of existing, established Japanese Tenkara anglers, some of those masters and their teachers, in order to help distinguish between the new western style of Kebari Tsuri (ﬂy ﬁshing,) and the traditional old style with a ﬁxed line… then also called Kebari Tsuri.
Tenkara is not a broadly deﬁned style. It is a niche that was created in order to describe something very speciﬁc something that was evolving both alongside, and separately from, other methods of ﬂy-ﬁshing. So in effect, Tenkara has evolved as a niche within a
niche. It followed a path to that point that helped to deﬁne the techniques and the tools of the sport, and we have barely even begun to scratch the surface of all of this over here in the USA. We are lucky to be exposed to decades, if not centuries, of this knowledge from Japan; lucky to have friends in Japan to teach us the right ways, and lucky to have all found this wonderful sport. So my question is, given these realities, do we, as a community, really want to go backwards in time and re-deﬁne Tenkara as something broader that encompasses all kinds of ﬂy-ﬁshing? Do we really want to promote a train of thought that undoes the very ideas of why Tenkara was deﬁned in the first place? What good would it
serve to be the ones who undermine the very people we are trying to learn from right now? Does this help us, and does this have a positive impact on the sport of Tenkara? Tenkara, as it is deﬁned from Japan, is well established for these reasons - and there is a lot we have left to learn before we are ready to go off and take it to the next level ourselves. For if we cannot ﬁrst fully learn and understand the myriad of techniques and knowledge that has already been accumulated, all we will be doing is throwing that out the window, by letting Tenkara become a marketing term.
In Japan, they deﬁne the ﬁshing style by the kind of ﬁshing you do, not the rod you have. Because of that, each style of ﬁshing has developed its own gear… carp ﬁshing for Herabuna carp is called Herabuna ﬁshing. There are “Hera rods” for that. Chub ﬁshing for Hae in mountain streams is called Hae ﬁshing. Did you know there's a whole category of rods that are sold for this too? The Daiwa Rinfu is one of them. Ayu ﬁshing utilizes insanely expensive and much longer rods, and you use a half of a ﬁsh as the bait. Most of us have heard of Keiryu ﬁshing too, as Chris Stewart has largely been responsible for making people aware of this style and marketing it as its own unique thing - as well as selling the rods to us here in the US.
So I believe that it is time for us to begin to communicate more accurately about modern Japanese Tenkara, to accept its deﬁnition more clearly, to think about using Japanese carp rods for carp, salmon rods for salmon, and calling each method
of ﬁshing by its own name as has already been deﬁned. Maybe it is even time for us to be creative and to make our own names as well. There is no reason that anyone cannot use their Tenkara rod to ﬁsh however they'd like and for whatever species of ﬁsh they'd like to ﬁsh for. But I do believe it is as good a time as any to begin to re-deﬁne that stuff for what it is, instead of pretending that it is all actually called Tenkara.
Japanese Tenkara anglers I have met and watched interviews about have always seemed to say that we in the USA will have a profound impact on Tenkara, and suggested that many of the next great innovations within the sport would come from us here, not from within Japan. I am sure these innovations didn't involve redeﬁning the entire sport for the sake of marketing. Do we not want to make the best impact on Tenkara that we can? Can't we still do that while also, at the same time, creating new names for the ﬁshing we like to do with ﬁxed line rods that doesn't ﬁt the deﬁnition of Tenkara? I believe that we can.
I'm very much looking forward to the evolution of our ﬁxed line ﬁshing industry here, of Tenkara, Keiryu, and of the people involved in it. I'm looking forward to continuing this journey of knowledge among all of you, no matter what kind of ﬁsh you want to catch or what kind of line you like to use. But most importantly, I'm looking forward to doing a better job honoring those from which we took and learned this wonderful Japanese sport here in the USA.
Photo: Isaac Tait
Traveling In Japan Isaac Tait
There is no shortage of information on places to visit, things to see, and food to eat when visiting Japan. However, I like to break away from the crowds and experience a place the way my grandpa used to. When he and my grandma traveled, they preferred to see parts of the country that very few, if any foreigners took the time to ﬁnd. With the crowds' noses buried in guide books or permanently attached to a camera lens, they would slip away down a small alley and stumble upon a world no one but the locals knew existed. I think I inherited those genes. If there are more than two camerawielding tourists, I know I haven't gotten far enough off the beaten track. Now don't get me wrong; since I moved to Japan over two years ago, I have visited many of the tourist hotspots. While they are impressive and beautiful, they pale in comparison to the small towns and seldom-seen places I have discovered by following my nose and just plain dumb luck. The ambiance of these places is truly addicting. Unfettered by the accouterments of too many sightseers, they offer a glimpse into the Japan that I have come to love – a Japan not many foreigners ever experience.
In a country absolutely inundated with natural wonders, stunning vistas, jaw dropping landscapes, and great restaurants, some things fall into oblivion that should not. For example, in the city of Tokamachi is a natural monument that has to be seen to be believed. It was dedicated on June 15, 1937, but now the parking lot is overgrown with weeds and there is almost never a soul at the nearby free campground.
A few kilometers from the city center of Kamakura lies an ancient temple in the midst of a breathtaking cedar forest. Accessible only by foot on an ancient “road” hewn from the hillside (around the same time that Columbus set sail) lies this majestic place only known to the locals. There really is something to be said for ﬁnding your own secret local’s spot on the fringes of the madness that is inherent with the popularity of one of the top tourism towns in Japan.
And then there is the food… The sushi I had at a Michi-No-Eki in the small seaside village of Shimoda was much better than the sushi I had at the restaurant Anthony Bourdain made famous in Ginza Tokyo (and signiﬁcantly cheaper, too). Or the ramen at a tiny Mom & Pop shop at the intersection of the 33 and 92 in Kimitsu, Chiba was absolutely delicious and just as
good, if not better, than all of those “Must Visit When in Japan” places everyone talks about.
I am of the opinion that every Tenkara angler should make at least one pilgrimage in their life to Japan. However, a visit to Japan to pursue Tenkara exclusively would be selling yourself short. Besides seeing the same things on everyone else’s to-do
list, be sure to escape the crowds and ﬁnd your own little piece of seldom-seen Japan. To jumpstart your own exploration, I have compiled a few of my most favorite yet out-of-the-way places that I have discovered. Some of these places are in close proximity to good Tenkara rivers, and some are worth visiting just for the experience.
Seiwa Forest, Chiba Prefecture
This prefectural forest is absolutely stunning. Hundreds of rivers have cut gorges through the bedrock over millennia â€“ the ensuing landscape is tumultuous and astounding - there is even an underground lake! The surrounding area offers some great warm water ďŹ shing for Bass, Bluegill, and Nigoi as well as some great sightseeing and quaint farmers markets.
Jogashima Island, Kanagawa Prefecture
Located at the tip of Miura Peninsula, this island offers a glimpse into the ďŹ shing villages of old. The network of trails, lighthouses, sea arches, tide pools, and even an impressive labyrinth of underground tunnels built during WWII offer a full day of exploration only a few hours south of Tokyo.
Oze National Park, Gunma Prefecture
This National Park actually encompasses four prefectures, but Gunma side is probably the easiest to reach via train from Tokyo. The bus services within the park offer easy access for those who don't wish to rent a car. This park is rife with rivers, lakes, wetlands, wildďŹ‚owers, meadows, and stunning vistas from the summit of its many mountains. The nearby city of Minakami and the numerous mountain villages offer charm in spades.
Grandeco Ski Resort, Fukushima Prefecture
While everyone else is headed to Hakuba or Yuzawa to ski and board, why don't you slip away and travel a few hours to the north? The access to side-country is substantial and the other nearby resorts will keep you entertained for an entire winter! The nearby Kitakata offers some of Japan's best ramen shops. During the spring and summer the area's stupendous rivers are a great place to pursue Iwana and Yamame…
So, what are you waiting for!? Armed with my handy language guide published in the last issue of Tenkara Angler, get out there and go ﬁnd your own piece of Japan that everyone else overlooks. It may be a little intimidating at ﬁrst, but I promise you – you won't regret it.
The Master & The Stoneﬂies Paul Gaskell
Photos: John Pearson & Uberto Calligarich May 2016, Itoshiro. Peak tenkara season in Japan and well over a hundred anglers had gathered for a festival dedicated to tenkara culture, tactics and on-stream coaching sessions. The buzz from everyone there was impossible to resist, and (high on this) we were racing around to catch as much of the event on ﬁlm as possible. While JP was running two cameras to capture another priceless interview, I had one of the best jobs in the world to do… We were surrounded by ice-cold clear streams, the Fuji blossom (or “tenkara ﬂower” aka wisteria) was in full bloom; and people say that signals the very best time of year for tenkara. So this was a great chance to get footage of some very special anglers in action. We’d just ﬁnished interviewing two of the best in the world and I was about to have the privilege of ﬁlming their techniques. The only snag was the success and popularity of the festival! The streams were over-run with anglers happily splashing around and, every once in a long while, someone might catch a ﬁsh. But maybe I should not have been worried, both of these guys standing beside me were incredibly talented anglers… What I am working around to saying is that this is how come, while JP nailed down more interview footage, I got to
spend the afternoon with Yoshiyuki Mushu and Uberto Calligarich; capturing their ﬁshing styles on video. For this article, I need to focus on Mushusan’s tenkara, and I have to say, to watch it in person is just astonishing. But as much as that is true, the effect of his calm conﬁdence and warm personality is every bit as remarkable. It sort of washes off him in waves. His quiet, kind and supremely competent air is the deﬁnition of charisma. A kind and intelligent face shows a hint of a half-smile just below the surface in his
dark brown eyes almost all of the time. Often found wearing a favorite baseball cap and, when ﬁshing, his black, neatlyﬁtting ﬁshing vest adds to an air of compact efﬁciency. There is a strange mix of easy-going – yet at times laser-focused – conﬁdence and humility with Mushusan. It is a wonderful thing. You want to know about his technique? Seeing him go to work, there is no mistaking the ﬂuid casting, poise and surefooted balance of a high-level master. His drifts, line control and ﬂy movement were incredibly impressive…but that is actually only a small snapshot of the story. It doesn't give you the full picture. Instead, you needed to see the whole thing unfold – from the beginning to the end – before you understand what was really happening. For starters, I need to give his demo some context. Mushu-san was there to support the tenkara festival in a very active role. This large gathering of masters, enthusiasts and newcomers was a complicated event. Over the weekend Mushu-san gave many on-stream lessons to lucky groups of anglers. He didn't
(really) have time to spare and, instead, should have been taking some rest between his duties. So you can see how I was incredibly honored that he agreed to let me ﬁlm a one-on-one demonstration of his actual ﬁshing. This was going to be a private audience with him completely in his element, without needing to dilute his ﬁshing with a responsibility to teach. So the river was covered in anglers and a quick discussion over the best options between experienced hands Ubi and Mushu-san saw us heading to a challenging spot – known to hold some larger ﬁsh. As we jumped out of the car and began to approach the river, I realized where the guys were taking me – and it made me happy. Here, a good-sized side stream entered the main Itoshiro River; full of features and attractive, complex currents formed by the combined action of both branches of the river. Since my visits in previous years to this spot, the most recent winter ﬂoods had moved the conﬂuence of a tributary to the main stem maybe 100 yards further downstream. That is the power of these waters. As we hopped off the access track
and walked down a shingle and cobble “beach” towards the place the guys planned to ﬁsh, I was even happier. I recognized the patch of water where a large amago had “buzzed” my own kebari twice a few days earlier without ever grabbing it (sadly it never returned for a third look). But I was about to get a masterclass in how to convert those kind of chances… Even outside the main festival area, the streams were loaded with regular anglers as well as festival students itching to put their tuition into practice. Our planned spot was no exception. A young angler was working the pool that Mushu-san had picked out, with a western ﬂy ﬁsher just downstream. Even more ﬁgures dotted the channel upstream. Ubi headed up there to wait for some water to open up and I followed Mushu-san to see where he wanted to begin. Festival Goods: Hand Carved Shikake Maki
First of all he patiently watched the young Tenkara Festival student ﬁshing in the spot he'd chosen. When the youngster paused, Mushu-san went over to have a short, polite conversation. Then he retreated again to let the student try his luck in a few more spots around the pool. After about 20 minutes, the young man gradually worked his way upstream. Mushu-san strung up his rod (using an orange ﬂuorocarbon level line), short tippet of around 3ft and a large kebari with longish hen pheasant hackle. In all Mushu-san waited and rested the pool for probably 15 to 20 minutes after its previous occupant had failed to catch and left before beginning to ﬁsh himself. During that waiting time, he'd tried just a cast or two in a few of the more overlooked/unusual spots before getting started in earnest. Soon enough though, it was time for Mushu-san to ﬁsh with conviction…and I was in for a treat.
What followed was a complete masterclass. That word is overused and does sound sort of lame I agree. It's just that “Masterclass” is the only sensible word for it. Sliding soundlessly into position and adopting a solid, well-balanced kneeling stance, the ﬁshing machine that Mushusan had morphed into began deftly ﬂicking pinpoint casts to set up a series of sublime dead drifts. His kebari seemed magnetically drawn right along the most “ﬁshy” looking current seams; drag free and helpless-looking. In the next moment he was then working a wicked pulsation through his line on a “one-two” beat – the orange line straight on the draw and then a series soft coils on each “off-beat”. It looked like a rubber band but I knew his line was wiry ﬂuorocarbon. Even so the illusion was not easy to shake. Watching through the viewﬁnder, the closest thing it reminded me of was one of those kids who can do unbelievable things
with a yoyo on a string. That controlled “zing” and a length of “string” that jumps between tension and slack by turns. The bottled urgency that he worked into his ﬂy – without ever allowing it to jerk free of the water – well, that was incredible. These opening tactical plays were followed by a retreat from the water every bit as careful as his ﬁrst, silent, approach. That was both impressive – and vital – for working these productive (and so popular) catch and release streams. You see, C&R is still vanishingly rare in Japan. Even in Itoshiro with the pioneering introduction of it by Shouichi Saitou and the president of the local Fisheries Co-Op – the aptly-named “Itoshiro-san”, there are still many Catch & Kill sections. The much higher numbers of ﬁsh – including more large ﬁsh – make the C&R sections popular. And this, in turn, means those wild ﬁsh see plenty of ﬂies and plenty of angler trafﬁc. So most times, you need to have high level tactics to enjoy success.
That ﬁrst “silent retreat” gave one of the big secrets to success in this situation. It was a ﬁshing version of “crop rotation”…Actively working some areas while resting others to improve them. Because of his regular and astonishingly-nimble stream crossing, I was often crossing the wide, boulderstrewn river myself to get shots of Mushusan facing the lens. Of course, by doing this I couldn’t capture everything that happened during his session – but even seeing what I did was fantastic. It broke down into a complex rhythm of him working (neatly and thoroughly) a feature on the far side of the wide, boulder-strewn channel. Then he'd recross and carefully enter a different spot on the near-side of the stream. Like keeping spinning plates in the air – the rotation around each spot on the pool let Mushu-san work through a deﬁned sequence of enticing manipulations and presentations. That sequence let him act like a head waiter – offering the ﬁsh tempting little options from his menu of presentation tactics. All the while, perfectly balancing each new presentation attempt with sequential resting of all the prime real estate around the pool. For this session, I guess Mushu-san worked a piece of river Maybe 50 or 60 yards wide by around 80 yards long. It is tough to say exactly from memory. From time to time, a swift hook-set and a nice amago or iwana came kicking to the net. Although I was crossing back and forth too to get the shots we needed, I still saw him land at least 3 ﬁsh out of a section that had been CRAWLING with anglers all day. Some really nice-sized resident ﬁsh too (deﬁnitely not the “low hanging fruit”
specimens!). The ﬁrst amago I saw him catch was a beauty and it fought strongly – carving and kiting around trying to get into the faster ﬂow. Maybe this was the ﬁsh that had checked out my kebari and said “nah, try again buster” a few days earlier? So, yes, “Masterclass” is an overused term; but that is exactly what I’d seen – and yet there was still time for the most perfect of endings to the day… As the light became too poor to ﬁlm any more. I stashed my camera in its waterproof bag – along with my tripod – in some bank-side bushes and scurried upstream above the conﬂuence to try my luck in the fading light.
Suddenly, as if a switch had been ﬂicked, there were ﬁsh rising in a slick glide. I quickly strung up my rod and, using Ubi’s “ari kebari” (ant-ﬂy), a fast succession of ﬁsh came kicking to the net – including an incredible rarity for Itoshiro – a yamame. Uberto was even kind enough to snap a picture in the twilight with his phone, thank you for a wonderful memory Ubi! It is worth saying that, in Japan, it goes dark FAST in the mountains. I soon found myself picking a path carefully across the tricky fast-ﬂowing channel and retracing my steps downriver with my headtorch in the gathering dark. I needed to ﬁnd and retrieve my camera bag and tripod before getting back to the car so everyone could meet for a hot springs bath (onsen). Chuckling nervously to myself as I hunted through the undergrowth, I found my stuff and then enjoyed the peculiar thrill of crossing deep, fast water at night. As long as I took my time, I could easily manage the crossing, but by doing that there is
always an undeniably pleasant “giddy” sensation. It feels like ditching class or maybe asking for a ﬁrst date I think.
Looking up into the last of the light, I could just about make out the contrast between dark mountain and paler sky. Above me, an amazing sight; the outlines of hundreds of huge stoneﬂies – big enough to span my palm – steadily nosing into the light breeze.
I stood still, watched and felt utterly alive. Sitting here writing this, I can feel the ghost of that same sensation as it mingles with my excitement for sharing the footage we shot that day – and much, much more in our free online TV program “Tenkara in Focus”. Episode 1 even includes Tenkara Angler's very own Mike Agneta, so check it out!
Fossils And Fish An Dinh
Photos: Peter Vordenberg
I've been planning this trip for years. This was a birthday trip designed to entertain a gaggle of kids and for the kid in me. Blending the interests of wives and children with an opportunity to ﬁsh is a delicate matter. Luckily my kids love dinosaurs as much as I love to ﬁsh.
My ﬁrst fascination with Dinosaur National Monument began in the 4th grade. I chose to do a presentation on Duchesne county because along Utah's far eastern border lay Dinosaur land.
There is an actual dinosaur quarry where kids and the kid at heart can touch actual fossils embedded in rock and walk among dinosaurs. When I was a kid it was still a working quarry for paleontologists but now they no longer remove fossils from the rock in order to preserve the massive wall of fossils for future folks to wonder at.
Every layer of rock dives deeper and deeper into the past. What earned this area national monument status is the juxtaposition of the Cretaceous and the contemporary, with ancient rock erupting to the surface for curious tourists. It's ﬁtting that the Green river slices deep into the red rock cliffs that border the park, each passing year eroding further into our Earth's past.
The city of Vernal, more a town by most people's standards, has come a long way since I was 8 years old.
The fracking boom brought a handful of nice hotels for families and some great restaurants.
Plaza Mexicana with its brightly colored décor echoes of Oaxaca and Tijuana and serves up platos as big as your table. Parents will enjoy the Flint Stone-sized margaritas.
The Vernal Brewing Company is our favorite new addition. Not just because it offers great microbrews that exceed the normal Utah beer alcohol limit of 3.2%, but that they serve greens and herbs they grow in their patio garden. The Cuban sandwich and steak salad pair well with a Little Hole Lager and the Allosaurus Amber. The kids will want to stay for desserts like the giant cookie served a la mode in a 9-inch iron skillet. Afterward the family can stagger across the street to the new Utah Field House to explore exhibits and walk among life-size replicas of the prehistoric locals.
There are many hikes in the park. But, my eye was on the trails that followed the contours of ﬁshable water along the Green river. One of these hikes in the national monument took us along a clear creek full of feisty rainbows.
The kids were troopers on the 2 mile hike down to ancient petroglyphs and pictographs left by the Fremont Indians who once inhabited the area.
Of course, in between wrangling kids I'd slip into the stream and catch a few.
In 1869 when John Wesley Powell's crew camped on this tributary of the Green River it was chock full of giant native cutthroats fed by the rich spring waters. Now it is all rainbows and a few brown trout. A working time machine would be nice.
The park and ﬁshing are good year round. Crowds are signiﬁcantly reduced in the Fall and Winter months making it a favorite area when other areas are too cold to ﬁsh.
Tenkara InďŹ‚uenced By The Masters Jim Tignor
"Tenkara Girl With A Pearl Earring"
"Adam Lands A Big One"
"Creek By The Railroad" 61
Jim Tignor is a regular contributor to Tenkara Angler. Additional examples of his art can be found on various online resources:
A Tenkara Guide’s Search For The Perfect Hat John Vetterli
I have spent the last 8 years in search of the perfect hat for my tenkara ﬁshing.
I have used the ubiquitous ﬁshing themed ball cap, a nice Tilley T3 hat, a Stetson crushable wool cowboy hat, and through all those variations of hats, nothing was “just right”.
So at the end of the 2016 guide season, I found myself again, in search of the perfect hat.
I wanted something with adequate sun and weather coverage. A brim that is not too wide or too short. Something that I
can wear year round from the freezing snow storms of winter to the 100 degree days of summer. I wanted something that sets me apart from every other ﬂy ﬁshing guide.
Fly ﬁshing guides have a kind of generic look. Patched waders, ﬁshing shirts from whatever apparel company that gives them a guide discount, wrap around polarized sunglasses, and a dirty, greasy ball cap from their shop or favorite ﬂy rod maker. We all pretty much look the same. I wanted something distinctly different, something iconic, something with style
and a touch of class that is missing from the guide industry. Most important it has to be a tool that can withstand the rigors of serious outdoor work.
This all may sound kind of silly but when you take a serious look at what you wear on your noggin when you are ﬁshing, there was some sort of decision making process you went through in selecting your hat. Many times it is to identify yourself as a member of a group. You can be walking down the street and see another person wearing a ball cap from any ﬁshing company and you give a nod of acknowledgment to the other angler as you pass each other.
I realized that I have my own identity in the tenkara community, I don't need any piece of product branded clothing to be in the club. I need a serious tool to protect me from the elements, skin cancer, and to be something I will be proud to wear for many decades to come.
That's where Chandler Scott comes in. Mr. Scott is the proprietor and hat maker of Tatton Baird Hatters located in the small town of Springville Utah, located about 1hour south of Salt Lake City, Utah. Mr. Scott is a master hat maker. His shop uses many forms, blocks, molds, and
machines from the very ﬁrst hat maker in Salt Lake City over 140 years ago. These are the very machines and tools that were used to make actual western hats during the years of the old west in Utah.
His shop is doing things exactly as they were done in the late 1800s.
Stepping into Tatton Baird Hatters is like going on a journey back in time when your word as a man mattered, when pride of craftsmanship was important, when things were made to last decades instead of months. This is a harkening back to a time when a simple hat was a necessary tool instead of a fashion statement.
I contacted Mr. Scott in late September 2016 and gave him a rundown of what I was looking for in a custom hat.
1. It has to be durable and able to withstand rain, snow, and the blazing sun of Utah summers 2. It needs to be comfortable 3. It needs to be repairable 4. I want something unique & distinctive 5. It needs to last
I made an appointment to come into the shop and discuss further what I wanted in
a custom hat. After spending about an hour with Ms. Covi King, the shop manager, we came up with a set of proper head measurements, ﬁgured out what type of fur my hat was going to made from, and every detail from the brim width on the front, back, sides, and the shape of the brim, the height of the crown and the style of crown, the height of the hat band ribbon and color, the kind of bow on the hat band, and last but not least, I had a ﬂy most likely tied in the late 1930s from my grandfather's ﬂy box I wanted attached to the hat band ribbon.
and I believe he would be happy to be remembered in the places he loved most.
My grandfather passed away when I was 4 years old so I never had a chance to get to know him.
My hat is a hybrid of a fedora and a western hat. It has the fedora style crown and a wider brim with a subtle nod to a western cowboy hat and the downward curved front of a classic fedora style hat.
He was a true outdoorsman. A hunter, a ﬂy ﬁsher, and a lover of the wild places in the rugged mountains of Utah. It seemed ﬁtting to carry a small piece of his outdoor passions with me when I am ﬁshing/ guiding. It's a personal reminder to me that I come from a tradition of outdoorsmen
So after all that, the process to make my hat was underway.
The fur for my hat was ordered from one of the last makers of hat fur left over from the 1800s. My hat will be made from 100% beaver fur. I chose beaver because it can withstand the elements, it is tough, the hat can be reshaped into different styles over time, it can be repaired if needed, and it just looks damn good.
After another trip into the shop a few weeks later when the fur arrived, leather interior hatband was ﬁtted to my head to insure the perfect ﬁt and the construction of the hat was underway.
Mr. Scott said that it takes about 40 hours to handcraft the hat not including several days during the construction process of heating, steaming, and setting. It takes around 8 weeks from the ﬁrst measuring to a completed hat. In today’s world of instant gratiﬁcation and throw-away mentality, I'm sure that waiting 8 weeks for a hat seems crazy when I can just go to REI and buy a hat for $25.00 right now.
Somethings take time, somethings can only be done the right way by a master craftsman who is patient in his work and exacting in the smallest of details. Somethings are worth waiting for. Even a simple hat.
Finally, the day came when my custom hat was ready for me to come in and pick up. After 8 weeks of waiting, and several years of thinking about what I needed in a hat had come together to produce this one of a kind hat. Every detail painstakingly thought out, every step of the production process carried out with extreme care and diligence with no shortcuts, the one-hour drive to the shop took forever. When Mr. Scott brought out the hat, I knew at that moment, this is exactly what I have been looking for the past several years. The second I put it on my head, I could feel the difference. It fit perfectly,
not too tight, not too loose, it was lightweight, it has a feel in the hand of quality and care of the master craftsman's touch. It is perfect. Many of us in the tenkara community value form and function over fashion. Simplicity over complexity. A direct connection to the ﬁsh unencumbered by unnecessary equipment. Some of us are on a personal journey to discover the history of Japanese tenkara and the culture that surrounds it in Japan. Some want to explore the inﬁnite variations that the simple rod, line, and ﬂy that can be used to catch many different species of ﬁsh in various types of waters.
One of us has just been in search of a good hat.
If you want your own truly custom hat, contact Chandler Scott at Tatton Baird Hatters.
He can be reached at: http://tattonbaird.com https://www.facebook.com/tattonbaird/
Angling With Ghosts Christopher Seep
The Catskills of New York state. If you are a ﬂy ﬁsherman with a sense of history, the Catskills resonate as the birthplace of American dry ﬂy angling. It was here, on the Neversink river, that circa 1890 Theodore Gordon adapted dry ﬂy techniques described by the Englishman Frederic Halford to the particular insect hatches of the Catskills, developing the Quill Gordon, the basis for a brand new class of dries, the Catskill dries. In my humble opinion, this group of ﬂies remains THE iconic dry ﬂy. Although now a dedicated tenkara angler, I remain an incorrigible dry ﬂy ﬁsher and feel a strong connection to the tradition of early dry ﬂy anglers. Recreational angling in that era, as opposed to sustenance ﬁshing, was rooted in the same impulses we feel today on the stream: serenity,
appreciation of nature, the challenge of fooling ﬁsh, and river song. So, when my daughter invited my wife and me to spend a week with her family at the Frost Valley Camp in the Catskills, I was immediately on board. This would be a wonderful opportunity to spend time with two of my grandchildren who live a thousand miles away, doing a host of outdoor activities. When I viewed the online brochure for the camp and added bonus was the three miles of private access to the Neversink which runs through the property. The Neversink! Theodore Gordon's river! The brochure depicted a ﬂy angler waist-deep in the river. I couldn't wait.
A moderate-gradient freestone stream, the Neversink begins as two parallel creeks, the East Branch and the West,
ﬂowing from the heights of Slide Mountain, the Catskills' highest peak at four thousand and some change feet elevation. At the hamlet of Claryville, the two branches merge to form the mainstem Neversink, and eventually the river is impounded in the Neversink reservoir, where it becomes a tailwater, ﬁnally ﬂowing into the Delaware.
Arriving at the camp, I spied the West Branch Neversink for the ﬁrst time, and I'll admit to a bit of disappointment. Instead of that wide river of languid ﬂow shown in the brochure, here was a shallow creek, perhaps ﬁfteen feet wide, one to four feet deep. Unless you are a garden gnome, there is no waist-deep angling in this water. I could have left the waders at home. Perhaps the stream was at a seasonal low, but it did not look like the kind of water that would inspire the development of a new ﬂyﬁshing paradigm. The following day, after having discharged some very enjoyable grandfather duties, my wife and I got on the stream for the ﬁrst time. Surveying the water, I realigned my expectations for the size of ﬁsh I could expect on a stream this size. Crouching, I put my hand in the water; pleasantly cold and as clear as new glass. Parsing the water from an angler's perspective, I realized that all the requisite elements of a trout stream were present, albeit in miniature: rifﬂe water, slow water, plunge pools, and quiet pools. Smooth round cobble, from hen's egg to boulder size comprised the streambed and banks, requiring a bit of careful walking. Opposite from where I entered the water was a natural stone wall, water dripping from faults in the rock, sustaining the most attractive hanging garden of fern and monkeyﬂower.
Closing my eyes, I allowed the surroundings to work their magic, the sound of water ﬂowing over stone as calming as Mother's lullaby. Although late August and yet summer according to Pope Gregory, Mother Nature was beginning to whisper of the coming Autumn: a cool freshening breeze and sparse ﬂecks of crimson and yellow on the hillsides of birch, maple, oak, and evergreens. My wife's graceful casting of her ﬁve-weight completed the angling mise en scene. Now I was ready to ﬁsh.
I extended my rod, attached a #16 Elk Hair Caddis, and began casting to all the promising spots. Moments later, I was attached to my ﬁrst ﬁsh, a four-inch brookie, wild and native to these waters, with colorful spots like gemstones scattered on dark, wet velvet. And so it went for the next few days. Eager brookies ambushing almost any ﬂy presented. Parachute Adams, black deer-hair beetle, parachute ant, EHC, it didn't matter. Finally, in what would prove to be my last hour of angling, I approached the river from behind the horse barn and corral, a dark and attractive wooded stretch, a handsome chestnut whinnying her advice as I ﬁshed, the earthy, somehow pleasant odor of manure in my nostrils. Soon I cam upon a plunge pool, large for this water. If I were going to catch a large trout on this trip, it would be here. Before long, the Parachute Adams I had earlier tied on became waterlogged and refused to ﬂoat. Then I remembered the single Quill Gordon I had tied for the trip, attached it to the tippet, cast to the head of the pool, and was almost immediately connected to what would be my largest ﬁsh of the trip, a seven-inch brook trout.
Caught on Theodore Gordon's river, on Theodore Gordon's ﬂy. Symmetry
The Intrigue of Tenkara Sean Dziedzic
There are quite a few aspects of Tenkara that make it so intriguing to many of us. Maybe it's how simple and ultralight it can be, the culture and history, or something else entirely. Whatever it may be that has drawn you to the sport, you'll be welcomed with open arms from others in the community of Tenkara anglers. One of the major reasons we get such a tight knit feeling on stream is the approachability of these anglers, no matter who you meet, if there's a Tenkara rod in their hand I bet they're happy to help and chat with you. This is something
you may not ﬁnd in other disciplines of ﬁshing, it's about the ﬁsh regardless of whose line it's on. We lay it all out for everyone and want you to make the best choice for you, not the best choice for us. It seems the simplistic and genuine style of ﬁshing has carried over into the hands of the business owners, we all want to have fun on the stream. Whether that means $50 or $5,000, making enjoyable memories is the number one goal. As you progress in Tenkara and delve deeper into the philosophy you may ﬁnd it effects your life in ways other than ﬁshing.
It seems a lot of us have started to adopt a minimalistic lifestyle along with our ﬁshing, everything from living in a smaller space such as the tiny house movement, to trading in our massive amounts of tying materials for a much more concise variety. You may also ﬁnd growing/gathering your own food and becoming more "natural" or "green" to be a side effect; this is completely normal and should be fully embraced. With the winter months coming up Tenkara is the perfect cure for cabin fever. Many rods can be cast in the average living room for practice. Tying your own ﬂies is another great thing to do, even if you've never tied a ﬂy in your life, for a very reasonable price you can get straight to tying ﬂies. This is what really piqued my interest when I was just starting out. Nowadays I tie a thousand or more ﬂies over the winter months. When you ﬁrst get started they may not be pretty but it has less to do with the ﬂy and more to do with the presentation. Some of Japan's most respected Tenkara masters prove this with their "one-ﬂy" method. That could mean ﬁshing identical ﬂies every time you hit the water, or maybe using a
few different colors or sizes for the same pattern. A far cry from a western outﬁt with thousands of patterns to choose from and every angler saying you need every single one in every possible size! There's just something ﬂy ﬁshing that I feel brings you closer to nature, most of us dream of ﬁshing in the beautiful scenery this planet has to offer. For some of us the size of the ﬁsh has never been the top priority though it is very nice landing a monster, but it's more about seeing the ﬁsh and being in the great outdoors. Thankfully that is no longer limited to mountain streams in Japan; there are plenty of anglers all over the world and I believe that foreshadows what a big future we have. This will likely always be a niche sport, but that's okay, it's a fantastic ﬁsh catching tool and incredibly intuitive making it ideal for breeding the next generation of trout hunters! With that being said, you're certainly not limited to just trout. Lots of folks ﬁsh for pretty much everything but trout, I've even seen bass landed on a Tenkara rod. And now we're hearing of some saltwater action as well. The only limit to this great art is your imagination.
Getting Lost In The Finding Anthony Naples
I've heard it said that Pennsylvania is home to more miles of trout streams than any other state except Alaskaâ€” and of course Alaska is over 14 times the size of Pennsylvania so it's hard to feel bad losing out to Alaska in that regard. Of the trout streams in Pennsylvania there are many hundreds that are considered Class A Wild Trout Streams adding up to more than 1500 stream miles of Class A trout water. And this doesn't even represent all the miles of stream that have natural trout reproduction, Class A is only the highest ranking for streams that harbor naturally reproducing trout.
Most of the wild trout water is home to the native brook trout or the naturalized brown trout. With brookies mostly holding sway in the smaller headwater streams. Wild rainbows are not very common in Pennsylvania. I've personally caught them in four streams and have heard tale of them in a few more. Considering the thousands of miles of wild trout streams it's always puzzled me why there are so few with wild rainbows. My puzzlement is compounded by the way wild rainbows have ďŹ‚ourished (sadly to the detriment of the native brook trout) in
other parts of Appalachia like the Great Smokies. I reckon I should consider it a blessing that the situation is so. Our native char have enough to deal with given the constant pressures of habitat loss and competition from the non-native brown trout.
luxury of enjoying them for that same reason. Our modern life is full of these kinds of contradictions - we are constantly at odds with the very things that we love. And yes, sometimes you need to think about these things… and at other times you need to turn off the thinking.
So I should probably begrudge Onchorykus mykiss even the small hold that it has in Pennsylvania - especially considering the mutt strains of hatchery produced rainbows that it must be descendent from and the poor choices made by generations past to stock them everywhere. But somehow I cannot. The ﬁsh are just ﬁsh. They cannot help what they are or where they came from. But because of their rarity they hold a special place in my angling heart and I can allow myself the
So I go in search of these shining silver spotted contradictions, these ﬁsh. I go out of my way to track them down from time to time. I just push the notion that they don't belong here out of my mind and I get on with the business of matching wits with a creature with a brain the size of pea while leaving behind my own swirling thoughts and constant internal dialogue and I try to just get lost in the ﬁnding. And so ﬁnd some peace with the way things are.
Trace Ridge John Yokley
The damage is shocking The trees are all gone The animals too And this was their home Where bears once roamed And the deer were plenty While birds took to ﬂight Now the landscape is empty My sanctuary of nature A place I connected My cathedral of peace That was left unprotected “Selective cutting” “It improves the forest health” Sold to the highest bidder To improve their ﬁnancial wealth
There is no ground cover To stop the ﬂowing mud From pouring into North Mills A mountain with blood I'll never have the pleasure To witness its glory And for a couple of lifetimes Experiences just from stories Of beauty in Spring The trees with their ﬂower The change in fall color And it's calm, healing power I take solace in knowing Because I know they will try No matter their destruction I'll still get my high But all I can hope Is Mother Earth will forgive What I allowed to happen To my beloved Trace Ridge
All politics, and ﬁshing, is local. In my case, I've been blessed with a plethora of "blue lines" to feed my Tenkara ﬁshing passion in western North Carolina. But while my options are plentiful I, like other ﬁshermen, really have only one true home river: the North Mills. I can knock off work or sneak out with dinner still cooking on a Sunday evening and be standing in this river with my line wet within 15 minutes. It's such a soothing reminder that, no matter how bad a day I may have experienced I can, if I choose, ﬁnd some serenity. A few years ago, my serenity was forever altered.
In February of 2014, the U.S National Forest Service announced pending trail access closures in Pisgah National Forest near North Mills River. This was to support the Brushy Ridge Project which allowed for 433 acres of logging to "improve forest health." But the impact to me was the 64 acres designated on Trace Ridge which rises steeply in between the North Mills river and Wash Creek, which also feeds into the North Mills at the ridge terminus. I experienced a grief not
unfamiliar to having a loved one diagnosed with a terminal illness: you enjoy present moment but you also know that, in the not-too-distant future, this time will be gone... never to be experienced in its current manifestation. Later that summer, once the trails were opened, I saw with my own eyes the altered landscape of my sanctuary. And while man is too small a species to permanently & irreparably damage this mighty area with just a chainsaw, my experience in my short time on earth with this area would never be the same. A painful lesson on not protecting that which is dear to your serenity.
I still ﬁsh the North Mills and hike the trails of Trace Ridge every week if not every day. And while I noticed more silt in my ﬁshing holes, I took heart in knowing that the forest would reclaim itself in time. However, on a peak weekend in October 2016, I noticed the Ranger locking the gate to support another round of logging... I guess the forest needed help from man again to improve itself...
The Broomstick Sam Larson
Fall ends too suddenly for my taste. One weekend I'm out slinging dries in a local stream, and by the next weekend winter has arrived. So it goes. I'm left feeling like all I needed was one more good day. This fall I was too busy with the messier aspects of adult life; the work thing, the relationship thing, the money thing. And all the while the last, best days in November slipped away. All too soon there's snow on the ground, ice on my windshield, and mountain streams that are already freezing over. Winter tenkara nymphing.
Well, two things; nymphing and cold toes, but that's just an inescapable part of the experience. It's a chance to pull out the 7:3 rod I call The Broomstick and swing weighted nymphs without shame or regret. Now I am an inelegant nympher, getting the job done without fuss or poise. Gone is the light and subtle cast that drops dries with delectable precision. I muscle my nymph rigs upstream and land them with a plop, a simple arching forward toss into the top of the seam. It's not pretty, but neither is standing knee deep in an iceďŹ lled stream.
I actually prefer Tenkara for nymphing, especially in the winter. I would love to tell you it's because I've done the math, put the time in, and realized some Zen-like truth. Something about line control, presentation, the perfect drift, and the essence of high-stick nymphing. That the absence of frozen guides or reels took me to a new level of angling bliss. I guess it does all that, but I like it because I can keep one hand tucked into my coat pocket and keep casting with the other. But the tenkara rod does offer some beneﬁts. That thirteen-foot rod provides a nice highstick presentation to any ﬁsh ﬁnning along the bottom of the seam. And the rod tip, sensitive enough to detect even the daintiest sips, makes it easier to feel a strike when my hands are cold and stiff. Which is perfect because I miss strikes with my western rod when I ﬁsh in the cold, not even noticing that I have a ﬁsh on the line until I go to toss the ﬂies back upstream.
During the summer you can spend all day leapfrogging other anglers just trying to ﬁnd a spot. But winter ﬁshing, if your state doesn't close down the season, offers an opportunity for some true solitude. In the Front Range it's easy to have the river to yourself for a whole day, even easier if you can sneak away during the week. But of course you're never truly alone. There's always that guy. You've seen him before, wrapped in ten millimeters of RealTree neoprene and a balaclava. On every river, every winter, he's there, somewhere. He's faceless, stalking the only good seam within a reasonable hike of his car, patiently running some triple-nymph rig through the likeliest looking seam. He'll be there in the morning when you arrive, and when you give up he'll still be there, highsticking through the same seam. Perhaps he's ice-locked into the slushy sand he's buried his booted toes in, thinking of warmer climes and unable to walk away from the river.
I do feel an obscure guilt in catching ﬁsh in the winter. I can tell they're tired, recovering from a summer's worth of jangled nerves and pierced lips. Now they're sunk low in the water, eating what the river brings them. They've lost their summer ﬁght. Hooked ﬁsh feel like the dead weight of a stick, a slushy, sludgy pull on the rod. The sight of silver scales rising from the river bottom tells me that I've rousted yet another trout. The accusatory glare from their eye heaps judgment upon me. "It's cold," they seem to say. Unreasonably so, and yet here we are, me in my waders, shivering and with aching toes, and the trout, gasping, hauled from their winter's rest. "Go home," the trout say with a ﬁnal ﬂip of the tail, "Come back in the spring."
Each winter offers another opportunity to tell myself that it's time to hang up the waders and give it up until spring. But the season doesn't close in Colorado and aside from reasons of personal comfort why wouldn't I go ﬁshing? I've wondered what it would be like to have an enforced off season, a respite from the lifestyle. But then Colorado will throw one bluebird day into the middle of February, when the clouds clear, the sun ﬁlls the sky again, and temperatures kiss the 40s. When I can almost count on an afternoon midge hatch and a bare handful of sipping trout. And like a fool who hates the comforts of home I'll drag on my long johns and wool socks and head for the water. Because I'm always on the lookout for one more good day.
There's No Such Thing As Bad Weather, Just Bad Gear! Adam Wilner
Here's an all too common scenario:
I see a fellow ﬂy guy and say, “Hey, wanna hit the river tomorrow!?”
My enthusiasm strikes him as an insane request from a demented fool: “What? Have you seen the weather? What are you going to catch, icicles?” A bit agitated and disappointed, I snap back with some good-hearted arrogance: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear!” Meaning, if you wear and use the right gear, you can ﬁsh comfortably, or at least comfortably enough, throughout the winter. I used to be really quick to offer this proverb whenever a less dedicated angler seems to think I’m the crazy one for wanting to ﬁsh during nasty weather, but now that I’m in my 40’s the cold seems to bite much harder, and, to be honest, I’m starting to ﬁnd myself on the other end of the conversation these days! Still, the point is that if you “gear-up” correctly, the cold should not keep you on the couch. If you’re like me, once you’re wading the river and in the zone, you won’t even notice that you’ve lost feeling in your nose! It’s not that I WANT to ﬁsh in the driving wind, rain, sleet, snow, and frigid temperatures that winter brings; it’s just that I want to ﬁsh, period, and I’m not
Photo: Anthony Naples
about to let the weather completely dictate my plans. As long as the ﬁsh are eating ﬂies, I’m psyched to hit the river and show them what they want. And, believe me; they always want some ﬂies!
So, how do you do it? How do enjoy your favorite stream even when the weather outside is frightful? I hope we all at least know the basics: Don’t wear cotton. Dress in layers. Keep your head warm. Stay dry. But, there’s a lot more to it if you really want to be comfortable. Here are a few tips I picked up as I spent close to 20 years ﬁshing at least once a week every week of the year:
Let’s start with the feet. Some people think that the more socks you wear, the warmer you’ll be; that’s not exactly true. The main reason that your extremities, such as feet and hands, feel colder than the rest of your body is that your body struggles to circulate good amounts of warm blood out to the far reaches of your ﬁngers and toes. So, wear good quality, thick synthetic socks but make sure you have some room in your boots and can wiggle your toes. Since you’re likely dealing with snow and ice, wear wading boots with rubber, spiked soles. Do not wear felt! Felt sticks to snow and you’ll ﬁnd yourself walking on snowballs, very frustrating!
The key to avoiding frozen feet is to keep your waders and boots toasty warm before you get to the river. I like to put them against the heat vents in the car while I drive to the water. Believe me, there's nothing worse than putting on frozen waders and tugging on frozen laces! That's the main reason why I bought a pair of rubber soled wading boots with the BOA lacing system. It's much easier to turn a knob than to wrestle with frozen laces. If your feet feel cold, put your weight on one leg, use a tree or something for balance, and swing the other leg to promote circulation. Do this to both legs, and you'll be amazed how well it works.
The whole idea is to minimize exposure to the weather and to keep your blood circulating. When you show up to the river, frantically take off your street clothes, drudgingly step into frozen waders, and injure your numb ﬁngers lacing up your boots, there's no chance you'll last long out there. You might as well turn back around and go home. So, one of the best things to do is to get changed at home, before you get to the river. Bring your gear inside the night before and lay it all out near a heat vent. If you can remember to do this, it can make a HUGE difference!
In terms of gloves, you need to invest in mittens that fold back to at least expose your index ﬁngers and thumbs. Neoprene is the best for maintaining and retaining body heat in cold, wet conditions, but there are some good ﬂeece options too. Just remember, the softer and ﬂufﬁer it is, the more water it will absorb; you don't want this! Look for ﬂeece that is tight and dense. Some people also wear surgical gloves underneath, but I prefer going a different route.
Here's my real tip for keeping your hands warm on the water - lube. Before you go to bed the night before ﬁshing, rub a healthy dose of moisturizer into your hands. This will lay a good foundation and soften your skin so the petroleum jelly can really absorb. The next morning, rig up your rod, so you don't have to freeze your ﬁngers doing it on the water and so you don't get petroleum jelly on your ﬁshing gear. Then use a good petroleum jelly and really massage the stuff into your skin. I ﬁnd Aquaphor to be the best. If you've had a baby and dealt with diaper rash, you probably already know about this stuff. It's like Vaseline on steroids! Put more on when you get to the water, and remember BOA laced boots
Another crucial tip for enjoying winter ﬁshing concerns your hands. Like I said, the best way to stay warm is to minimize exposure to the cold, but that's hard to do with your hands. You need to tie knots, remove hooks, release ﬁsh into icy water, use tools, and hold a rod, but you don't need to hold any reel / line! With a ﬁxed line rod such as a Japanese style tenkara rod, you don't need to manage a wet reel and line.
to remove it from your palms and ﬁngers so you don't get it all over your gear. This really works; the petroleum jelly act like a glove sealing in your warmth and provides a surprising degree of protection from the water and cold.
If you plan on catching ﬁsh, you'll need a plan for dealing with releasing your ﬁsh. The combination of cold and wet is a killer, and that ﬁrst time you dunk your hands and gloves into the icy water might be the end of your trip. Either you spend all day trying to dry off your glove and regain the feeling in your hand, or you go home. If you need to get your hands in the water, take off your gloves and put them in a dry pocket, release your ﬁsh as quickly as possible, and use a small camp towel to thoroughly dry your hands before putting your gloves back on. This is what I usually do, but one of those catch & release tools that slide down your line and remove the hook would really help keep your hands dry and warm. Another way to avoid the time your hands are exposed to the cold is to prepare the right gear before you go. I've already explained the beneﬁts of putting on your
Photo: Anthony Naples
waders in the warmth of your home before braving the cold, but the same holds true for your ﬂy gear. My ﬁrst suggestion is to use a one-handed, ﬁxed line rod such as the ones used for bait-ﬁshing and tenkara ﬁshing in Japan. These rods are very long (about 12’), surprisingly light and surprisingly capable of protecting light tippets while also subduing large ﬁsh. With the added length, you can reach water and get amazing drifts without wading out in the freezing water too far. You can get rods well over 20’, but anything over 13’ will be uncomfortable to ﬁsh one-handed. With a ﬁxed line, there's no reel. That means you can keep one hand in a pocket where you've conveniently placed a toasty hand warmer (that's another huge tip!). When your rod hand gets too cold, just switch hands; you'd be surprised how easy it is to ﬁsh a tenkara rod with your off-hand, especially if you're just lopping nymphs. These rods are also super sensitive, which helps detect those subtle winter bites. Before leaving for the river, I suggest rigging a soft action tenkara rod for casting dries, emergers, and soft hackles
and a stiff action rod for nymphs. Use the biggest tippet you can get away with as it will be easier to work with on the river with cold ﬁngers. With your nymph rig, less is more! You won't want to be messing around with indicators and split shot in the cold, so use a ﬂy with enough weight. I like tungsten jig-head nymphs since they don't hang up too much. Whatever ﬂies you choose, rig them up before you go. But, what ﬂies should you choose? Don't buy into the misconception that rivers somehow die in the winter. The fact is that life still goes on, even in the dead of winter.
I think some fair-weather ﬁshermen actually think ﬁsh spend all fall squirreling away baetis nymphs in preparation for a harsh winter when they'll hunker down in caves and feast on their caches of rotting nymphs! That's just craziness! Fish need to eat and eat often, especially in rivers where trout only have small bugs to sustain themselves while they constantly swim, often against the current, in a cold, harsh, calorie consuming environment. Yet, too many anglers seem to have the misconception that, come winter, the bugs and bait are transported to another dimension, and the ﬁsh burrow down into mysterious, hidden places where even a stick of dynamite can't disturb their winter slumber. Holding this misconception might give the fair-weather ﬁsherman an excuse to watch football on the couch, but there's just no legitimate reason for not getting out on the river in pursuit of that elusive big one. Have faith that the trout are still there, and so are the bugs! Sure, you're not going to have swarms of pulsating bugs emerging to the surface like you have in
early June, but they're still there. And, yes, some bugs actually hatch in the winter months, mainly midges and blue wing olives, but, depending on where you live, you'll see some much bigger bugs too! Here in Maryland, we have good hatches of black and brown winter stoneﬂies, which can run as big as size 14. The nymphs swim to shore and crawl onto the wood, rocks, and leaves where they often wait for a sunny afternoon to hatch and ﬂutter over the river.
I like to imitate the nymphs with small, black or brown copper johns, and I like to skate an elk hair caddis or work a reverse soft-hackle ﬂy across likely holding areas near the shore to imitate the adults. But, the best dry ﬂy action I ever had during a little black stoneﬂy hatch was when I switched to a size 18 grifﬁths gnat, so you never know. Generally, you'll have your best winter stoneﬂy days on sunny afternoons when there's a rise in air temperatures. Good hatches also happen during those nasty ﬂurries and cold drizzles that keep people indoors. This kind of weather seem
to trigger hatches of blue wing olives, especially in late fall and early spring. I don't know what it is about these little bugs, but they seem to be on every trout's diet throughout the country. A variety of small pheasant tails, soft hackles, and emerger patterns can be used successfully during a BWO hatch, and I have better luck with these subsurface patterns than I do with dries. If I feel the need to go the surface, a size 20 blue / gray, sparsely tied sparkle dun does the trick for me.
You'll also see good midge hatches in the winter. Sometimes these tiny morsels are so small, and sometimes the trout seem to key into a very particular stage of the hatch that it can be really frustrating trying to entice rising ﬁsh. Swinging a tiny, white or black soft hackle or drifting an unweighted zebra midge might be your best bet for enticing rising ﬁsh, but I usually go deep with lots of weight.
Unless I observe a feeding pattern that calls for a surface pattern, I'm throwing nymphs. Fish will make aggressive rises and chase bait during the winter, but I have the most consistent success dead drifting heavily wading nymphs. I like to use the Polish or Czech method of ﬁshing a fast sinking ﬂy as the anchor or point ﬂy and smaller, lighter nymph as a dropper ﬂy. My anchor ﬂy in the winter is usually a worm tied on a jig-head hook. For the dropper, I'll usually rig up a size 20 zebra midge. There's usually never a reason to change this set-up. The takes during winter can be very subtle, so line control is essential. If you have too much slack or you're wiggling the rod too much, you'll never detect a strike. Successful nymphing requires some concentration! One method is to set the hook when you know your ﬂy is in the sweet spot; there's often a
ﬁsh on the other end! If I see ﬁsh rising or notice a decent hatch, I'll collapse my nymph rod and extend my tenkara rod. Using a sling pack easily allows you to switch rods on the river instead of having to re-rig and tie knots in the cold.
The last tip for enjoying winter's wonderland is to bring a small ﬁre kit. I have a ﬁre-starter material and 4 sticks of fatwood just in case I desperately need some fast warmth. That's essentially it. We all have our limits when it comes to enduring the cold, but I think some of us should re-think our limits. I bet you have a gold mine of ﬂeece, wool, and other coldweather gear just waiting to be put to real use on the river. Use it and get out there!
To recap all of the tips shared: 1. Make sure you have wiggle room for your feet 2. Use spiked, rubber soled boots with a “no lace” tightening system 3. Take serious measures to minimize any exposure to your hands a. Lube them up b. Don't get your gloves wet c. Bring a small towel and a handwarmer 4. Gear-up at home before you go 5. Use a one-handed, ﬁxed line rod - tenkara
6. Use weighted nymphs – avoid extraneous gear 7. Have conﬁdence that the ﬁsh are there, and they need to eat! So, in terms of ﬁshing, there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear! If you gear up correctly, you can comfortably catch ﬁsh all year. See you on the river!
The Story Behind The “Tiny Ten” Launch Jason Sparks
I remember a few years back when the buzz about tenkara coming to America looked like a solid business opportunity for many. For every committed and legitimate company that was started, there was a ﬂash of companies that sprung up to cash in on the wave of these rods. Many of those companies operated a short while and then just quietly disappeared. We are not seeing those “ﬂy by night” efforts these days, thank goodness. We have established, honest and serious companies that make up the market. There are still a few new companies from California, Georgia and Colorado that have been positioning themselves to get in the game. Here is the story of the newest one.
As we have seen with many innovative ﬁshing products in the past few years, Kickstarter has provided a platform and marketing tool to get the idea out to the masses. It was in November when the new listing on www.kickstarter.com for a small ﬁxed line rod was announced. This “Tiny Ten” got me curious enough to read and watch it's promotion on the site. The introduction was interesting and I wanted to know a bit more. I tracked down Sam Kates of Tiny Ten and sent an email off to him asking if I could run some interview style questions by him. He was gracious enough to make time for us to talk a while of the phone and we volleyed a series of questions and I'd like to share them with you now.
Jason Sparks: How did you learn about and get interested in the tenkara style of ﬂy ﬁshing? Sam Kates: I ﬁrst discovered tenkara while searching for an end of the year present for getting a 4.0 my freshman year (in high school). I believe I was on the Orvis website when a side banner ad came up for Tenkara USA, and after clicking on it and watching a few YouTube videos if fell in love with the simplicity, uniqueness, and delicacy of tenkara. I've been ﬂy ﬁshing with my dad for as long as I can remember, and our favorite waters in Colorado to ﬁsh are 11 Mile Canyon, the Platte and Arkansas rivers. Our target species are rainbow and brown trout. JS: That Tenkara USA “Amago” rod you got in known as a big ﬁsh rod and typically used on big water. What brought your attention to needing a shorter, more compact rod? SK: About 2 years ago I noticed these small trout that populated the small mountain creeks around my house and instantly wanted to ﬁsh for them. My family likes to do a lot of day hikes and I'd always rather be ﬁshing then simply hiking so the thought of catching these little guys was very exciting. I realized that all the rods I had were too long especially my 13 ft. “Amago” rod, so I initially used a 18” ice ﬁshing pole with an old tapered leader tied to the end of it. The sensitivity of the tip of this rod made these small ﬁsh a blast and their aerobatics are unlike any I've ever seen. I soon realized that the principles of Tenkara would make a perfect rod for these small streams. After moving on from my ice ﬁshing pole, I took the top three sections off of my Amago, put tape over the bottom and used that for a while. That prototype helped me zero in on the ideal length and ﬂex of the rod.
JS: I am sure that after your experiments with rod sections you noticed that a bit more backbone was needed and some length also to make the idea in your head practical. You obviously had a few early prototypes made on your rod design and have tested them. At 1.5 meters extended, 20cm collapsed and a mere 1.6 ounces, you could have had a few made and put them on a shelf for yourself. Kickstarter seems like a serious endeavor for a high school student. Why did launching a company around this seem like a good idea? SK: For me, ﬂy ﬁshing has resulted in some of the most meaningful and memorable experiences of my life. Being out on the river with my dad, simply allowing myself to become fully enveloped by that experience has not only allowed me to strengthen the relationship between my father and I, but has also served therapeutic role of lowing stress and increasing my appreciation of life.
JS: You shared with me when we talked that you will be graduating high school and intend to pursue business and entrepreneurship in college next year. Putting the thought process into place to design and create a company around a passion of yours must feel great. Are you pleased with the response you have been receiving on the Kickstarter campaign? SK: The response I got from Kickstarter was absolutely amazing. The most amazing part in the interest and messages that I receive from people all over the world. I though I would only get pledges from friends and family but instead I got a huge response from people I have never met.
JS: I could surely hear the excitement in you voice about the interest in your “Tiny Ten”. I shared a great deal of information
about the strong support community that the new American tenkara market enjoys. We have incredible supporters in all corners of the US and these brands have gained recognition in other countries also. Your naming of your short rod is “Tiny Ten” with the “Ten” derived from a shortened “tenkara”. Your tiny tenkara rod is a bit more that ﬁve feet long. That is a clever design to ﬁt the niche streams and creeks you frequent. Does getting to your goal so quickly have you considering "the next step" already or are you focused on nailing this ﬁrst effort?
SK: I hope to really just nail this Kickstarter. Needless to say, but this is the ﬁrst time I have ever done anything like this and I just take it at steps at a time. However, I do have the next couple of steps lined out and I hope eventually develop 2 more rods that will still focus on the idea of small water, small ﬁsh, but will be able to target bigger water and ever tighter water, respectively. I would also like to develop a traveling soft case for this rod. JS: After the ﬁrst run of rod stock, do you anticipate be up and running on an e-
commerce site in the future? SK: I hope to have an online store front up and running in the spring simply because that is the easiest way to access my niche market. Because this rod was designed for Colorado streams, I also hope to distribute to local shops here in Colorado.
JS: How about sharing a bit more about yourself please. With high school coming to an end in a few months, what is the plan for the next step in your life? SK: After high school I hope to go on to study business administration & entrepreneurship at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan (go Blue!) I haven't gotten in yet but will get my admission decision in December. JS: Where is one place you would love to go ﬁshing and why? SK: My favorite place for ﬁshing is The Lakes of the Clouds in Westcliff, CO. The stream that runs off of the lakes offers perfect water for the Tiny Ten, while the clear alpine lakes are full of fat lake trout that are ideal for my
Amago rod. Also I once met the actor AnnaSophia Robb once while hiking back down. JS: We talked a bit about micro ﬁshing and the drive that some anglers have for chasing a vast number of species to add to their catch list. What are a few special ﬁsh your would really like to land on our Tiny Ten rod?
SK: I would love to land a golden trout on the Tiny Ten here in Colorado. I also love to hunt Amago and Yamame trout in Japan as well as a Grayling and Marble trout in Slovenia.
JS: You have been ﬂy ﬁshing a while and that you go out with your dad. How do you like that time spent away from the world when you are standing with him in the water?
learn more about the marketplace and hope to contribute sound offerings to other “liked-minded” anglers like our readers. I was very impressed with Sam's demeanor and his desire to listen and learn. Sam wants to do well. Tiny Ten wants to ﬁt into this industry with a sleek tool designed for a speciﬁc target. His wheels are turning at full speed there in his head. With the Kickstarter campaign having ended, I am sure he is already in gear and driving hard toward the next step. I am a backer for the “Tiny Ten” because I want to see him with an opportunity to succeed. I am sure that he will.
SK: Fly ﬁshing with my dad are some of my fondest memories from my childhood. Joseph Campbell talks about “peak experiences” in his book The Power of Myth. This is when you, “experience the harmony of being”. I believe that when I’m alone in the middle of a river or stream and can't hear anything but the river, and am casting to a raising ﬁsh and that is the only thing that exists, I am experiencing a peak experience. I believe the pursuit of a ﬁsh with a dry ﬂy is a holy one. Also being out there with my dad helped me bond with him and also it taught me what is was like to be a man and father.
That is wrapping up out time here with Sam. It was a real pleasure to speak with him. His responses were candid and honest. He was energized to talk about the idea of ﬁxed line rods, tenkara styles and ﬂy ﬁshing in general. He understands that there is a great big world of ﬁxed line techniques, ideas and products out there for him to research. He is very eager to
Here Is What I Contribute To The Tenkara Community Mark Cole, PhD
John Vetterli’s article “What Do You Contribute to the Tenkara Community?” in the Fall 2016 issue of Tenkara Angler (p. 14-19) struck a chord with me. I met John when Tenkara USA had its second Tenkara Summit during the summer of 2012, and I've long admired his work with our injured veterans and other differently abled folks. In his article John raises an excellent point about the artiﬁcial conﬂict between tenkara and western style ﬂy ﬁshing and the rise of elitism. Like John, I was an early adopter of tenkara. Tenkara USA’s web site went live in April 2009 and I purchased my ﬁrst rod, line and ﬂies in early May. I ﬁrst ﬁshed the Yamame on 5/10/09 and got skunked. The ﬁrst ﬁsh came to hand on 5/16/09 and I have not looked back. I think John’s point and warning about falling into the “pit of despair called elitism” is timely. Elitism plagued the sport of ﬂy ﬁshing long before I was involved. The snobbery and exclusivism that is associated with western ﬂy ﬁshing has a long history and that perception, as well as the high cost to participate, has kept a lot of folks out of the sport. Tenkara can change that. The gear cost is a fraction of the cost of a western set up, the casting is far easier and mending is basically nonexistent. The barriers to entry are much lower. The danger within the tenkara community comes from a person or group down playing another's choice of rod, line, ﬂies, waters ﬁshed and the places you travel.
Rods, lines, ﬂies, locations all have room for discussion on the many social media sites devoted to tenkara. What I hope will never happen is people acting like one's choice of rod etc. is inferior to another's selection. This type of discussion can easily escalate and quickly get out of hand with the resulting acrimony turning people away from the sport of ﬂy ﬁshing in general and tenkara speciﬁcally. So far I have not seen much of this type of activity, at least on the sites that I frequent. Discussions have been mostly civil. To answer John's title question - What Do You Contribute to the Tenkara Community? Ten years ago Curt Bender and I started a Fly Fishing Guide Program at the Leadville campus of Colorado Mountain College.
This May-June six week program teaches the fundamental attributes of guiding through a series of college credit courses that include equipment, casting, presentation, guiding, outdoor leadership, small business management, and aquatic entomology. In 2010 we added two days of tenkara instruction. The ﬁrst several years of tenkara instruction were taught by Daniel Galhardo and myself as an ad hoc add on to the program. Today it is included as a regular part of the instruction. Most of our curriculum is focused on western ﬂy ﬁshing as that is what our student guides will most frequently encounter. We decided to include instruction in tenkara to provide our students with the knowledge to successfully guide the growing number of tenkara anglers. This instruction provides the students with the tools needed to introduce, discuss, demonstrate, and ﬁsh tenkara with folks that have never ﬂy ﬁshed or have only ﬁshed western style but are curious about this “newest” form of ﬂy ﬁshing.
Another thing that my wife Judy and I do is offer a tenkara lesson and day of ﬁshing at the annual Trout Unlimited Collegiate Peaks Chapter Banquet held each May. Not only does this raise money for the Chapter, it also provides a tenkara introduction to folks that come from a western ﬂy ﬁshing background. Our last outing with our two auction winners resulted in a Colorado Grand-Slam, catching a brown, brook, rainbow and cutthroat from the same stream on the same day. I for one do not want to see the elitist label applied to tenkara as it has so long been applied to western angling. Tenkara is the perfect way to ﬂy ﬁsh with low costs, simply mastered casting where mending and line handling is non-existent. As John says, “We need to be the best ambassadors of our sport to both those within the tenkara community and those in the greater ﬂy ﬁshing community.”
What are you doing to further tenkara?
Friends of Tenkara Angler
Photo: Isaac Tait
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
Started ﬂy ﬁshing in 2000 and after seeing tenkara at ﬂy ﬁshing show in Quebec, Canada in 2014, she bought 3 rods and never stopped. Fishing in rivers all across Canada & New England, she started a business selling Tenkara rods and accessories called Tenkara Canada.net.
(aka) the TenkaraBum, grew up in Colorado and learned to ﬂy ﬁsh on the small mountain streams that are ideal tenkara water. Now living in NYC, he is the owner, CEO, & shipping clerk of TenkaraBum LLC. He usually can't be found because he's wearing camo.
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.
Jim Tignor lives in Chapel Hill, NC. He is a relatively new ﬁsherman, but seemingly obsessed with Tenkara. Find Jim's prints at: www.jimtignor.com
is a full time husband and part time writer who lives in Mills River, NC. And he's still trying to ﬁgure out how to be as good of a person & Tenkara ﬁsherman as his dog Abby thinks he is...
Adam Klagsbrun is an avid lightweight backpacker from NYC and ﬁshes small streams in the Northeast USA. He authors a blog named "Of Rock & Rifﬂe" rockandrifﬂe.blogspot.com
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. In addition to angling interests, Jim has been a log home carpenter, boat builder, wood carver & antique parts fabricator, forge bladesmith, ﬁne artist, and musician.
After being bitten by the ﬂy bug while vacationing in Idaho, Adam has spent the last 30 years pursuing his passion for ﬂy-ﬁshing and ﬂytying. In the last few years, tenkara and “keiyru” rods have replaced his traditional ﬂy rods as the advantages of these ﬁxed-line rods become glaringly apparent.
is an environmental scientist/writer and ﬁshing guide in Tampa, FL. Born and raised in the Allegheny highlands of Pennsylvania, he is a member of OWAA and TU. He has been practicing tenkara since 2014 and hasn't turned back. He also operates a ﬂy tying company, 411 Flies (411Flies.wordpress.com), where he sells inshore saltwater ﬂy patterns.
Adam works for a wine/sake importer and distributor in NY/NJ. He was introduced to Tenkara by his colleague Adam Klagsbrun and the bug bit him hard! If you are ﬁshing in the NYC area and you see a guy in business casual dress with a bluetooth headset on eating a sandwich and ﬁshing…please say hello.
has been an avid ﬂy ﬁsherman and ﬂy tyer for over thirty years. He was an early adopter of tenkara and ﬁshes for both cold and warmwater species in his home state of New Jersey. Bart is the author of the blog The Jersey Angler, and the website Panﬁsh on the Fly.
is an avid ﬂy ﬁsherman and rock climber. He spent 6 months in Colorado climbing, ﬁshing, and tying for shops such as Charlie's Fly Box. He used both western and Tenkara rods and enjoys both on his home streams in western mass and surrounding areas.
is the founder of "Appalachian Tenkara Anglers," a leading online tenkara community. His drive to grow this movement in the US brought together the one multi-vendor tenkara gathering known as "Tenkara Jam." A Navy Veteran, he has ﬁshed the world in waters from the Azores to the Appalachians.
Paul (along with John Pearson) blog at Discover Tenkara and have a free email tutorial series that teaches tenkara step by step; using building blocks of technique found in western ﬂy ﬁshing. Sign up and receive your ﬁrst lesson www.discover-tenkara.com/subscriber-country
is a professional photographer, writer, joyous father of two little girls, a life-long adventurer, a two-time Olympic athlete and two-time Olympic coach.
Sam Larson lives, ﬁshes, and writes in Colorado’s Front Range. In addition to Tenkara Angler, he is a co-founder and contributing author at Blue Lines (www.bluelinesﬂy.com).
Mark's favorite tenkara rod is the Tenkara USA Sato which provides the ﬂexibility needed to ﬁt the conditions he encounters in the high country of the mountains around Leadville, CO. Recently he has experimented with building his own dry ﬂy lines and sakasa kebari style dry ﬂies.
Based in Western Pennsylvania, Anthony has been a voice in the tenkara community since 2009. His blog, Casting Around, features tenkara themed stories, poetry, and original art. He is the proprietor of Three Rivers Tenkara, US seller of Oni, Tanuki, & Tenkara Times rods
Originally from Los Angeles, an area nearly devoid of rivers, Isaac Tait pulled up roots and moved. Now he chases Amago, Iwana, and Yamame in the magniﬁcent keiryu of Japan. When he is indoors he spends a considerable amount of time sifting through words to try and describe what he has experienced in the wild places of both the world and his mind. FallﬁshTenkara.com
is a physician, ﬁlmmaker, and ﬂy-ﬁsherman. Not necessarily in that order. He shares stories and images on PocketWaterFishing.com.
oversees external affairs for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southwest Region.
Rob Gonzalez is an avid ﬂy tyer and Tenkara angler from the central Texas Hill Country. For the past few years, he's been at the forefront of promoting Tenkara statewide. Join him at www.facebook.com/groups/TenkaraTexas
John Vetterli is one of the founders of Tenkara Guides LLC. My story? I like to ﬁsh with my friends Erik and Rob. Yea, that's about it.
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 upcoming events posted to the site are listed below, however please feel free to visit the website to submit and publicize your upcoming tenkara or conservation themed initiatives, or simply learn more.
History of Japanese Tenkara Rods
Saturday, May 20th, 2017 Catskill Fly Fishing Center, Livingston Manor, NY Miyoshi Shiozawa, who is the chair of Tenryu Company, will speak about the history and design of tenkara rods. He has been involved in making rods for nearly 70 years. His latest designed tenkara rod is the most modern, and has gained attention from the ďŹ shing industry around the world.
Photo: Peter Vordenberg
News & Notes From Around Social Media Karel Lansky recently posted about an Italian adventure in September with Vito Rubino in search of Marble Trout...
Tenkara "Waza," an online series of videos featuring Dr. Ishigaki are coming soon to FishingVision.tv... "Tenkara Kid" by Mark Steudel is in the running to win Rio Products' Amateur Film Contest - Now go vote!
Tenkara Tanuki is up to some mischief! Look at the size of this xTreme 175 prototype rod posted to Facebook... Zen Tenkara's Paul Vertrees gives a peek behind the scenes of the design of the ďŹ rst American tenkara rod...
Have you read "The Wintertime Blues," a 2013 publication by Anthony Naples recently re-released via Issuu...
Published on Dec 20, 2016
Tenkara Angler Magazine chronicles the tenkara lifestyle through entries about community, destination, tactics, gear, and creative essays. A...