Page 38

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

36

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-

Profile for Tenkara Angler

Tenkara Angler - Winter 2016-17  

Tenkara Angler Magazine chronicles the tenkara lifestyle through entries about community, destination, tactics, gear, and creative essays. A...

Tenkara Angler - Winter 2016-17  

Tenkara Angler Magazine chronicles the tenkara lifestyle through entries about community, destination, tactics, gear, and creative essays. A...

Advertisement