Tenkara Angler - Fall 2016

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Fall 2016 tenkaraangler.com















Front Cover: Isaac Tait Back Cover: Rob Lepczyk Logo Design: Nick Cobler

Photo: Isaac Tait


From The Editor Thankful for Fall...

Thank you for taking the time to page through this issue of Tenkara Angler. Fall is upon us. It's arguably my favorite season of the year. The changing colors of the leaves, the crisp air; "sweatshirt weather" finally sets in across the country. If you're into fishing for trout, the falling temperatures also make for some excellent opportunities to get back out on the water and target some trophy fish as they move back into the shallows to spawn. Just watch your step and don't over do it. Allow them to do their thing...you know, so the next generation of trout can do theirs... That noted, I feel we've got another excellent issue of Tenkara Angler ready for your consumption. There are some really interesting articles about technique, destination, and travel as well as the usual creativity on display through featured artists and works of fiction. We even have our first tenkara "romance" story. Who'd have thunk it?

As we're now publishing our fourth community sourced issue, I wanted to make special note of (and give huge thanks to) Adam Klagsbrun and Anthony Naples, for making contributions to each issue to date. Appreciation is not the word! I'd also like to give special recognition to Isaac Tait for providing many of the wonderful photos found within the pages of this issue. In assembling this magazine quarterly, I've found that crisp, highresolution photos can be tough to come by. Isaac always provides them in spades, not only to supplement his articles, but others as well. Thank you Isaac! With that, I'll simply close by thanking you, the Tenkara community for all of the positive feedback, contributions, and support of this project. This remains your magazine and you should be proud. Please enjoy the Fall 2016 issue of Tenkara Angler.

Michael Agneta Editor In Chief




Photo: John-Paul Povilaitis

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

See www.tenkaraangler.com for more information


Brookies (& Tigers) & Beer

John-Paul Povilaitis Rob Lepczyk



Lunch Break Tenkara Adam Rieger

I started Tenkara fishing only two seasons ago and came to it with almost zero western fly fishing experience. Needless to say, the addiction took hold very quickly! It is now all consuming…I am not sure if it requires a 12 step program or it is healthy.

One of the first signs of the ”addiction” was during office hours, my constant studying of Google Maps in terrain mode to find small “blue lines” to hunt brook trout. I would find potential places and desperately want to check them out, but family obligations (wife and two young children, 6 and 3) gave me very few weekends free and well, working for a living was ANOTHER big time suck away from fishing!

Then it struck me – epiphany! – with Tenkara’s telescoping rods, a minimal set of tools and flies, AND one hand free to eat a sandwich – I should just go fishing during lunch break. After all, I had an hour break – so if I could find options within a 15 minute drive I could easily fish for 30 minutes!


To maximize time, the fishing would not include any wading, all shore casting, and a strategic use of shoes that could both pass as “business casual” and perform good in dirt. Also, carrying a stiff brush in your car and one of those shoe sponges helps clean you up super-fast!

So it was time to go back to Google! I studied the maps and isolated first the “circumference” of the search area based on time to drive there. I then looked online to see if there were any “stocking” reports in any of these zones to get an idea of what species if any were there. I also checked various fishing chat groups to see what people were talking about. I am somewhat fortunate that I live in the suburbs of NYC in what is called the Croton River watershed. Almost the entire river network (which flows into the Hudson) has been dammed to form reservoirs for drinking water for NYC. The State of NY stocks the tail waters and the reservoirs

extensively with fish. On the “unfortunate” side, the “prime spots” are not within the 15 minute drive circumference, but I was able to find a few – B or C level spots to fish for trout. One happy discovery came when I least expected it, I was on a play date with some fellow friends with kids at this playground park that had a pond. We decided to walk around the pond. On that walk I clearly saw tons of panfish and some largemouth bass. I then bumped into a fisherman with his son who told me that the town stocks the pond every Spring with 12-inch Rainbow trout for a “Kids Fishing Derby” in early May. The pond is off limits for fishing the few weeks prior to the derby but after it opens up. To my amazement this May I caught several even larger rainbows in this pond so either they stock some larger or there are some holdovers.

Anyhow…the moral of this story is keep your eyes peeled! Be open to it all… Continuing with this theme of keeping your eyes peeled…recently TenkaraBum issued a “streamer” challenge where one winning spot was based on the most species caught on a streamer with a fixed line rod…and so I decided to combine that challenge with my lunch fishing outings. After getting the easy species in my regular spots I came to realize if I was going to really compete I would have to go small…this opened the door to micro fishing…and a ton more water! With micro fishing in the mix I started to look at every little puddle and every tiny creek as potential water…and sure enough in many of these places there were tiny fish. Catching them was certainly not the “battle” of your life but they are indeed very challenging to hook.


Adam's Checklist for Lunch Break Tenkara Car Gear:

In the Center Arm Rest Compartment: Zimmerbuilt Strap pack with tippet, nippers, forceps, small tin of flies. 3 line spools. 15foot floating line (my popper friend), level line (2 spools – short and long).


I only started to carry this for the Streamer challenge as I have to take a photo... otherwise I would just release waterside. (Optional)


Tenkara USA Iwana 12-foot, a good all round rod that I bought used when I first started; we are good friends. The rod has enough back bone for warm water larger fish if I get lucky! I also carry a Kyotaki 18 which is a very small short rod that I use for tighter spots and for those small fish in very small water “puddles.” Of course as an “addict” I have other more “cherished” rods that I don't bring because I do not want to leave them in my car with the sun getting the car really hot in the parking lot. I am not sure if that is a risk or not – but I don't want to find out so I mention it for those looking to try out some of my tactics.



Photo: Isaac Tait

A Niche Within a Niche Within a Niche Chris Stewart

I almost entitled this article “The Next Big Thing is Little” but calling micro fishing the next big thing may be a bit of a stretch. Micro fishing is still small. Fly fishing for micros – micro tenkara – is smaller yet. Still, interest is increasing, as witnessed by the recently established Tenkara Micro Fishing Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/ 170155970075953/ Fishing for little fish is not new. Dame Juliana Berners wrote in 1486 that you should fish “for the Menowe with a lyne of one heare” [one horsehair]. I am sure it is older than that, though. People have been fishing for little fish ever since they realized that a little fish on a hook could catch a big fish. Fishing for little fish solely for sport isn’t new either. Tanago fishing in Japan dates


back at least as far as the Edo period (1603-1868). For that matter, even fly fishing for little fish (which really is the niche within a niche within a niche) is not new. While the first written record of what is now called tenkara was in 1877, the first written record of Japanese fishing with artificial flies was two hundred years earlier! One could argue that it wasn't tenkara because the fish were chubs and dace rather than trout and it wasn't in a mountain stream. I have no desire to argue about what is and what isn't tenkara. My point is that fly fishing for micros is not new. A micro, by the way, according to the two guys who coined the term “micro fishing,” is a fish that fully grown does not reach a pound in weight; but I have no desire to argue about that, either. There's a guy I know, although only online, who as near as I can tell fishes only for little sunfish.

A Bluegill Sunfish can reach well over a pound, so according to the purists, it isn't a micro. I'm not a purist and to me a little fish is a little fish. Whether it is a micro or a baby macro, I don't really care (and neither does he). However, I will freely admit that catching micros other than sunfish is more interesting - unless you catch very rare sunfish, like perhaps a mud sunfish or banded sunfish, which in New Jersey you can't legally fish for and in New York if you happen to catch by accident you can't legally photograph. There is one term that I would define pretty narrowly, though. If you happen to catch a micro while fishing for trout or bass or other big fish, it's not microfishing. Microfishing, to my way of thinking, is specifically trying to catch micros. Thus, Coach's splendid common shiner in full breeding colors doesn't qualify as microfishing. He was fishing for trout at the time.

Although Coach's common shiner was caught on a size 12 fly, and I have caught several micros on size 12 and 14 flies, if you want to catch micros I would strongly suggest a smaller fly. Although I have caught baby smallmouth bass with a size 32 Stewart Black Spider, I would guess I've had my best luck with a size 20 bead head Black Killer Bugger. It is about the right size to represent any small nymph and the bead helps to get it down to where the fish are. If you are sight fishing, which I often do with micros, the gold bead allows you to watch the fly, and to watch it disappear as a fish takes it. I have done quite well with size 26 Killer Bugs also (even if they are blue, as is the one shown in the photo, taken by a creek chub during my Blue Fly Challenge in 2013). Really, just about any really small fly will work for many micros, and will take much larger fish as well. Common Shiner


Size 26 Blue Killer Bug

Miyako Brookie


The chance for larger than expected fish can be a potential problem for micro fishers. On the one hand, you would want to use a rod that is soft enough and delicate enough to allow you to feel the fight of a 3” fish. On the other hand, though, you would want to use a rod that will not break if you hook a fish that is larger than you expect. I truly thought my Shimotsuke Miyako tanago rod would break when I hooked a six inch brookie. It didn't break but I know of a guy who broke his twice, once when he hooked a potential state record warmouth and again when a 12” bullhead ate the micro he had hooked before he had a chance to get it in. I no longer carry the Miyako although I do still carry a Nissin Gokoro tanago rod. Many new micro fishers choose a Nissin Sasuke or Shimotsuke Kiyotaki, either of which may be overkill for a 2 incher, but they should survive the unexpected 12 incher. I often suggest a Suntech Kurenai, which to me is the nicest rod that can be used for both micros and trout. That said, you can use your current tenkara rod, and I would much rather you start micro fishing with the rod you have than not start because you think you have to buy a new one. One nice feature of the Kurenai is that it can cast a very light line. The lighter the line, the more likely the strike of a micro will register. I am pretty sure that hits that would cause a size 2.5 line to twitch wouldn't even show with a heavy furled line. I would also go with a light tippet. The flies are small and the rod is delicate. You might hook a much larger than expected fish. When fishing for micros, my heaviest tippet is 7X and I often use 8X. Micro tenkara has been on the fringes for

Size 26 Pheasant Tail Nymph

some time now, but it is coming into the mainstream. It is fun, it is challenging and it is convenient. There are micros (or at least “little fish”) in just about every body of water that doesn't dry up in the summer or freeze solid in the winter. You almost certainly have places to fish close enough that you don't have to plan a weekend or even a full day just to wet a line. All you have to do is use your most sensitive rod, your lightest line, your smallest flies, and be satisfied catching your smallest fish. Do it very much and you'll almost certainly catch fish you've never caught before. You'll almost certainly catch fish you've never heard of before! That's part of the fun of it. I won't say trout are boring, but catching something you've never caught before and then trying to figure out what you've just caught is intriguing and is a large part of the attraction of micro tenkara. As with tenkara in the early days, the guys who pooh-pooh it are the guys who haven't tried it.


What Do You Contribute to The Tenkara Community?

John Vetterli Tenkara Guides LLC

Now that is a loaded question isn't it?

Back in 2009 Tenkara USA was launched and the beginning of a small yet humble revolution within the fly fishing industry was afoot.

Back then, there were no resources of any kind in English and the resources in Japanese were beyond our understanding because we had no experience base to draw from and make any sense out of the information that was available. It was a difficult period in tenkara outside Japan, yet it was full of optimism, hope, and exploration.

There was a single internet forum page on Tenkara USA’s website where all of us were hanging out sharing ideas, experiences, asking questions, it was really cool. Everyone involved was shaping a new sport, industry, and culture.

Now, seven years later, tenkara is firmly established worldwide. There is an actual industry outside of Japan consisting of


multiple rod companies, vendors, accessories and gear makers, destination travel resources, and professional guides. From its humble beginnings of a few fly fishing misfits to a complete industry is quite staggering when you look at how young this sport is outside of Japan.

How did this happen?

It evolved because of the passion and excitement of everyone involved in the sport. The use of various social media platforms in the past few years has made it explode.

There is a double edged sword to this massive expansion in such a compressed time frame. As our collective experience has grown, we are on the edge of falling into the pit of despair that has plagued western fly fishing for several decades. It is called Elitism.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying, using, and thoroughly enjoying a


quality built tenkara rod that costs $95.00. Anyone that jumps on Facebook and belittles another angler’s choice in a moderately priced tenkara rod truly represents the worst character our community has to offer.

We all develop personal preferences as our experience grows and deepens. I'll be the first to admit I have an affinity for really high performance tenkara rods. My personal favorites are the Oni family of rods. There are a few reasons for this. Masami Sakakibara is my teacher, mentor, and a true friend. I have had the honor of fishing with him a lot over the past few years. My casting style developed in a vacuum just like everyone else's has outside of Japan. The first time Masami and I met, I realized that my casting style was very similar to his. Learning from him was easy. In fact, it was second nature for me to quickly adapt to his teaching. So, since I have a natural affinity to my teacher's style and method, using the rods he developed to match his style and methods really feels good to me. And I'll admit, these rods have a real sentimental value to me. It's something that came along with buying them out of the back of his car in a parking lot next to the river in Japan.

truly enjoy tenkara.

So, knowing myself and my love for things that perform to the highest levels, I try to be cognizant of the audience I might address when it comes to certain questions.

Being one of the owners of the first professional tenkara guide company in the world carries with it another level of responsibility. That is to nurture and grow new tenkara anglers into experienced tenkara anglers. That comes along with the territory. We get clients all the time that bring their shiny new entry level rod for their guided trip and they are so excited to learn how to use it. The worst thing I could do is tell them that the rod they purchased is a piece of crap.

I also really like Nissin rods. For some reason, I just like them. I can't put a finger on the exact reason. I just do.

Just because the rod they have is not something I personally might use, it does not make their choice wrong or irrelevant. First rule of being a professional tenkara fly fishing guide is “don’t be a dick.”

I also like some more moderately priced rods from domestic vendors such as Dragontail, Tanuki, Badger Tenkara, and the Tenkara Bum Suikei 36. There are really high quality rods that are available. You don't have to own a top end Japanese rod to

Being members of not only a community but a culture, we all share a similar obligation. Elitism is the poison that has the potential to consume not only an individual tenkara angler but also the entire community. There is the form of elitism regarding the gear you


use, the types of waters you fish, or the places you travel to. And the elitism of “tenkara is so much more effective than western fly fishing.” Mix those things together and you have a really volatile cocktail of arrogance, ignorance, and division.

Through our business Tenkara Guides LLC, I spend a lot of my time interacting with the much wider audience of the fly fishing industry. That includes both tenkara and western fly fishing.

Here is a revelation I want to share.

There has always been a rift between western fly fishing and tenkara. In the early days of tenkara, there was a lot of criticism and hostility tenkara anglers faced from fly fishing anglers on the water and from local tackle shops. You mentioned the word tenkara and you were pretty much openly

ridiculed on the spot.

That made our little fledgling community pretty punchy and hostile. There were a lot of social media posts put out there on both sides that drove that wedge deep and wide. We were really good ambassadors within our own community and not necessarily the best outside our community.

The western fly fishing world is now reeling from the tenkara community's version of tenkara vs. western fly fishing elitism. Believe me, this is real, its damaging, and it does nothing but hurt both groups.

This is the chasm that currently exists. The western fly fishing world is on the verge of openly accepting tenkara. The only thing holding it back right now is us. It's no secret that fly fishing has been on a steady decline for the past 15 or so years. Photo: Steven Speckman


Tenkara is the shot in the arm this sport needs. It's relatively easy to learn the basics, the cost of entry is typically less, and it's fun.

The same thing happened in the ski industry back in the early 1980s. I grew up in Park City, Utah, one of the premier ski destination resort towns in the world. I was a part of this ski revolution that occurred in the 80s.

Skiing had become a sport of the wealthy. The gear was expensive, the nice clothing was real expensive, lift tickets are prohibitively expensive, and it's difficult to learn. The ski industry was elitiizing itself out of existence. Then came the snowboarders.

We were a bunch of kids that were not constrained by the rules of civilized ski society. We started out in the backcountry snowboarding big mountains, deep powder, and having a blast on a snowboard that cost $150.00 and a pair of Sorel winter boots with old ski boot liners in them. Quite a contrast to the $900.00 skis, $300.00 bindings, $600.00 boots, $125.00 ski poles, $1,200.00 Bogner one-piece ski suits, and $75.00 lift tickets.

Snowboarding took about 10 years to be openly accepted as a part of the ski industry and sport. In the early days, snowboarders had to have a “chair lift certification” card to buy a lift ticket. A lot has changed in the past 30 years. Snowboarding started as a fringe sport that ended up bringing skiing back from its inevitable decline. It wasn't an easy road but now people enjoy both disciplines. The most difficult decision for many skiers is, “do I take the snowboard out


today or the skis?” Fast forward a couple of years and tenkara has proven it belongs in the spectrum of fly fishing. It has carved its place and it is here to stay.

Now more than ever, we as a culture of tenkara anglers must be aware that now we have a place within this wider fly fishing culture, and we must learn how to better integrate ourselves and our sport with the longstanding traditions of western fly fishing. Many western fly anglers want to try tenkara but they are hesitant to jump in because they fear a backlash from the tenkara community because they came from the “other” discipline.

It all boils down to basic human decency and respect for all anglers that want to enjoy time on the water. It doesn't matter if you like fishing for bluegills, bass, trout, whatever. It doesn't matter if you use a spinning reel, a bait casting reel, a fly reel, or no reel. What matters is that we as a tenkara community take a big bold step and be personable, friendly, and accepting of every fishing discipline we encounter.

Everyone deserves the right to enjoy their fishing. It's not up to you or me to dictate to them which method is superior or what gear is superior.

We are not all that different. When you break it all down into its most basic components. It's just trying to catch a fish with a stick, a hook, and a string.

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.

Photo: Steven Speckman


Tenkara Tribe Poe Paddy Roundup 2016: Day 2 Rob Lepczyk

In the last episode, Day One of Poe Paddy Round Up 2016, we arrived Friday morning, drank beer, got lost on dirt roads, fished, drank more beer, set up camp at Poe Paddy State Park on Penns Creek in Pennsylvania, then fished more, then we settled in and partied by the fire for hours.

The rain started at 4 am Saturday morning. It woke me up when it pitter-pattered on my camo hammock tarp. When we all arose, it was still raining. Some of us woke up before others. Coffee was brewed, and plans were made. While avoiding the rain and nursing our hangovers, Charlie hatched the bright idea to go into town for breakfast. At first we resisted, but broke quickly.

We, Charlie, Navigator, JP and myself, drove out on the dirt roads around 9:30 am, in search of potatoes and eggs. It was still raining. We just sorta’ ended up in Millheim. But, success! We found good coffee and homemade English Muffins. Charlie got an extra treat, a favorite guitar player of his


wandered in with the rest of the band to get breakfast. Charlie admitted he knew they lived there and was hoping he would see them. This is also where the idea of the Rat Skin Canoe was hatched. What was initially a caffeine induced idea to clean up the cites of America of its rat problems, we figured hipsters would buy the Rat Skin Canoes due to the weirdness.

Wandering down the street, we found what became a favorite of TeamRatskinCanoe, Penns Valley Meat Market. This was like stepping back in time, and we loved every minute of it. We bought them out of peppered jerky and smoky beef tips and headed back to camp. We got sidetracked on the way back. Little Poe Creek got in our way. We spent hours wandering the stream, I won't try to describe it, I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story...



"Brookies & Beer For Life!"


How Can Being A Tenkara Geek Change Your Life? Words: Paul Gaskell Photos: John Pearson & Paul Gaskell

Something struck me today. Isn't it amazing just where in the world being a geek can take you? In my case, I somehow found myself with fellow fishing nut John Pearson in the mountains of Japan eating a fish (whole) and fumbling my rookie Japanese phrases – all while being filmed by a local TV crew. Which is pretty far-fetched by most peoples’ standards (and yes, they subtitled both my English AND Japanese speech in the broadcast)…

You might already have seen the following quote by Simon Pegg (thanks Anthony Naples for reminding me by posting it on Facebook recently!). In case you don't have


it memorized it goes like this: “Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It's basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.”

When it comes to tenkara, I know exactly what he means.

Of course, there is a huge role of plain ol’ blind good luck in all this too. But being passionate about tenkara beyond all rational limits – and not being able to help it – does seem to toss amazing things your way. Our route to Japan for the first time is one example… It started when British angling journalist Jon

Beer (who is a VP of the trout conservation charity I work for) phoned me with a curious request. Jon had been contacted by someone (Steven Wheeler, a really great guy) that he had previously chatted to about a net that featured in one of Jon’s articles – but that is not so important. The real point is that Steven spends some of his working life in Japan and he'd had a fishing lesson from a Japanese teacher. The teacher in question was interested in visiting England for his first time to fish tenkara and had contacted Steven to see if he could help him out. So Steven asked Jon Beer for help, because Jon had written an article about tenkara in Trout & Salmon Magazine (I hope you are following this... the payoff is coming, I promise).

Now Jon cheerfully admitted to not really knowing too many fine details about tenkara (his article featured fascinating letters and tackle he had been sent by another Japanese angler and also an account of Jon's enjoyment when fishing with his tenkara rod). But he certainly did know how much I'd been yammering on about how

awesome tenkara is whenever we'd done any work together through the Wild Trout Trust. Which is how I came to be chatting with Steven. Who casually got around to mentioning the name of the very nice chap who had given him a fishing lesson, some flies and a rather nice hand-carved spool. And that is how we came to host Dr. Ishigaki for 10 days in England in 2013. All that happened through a combination of blind chance and being “Really, Really Into Something”. A geek. During his stay with us, Dr. Ishigaki invited us on a return visit to Japan that he would organize, oh and he'd set it up so we could spend time with Masami Sakakibara and a whole gang of what turns out to be some of the best tenkara anglers on the planet. Amazing. I still can't believe it even now.

Now, before I get to describing the fishing and try (and fail) to give you a small taste of


the unique vibe of fishing a Japanese tenkara stream, I want to tell you why I had no business going to Japan.

It really should never have happened.

You see, my first response in my head to the invite was “Amazing – but what a bitter pill to swallow because I can't go”. I did not have the disposable cash, my young son had a hard start in life with his epilepsy and we were just getting into what turned out to be a year-long struggle to move house (while my partner was pregnant with our second son).

But here's the thing. Because of the amazing support from my partner (huge thanks doesn't really do it justice) and because I decided to keep my old car on the road and put off the (sensible) update and because we could make do with holidaying at home with our young family – I began to think, maybe it is possible? What would happen if we could offset some of the costs by publishing the stories of our trip? How about documenting our discoveries on video? Nah, that would never work.


The thing is, that requires a pretty big blind leap of faith. You need to suspend disbelief. You have to trust that it will “probably work out OK”. And that is even before the huge amount of support that you need to help you navigate the language barrier, geography, fishing permits and accommodation bookings in the strange and wonderful country of Japan. So, there is a massive debt of gratitude owed on top of the crazy good luck to even meet the series of people who had given us that opportunity.

This is the reason that www.discovertenkara.co.uk can even exist to share the stories and techniques of tenkara in Japan. Just geeks, kindness and good fortune…

I hope it is obvious, then, how overwhelming that feeling of good fortune becomes when you experience Japan's tenkara rivers, the beautiful fish and the amazing camaraderie of the band of “tenkara nuts”. These are the folks who drive anywhere between 4 and 14 hours across the country to gather for a few days, maybe over a weekend, to fish, eat and drink together.

I get why they do it though. The cool, clearblue waters flowing in and around the rocks and big, smooth boulders are just impossibly perfect. Go Ishii tells me that Japan has more than 20,000 streams like this that you can tackle with tenkara gear. That means you could fish a different one every single day for 54 years with no repeats. I love the atmosphere and the character of these rivers and streams and the word “privilege” is really the only way to describe how it feels to fish them.

Even the way the streamside vegetation smells when the sun warms it in late spring and through summer makes me happy – which is extremely weird. The scent? In all honesty, the closest thing would be skunk (!) – and I don't think I will ever get over the novelty of river banks that are covered in dense bamboo thicket… The Oriental reed warblers that flit and “chu-chuuk-churra” between the stems complete that scene and define the setting for me.

Then there are the fish – the different kinds

of iwana (some rare native strains survive in spite of widespread stocking of the “nikko” variety of iwana), the yamame and amago. I love the slightly arched back and chrome, reptilian head of the more mature males of these last two species. They just look so exotic and prehistorically wild. It is also completely addictive to work out the characters of each fish in different streams. Yes, iwana from different streams tend to behave more like each other than they do compared to either amago or yamame…But the iwana in some streams seem much more “lazy” than others. OK, lazy is not the right word, they sometimes seem to need the fly to travel downstream reeeaaallly slowly though and that gives them a kind of “don’t work too hard” character in my mind's eye.

Did I say that it is very common to need to present the fly slower than the true dead


drift? The steep gradient of the streams means that, without weight, your fly would often be swept downstream too quickly to make an easy meal for the fish. This is one of the reasons that so many named presentation techniques have evolved in Japanese tenkara. You see? My inner fishing geek wouldn't know something like that (not “bones-deep” anyway) unless I'd had the stupid good fortune to see it and talk about it with the amazing tenkara addicts (kei-kyo-jin; “mountain crazy people”). What is really cool is that these tactics work so brilliantly on my home rivers – and of those in different countries outside Japan that John and myself have fished too. It turns out that knowing many of these things completely changes the way that you view rivers, their character, features and ever-morphing current-structures. Did you know that Masami often waits until a favorable swirl of current “blooms” in the right way before


dropping his fly into it? More stuff that means nothing to the fishing “nonaddict”. Perhaps there is something that anyone with an ounce of soul (angler or not) could appreciate and has a similar quality of satisfaction? Maybe the feeling of fine drizzle at dusk on your face, sitting in a volcanic hot-spring “onsen” pool looking out across a darkening, forested valley with the dull, reassuring thud of your heartbeat in your chest? That you can sit there, scalding water up to your chin, after already showering to remove the day's grime won during a tiring day of wet wading and catching perfect fish from perfect water… Well that might just be the finest feeling on Earth.

And without the realization that “yeah, I'm a geek for this stuff”, you could never have experienced the good fortune and kindness of strangers that put you there. That's worth celebrating in my book.

Photo: Isaac Tait


Conversing in Japanese Isaac Tait

Perhaps you are planning a trip to Japan, or maybe you are just interested in the Japanese language to help you harvest information from the complex Japanese worldwide web. Whatever the reason Japanese is a fascinating, yet distinctly different from English language to learn. With well over 2,000 characters in three different alphabets called Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji it is no small task to undertake.

Asking Questions in Japanese

While I am hardly an expert, I have put together a little of what I have learned here in Tenkara Angler. My goal for writing this article is two-fold. First, I would like to spark an interest in those, who prior to reading this, may have had little to no interest in the language and perhaps even the country of Japan. Secondly, my overall goal is to assist those with an already developed affinity for Japan and its language get off on the right foot.

For example:

I believe that every Tenkara angler should make a pilgrimage to Japan not just for the fishing but to immerse themselves in another culture. Too many of the problems currently facing the “west” today, I believe could be easily resolved with a little perspective, grace, and respect. Something that Japan, its people, and its culture can offer in spades.

So without further ado, let's dive right in!


In the English language if you come across a “WH” word it typically indicates that the sentence is a question (e.g. Why, Where, When, What, etc.).

In the Japanese language if a question is being asked the character “か か ” pronounced ka will be appended to the end of a sentence.

- Daijobu desuka? (Are you okay?) - Anatano namae wa nandesuka? (What is your name?)

Please Note: desu often precedes the ka, but not always. When it is, the pronunciation is “des-ka” The U is silent.

Toire wa doko desuka? “トイレはどこですか トイレはどこですか“. While this is the correct English way of asking the question “Where is the toilet” it is infrequently (almost never?) used in Japan. Instead they will just say toire “トイレ トイレ” pronounced “Toy-re” with a question inflection.

Whole and complete sentences are not the norm in Japan, something that took my English speaking brain a while to wrap itself around. In that regard it is a very efficient language.

Intro to Correct Pronunciation of Japanese Words

A common English mistake is to pronounce the Japanese with English consonants and vowel sounds as it is written.

For example:

Onigiri “おにぎり おにぎり”. The well-loved rice ball food, is very often mispronounced as - “O-ni-gear-ee” The correct pronunciation is - “O-knee-gee-ree” (make sure to make the ree sound with a hard almost D sound too) The city where I live 横須賀 横須賀 (Yokosuka) is often mispronounced “yo-ko-sue-ka”. This is incorrect, it is pronounced “yo-kos-ka” Again the U is silent. The city Asakusa in Tokyo is pronounced “A-sock-sa” Noticing a pattern yet? 9 times out of 10 the U will be silent (especially when it comes at the end of a word) but not always. I tend to pronounce the U silent first and if I get a blank stare I try adding in a subtle U sound.

Counting in Japanese

In English there are very few counters – one, first, single. While in the Japanese language there are hundreds of counters for everything from beer(s), people, paper, and even farts! Knowing all the counters is probably impossible, as some are fairly obscure and hardly used. If you use the wrong counter (something I do frequently) no one will understand what you're asking. The most important counter to know is the tsu counter as it works pretty well for anything you might need to communicate an amount for. In the chart below are just a few of the counters that I use regularly. There is a counter for swimming fish, captured fish, deboned fish, fish cut into chunks, fish wrapped for sale in a supermarket, and fish cut into bite sized pieces – to name just a few (and I won't list them here, because it's confusing I think).


Beware of useful phrases that many “helpful” sources will try and teach you. Japanese is not a romance language (meaning it is not based on Latin). Therefore, the language's grammar and sentence structure is totally different from English. This makes the translation process often times very messy.

Keep your questions/remarks short, simple, and sweet - and you will be fine. Most of the time what you are asking or talking about is readily apparent by the context of the situation.


You are standing next to a river with your Tenkara rod and you ask another fisherman “つりチケットどこですか つりチケットどこですか“ Tsu ri chiketto doko desu ka which when translated literally means “Fishing ticket where is?” However, it is understood to mean “Where can I buy a fishing ticket?” If you tried to ask the question in perfect English, but translated into Japanese, you could say something like this: Doko de tsuri no chiketto o kōnyū suru koto ga dekimasu. But, after all that work they would almost certainly look at you with a blank stare, uncertain what the heck you were trying to ask. The list on the following page is a few helpful words that I use almost every day. These words make most daily interactions go pretty smoothly. Whether it be at the train station, the convenience store, or on the trail if you know these few words you'll be able to get through many interactions with as little awkwardness as possible.


Notes for Use

If you accidentally bump into someone Sumimasen (excuse me) will often suffice. If they are in obvious pain, you bumped them pretty hard, or they are much older than you a Gomen'nasai (I am sorry) will go a long way. This is pretty common interaction, especially during the morning rush hour. There is no need to preface Wakarimasen (I don't understand) with a Gomen'nasai (I am sorry). While it sounds right in English it is a tad too formal for day to day Japanese. Prefacing the (Wakarimasen) (I don't understand) with a Sumimasen (excuse me) is best. Onegaishimasu (Please) is very formal/ polite. I tend to use it when requesting the check after dining - O kai kei onegaishimasu (check please) Kudasai (please) is more common for day to day interactions e.g. when they offer to bag your food at a convenience store.

The Intricacies of the Japanese Language

One of the more confusing Japanese words that I hear all the time is So-so. My research has turned up that a lot of Japanese people, when they say this word, believe that they are actually speaking in English. For example: “How was work today?” “So-so”

“How are you today?” “So-so”


From this you could deduce that the word So-so would mean more or less okay, undecided, or eh (with a shrug of indifference). Basically what it means in English (which is, incidentally, some Japanese speakers intent).

my Japanese from women (not that this is a negative thing but my friend seemed to imply that it was). I guess it is the valley girls equivalent of ‘like’…

However, I have also heard the word So-so used in such a manner that it would imply that its meaning is It is! or That is correct. For example: “So, this is where we are going to camp tonight?” “So-so” “Is that an Iwana?” “So-so” Things get even more confusing as the Japanese for So-so would seem to be まあま まあま あ . Obviously, this does not match the pronunciation (if pronounced as it is spelled it would be Maa Maa). To further add to my confusion when I search for the definition of まあまあ it takes me down a whole other path まあまあ of meaning.

When I first moved to Japan I intended to speak, read, and write very good Japanese by the end of my second year of living here. With that anniversary rapidly approaching it is with a little regret that I feel I am a long way off from this goal.

I have been living in Japan for 18 months and I'm still not sure what the word means, because depending on who I ask I get a different answer… So I don't really say it very much. --During a pleasant day of skiing with one of my female Japanese co-workers I came to discover another Japanese word: Ne. This word is used as an exclamation of agreement. However, it is a distinctly female word. I was told that if I used it too much when conversing in Japanese, that Japanese men would assume that I learned



Languages have never been my strong suit, and the Japanese language can be very confusing at times. Still, I have not lost my original infatuation with the language. I love to listen to native speakers and imagine what they are saying based on the context of the situation; their intonation and facial expressions is a lot of fun to absorb. Slowly but surely with tenacity and grace I hope to one day hold my own in day to day conversational Japanese. Until that day I will just bask in the cordiality and understanding of the Japanese people while I fumble for my iPhone.

Authors Note: I have compiled a lot of helpful information, that didn't fit here, on my site http://www.fallfishtenkara.com/information/learning-Japanese/ Alternately, you can navigate to “Fallfish Tenkara” and click “Info” then scroll down to “Learning Japanese”. I would be remiss if I did not give a hearty thank you to David Walker for his extensive assistance in compiling helpful resources at Tenkara Fisher, which I have utilized in creating this article. His extensive compilation of some very helpful information is a great resource for anglers, of any discipline, planning a trip to Japan or just for further study of interested individuals. You can find a sampling of his useful information at the aforementioned link above.


Tenkara In The Last Frontier Paul Vertrees Photos: Paul Vertrees and Shawn Larson


I recently traveled to Alaska with tenkara. It was epic. In a way, I really don't know how to begin to tell this story, because the whole experience was so big, so successful, and so perfect! It was a trip to a place that has left an indelible mark on my soul, because Alaska has a way of getting under your skin. I suppose I should start at the beginning, as most good stories must.

I have dreamed of visiting the north since I was a boy, spending many nights sitting up in bed with a flashlight propped against my right shoulder, reading about the north country in Jack London's White Fang and Call of the Wild, which took place in the Yukon, but could have happened in Alaska just as well. The fact that I've always been drawn to wild, lonely places filled with wild fish only pulled me closer to making a trip to Alaska, but it took until the summer of my 53rd year to put everything together and head out.

Many things converged to make this a special trip, but it couldn't have happened the way it did without two things...a good traveling partner and some folks on the ground in Alaska, who served as my hosts. I was blessed with both, and that made all the difference.

My good friend, Shawn and I are nearly twins. If viewed from behind, you probably couldn't tell one of us from the other. The two of us, on a full stomach, soaking wet and fully clothed, wouldn't tip the scales to 300 pounds. We both eat like maniacs, live life to the fullest, and we hit the trail and the water the same way. We're both slightly over 50 Colorado natives with a love for backpacking, hunting, and most importantly, backcountry fishing. Shawn and I have

hunted and fished wilderness together in the Colorado Rockies off and on, and he was the one person I knew who would jump at the chance to go to Alaska. I took a welldeserved week-long break from guiding tenkara trips for Royal Gorge Anglers here in my little town in south-central Colorado, and Shawn was wrapping up a six-week sabbatical from his work in financial and retirement planning. He had just returned from a fly fishing trip to Iceland, and I had wrapped up a very busy week on the water of the Arkansas River in Bighorn Sheep Canyon, and on tiny creeks in narrow canyons. It was time, and we had some of it. Alaska would wait no longer.

My man on the ground in Interior Alaska, Mike, is a fellow backcountry hunter. We share the same love of foot- and paddlepowered hunting of game, both big and small. We also belong to the same hunting and fishing conservation organization, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA). Mike is doing work as the interim state chairman for Alaska, and I serve as the Pike National Forest representative here in Colorado. After a year or so of corresponding, we finally met in person at the national BHA Rendezvous in Boise, Idaho, back in 2013. In the years since, Mike and I had talked many times about my hypothetical future first visit to the Last Frontier. Mike has extensive knowledge of Interior Alaska in and around the central and eastern Alaska Range, which contains some trophy grayling fishing. Based on seven years of solid tenkara experience here in Colorado and elsewhere, I felt that tenkara would be challenging, but very effective. What I didn't realize until we arrived in Alaska was how


absolutely perfect tenkara is for arctic grayling, how completely suited for the streams and upper reaches of rivers in the Alaskan interior it is. Mike was a godsend, and I can't thank him enough.

Any extended fishing trip over great distances is much more affordable and fun with a traveling partner. Shawn and I split the cost of shared expenses like ground transportation and lodging. Since we would be camping for most of this trip, we only required lodging for the first and last nights (the only days we would have a hot shower too!). Our surprisingly uneventful flights from Denver to Seattle, and from Seattle to Fairbanks landed us in Fairbanks at around 1 AM. After picking up our rental Jeep, we were on the road east, following the Tanana River in near-dark along the Richardson Highway. Bleary-eyed, we reached Delta Junction and our room at Fort Greely (I was eligible due to my retired military status) at around 3:30 AM. We couldn't really see anything in the way of scenery on the drive from Fairbanks to Delta Junction, because it was the middle of the semi-dark night, but we did manage to see a cow moose and her calf along the highway near North Pole, and a porcupine waddling along the shoulder at Birch Lake. After checking into our room, we caught up on sleep for a few hours, and were ready to travel south later that morning.

My friend, Mike, is the sort of guy who goes out of his way to make you feel at home. After checking out of our room at Fort Greely, we drove a few miles to Mike's house on the north side of Delta Junction, which is the terminus of the Alaska Highway, and the crossroads for interior Alaska. Delta


Junction is a “big town” by rural Alaskan standards, with a population of around 1,000. Mike's wonderful wife, Christy, had prepared a huge pot of caribou chili, and we sat around the table talking about our trip and wolfing down the chili and pilot bread. Christy also loaned Shawn and I a copy of Milepost (THE Alaska travel guide), some maps, several field guides for Alaskan plants and animals, and a blueberry picker. The blueberry picker was an ingenious hand-held contraption used to skim the berries off the tiny branches and twigs of the blueberry bushes. We would learn later that Christy's comments about the proliferation of blueberries on the tundra were an understatement! Mike would accompany us south to the Alaska Range, and we would camp there together along with Mike's hunting partner, Gary. Mike and Gary were hunting caribou and moose on subsistence tags, so our basecamp would support both our fishing and their hunts.

As we drove south from Delta Junction, we began to get an idea of the enormity of Alaska. I had heard it for years, and I always thought it sounded cliché, that “everything in Alaska is bigger”, but as we pointed our Jeep southward up and over the pass on the east side of Donnelly Dome, we began to understand. The Delta River valley stretched far and wide for many miles, and none of it contained a house, an antenna, a powerline…nothing but wilderness, except for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline zigzagging across the landscape near the road. Somewhere far below a bend in the Richardson Highway, several miles to the west, a herd of bison grazed along the

edge of the alders, aspens, and black spruce on the other side of the Delta River. The landscape of Alaska at once isolates you and draws you in. We were hooked.

Mike had reserved us a campsite at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) campground at Tangle Lakes, which is also the spot on the Denali Highway where the pavement ends. The remaining hundredplus miles to the intersection with the Parks Highway at Cantwell, is gravel, with a maximum speed limit of 30 miles-per-hour. The miles between the Richardson Highway and Tangle Lakes are covered with wideopen interior Alaskan tundra, that country above about 2,700’ elevation that stretches up toward the nearby foothills of the Alaska Range. It's very different, in distance from the sun, than the treeline in my home state of Colorado, which averages around 11,700 feet! The wild tundra west of Paxson also contains the Tangle Lakes Archaeological

District, a 226,000-acre area that holds the densest grouping (over 600 documented sites) of early prehistoric archeology in Alaska. Near the Tangle Lakes Campground, alongside the Denali Highway, sits the Tangle River Inn, an off-grid roadhouse that offers travelers showers, gas, cabins, canoes, good food, billiards, and beer.

It's time to get down to the ďŹ shing! I had planned for this trip to be a focus on tenkara. I personally knew of only one person who had taken tenkara to Alaska, my good friend, Richard Wheeler, from Evergreen, Colorado. I'm sure others have, but after scouring the Internet, printed articles, and such, Richard was my only boots-in-the-water source of information. Richard had actually used tenkara earlier the same summer on one of the streams we would visit while in Alaska. One day in July, while I was working behind the counter at Royal Gorge Anglers, Richard called me. He was standing on the edge of the Delta Clearwater River, catching grayling! Richard


knew I planned to arrive in Alaska about a month after he did, so getting his call only added to my excitement of the upcoming trip!

Prior to the trip, I had done a lot of research about the fishing in interior Alaska that would be suitable for tenkara. I had a whole atlas full of topographic maps for the entire state, and I had spent months poring over them. I had also discovered, and read (over and over), Cecilia “Pudge” Kleinkauf’s excellent book (one I would highly recommend to anyone fishing for grayling in Alaska), “Fly-Fishing for Alaska's Arctic Grayling-Sailfish of the North”. After reading Pudge’s book, and talking to Mike about the local water, I knew that arctic grayling would be what we'd be looking for, especially trophy grayling. It seems, even to the Alaskans, that respectable grayling start at 16” and anything over 18” is considered trophy-class. What Shawn and I discovered is that there are a lot of grayling around 16”, but very few at the 18”-plus length.


The first location we fished was, of course, on the Tangle River. Our camp at the Tangle Lakes Campground was no more than a hundred yards from the river, so we could hike down to everything we would fish there. The Tangle Lakes are a 16-mile chain of lakes connected by streams. We fished the stretch between Round Tangle Lake and the next lake upstream, south of the Denali Highway, which crosses the Tangle River.

It didn't take long for us to get into grayling! The first day Shawn and I estimated that we each caught around 50 fish, but neither of us are “fish counters”, so that was just a guess. What we did know is that we caught a LOT of grayling! We soon discovered that the largest grayling occupied the best feeding lies in the river, pushing the smaller fish out. We caught many fish over 16” and a few that would go close to 18”. Both Shawn and I had brought several tenkara rods, but we ended up fishing 12-foot or 360 cm rods all of the time. We threw dry flies and we nymphed, with nearly equal good

results. Floating lines were used for the dry fly fishing, allowing us to more effectively cast and drift the #16 CDC and Elk, #16 Extended Body PMD, and Larry Kingrey’s #16 Lil’ Hottie patterns, along with the venerable Parachute Adams. Our nymph rigs were identical to the ones we use at home in the Colorado canyons, with #20 RS2s trailing behind #18 bead head Pheasant Tails with a little weight in front of both of them. Our tenkara nymphing technique is very similar to the tactical nymphing done by western fly anglers…no indicator, tight-line nymphing. Tenkara rods are extremely effective at this. Over the previous few months I had been designing, constructing, and testing a new line for nymphing, and this trip would prove to be an excellent laboratory.

Mike had given us his warnings about grizzlies, and even though we were in a relatively grizzly-free area, we both strapped bear spray canisters to our belts. Those would be standard equipment for the entire week, and once we moved south into the grizzly’s backyard, we felt much safer than without the bear spray. We never saw a bear during our week in Alaska, but one evening, while we were picking blueberries along the Denali Highway, Shawn nearly stepped into a huge, warm, purple pile of grizzly scat. One day, while fishing the Tangle River, I found myself on what looked like a bear trail in the thick of the alders along the water. Five-foot visibility, and with the rush of the river, I couldn't hear a twig snap if it was right next to my ear. Grizzly country...they were here first, we were visitors, so kept our “bear radar” on the whole trip!

We had hauled a canoe down from Delta Junction to our camp at Tangle Lakes, and

after a couple of successful days fishing for big grayling on the Tangle River, Shawn and I decided to carry it several hundred yards down to the lake to see if we could catch any lake trout at the inlet, where the river comes into the lake. We took turns manning the canoe and fishing, as the wind and the current of the river at the inlet required constant paddling. What we found was that there no lakers at all at the inlet, and that the grayling were stacked up there, rising and splashing at what we decided must be the smallest midges we had ever encountered. We had nothing with which to match the hatch. Traditional kebari were all but useless, as the grayling were very keyed-in to those midges. We wrote the stillwater of Round Tangle Lake off the list.

Mid-week Shawn and I decided to travel southeast to the upper reaches of the Gulkana River to look for more trophy grayling. It was within a half-hour drive, so after a leisurely breakfast at Tangle River Inn, we headed to unknown water. A quick stop at the small Alaska Department of Fish and Game hatchery just upstream of Paxson proved to be invaluable. The hatchery worker gave us some good beta, let us know that salmon fishing on the Gulkana was now closed (any salmon caught must be immediately released), and wished us good luck. We headed down the Richardson Highway, and by exploring a few two-tracks, found a spot along the Gulkana that put us on water small enough to use tenkara.

Where the Tangle River was wide, shallow, and full of pocket water, the upper Gulkana was narrow, deep, and packed with very strong current for its size. We put boots in the water to find that not only were there big grayling there, the spawning sockeye (red)





salmon had moved up into the same water. Looking down into the crystal-clear water we could see many 24-36” salmon stacked up in the current. Tangle River, and it's surrounding tundra, had a campground within a stone's throw. The denselyvegetated Gulkana was totally different, with a feeling of total isolation. Tangle was relatively bear-free, while the Gulkana was littered with half-eaten salmon, bear scat, and pawprints, and several bald eagles watched us fish from their perches at the tops of the tallest spruce trees along the river. Wading on the Tangle was routine, on the Gulkana it was suicidal. We were in no position to call the shots on this water!

Once we arrived on the Gulkana, Shawn and I rigged up and started fishing. I had gotten some help from my boss, Royal Gorge Anglers owner, Taylor Edrington, on what fly patterns I would need to target grayling and rainbow trout that were following the spawning salmon. Taylor has extensive knowledge of fly fishing in Alaska, and I valued his opinion. Although we never even got close to water that held rainbows, Taylor's recommendations held true for the grayling. I rigged up a bead type egg pattern, sized and colored appropriate for the task, with a BB splitshot about 9 inches above the egg. Since we were fishing for grayling, I used a smaller hook than the ones Taylor had given me for the trip. I deployed a fluorocarbon tenkara level line, and started drifting the egg pattern.

We began to catch very nice grayling almost immediately, again with the largest 16-20” fish holding in the deepest and heaviest current, which was very similar to our experience on the Tangle River. We fished right on the brushy edge of the river, simply

because the river was too deep and fast to wade into, and the willows and alders were too thick to step back into for better positioning. All the while, I kept my bear radar on, mostly because of the lack of visibility along the river's edge, and the fact that I was almost always within arm's length of a half-eaten salmon or bear track.

After catching a half dozen big grayling, I decided to move down below Shawn twentyfive yards or so to fish down by an abandoned salmon cage, left there by the hatchery workers. I ran my egg down through a deep, fast strip of current as a few yard-long sockeye salmon bumped into my legs in the water. After a few drifts I hit what felt like a Greyhound bus! There was way too much current and very few obstacles in the water, and I knew in an instant that I had hooked into one of those salmon! The fight was on! I yelled to Shawn to come down and run the net for me. He ran down, started shooting video, and stayed very close. That salmon called all of the shots, moving when he wanted to, into and out of the current. Few thoughts ran through my head, but I remember two distinctly...I’m either going to break my rod, or I'm going to break off this fish! I continued to dance with the salmon for what seemed like an eternity, keeping him in the power bend of my tenkara rod, and he took me for a walk downstream, into and out of heavy current. I finally got him out of the main current and into shallower water near the salmon cage. Shawn reached out several times with his net, and it took several tries to finally get it done. Only half of that big fish fit into what we thought was a big net.

I was shaking as Shawn helped me get a




grip on my salmon and remove the hook. We both marveled at the fact that he had actually eaten the egg, as anadromous fish seldom, if ever, eat once they start their trip upstream to the spawning grounds. He was heavily colored, had a huge kype and hump, but was still strong even after swimming upriver some 350 miles from the ocean. After a couple of quick photos, I lowered him into the current, letting go of his tail after he gave me the signal he was strong enough to swim away. That feeling as he slipped out of my right hand, was one of the most wonderful moments of my trip to Alaska. I was saying goodbye to that fish, but right then and there I made myself a promise that I would return to do this again.

Shawn and I hit the road the next day, traveling north, for a return to the Delta Junction area. We were headed to where Richard had made that awesome phone call from the edge of the Delta Clearwater River earlier in the summer, to see if we could match his success with trophy class grayling. We accessed this gin-clear, frigid, spring-fed river just a few miles northeast of Delta Junction. There's a short section of public water there, so we set up for some dry fly fishing, both of us using floating tenkara lines. We spent all day catching eager grayling, many of them pushing the 18” mark. Despite the fact that every couple of hours a jet boat would scream upriver in front of us, the grayling didn't seem to care. Five


minutes after each boat passed, we were back in the fish. Adult caddis, PMDs, and Adams were the flies of the day. I simply cannot remember a day when I've caught more fish on a dry fly! The highlight of my day wasn't so much all of the big grayling I had caught, but watching Shawn fight a 20” monster for at least ten minutes, finally landing him on the far side of the river. It was a fitting way to end the fishing for the week, and with sore arms we walked back to the Jeep and stowed our waders and rods for the last time.

I cannot say when I will return to Alaska with a tenkara rod, but I know it will be soon. Shawn and I had no sooner unpacked after arriving home, than we were planning the next trip north. As I've said, Alaska has a way of getting under your skin, and after fishing there, just about everything you do is compared to it. We stepped into an unknown…fishing in Alaska for trophy grayling, and the possibility of catching salmon, with tenkara. It felt so very good to have traveled so far, seen so much country, and found success with tenkara. What's next? Trophy Dolly Varden on a wilderness float north of the Arctic Circle? Coastal mountain rainbows? Yard-long sheefish along the Brooks Range foothills a hundred miles from the nearest settlement? Perhaps the answer may be “yes” to all of those, and more. I'm certain of one thing…this hasn't been my last trip with tenkara in the Last Frontier!


Tenkara Fishing in an Inflatable Craft Danièle Beaulieu

I am a river fly fisher, that means 95% of the time my feet are in a creek, stream, or river. However, Summer 2016 was awful as the temperature and humidity made the water super-hot and very low. It was so bad that the rivers that I fished in were almost empty and the fish were not at the rendezvous. I decided to take my float tube and inflatable pontoon out and explore Northeastern NY, more precisely, the Adirondacks, that big giant playground where you can have access to many ponds. The beauty of an inflatable craft is that there are a lot of pockets where you can put things, like your water, rain coat, food, and much, much more. They are also easy to transport; you don't need to have a big truck or a carrier on top of your car. I learned to love fishing that way.


Tips to Fish in an Inflatable Craft You can fish the standard way, that meaning you cast where you want the line to go. Or, you can fish just by letting the line out in the water and paddle away allowing the fly to troll behind you. (Don't forget to put your rod at an angle if you are fishing for big fish, see article in Tenkara Angler Summer 2016). Since you will have your oar in your hands in an inflatable pontoon you can fish by placing your rod end underneath one of your legs and the rod tip on the top of one of the inflatable keels. Don't forget to always keep tension in the line, and if the fish comes toward you, move back by paddling away from the fish. Don't let the fish go behind the float tube or pontoon!

Security Measures While Fishing in an Inflatable Craft

-Remember that Tenkara rods are an electrical hazard, so be careful if you are in the middle of the pond. If you don't have time, just throw your rod away from you in the water, they float -Always wear a life jacket! -Have a rope in case somebody has to tow you -Have a patch kit in case you develop a hole and you are far from home -Do not over-inflate in warm weather because hot air expands. Check out your air pressure from time to time

The Float Tube

The Inflatable Pontoon -They are faster than the float tube -You can go in bigger ponds -You sit outside of the water so if you are going thru a bunch of lily pads it will be easier -You can paddle in the both directions so it will cause less fatigue -You can take them in rivers -They are heavy, bigger, and take longer to assemble

Video Resources

-They are small and lightweight so if you hike trails to reach a remote pond like many of them in the Adirondacks, it is the perfect choice

Float Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=dME3F7WwDSg

-They are slower in bigger ponds; they should go in ponds about 20 acres, maximum

Inflatable Pontoon: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=U3sIuGLGsIo

-You're seated in the water, so beware of leeches if you are ďŹ shing in shorts

The net is an important tool for ďŹ shing from an inflatable craft


Have You Ever Set a Hook in Mid-Air? John Mosovsky

It was a week since I received my new Suntech Genryu Sawanobori 45 Keiryu rod so I was anxious to test it out. I purchased the rod for its stiffness (54 penny), light weight (2.8oz), and length. At 14½ feet, it's probably the longest rod that I can comfortably manage one-handed. That's an important feature since my intention is to use it for Czech nymphing on big water. Big water where I live is the Lehigh River. Unfortunately water flow management on this tailwater is controlled by the antiquated Francis E. Walter Dam constructed in 1961. The dam was built for flood risk management but recreation became a Congressionally-authorized purpose in 1988. The Lehigh is a wonderful trout fishery that


has overcome a dark history of industrial pollution. It has the potential to be a blue ribbon trout river if design changes to the dam ever become a reality. The Lehigh Coldwater Fishery Alliance and the Lehigh River Stocking Association are two organizations that work tirelessly at trying to make that happen. But I digress! On August 5th, the Lehigh River water temperature at my favorite spot was 71°F and the flowrate was 320 cfs (cubic feet per second). A little on the warm and low side so I decided to Czech nymph a colder mountain stream called Mud Run in Hickory Run State Park. It was running at 60°F. The air temperature was cooler than normal, registering in the mid-seventies, and cloud cover was thick. Weather wise a pretty good fishing day for early August in Pennsylvania.

For the smaller mountain stream, I decided to use my softer TUSA Amago rod (31 penny/13½ feet) with a “short” 11-foot casting line/indicator sighter/tippet and multiple flies (#16 bead head pheasant tail dropper and a #14 bead head, lead wrapped George's Killer point fly).

George's Killer

My line to line connections were made with ligature knots and my flies were attached with nonslip mono loop knots. Both knots are highly recommended by Art Scheck in his book Fly-Fish Better.

I was on the stream at 4:00pm and netted two Brookies and a Brownie before deciding to start the 45 minute hike back to my Jeep at 6:00pm. It gets dark early in a canyon! When I reached my Jeep I realized I still had a good 1½ hours of daylight left so I decided to drive to my favorite spot on the Lehigh. I got on the river at 7:20pm, excited to try out my new Suntech rod. Because of the waning daylight and to save time, I decided to use the 11 foot rig I had on the Amago rod. I knew the line length was a little on the short side for the 14½ foot Suntech but the flies were still attached and I was pressed for time.

The water I targeted was a swift, deep run with multiple seams and hydraulic jumps leading into a large deep pool. I started off easy, fishing the near side shallows of the pool working my way upstream along the near side shallows of the run. The rod performed beautifully! In no time at all, I landed a few small mouth bass, a Sunny, a couple Fallfish, and a nice rainbow trout.

I caught a few more bass and Fallfish before I reached the head of the pool and the swiftest part of the run. A feeding fish in a seam on the far side of the run caught my attention, but it was going to be a stretch reaching over the run to make a presentation to him. I was already in the middle of the river hanging on to my wading staff, but hey, I had a 14½ foot rod (with unfortunately, a short 11 foot line). (I often catch more fish Czech nymphing seams on the far sides of runs compared to seams on the near sides of runs. Fish lying in the far side seams have the run between them and us and don't see or hear us as well. Part of the beauty of Tenkara Czech nymphing is using long rods to reach over runs and target the far side seams.)

I got within one step of the run’s hydraulics, lob casted the flies upstream into the foaming white water, and hoped that I hit


the seam. What happened next was a bit surreal. It was like what athletes say about things slowing done when they are “in the zone”. My line and flies began moving very slowly downstream in spite of the swift, rushing water surrounding them. I had hit the seam! A split second later (well before the flies were anywhere near the bottom) a big rainbow (18 inches?) jumped 3 feet out of the water facing upstream like a torpedo. I immediately thought that the fish had taken one of my flies even though I never saw or felt any indication of a strike. ALL of my line came out of the water and hung in the air “downstream” of the fish (“downstream” is in quotes because my line wasn't in the stream at all!). I instinctively raised my rod to set the hook in mid-air and in doing so turned the fish's head toward me. When he splashed down on the far side of the run, he took off down river. I tried to keep the power curve in my rod and because of the swift water and short line, the fish was drawn to the surface in the middle (read swiftest) part of the run. It did


a couple flip flops and somersaults and then broke off! Gone! The only way I could have possibly brought the fish to hand was to go for a swim – but it happened so fast, was too near dark, and the water was too swift and deep to entertain such an idea. If I had been fishing with conventional fly fishing equipment, i.e. rod AND reel, I believe the drag on the reel would have vastly improved my chances of landing the fish. But then, I probably wouldn't have had the ability to target the fish's lie in the first place. I also believe that had I used the appropriate line length (14½ -16½ feet) for Czech nymphing with a 14½ foot Keiryu rod on big water, I could have turned the fish and ran with him. I was disappointed but exhilarated; pleased with my choice of Keiryu rod but upset with myself for not using the appropriate line length. All in all though, it was another exciting day on the Lehigh.

Tenkara rocks and rules!

Lehigh River, Pennsylvania


When I teach Czech nymphing, I always tell my students to wait a couple seconds for the flies to sink after making a lob cast and before leading them to control depth and speed. Not waiting long enough for the flies to reach the feeding zone is a mistake even the pros make. George Daniel owns up to making this mistake in his book Dynamic Nymphing. He also emphasizes “The key to allowing nymphs to quickly drop is not to create tension on the rig, but to maintain line and leader control so you can determine if a take occurs.” In his opinion, this is key to getting deep drifts with little weight. I couldn't agree more. I was fishing #16 and #14 flies in very swift water when the big ’bow struck. Granted they were bead heads and the point fly was wrapped with 0.010 lead wire, but that's not much weight considering the conditions. The relatively light casting line and tippet also helped. The beauty of Tenkara! In their Discover Tenkara tutorials, Paul Gaskell and John Pearson call the nymph

sinking phase a kind of “induced take” movement that entices fish to strike. Very true! To capitalize on this phase, however, as George Daniel says, the nymphs must be allowed to sink without line tension but at the same time the angler must maintain line control to detect a strike. This is a very fine line (no pun intended) to maintain in swift, deep water.

After the ‘bow broke off, I was left standing with the pheasant tail dropper at the terminal end of the tippet. There was no indication of any tippet having existed beyond the dropper. When I got home and examined the broken line I could detect an extremely small “tag” coming out of the dropper ligature knot where the terminal portion of the tippet had broken off. This told me a few things. The dropper ligature knot held, the fish struck the point fly, and the nonslip mono loop on the point fly held. I can only assume that the line weakened when I tied the dropper knot because I failed to adequately moisten it. Not a terrible mistake considering the rig held up to a dozen fish and a few snags. The big one always gets away!


Northeast Brookies: Where the Streams Have No Names, Leave the 12-footer at Home George Roberts Photos: Brad Clark


My first tenkara rod was a 13-footer, which I used on the trout streams of North Georgia —the Chattahoochee and the Tallulah River among them. This purchase was quickly followed by that of an 11-foot rod. The 2foot subtraction helped me stay out of the rhododendrons, but if a shorter rod had been available then, I would have bought that as well. Unfortunately, there wasn't.

When I moved back to Massachusetts a couple of years later, I knew these rods would be unworkable on many of the small streams in northern New England that are home to wild native brook trout. These waters, heavily canopied, often unnamed, faint blue lines on the Gazetteer, do not allow for 9-foot rods, let alone 13-footers.

When the Tenkara Bum, Chris Stewart, began touting the Daiwa Soyokaze as a micro rod that could be fished tenkara-style, some tenkara traditionalists (who'd been at the game for all of three years) balked. For those of us who fish for brookies in New England, however, the short sticks seemed tailor-made for the game. For me, whose initial attraction to tenkara was its minimalism, the Soyokaze further simplified things. Here was a fly rod stripped to its essence: a carbon stick and little else. The Soyokaze cast both furled and level lines well— and it caught fish. When Daiwa ceased production, I regretted not having bought a few more of them.

game, the rod is your primary consideration. There are several seiryu and micro rods on the market of less than 9 feet that will fit the bill, including the Nissin Air Stage 190 (which comes in several flex profiles) and the Shimotsuke Kiyotaki 24, 21, and 18 (just under 8 feet, 7 feet, and 6 feet, respectively). Although the Kiyotaki 18 has become my go-to rod for small-stream brookies (simply due to its length), it's a bit stiffer than I would like.

Fast-forward 7 or 8 years after tenkara first hit the U.S. and we now have several homegrown companies producing rods for the American market, 3 of which offer a dedicated tenkara rod of less than 9 feet.

At 8’6” extended and 18 inches collapsed, Badger Tenkara’s U.N.C. (which stands for “unnamed creek”) is spartan, a matte drab olive blank (presumably for stealth). Writes Matt Sment: “We founded Badger with the goal of making tenkara accessible to the broadest possible audience ... focusing on

If you're interested in playing the small-stream tenkara


A roster of short sticks. From the top: Zen Fly Fishing Gear's Suzume; Badger Tenkara’s U.N.C.; Shimotsuke Kiyotaki 24; Shimotsuke Kosasa, 6’10”; Nissin Air Stage 190; Shimotsuke Kiyotaki 18 the angler's preferred experience rather than trying to clone Japanese products and culture. The vast majority of our customers are Americans fishing American water and terrain, and our products are shaped by our experiences on the same.”

The company describes the rod as a 6:4 action with a medium flex. Frankly, I don't pay too much attention to technical specifications. I fished the rod and it cast well and hooked fish. And at $90 retail you really can't argue with the price. (I didn't get a chance to take the U.N.C. down to the pond, but I'm sure it's an awesome little bluegill rod.)

Zen Fly Fishing Gear's Suzume (“sparrow”) is one of the neatest tenkara rods I've fished with yet—a downsized triple-zoom (10’8”, 9’3”, and 7’7”) that Zen owner Karin Miller designed specifically for Rocky Mountain


National Park. “Those are our home waters," she writes, “and what we fish every day. It's small streams, tight places, lots of trees and overhanging canopy, and pools and pockets. We wanted something that could handle these places without a lot of acrobatics and maneuvering and could also reach the other side of that wider pool or beaver dam when you finally get to that place where you can see sky and the water opens up for a bit." The range that the Suzume has is something we're pretty proud of. You can cover a lot of situations with a single rod—and still feel pretty balanced and not tip heavy in any of its three positions (which is very hard to do on a zoom rod and especially a tri-zoom). It's a sweet rod that offers some really nice options.”

Zen describes the rod as a medium-fast action with a 6:4 flex. I was afraid the rod

would feel a bit stiff at its shortest length, but it didn't. At $229, the Suzume is more than twice the price of the U.N.C., but if you think of it as buying three rods, the price gets a lot nicer. As an added bonus, Zen includes an extra tip with each of its rods. Says Miller, “It just makes life that much sweeter if you should experience a break.”

Once you've procured your rod, your next consideration is line. Although most tenkara anglers today prefer to fish with level fluorocarbon lines, I still prefer furled lines, which feel and handle more like conventional fly lines. In the tightest spots, however, you're bound to end up in the trees occasionally. Pulling on the line to break the tippet is almost sure to cause the line to tangle. Tangle a furled line and you could spend the next five minutes trying to untangle it. Furled lines for very short tenkara rods are not the norm. You may have to substitute a furled leader made for a Western-style fly line. Otherwise, Mike Moline at Streamside Furled Leaders is willing to do custom work at a small additional charge. Whatever line you choose, 3 or so feet of 5X or 6X tippet will suffice.

Life in the headwaters is a hardscrabble existence. Competition for food is keen, so the fish aren't fussy. Forget about matching the hatch—just throw a few flies into a glass vial and go. I do most of my small-stream

fishing with only two patterns - an Elk Hair Caddis and a Yellow Soft Hackle, size 14 or smaller. Plan to do a lot of walking when you play this game. If you don't get a rise after a cast or two into the same water, move to the next likely-looking spot. If you rise a fish but don't hook it, don't spend a lot of time working over him, as it's unlikely you'll rise the same fish again. As I said previously, the thing that attracted me to tenkara initially was its minimalism. I like to travel light. I can fit everything I need for a day of fishing into a small fanny pack. If I can get away with wet-wading in a pair of shorts and Vibram FiveFingers, I leave the waders at home (I find the Vibrams made for trail running offer better grip on wet stones).

To enjoy this game requires a shift in attitude that some will never manage— which may be why I rarely see another soul. You have to accept there will be no rods doubled over, no singing reels, no trophies as such—none of the usual rewards of the five-star experience. (The first time I showed my wife a wild brook trout she said, “We came all the way up here for that…?) If you're after those things you'll be elsewhere —wading the ranch's private water, or standing at the bow of a flats boat.

But if you're here, bare ankles numb, dancing your CDC Caddis across a pool no larger than your bathtub, you're after something else.


Advanced Casting:

Fixed Line Fly Fishing in Four Dimensions Part Three of a Three Part Series Rob Worthing

Welcome to the third and final installation of our three-part series on advanced casting for fixed line fly fishing!

The first two parts of this series gave us a common language we can use to explore advanced casting, and gave us the tools to start building our casting skills. In Part One, we introduced Four Dimensional Casting. Four Dimensional Casting taught us to dissect complex casting strokes into four basic dimensions - the vertical, the horizontal, the rotational, and time. In Part Two, we began combining the four dimensions to form casting strokes. We organized select strokes into a Casting Progression Table, a training tool that builds skills in a logical, stepwise manner.

At this point, you should be used to thinking in terms of the four dimensions, and spent some time - in the lawn and on the water - honing your casting skills by working through the casting progression table. That means you're ready for the fun part. You're ready to learn how to apply advanced casting skills on the water to catch fish. Read on.

Part Three: On the Water

There are essentially two ways to use advanced casting skills on the water. First, to reach difficult lies. Second, to influence the drift of your fly. The first is pretty obvious, almost intuitive. The second can take some effort to grasp, so the meat of this article will be spent on it. As we look at each, remember the goal is not to simply memorize what you read and copy it on the water. The goal is to understand how casting strokes interact with the environment, how different casting skills combine to form those strokes, and how this can be used to trick fish.

Using Casting to Reach Difficult Lies

Many of the best lies on the water go unfished. Some appear so out of reach, anglers walk by without even noticing they exist. When they do notice, it may be just long enough to ponder the trophy fish that must be holding in that perfectly protected, “unfishable” prime lie. By playing with combinations in the vertical, horizontal, and rotational dimensions, you can unlock those prime lies.

If you've spent any time at all playing with the casting skills described in Part Two of this series, the potential for reaching difficult lies with advanced casting should be easy to imagine. A 45 degree or 90 degree sidearm cast is a great way to reach a good lie under overhanging cover. A steeple cast is incredibly useful for presenting your fly when standing with your back to (or, with a bit of practice, while standing under) a tree.


These are classic examples of when playing in the horizontal and vertical planes can help catch fish. But what really unlocks water is rotation. Rotation is the link that allows the advanced caster to combine the other dimensions. Figure 1 illustrates the use of a roll cast to a fish surrounded by cover. The supine and prone roll are superb for presenting a fly in the most difficult to reach places, and has been responsible for some of my biggest fish to date. Ever cast your fly right where you want it with a 90 degree sidearm close to the surface, only to realize your drift is blown by all the line you just laid on the water? Ending that sidearm with a J cast will keep your line high and dry, setting you up for that tight tenkara drift we've all grown to love. Ever extend your drift so far the fly ends up too close for a backcast? Or have to start with the fly in your hand? Try using a figure 8 to pick up your fly from the water (horizontal) and transition to an overhand cast (vertical).

Figure 1

Using Casting To Reach Difficult Lies. In this scenario, the prime lie (red x) is tucked deep under an overhanging tree (green arrow). You'd like to use a cast in the horizontal plane, like a 90 degree sidearm. But this time, the opposite bank is lined with trees, and the bend in the river prevents you from casting straight upstream with a low sidearm. There is zero opportunity for a backcast in the horizontal plane. The only open channel for a backcast is straight downriver in the vertical plane. But that's not in the same plane as your fish. How do you transition from a backcast in one dimension (vertical) to tuck a fly under a tree in another, completely different dimension (horizontal)? Add a third dimension – the dimension of rotation. In this case, a prone roll (blue line) transitions the fly from an overhand backcast (vertical) to a sidearm forward cast (horizontal), tucking your Utah Killer Kebari deep undercover to reach the rainbow in that prime lie.

These are just a few examples of using rotation to combine horizontal and vertical casting elements to unlock water. The potential for combination is truly endless. When you're in the lawn or on the water, look for obstacles to challenge your skill, and create your own casting strokes to meet the demand.


Using Casting to Influence the Drift of Your Fly

The most valuable example of using advanced casting to influence the drift of your fly involves the supine and prone J. J casts are the first skill in the rotational dimension.

For the rest of this lesson, we will presume you are casting with the rod in your right hand. If casting with your right hand, the supine J involves ending your cast with a palm up rotation of your forearm (tracing the letter J with your hand), resulting in a small loop at the end of your line, causing the fly to land to the right of the line. The prone J involves ending your cast with a palm down rotation of the forearm (tracing a backward letter J with your hand), resulting in a small loop at the end of your line in the opposite direction as the supine J, causing the fly to land to the left of the line.

Clear as mud? Try imagining you are casting to a clock face on the surface of the water. The supine J aligns you with angles between 7 and 12, and the prone J covers everything between 12 and 5. Regardless of the angle, your fly still lands first and your tippet second, with the rest of your line off the water.

Now let's add drag. Anything in the water - fly, tippet, or line - is susceptible to drag. Lets consider two types of drag. First, surface drag created by current, the surface tension of the water, or both. Second, line drag created by the weight of your line as you hold it off the water. Sometimes drag is a good thing, like when surface drag animates a small gray kebari to look like a mayfly struggling to emerge through the surface tension of the water. Other times, like in a dead drift, we want to eliminate unnatural drag. Either way, we have to learn to control drag to get the presentation you want.

In fast moving water flowing more or less in your direction, we can use a standard overhand cast and get a good drift, because any surface drag from the water is in the same direction as the current, and the water is moving faster than any line drag created by the weight of our line. Change either one of those variables – flow or direction – and you'll need to change your cast to avoid drag.

For micro-currents (small tongues and cross currents, eddies, pillows, etc.) that are not flowing in your general direction, an overhand cast will result in surface and line drag that is not in line with the current, and not natural. This kind of drag will kill a good dead drift, and can make fly manipulation less effective. In this case, you can use the J casts to orient your tippet and fly in the same direction as the micro-current to get a more natural drift. To do this, you trace a J with your hand that is in the same direction as the current. Your fly will land upstream and your tippet and line will be oriented in the direction of the current. For micro-currents, the tail of the J cast points in the same direction as the current. Figure 2 illustrates this micro-current paradigm. There are a TON of these micro-currents in good tenkara water, and I find myself routinely using J casts to get better drifts.

Macro-currents pose a different challenge. In macro-currents (large pools and tongues, deep


Figure 2a

Figure 2b

The Micro-Current Paradigm. You are presented with three currents (a, b, and c) flowing in different directions (yellow arrows). This is the Pecos River in New Mexico, a freestone stream with a dense population of wild trout, so you expect a trout (red x) to be holding in all the likely places. Current a is fast moving water flowing more or less in your direction. An overhand cast will get the job done (green arrows 1 and 2). Currents b and c are NOT flowing towards us. To get the drift you want, you have to change your cast to match the angle of the current. Current b is flowing in about the 5 o'clock direction, and is matched with a prone J. Current c is flowing in about 8 o'clock, and is matched with a supine J. Note the order of these casts. This order gives us the best chance of presenting a fly to each ďŹ sh and, with luck, landing that ďŹ sh without spooking the others.


runs and riffles, etc.) the water on the surface is moving faster than the water at depth. The water at the bottom (where ďŹ sh frequently sit) may be very slow indeed. With an upstream overhand cast, your tippet and line gets caught in the fast moving surface water and drags your wet kebari unnaturally out of the slower, deeper water. You can use a J cast to combat this by flipping the paradigm used for micro-currents. Instead of casting so you trace a J in the same direction as the current, trace a J in the opposite direction as the current. This will cause your fly to land downstream of your tippet. The tippet

Figure 3a

Figure 3b


The Macro-Current Paradigm. Pictured is a small Southeastern tailwater with crystal clear water and many long, slow, deep runs. It is winter, and the ďŹ sh are holding deep. (a & b) Laying out an overhand cast causes the tippet to drag in the faster moving surface water, dragging the fly before it can sink. Using smaller tippet will help, but will not eliminate the drag or its effect on your fly.

now has a longer distance to travel before it can create drag on the fly, allowing the fly a chance to sink and catch in the slower, deeper water. With macro-currents, the tail of the J points up the current. Figure 3 illustrates the macro-current paradigm. In very slow moving or still water, surface drag is created by the surface tension of the water, and you get awful line drag when you try to hold your line off the water. With an overhand cast, the weight of your line off the water drags your fly across or near the surface. While sometimes good, most frequently this is not how you want to present your fly. For example, it can prevent a

Figure 3c

Figure 3d (c & d) A prone J is used to tuck the fly downstream of the line. The tippet still gets caught in the faster moving surface water, but it now has to travel a longer distance before catching up with the fly. The fly is allowed to sink and anchor in deeper water. Drag remains minimized for the rest of the drift by the steep angle of the tippet penetrating the surface.


A fat bow caught in the slow waters of a Southern tailwater using a prone J cast to anchor the fly in the depths. This is a fish that was caught using the tactics in Figure 3.

wet fly from sinking when you want to fish deeper, or drag a dry fly unnaturally across the surface. Some fixed line anglers rely on very thin floating lines laid on the water to prevent drag in still water. While this can be very effective, it sacrifices many of the benefits of tenkara and tight line Euro nymphing that come with holding your line off the water. To counteract drag in still water with your cast, use the same paradigm as we described for macro-currents. Trace a J cast so that you tuck the fly under your tippet, such that your fly lands closer to you than your tippet. The fly can then anchor deeper before line or surface drag takes effect.

The micro-current paradigm is extremely useful on freestone mountain streams and other fast, featured water. For lakes, ponds, and those long stretches of smooth water you hit on many large tailwaters, the macro-current paradigm works best. The great thing is that you're ready to fish all of them.

In Closing

As far as I know, no one has ever applied advanced sports-specific training concepts like a progression table to fly fishing. And this just might be the first time the Western hemisphere has seen phrases like “advanced casting” and “fixed line” printed in the same sentence! But the core concepts in this series on advanced casting are nothing new. Using J casts to combat drag in tenkara is similar to using a reach cast or aerial mend in rod and reel fly fishing. Look close enough, and you'll recognize elements in this lesson from the likes of Wulff and Kreh, spey and switch, trick and trial, etc. Why should such diverse styles of fishing share common elements? Because they work.

The water is a dynamic place. From moment to moment, no bend, turn, run or riffle is ever the same. To catch fish, the way we apply advanced casting skills has to be just as dynamic. The goal of the series was not to learn specific casts, but instead learn a systematic approach to building casting skills for life. It's an approach that creates dynamic anglers, ready to adapt to any water. Becoming a dynamic angler isn't easy, and this series was not designed to be easy. It was designed to be effective, like the common fish-catching elements it's founded on. Now, GO FISHING. Go create your own casting strokes. Find your own tenkara. Photos by Alan Creech, Marcia Hopkins, and Erik Ostrander



Tenkara Angler is very fortunate to have the artistic talents of Jim Tignor back for this quarter's issue.

In addition to the works you'll find within these pages, Jim's art has also graced the Spring & Summer 2016 editions.



"Married Up"


"The Drift"



"Gentle Now!"

"Bear & Trout"


"Winter Tenkara"

Want to see more? Additional examples of Jim's art can be found on various online resources:


Calf Creek Christopher Seep


Serendipity: Making a pleasant discovery by accident While taking the very scenic Utah state highway 12 from Torrey to Bryce Canyon, in the midst of wonderful high desert scenery, appeared a sign, "Calf Creek Recreation Area." Any sign with the word "creek" in it immediately gets my attention. Braking hard, I pulled into the parking lot and was immediately struck by the area's beauty, especially clad, as it were, in autumn colors. Calf Creek begins several miles up-canyon, the product of large seeps and springs. Almost impenetrable, its banks are a riot of cattail, reed, river birch, cottonwood, and willow, creating an open-sky tunnel along the stream. My wife and I rigged our rods in record time and surveyed the water. Shy trout darted from the root wads and undercut banks, and it became immediately apparent that stealth was necessary on this creek. A few pools provided access from the water's edge, but wading in the creek bed proved the most feasible approach for fishing Calf Creek, casting either up- or downstream. The creek has a moderate gradient, and, wet wading, the water against my legs had a pleasant insistence and coolness, especially given the 80-degree air temperature and full sun. Slowly shuffling upstream, I cast my 12 foot Iwana to the bank and boulder pockets. Parachute Blue Winged Olives and Elk Hair Caddis, size 18, did the trick, and that afternoon we caught many browns in the 8 to 12-inch range with some larger trout hooked and lost. As the sunlight began to flee the canyon we had to make a choice: pack up and drive on or stay and camp for the night in one of the dozen-or-so primitive campsites. For us,

that was an easy choice. We pitched the tent on one of the nicely secluded campsites, surrounded by cottonwoods and Gambel oak. Although the other campsites were occupied, the campground was very quiet, and we almost felt alone. Dinner on the two-burner Coleman, then a campfire to counter the high-desert evening chill. As the conversation and fire burned to embers, our attention turned to the night sky, the stars exhilarating in their number and brilliance. Comfortably ensconced in the tent, I burrowed into my sleeping bag, having donned gloves and a knit cap in anticipation of a cold night. Leaving the tent in the early morning hours, I was rewarded with the sighting of a shooting star, certainly an omen of some portent. We awoke to a clear 30-degree day. We put on our hiking boots, first checking for scorpions, as the sun was beginning to paint the upper reaches of the canyon. The warmth of another fire thawed our chilled limbs. We had agreed to hike the Calf Creek Falls trail, beginning before breakfast, knowing the day would warm quickly. This is a sixmile round-trip path to a 126-foot waterfall. We agreed in advance to hike about halfway to the falls in order to leave time for another day of angling. The trail was steep and rocky, gradually climbing above the creek, but the rush of water was never out of earshot. In a couple of places beavers had dammed the flow to create large stillwater ponds. Eventually we came to ancient pictographs drawn centuries ago in red ochre, like dried blood, by the Fremont people who once inhabited this canyon. Near the pictographs was a small cavern in the cliff face, and old granary, where the


Fremont people stored the corn, beans, and squash they cultivated. I imagined I heard their ancient voices borne across a millennium by the wind:

"This canyon, this desert, gave us all we required. The perennial spring hoarded the scant rain, and, in most years, slaked our thirst. The poor soil grew our meager maize and fed us, along with the turkey and deer. The rock shielded us from the summer sun and in winter warmed us. Pinyon and oak made possible our fire. The endless night sky humbled us and the coyote, too, for we could hear his night song. And in years when there was no rain, when storm and hail destroyed the corn, when turkey and deer deserted us, some of us the Raven bore to the Spirit Mesa, there forever to lie by the Pool of Cool Water." Retracing our steps, we backtracked to the trailhead, the day now very warm, our fleece tied around our waists. Stopping to regain my wind, I crushed a bit of sage between my fingers and inhaled its intoxicating scent, one of those elemental, appealing odors like wood smoke or pine. After a few hours' fishing, more browns brought to hand, we reluctantly broke camp and continued our drive to our next destination.

Calf Creek. Serendipity. 76


Catch of the Nissin 2-Way A Photo Essay Bradford Wade



Tenkara Got The Girl Jacques LeBrun

It was a cool and breezy summer night before a rain. Most of the guests were heading back to their cabins, but John was heading to the only place with electric lights still on in camp – the dining porch, of course. He sat down at a table and set up his vise, methodically removing some tying materials from his travel kit – hooks, dubbing and grizzly hen hackle, the only kind he used, because it worked. A father and his two kids stopped over at the table to see what was going on…. “Are you a scientist,” one of the children asked excitedly? No, said John, “I’m not a scientist, only a fisherman.” The child pressed him: “you should be a scientist.” John chuckled and began to wrap some red silk around the first hook. “Science is important, but my head is in the fishing game right now,” he said. The child looked puzzled but laughed anyway. John began to explain what he was doing to the children, who were watching intently as the dubbing was wound onto the thread with a few simple twists of the fingers. However, a moment later the children were suddenly bored and wandered away, leaving John alone on the dining porch, where he was listening to the sounds of the owls call and the lonely cry of a loon far away. After tying a few flies up for the week, John heard someone emerging from the staff


room. Looking up, he saw her - and they linked eyes for a moment. Thinking nothing of it, he went back to stripping a hen feather and tying it onto the hook, orienting it just so, in order for it to face the right way as he wrapped.

Without a sound, she walked over to the table and surprised John with a question… “What are you doing, can I watch?”

“Sure, “John said, as he awkwardly attempted to explain fly tying in a concise, interesting manner that wouldn't sound as nerdy as it really was… but there was no way to win on that one, so he asked her if she'd like to try instead.

‘What’s your name?” He asked. “Maggie, she said.” Maggie. It was a nice name.

She sat down next to John, accepting the invitation to learn. He explained the process, step by step, as she began to tie her first fly. She was younger than John, he could tell, but not by that much. Her hair was wavy and long, and she had a kind demeanor that instantly pulled him in. She was deliberate, yet soft spoken, and he liked that.

To John’s delight, somewhat surprisingly, Maggie picked up the skills almost immediately - and so he just let her do all the tying, guiding her hand gently only when needed. She moved closer, nervously flipping her hair and laughing. As she finished her fly, John remarked at how impressed he was at her first timer skills and wondered jokingly if it was just beginner's luck. Removing her first fly from the vise, John wanted to give it to her to

keep as a keepsake; however, she wanted to give it to him for the same reason. What to do? “I have an idea,” said John. “Why don't you take the one I just tied, and I'll take the one you just tied. Tomorrow I'll go fish it after the rain and see if it's any good.” Maggie liked the idea - he could see it in her eyes. John knew the fly would work, but had to save his own skin just in case the new stream he was scouting was a bust…

It was getting late so they said goodnight and parted ways. John tried not to be too excited, but he was undeniably giddy about the fact that he had somehow just grabbed the interest of a woman using fly tying. What were the chances of that? The next morning John headed out as the rain was tapering off, making sure to bring Maggie's fly and some other supplies for the day. Arriving at the stream, he saw it was low, slow, and not exactly what he had been


hoping to see. But the water was cold, and so he began fishing the likely spots. Just a couple of minutes in he had a nice strike, and a fish was on. Bringing it to hand, John noticed how beautiful this particular brook trout was. “It must be the magic of that fly,” he thought. He fished for a couple of hours, picking mushrooms and hooking a few more Brookies before it was time to head back for lunch. After lunch, John found Maggie between her tasks and showed her some photos of the fish he had caught with her fly that morning. Maggie's face lit up and she seemed excited and happy. Success. Maggie said she'd find him later after work. John saw Maggie serving dinner that night, but she was nowhere to be found later on. He didn't want to seem to eager, so he played it as cool as he could in his mind. They locked eyes at breakfast the next morning, but again there was little time off for Maggie, and John knew there was no sense in pushing to hang out while she worked. They exchanged glances, a few short conversations and a desire to spend some more time together late in the week. It went back and forth like that for a few more days, a few words here, a glance there… until the last night in camp rolled around. After dinner, there was “sing time” and everyone sat on the porch together to listen to some staffers playing guitar and leading everyone through a classic lineup of old songs. Maggie emerged from the staff room and came to sit down next to John. She moved


in close and they shared a songbook together. John felt good singing these songs and sitting with Maggie, it was a refreshing change from the pace of normal city life back home. And Maggie wasn't a boring city girl, either. After the songs ended, Maggie announced she would be going for a walk. “Walks are good,” said John, nervously. There was a moment of silence. Finally she asked “would you like to come?” Of course, he said yes, eagerly. They walked down the path through North camp, gravel and dirt crunching beneath their feet. Talking quietly about the week, they walked out onto the dock and sat down to look at the stars. Maggie began to recount the story of how she and John had met… among other things she and John had in common. John liked the picture she was painting - it was pretty romantic, after all. “We make a good story,” said John. He leaned in and kissed her, not missing the moment that he would have missed too many times as a teen or a younger man. They lay together on the dock watching the shooting stars, counting satellites and listening to Loons and Owls together. Neither of them wanted the experience to end, but alas, as they say with all good things… John hoped he'd get to see Maggie again, and they exchanged numbers the next day. She lived far away, but promised to come visit. As he drove away from camp later that day, John played back these events in his head over and over. He couldn't believe it… Tenkara actually got the girl!

Illustrations: Jim Tignor


Where The Water Forks Nathaniel Skaggs

Parking on the side of the road, the sounds of a clear mountain stream echo throughout the quiet stretch along Rocky Fork Road. Small cascades create deep pools that scream large, hungry mountain trout. It is the first cool morning of September, and autumn teases the end of another hot, dry summer. You know dry flies are becoming useless on the larger rivers and streams, unless you use a Light Cahill or Adams between size 12-18. However, these enthusiastic mountain fish can be tempted by anything that looks real enough to provide energy for the upcoming colder months.


Though it is a younger state park in northeastern Tennessee, Rocky Fork State Park proves to hold both eager rainbows and a wise older trout that require delicate presentations and realistic flies. Do not trouble yourself with matching the hatch on these waters, these fish can spot the difference. These pristine waters are wide enough to use a nice 9ft-3wt outfit with enough room for a good false cast that curls around the boulder next to a small cascade; on the other hand, you choose an eight foot tenkara rod in order to get to the smaller pocket directly underneath several branches

of rhododendron maximum. A Louisiana waterthrush stands on a rock watching you, it's hard, metallic chip, a reminder that your fly is not tempting to just the trout. Working upstream, a rise indicates a larger rainbow feeding right at subsurface. Passing hikers stop and watch what will sure to be a magical moment for any angler on small mountain streams in southern Appalachia. Picking a size 16 Light Cahill and adding an extra six inches of 7X tippet, you delicately place the fly on top of a small rock a yard or two above the rise. For these

fish, you only have one chance before the entire pool is spooked and washed out. A small flick pops the fly up and down into the creek without even a ripple. Breathing stops. Hikers stand, unmoving while the same waterthrush trains a quiet eye on the fly. The Cahill disappears without anyone noticing. A quick jerk and fight later, you hold an Appalachian prize. The size does not matter to you or the cheering hikers, only that you convinced one fish to rise above the water's edge where the water forks.


Columbine Meadows Sam Larson

Photo: Bob Wick

The sky presses close overhead, dark gray and rippled with the texture of winter storm clouds. There's no wind. Just the overwhelming stillness of the first autumn day where winter starts knocking on the door and summer packs her bags to take the long road south for the season. I have my tenkara rod and gear with me, chest pack laid over top my wind shell and net swinging back and forth from my shoulders, but my rod isn't rigged up yet. The collapsed tenkara rod swings easily in my hand as I stomp down the path in my wading boots.

I'm walking in the creek and remembering trout. I know this river, have walked it almost my whole life, and each bend and sandbar has its memory. At the foot of the bridge I stop think about the big brookie that holds here, with his small kype and dark black streaks around his jaw blending into a rich swirl of spawning colors. He's the king of a stream where fish multiply, stunt, and rarely top eight inches. I wonder where he is, whether he's sunk down low in the cold water, preparing for winter, or whether he's given up his hard-fought climb to the top of this particular food chain, tumbled downstream over rocks and riffles to be picked apart by other, lesser fish. Depressing thoughts, I tell myself...


...Autumn thoughts. Above the bridge is a stretch that I don't fish. In the spring and summer it's too overgrown, a tunnel of trees and brush that meet and intertwine overhead. In this part of the creek flies migrate to the trees by way of my backcast, forming a sparse, tattered constellation of feathers, hooks, and tippet in the branches. I leave this part of the river to the fish and the dappled, leafy shade. But autumn strips the leaves and brush from the banks and, for the first time since last winter, I can see the bones of the river; the gravel and sand rippling along the bottom, the splash of clear water, and the stark, rocky banks. I wade noisily upstream, noting lies and eddies where I've landed fish, favorite spots where I can always find a fish that will rise to an emerger or a micro Chernobyl Ant. Next season, after winter, spring, and a heavy runoff have had their way with the river, things will be different. Old, familiar beaver ponds will vanish, swept clear by rising water, and new deadfall will redirect the current, carving channels and cut banks to house the coming summer's brook trout. In spring I'll come back to a river that I claim to know and have to learn about it all over again.

Stretches of the creek have accumulated names over the years: The Swimming Hole, the Cow Ford, and the Magic Stretch, where the fishing is always good. The Bridge, the Black Pines, and the Rocks, where I am now. In the middle of the creek two tall boulders are framed by deep currents. In late fall's low water, I can approach and scramble up their backs, sit astride them and look up and down stream. An advancing wedge of clouds noses over the ridge to the south and starts to tumble down the valley, bringing vague puffs of wind along with it. The smell of snow is thick in the air and if I want to get any fishing done I need to keep moving upstream. The granite rasps on my waders as I slide down the rocks and splash heavily back into the stream. A pod of brookies darts out of the pool I landed in and vanishes downstream. I note them but keep walking upstream towards an appointment I've made with a few favorite bends, above the twisted bramble and trees of the valley. As the valley continues to narrow I step out of the water and follow a faint footpath through the crackling brown grass. It traverses a steep hillside and rises quickly above the water. Through the bare treetops, now at eye level, the pebbled bottom of the creek is visible. Clouds continue to edge down the side of the valley opposite. I feel as though I'm climbing into the sky, heading upstream and upslope, parting swirling tails of fog with my tenkara rod and splitting violent cracks in the cloudy silence with every branch that snaps underfoot. I feel small, one man climbing inside a vast silence. The physical presence of the sky leans in so close that it seems I could cast a

fly upwards and play a cloud into my net. Or perhaps, where the creek recedes into the lowering horizon, I'd get hauled upwards through a river of fog by a bucking troutshaped swirl of mist, angrily shaking streamers of vapor from its silver-gray tail. My boot slips on a clump of grass and I have to put out a hand to steady myself. That's the wakeup call I needed to stop staring at the clouds and start paying attention to the thin trail ahead of me. Columbine Meadows is a flat, square-acre field projecting off the side of a steep hill. Beneath the pines in the center of the meadow blue columbines remain hidden long after they've faded away elsewhere. Above the meadow the river slows into broad curves across the bottom of the valley. Sweeping cut banks and glassy flats replace the pockets and small eddies that define the lower stretches. This is the kind of water that offers curious trout all the time they need to hover below a fly and pass judgment before they commit to taking a bite.

My level line tumbles off the foam spool in loops and whorls, nothing a few false casts won't shake out. The water is clear and low, and the peacock and partridge soft hackle that I'd already decided to tie on seems like a good place to start. A puff of wind sends the line out behind me like a pennant and there is snow falling around me. The ticking and rustling of the snow on my jacket and hat brim is loud in the overcast silence. The dry grass whispers in the new breeze and my boots crunch in the gravel of the river bed as I walk towards the first seam, thinking about rivers, trout, the coming winter, and the spring that will follow.


be the best since early summer, has that nagging feeling of something slipping away. Winter for me has no fishing expectations. I get out from time to time when the weather and schedule permits, but those trips are a gift. I can still look back on the fall fishing with good memories, still mull them over and think on them and enjoy them. But the winter is a time of comfort and relaxation. I don't like the heat. The dog days of summer are my least favorite time of the year. Winter makes me feel alive again — the bracing air, the crunch of fresh snow underfoot, no yard work to do.

Reader's Corner: What Trout Want & Simple Flies Anthony Naples

Winter is coming. Well it's a little while off still. But a guy can dream. I happen to love winter. Autumn is nice too. Who doesn't love the smell of fallen leaves crunching underfoot and the crisp mornings warming to comfy afternoons? And of course the splendid dress of the brookies trying to impress their ladies. But fall can make me a little frantic as I know that prime fishing weather is slipping away. Every trip feels as though it may be the last of the season. Spring has that hopeful feeling of a fishing season just coming into its own. Summer can be just fantastic salad days of easy fishing, and then when the trout streams get low and slow I can usually switch over to some local warm water smallmouth streams. But autumn, though the fishing can


And then there's the reading. Sitting inside, frosty windowpanes, hot cup of coffee and a good book. Most likely the book is science fiction, non-fiction science, nature or fishing. Winter is a good time for woodshedding, preparing, planning and thinking about the next season. It's a good time to rethink things, to look back on the fishing season and think about what went right and what went wrong and what you might want to try next time around. And of course a good time to fill those fly boxes. With all that in mind I have a few recommendations for your upcoming winter

reading list - of course you don't have to wait to winter. You could get started early and maybe even have time to implement some of what you learn and use some of the flies that you tie this fall.

I hope that you choose the red pill…

The first part of this book is dedicated to what Mr. Wyatt calls “A Beautiful Fiction”, wherein he systematically picks apart much of what the previous few hundred years of fly fishing literature has taught us about trout and more specifically the idea of “educated trout” and “finicky trout” and “fly refusal”. And he does a pretty thorough job of it.

What Trout Want: The Educated Trout and Other Myths by Bob Wyatt

Reading this book is a little like being Neo in The Matrix. So part of the speech that Morpheus delivers to Neo before making him choose whether he wants to really learn about the Matrix might be in order...

He points to trout behavior that has led the fly fishing world to attribute much more intelligence, decision making ability and learning capacity to trout than he thinks they ought to be given, and provides alternative and simpler explanations based on experience and science. He then gives us his thoughts on what is really important to the trout and and some basic fly patterns that will cover most situations that the trout fisher will need to imitate the insects (and stages).

“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. Remember... all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more... follow me.”

-Morpheus, The Matrix


I don't want to give it all away.

But let's say it's something to do with what many tenkara anglers have been suspicious of - presentation...

Mr. Wyatt is not a “one-fly” proponent in the way that some tenkara anglers may be. He's not afraid to admit that trout get selective at times. And that a different fly may be needed, but the key feature of the fly is likely not what we've been taught by mainstream fly fishing. He's in the school that says fly size is probably the most important factor (assuming adequate presentation too of course) not body color, wing material, tails, ribbing and/or other anatomical details.

I have not always been in this camp. But after taking up tenkara, my views have shifted. Though up till now I still hadn't gone so far over to all of what Wyatt discusses in

Bob Wyatt's Deer Hair Emerger

this book. I may be converted now - though I need to do some field testing.

Bob Wyatt's Deer Hair Sedge


If you're coming to tenkara from a fly fishing background this book may really help you to clear away all of the excesses that you've picked up along your journey and give you a nice grounding in why you should reconsider the “common knowledge”. If you're new to fly fishing, and tenkara is your entry point, this book will give you a solid foundation on which to build. Some readers may think Mr. Wyatt goes too far - some may think not far enough - and like all fly fishing books I'm sure there are things in it that you just won't be able to agree with completely based on your own experiences. After all the author is not

immune to the biases that affect all of us, such as conďŹ rmation bias and availability bias. But I do get the feeling that he'd be happy to discuss things with you and keep an open mind. In the end, for me this book provided a slightly different perspective on the trout and it's brain that I hadn't really quite grasped previously, and I'm willing to open my mind up to the idea that I've been wrong about a few things. Next trout season will be the time for some serious investigation of the ideas in What Trout Want.

with them, along with additional background on the ideas behind using simple flies, it is more than just a tying manual. Armed with these two books you'll have a very productive off-season of reading and tying in preparation for your most successful trout season yet. Also it doesn't hurt that Morgan Lyle is a member of our tenkara brotherhood and tenkara gets it's due in his book.

Good reading!

Simple Flies: 52 Easy-to-Tie Patterns that Catch Trout by Morgan Lyle

I'm not going to go on too long about this book. I've written about it previously when I presented an interview with Morgan Lyle on my Three Rivers Tenkara blog and in a previous issue of Tenkara Angler. But I think it's well worth mentioning it here again in the context of having just read Bob Wyatt's book, because I ďŹ rst heard about What Trout Want in Morgan Lyle's book and in the interview that I did with him. What Trout Want lays down a great technical and theoretical background, but it is not a fly tying book. It presents only a few basic patterns, which considering the author's entire thesis is probably quite appropriate. If you want to take what you've learned in Bob Wyatt's book but also learn to tie some additional patterns for other species and situations, then Simple Flies is the book you want. Morgan presents some great, easy to tie patterns and step by step instructions to go


Friends of Tenkara Angler









Contributors & Credits

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

Chris Stewart

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

Jim Tignor

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

John Vetterli

Jacques LeBrun

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.

Jacques LeBrun is an avid fly fisherman and Tenkara enthusiast who lives and fishes near the Adirondack mountains, NY.

Anthony Naples

Rob Lepczyk

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

is a Tenkara USA Guide, is endorsed by Orvis, and works at Great Feathers fly shop. Born and raised in Baltimore County, MD, Rob fishes the Gunpowder River watershed for its wild browns and native brookies. Give him a call if you want to check out some local trout water. 410-472-6799.

Robert Worthing

John-Paul Povilaitis

has had a fishing rod in hand for over 20 years. An avid angler, world traveler, backpacker, and wilderness medical professional, he enjoys going off the beaten path to find the best fly fishing possible. tenkaraguides.com


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

Nathaniel Skaggs

Adam Rieger

Based in the mountains of East Tennessee, Nathaniel is a Master's Candidate in Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University. When not on the river hunting for native trout, he is actively trying to protect stream management. Nathaniel has also been published in the Red Mud Review.

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 blue tooth headset on eating a sandwich and fishing…please say hello.

Bradford Wade

Paul Vertrees

Bradford Wade is a current student at the University of Tennessee. When he's not studying Fish and Wildlife Management he is fishing the local creeks for panfish around Knoxville. Bradford believe that Tenkara has no rules and should be shared with everyone. He provides free guided fishing trips in the Knoxville area and can be contacted via email (jwade30@utk.edu).

is Vice President of Zen Tenkara, working with public relations and product design. He also works as a professional tenkara guide for Royal Gorge Anglers, in Canon City, Colorado, where he lives with his wife and three daughters, five minutes from the Arkansas River. He writes for his personal blog, Tenkara Tracks, as well as various print publications.

John Mosovsky

Paul Gaskell

has been combining the techniques of Tenkara and Czech nymphing for 4 years on the streams and rivers of Eastern Pennsylvania. He prefers wading to floating and supports his approach with research in bioacoustics – what fish hear. Wade softly and carry a rubber tipped staff. hideawaytroutclub@ptd.net

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

Isaac Tait

George Roberts

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

Although he is known primarily for teaching distance fly casting to saltwater anglers, George Roberts can often be found in the woods, standing in an ice-cold trickle holding an oversized chopstick, trying to hook fish he doesn't talk about. If you're interested in Western-style fly fishing, and particularly casting, visit his website: www.masterthecast.com.

Sam Larson

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).


TenkaraCalendar.com is a simple community-driven resource to organize, keep track, and promote tenkara-based events, get-togethers, "takeovers," meet ups, and seminars. The current events through the beginning of November 2016 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. Rocky Mountain Anglers Tenkara Demo & Fish Along Saturday October 1st, 2016 - 10:00 AM 1904 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder, CO Eastern Rocky Mountain Regional Expo Saturday October 8th, 2016 - 8:00 AM Hotel Colorado, Glenwood Springs, CO Tenkara & Western Casting Class Saturday October 8th, 2016 - 8:30 AM Fox Carlton Pond Sporting Camps, Phillips, ME Fly Fishing Faire Friday October 14th - Sunday October 16th, 2016 Tri County Fairgrounds, Bishop, CA 2016 Tenkara Jam Saturday October 15th - Sunday October, 16th 2016 Yellowhill Activity Center, Cherokee, NC Fly Fishing Rendezvous Saturday November 5th - Sunday November 6th, 2016 Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Golden, CO


Photo: Rob Lepczyk



News & Notes From Around Social Media Discover Tenkara released a pretty thorough Tenkara Rod buying guide; a must read before your next purchase...

Luong Tam (Tenkara Tanuki) visited China to meet and learn from the people producing his rods... Tom Davis wrote an interesting piece on a tenkara rod hack that creates two rods from one on his Teton Tenkara blog...

The 2016 Tenkara Jam is near. Preparations are being made by many for what should be an outstanding event... Chris Stewart decided to cancel his 2017 Catskill Tenkara Weekend due to a crowded regional show schedule...

Adam Trahan & Adam Klagsbrun visited Japan, exploring and ďŹ shing with friends. A great recap posted to Tenkara-Fisher...


Fall 2016