Today is day 4 of spending time with our factories in China. It was a very productive day. Margaret joined me in evaluating working conditions at the factory that makes the Yamame rods for us. She provided a keen eye for detail; requesting that workers put on their mask even as they may not like doing it and those are available to them. A good portion of the day was dedicated to teaching tenkara to our rod engineers and evaluating rod designs and processes to ensure good quality control going forward.
I don’t have a whole lot to write about today. Normally this would be a quick writeup with pictures posted on our socialnetworks/microblogging platforms, but unfortunately I do not have access to those where I am. I will leave it at that so I don’t lose access to this blog as well.
Written by Daniel
I have been in China for about 3 days now (5 more to go), following a 2-week long stay in Japan. This tour of Asia is very important and I believe will translate into ever-better Tenkara USA products. And, I’m already seeing concrete insights and results from being here.
For about 4 years I have focused on developing authentic tenkara rods. I do not copy any rods and have my own design philosophy when it comes to making (and releasing) new tenkara rods. Futher, for the last 4 years I have been taking your feedback into account into everyone of our rods. As you can see, I brought all those notes here with me.
Written by Daniel
Tenkara USA was just awarded a “Best of Show” award at the International Fly Tackle Dealer show (IFTD)!!! Wohooo! We received the prize for “Best Gift” for the 12ft Iwana tenkara rod, a tenkara line and tenkara flies.
Many people realized that a tenkara rod, tenkara line and tenkara flies make up for the best gift. Either they will be something the experienced fly angler will not already have, or it will be the ideal gift to get someone started into fly fishing.
We also submitted one of our rods as a “Best Freshwater Fly Rod” category. That was a tough one to compete in given that we were going head to head with all the conventional 9ft fly rods in the market. I knew the chances of that prize were extremely slim, but as they did not have a category for “Best Mountain Stream Fly Rod” that was our only chance.
When I asked my friend Tom Sadler what he thought the odds were of the tenkara rod winning the category prize, his response was “exactly the same as the percentage of people doing tenkara within the of fly-fishing”.
Yesterday we shared with you the news of a new release in the world of tenkara, “Tying Tenkara Flies” a DVD produced by LearnTenkara.com (available for sale at learntenkara.com and soon here at Tenkara USA). This is by far the best fly-tying DVD ever produced, and we’re lucky it is about tenkara flies. Brian Flemming, the producer and cinematographer, shared one of the entire videos with us for today’s Tenkara Flies on Wednesdays.
In today’s video I share a basic tenkara fly pattern, my variation of Mr. Amano’s tenkara fly. I use peacock herl as the collar and whatever feather and line they had on hand when I tied the video – I believe it was partridge for the feather and silk line. Coincidentally, as we’re just about to board a plane for the second Tenkara Summit, this video was shot on my last day in Montana after last year’s Tenkara Summit. I came over to Brian’s house to make this video just hours before departing Montana. It was probably midnight when we started shooting and even with the shot of whiskey and being super tired, I am glad to see my speech wasn’t too slurred.
Some very exciting news and a huge milestone for the introduction of tenkara outside of Japan: Orvis, the 156-year old fly-fishing company starts carrying our equipment today! That’s an incredible nod of approval to the method and irrefutable evidence that tenkara is here to stay. Needless to say I’m thrilled.
Orvis approached us earlier this year, and while initially a bit reluctant I was delighted that every single person there – from their retail stores as well as the corporate office – just got tenkara. They not only understood the potential for introducing new people to fly-fishing through tenkara, but they were excited about the technique and how it worked on streams. They were also interested in promoting the method, which totally sold me on working with them. I recently visited with Tom Rosenbauer (yes, that’s the answer to this question) and we recorded a podcast together that should be up sometime soon (likely this week).
The press release below just went out:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Orvis to Sell Tenkara USA Products
San Francisco, California
Today, San Francisco based company Tenkara USA announced that Orvis, industry leader in fly-fishing equipment, will start carrying Tenkara USA’s rods, line and flies and helping promote the Japanese method of fly-fishing called tenkara.
From our inception we have been approached by numerous clients asking where/with whom they could learn more about tenkara. As a result, and in collaboration with the Tenkara Guides of Utah, last year we started developing a new program to put people in touch with guides who know tenkara well, love it, and have tenkara as part of their guide offerings.
As a result we developed the Tenkara Guide Network™
Consider this a public service announcement. Since we introduced tenkara outside of Japan in 2009, a number of rods have appeared in the market, being offered as tenkara rods, and a number of people with passing knowledge of the method have jumped on the bandwagon to offer their “alternative” to tenkara. This has translated into every kind of telescopic rod being marketed as a “tenkara-style rod”, whether it is designed for tenkara or not.
This greatly concerns me. There is a reason there are rods specifically made for tenkara. There is a reason I design rods for tenkara and rely on feedback from tenkara teachers in Japan for making our rods the best possible tools for tenkara. And there is a reason you can visit any tackle shop in Japan, or open the pages of the larger Japanese fishing magazines, and find tenkara rods next to cheaper telecopic hera rods (for carp), telescopic keiryu rods (for stream bait-fishing, generally trout), and telescopic tanago rods (for “micro-fishing”); yet just like a fly-fisherman in the US wouldn’t use a spinning for for fly-fishing, no tenkara angler would use the other rods for tenkara. In sum, there are reasons the rods look different and are marketed for entirely different purposes.
We’re slowly working through our backlog of interested dealers and getting our products in more shops. We can now be found in 12 stores throughout the country, and will be in several new locations soon. It is important to note that we are taking this process slowly, and if we are not yet in your favorite shop it is either because (a) they contacted us and we will be getting to them soon, (b) they still don’t know about tenkara, or have not yet contacted us, or (c) they just don’t get it, and we will not be trying to convince them. The stores we work with are very passionate about tenkara and see in it the same thing we do: a simple and effective way to fish mountain streams. Please visit them if you’re in their area, you may be able to see our entire line of products in person.
View Tenkara USA Authorized Dealers in a larger map
For the last 2 years Tenkara USA has been going global and expanding its brand internationally. In 2010 we opened a distribution center in the UK and established Tenkara Europe™ (aka. Tenkara EU). 2012 has been our year of expanding efforts at fly fishing shows around the world and we were supported by Chris Hendriks in Norway to bring the representation to Europe. Please read below his report of the 2012 Fly Fair in the Netherlands.
Chris Hendriks’ Fishing – Experiences introduced Tenkara in Europe at the Fly Fair 2012!
Report by Chris Hendriks
The Fly Fair is an event which attracts the hard-core fly fishermen and women from the Netherlands as well as Germany and England. This time they had several areas for presentations, demonstrations, fishing-clubs; a huge tent which held all the retailers under one roof and one tent for the fly tiers.
The dreamteam of Chris Hendriks Fishing – Experiences and their website
This weekend we participated at the Wasatch Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Expo. It was very much a last minute decision to attend. The Tenkara Guides of Utah were participating, as was Craig Mathews from Blue Ribbon Flies (one of our dealers and very passionate tenkara angler). Also, Utah is one of the states with most potential for tenkara, with lots and lots of streams in the mountains nearby but where, by perusing the main online forum for fly-fishing in Utah, it seems like many people have the wrong ideas about the method. Thus I decided to come in and help tenkara take over the show. It turned out that we did make a big splash, and introduced tenkara to hundreds of people and “converted” a good number of them. It was hard to look at our corner and not see a crowd. Several people commented that we were keeping people in that area for too long. So, tenkara has now made big strides in Utah.
Also, a huge thanks to John and Rob of tenkaraguides.com for their enthusiastic participation at the show. Having their booth next to ours provided huge synergy.
It was also great seeing many advocates stopping by and talking tenkara to anyone who came near our booth. Several people said they came to the show specifically to see tenkara. If there is something that makes me truly happy it is to see those who adopted tenkara come to say hi and then hang out talking to everyone about their newfound passion.
The day before the show John and I went fishing at one of the Cottonwood canyon streams. We only had a bit over an hour of fishing time and I landed a beautiful brown trout. Using an ishigaki kebari of course. We fished a small stretch without a bite. The temperature the day before had swung dramatically: t-shirt and shorts weather when I arrived, but a nano-puff jacket and gloves when we went fishing the day after. Caught it by casting upstream and getting my fly to sink a few inches on a small plunge.
In a couple of hours we’re heading to a new-to-me stream outside of Salt Lake City, and I’m truly excited to see what that holds. The tenkaraguides.com couldn’t stop talking about it last night. I think they know something most people here don’t.
The Pasadena Fly Fishing Show is over, and we consider it another great success thanks to the kind and energetic help of Rick and Sherry Setina, two passionate tenkara customers who volunteered at our booth to introduce people to tenkara. A huge thank you Rick and Sherry for the incredible help! The fact that both of you brought so much good energy to the booth (and did it completely free0 is a reflection of the passion of tenkara anglers for the method! A huge number of people became converts this weekend. As always, it was great meeting tenkara anglers who came by to say hi!
The Bad Jokes and the Good Story
The night before the Pasadena Fly Fishing Show kicked off, my wife and I, and Ben and Brook, the awesome couple who runs theanglingbookstore.com and also help run the Fly Fishing Show itself, headed out to a famous comedy club in the area. It turned out, the comedian for the night was too drunk to remember his routine, if he had one. He kept repeating the same not-so-funny jokes, and what is worse, kept asking the audience for topics which he did not have any jokes for! Well, inevitably we shouted out “fly-fishing!” as a topic. He danced around it and said he didn’t have a joke, going back to the same old jokes he had been telling all nigh. He did, however, say he had a story about fly-fishing that he would tell later, not a joke, but a story.
Later that night he remembered the story, and it actually went well in the context of fly-fishing, the fact that Ben and Brook live in Colorado, and the story behind tenkara’s introduction to the US.
He told us, how he went fly-fishing once. He and his girlfriend went camping in Deckers, CO for a couple of days between some shows (when he mentioned he was in Deckers we could tell he was telling a true story as I was fishing there last year). They didn’t have anything with them, but saw a dad and his son doing this really cool thing on the stream by their campground: flailing their rods around, making the line do all this cool stuff in the air. They wanted to do something and that looked pretty cool. So, they headed to a store nearby. As they didn’t have money to buy a rod nor wanted to completely get into the sport they just bought some fishing line and some hooks with feathers on them (flies, I’m guessing). They headed to the stream where the dad and son were still fishing. Not having a rod, he found a branch, tied his line and fly to it and put it in the water. He didn’t believe he would catch anything with that hook. Yet, he kept his fly in the water. A few minutes into it, and after watching dad and son fishing for a while and not catching anything, he had a fish on! Only a branch, line and flies, and he had caught a fish.
The comedian started talking about how the dad and son had all this stuff on them, these vests full of pockets, fancy looking rods and bright lines, and hats and accessories and the whole thing! They looked cool. But, he was the one with the girl and the fish on the line!
We were laughing a bunch at the story. I just wish the comedian knew we laughed not because he was funny, but because of the context.
David Lofthouse stopped by our booth wearing a shirt from www.thefiberglassmanifesto.com.
The Pleasanton show ended yesterday, took me about a day to recover. What a show! For tenkara, this was the apex of the fly fishing show season, and the beginning of the “year of tenkara”.
This time the impression that we had a busy booth was confirmed by multiple reports that indeed we had the busiest booth in the show! Our inventory dissipated like crazy despite the careful planning with experience from previous show. So, yes, I’m stoked – the tenkara community grew considerably this weekend.
Connecting with customers in person was certainly the highlight for our team. A new tenkara adopter, Mike Sevon and his wife wrote to us after the show, “Tillie and I really enjoyed the show and being able to handle the different Tenkara rods was the highlight. I spent the entire day on the internet learning as much as I could about Tenkara…Since we only bought one Tenkara rod, the 12 foot Iwana, I have a feeling we will be fighting over this rod until I get another one.”
TJ, our customer service face, and Masaki lent us their very passionate and energetic enthusiasm for all three days. It wouldn’t have happened without their help. They helped customers left and right and allowed me to give a couple of demonstrations or interact with other vendors and friends. A winning team.
The casting demonstrations again served to dispel the “myth” that tenkara is dapping. I couldn’t keep track of the number of people who stopped by our booth and said, “oh, so it’s just like dapping…”. I would respond that no, it is not, and invite them to watch the casting demo a few minutes later, or take them behind the booth and let them cast the rods themselves.
Next up, Pasadena! Please join us next Saturday and Sunday at the Fly Fishing Show in Pasadena.
Our booth has been up and running at the Pleasanton Fly Fishing Show the last couple of day, and again I have to consider it a wild success! The show, again, is being greatly run by the Furimsky family, and I am very pleased we signed up for it – definitely will be coming back next year!
Masaki and TJ have been of immense and very passionate help in manning the booth with me. In these last two days we have introduced a huge number of people to tenkara – way more than I could have predicted even after attending the large Somerset show – so if you want to guarantee you get a tenkara rod this weekend, and are reading this, come early tomorrow!
A shoutout to The Fiberglass Manifesto blog run by Cameron Mortenson.
In Denver, Massachussets, Somerset and now Pleasanton we have spotted folks wearing his t-shirts. He has a passionate crowd of people who appreciate the work he’s doing, and we’re very happy he’s a guy who gets tenkara!
Today we had a visit by Derrol Hammer. He agreed we should get a cool TFM Spotting picture on the Tenkara USA booth. The first picture was supposed to be a funny picture, where the “manifesto” guy gets put against the tenkara wall. The other picture is just a good picture of him trying out the glassier-feeling tenkara rod, the Ayu.
Today we setup our booth at the Pleasanton Fly Fishing Show, tomorrow the real fun starts!
Daniel has two demonstrations scheduled at this show, one on Saturday at 10:15AM, and one on Sunday at 1:15PM. We also have lots of fly sets and stickers that we’ll be giving away to anyone who asks!
Come by our booth and talk to us – by the way, you can’t miss us, we’re on the main pavillion and our sign is visible from just about anywhere.
See you there!
Wow, what a show this is!
Today was the first time we held out own booth at a Fly Fishing show, and the first day at the Somerset Fly Fishing Show. It was a blast. AND BUSY! Of course, I imagine anyone who works at their own booth feels they were the busiest booth around, but I suspect we were one of the busiest, for real. I mean, no one could miss our large overhead banner from anywhere in the pavilion. Many people mentioned they saw our sign from the entrance and came by to see us. It’s really cool we were the only company featuring one of those – the show organizers suspect we just started another trend.
We met at lot of people that have been tenkara fishing for sometime and came by to say hello, and I really appreciate that. Especially as they may have hung around and talked to others who were interested in giving it a try – I mean, we can not get better support than those who do it and share it with others just because they love it.
Chris Stewart (Aka. the Tenkara Bum) was a great help at the show today. His enthusiasm for tenkara really showed at every interaction with our customers and he was a great help.
The day started with a presentation on tenkara at 11AM. I thought this was going to be completely empty as many people were still trying to get in the show, but turned out to have the presence of some 20 guests or so.
Then, it ended with a great interaction with a group from Italy, the TLT Academy. There were some 5-6 guys from Italy who came to the show and had their own booth about a method of fly casting they teach. I turned out that one of their people, Mr. Massimo Pulze, has been practicing the Italian method of “tenkara”, called Pesca alla Valsesiana, since he was a young boy some 50 years ago. The methods are similar, but we also learned of some differences – such as the Italian’s preference for a very soft rod – Mr. Pulze LOVED the Ayu rod, “bella cana” he would say. I learned they prefer the softer rods for the ability to keep the line off the air by casting wider loops, and this may have derived from the fact that early on they used live bait, which would fall apart if being cast with a stiffer rod. In any case, we had a terrific interaction and I look forward to spending more time with them.