Somerset Fly Fishing Show – Setting up

On January 26, 2012 • Comments (1)
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Somerset, NJ Fly Fishing Show, January 27-29: This will be the big one! 

Not only is Somerset the biggest fly-fishing only show in the world, but Tenkara USA will be having its own booth! We will also count on the participation of Chris Stewart of the Tenkara Bum who will be manning the booth with Tenkara USA’s Daniel Galhardo. We are there to support our two dealers: Mossy Creek, and the Bear’s Den.

Tenkara USA booth banner

Schedule:

Friday, Jan 27, 11AM: Tenkara presentation @Destination Theater Princeton Room
Saturday, Jan 28, 10AM: Tenkara presentation @Destination Theater Westfield Room
Saturday, Jan 28, 12PM: Tenkara Casting Demonstration @Pond 2
Sunday, Jan 29th, 12PM: Tenkara Casting Demonstration @Pond 2
Sunday, Jan 29th, 2PM: Tenkara presentation @Destination Theater Bedminster Room

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Lefty Kreh, TFO and Tenkara

On January 22, 2012 • Comments (70)
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“Tenkara is a fad and it won’t last long”, Lefty Kreh, the legendary fly-caster and face for TFO (a fly-fishing company) told me this morning as we walked toward the Marlborough Fly Fishing Show here in Marlborough, MA.

As we got in the elevator this morning, I introduced myself. He asked me, “You’re that tenkara guy?” I nodded, and in turn asked him, “What do you think about it?” His complete statement was, “to me fly fishing is a lot of things: the rods, matching lines and different leaders, long casting…I think tenkara is a fad and it won’t last long. That is just my honest assessment.”

Lefty seemed to be a very friendly man, his response was not said in a mean tone. He actually reminds me of my grandfather, to whom I’m very close and is also not afraid of giving his honest assessment of things. Mr. Kreh spoke with the sincerity of a person who has seen many things and is not afraid of saying what he thinks. To be clear, I am not criticizing Mr. Kreh in this post. And, I am not at all upset by his response, please read on. Mr. Kreh shared with me his honest opinion (everyone has theirs), and I respect him for it.

As we stepped out of the elevator, I proceeded to ask Mr. Kreh, “So, in that case what do you think about TFO making their own tenkara rods? You know about that, right?”

Tenkara Lefty Kreh TFO

About two weeks ago, NY journalist Morgan Lyle first reported that TFO was eyeing the tenkara market, ” ‘TFO hopes to bring some tenkara tackle to market within a year’, partner Brandon Powers said. He’s never used a tenkara rod himself.” In the article, Power stated, “This is definitely off our radar screen, so we’re kind of getting a crash course in tenkara.”

Unfortunately, while attempting to build some credibility in the tenkara segment, in the original report TFO stated that Misako Ishimura, a good friend and supporter and co-author of the first book on tenkara, Craig Mathews of Blue Ribbon Flies, and Yvon Chouinard were “pro staff”. While Mathews and Chouinard agreed to review their prototypes (as they may also evaluate of our rods), TFO’s claims were a bit overstated. I called Misako, who confirmed she never advised them on tenkara, had no idea they were developing tenkara rods, and the only interaction with TFO regarding tenkara was to gift the guys at TFO one of our rods!

Neither Mathews nor Chouinard are on their payroll or exclusively working with TFO on tenkara. They confirmed they have talked to TFO about tenkara, and may review rods to “help anyone make a better rod”, as they review our rods. In fact, Mr. Chouinard confirmed he did not want his name associated with TFO’s tenkara rods and the first prototype he saw “was terrible” – TFO then asked to copy Chouinard’s 20-year old tenkara rod!

After we were out of the elevator, Mr. Kreh continued his response regarding TFO and tenkara: ” I don’t think they are going to offer it. Yes, I know about that, but they will probably drop that. They tried to make some rods but they didn’t turn out well at all. It is very difficult for them to get the right mandrels and to make them work and match. I don’t think they can do it.”

While you may have assumed I would have taken his “assessment” personally and badly, I was actually very happy to see the level of “buy-in” on tenkara from one of TFO’s most prominent advisors (interesting quote from the link, which points to TFO’s page on Mr. Kreh: “There is an old view of fly fishing that has circulated around the sport fishing community for too many years that fly fishing is an “elitist” sport. This view, which has long been troublesome for Lefty, has been perpetuated, in large part, by the fact that fly fishing gear was very expensive.”)

Of course, he is only one person saying tenkara – a method of fishing that has been around for hundreds of years, thriving in the US for the last 3 years since we first introduced it here – is a fad. There are others who have made the same statement when we first started. Whether it would be a fad or not was one of the things that kept me awake when I started Tenkara USA 3 years ago…until it no longer kept me awake.

I realized tenkara was no longer at the risk of being fad when some of the most prominent names in the sport embraced it, when our customers continued telling everyone about it, and when someone got a tenkara tattoo. I realized that the only reason tenkara could ever pass by and be perceived as a long gone fad was if I made poor decisions and went out of business – we are the main driving force for tenkara, promoting the method and spreading it – and yes, if we run out of business, tenkara may end up being perceived as a fad that came and went.

We are looking forward to TFO’s entry into the tenkara market. While not pleasant to deal with a company with deep pockets, it reinforces the fact that tenkara is here to stay. It will help introduce many people to the method, and by default to our company via our videos and other content. Our main concern is the fact that neither TFO and not a single person there has any idea whatsoever of what the method really entails, no one from their organization will go learn tenkara – the method. Unfortunately they may just butcher it. We look forward to TFO’s customers realizing that they really do not need their reels, short rods, and rod guides.

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Lefty Kreh, TFO: “Tenkara is a fad”

On January 22, 2012 • Comments (64)
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“Tenkara is a fad and it won’t last long”, Lefty Kreh, the legendary fly-caster and face for TFO (a fly-fishing company) told me this morning as we walked toward the Marlborough Fly Fishing Show here in Marlborough, MA.

As we got in the elevator this morning, I introduced myself. He asked me, “You’re that tenkara guy?” I nodded, and in turn asked him, “What do you think about it?” His complete statement was, “to me fly fishing is a lot of things: the rods, matching lines and different leaders, long casting…I think tenkara is a fad and it won’t last long. That is just my honest assessment.”

Lefty seemed to be a very friendly man, his response was not said in a mean tone. He actually reminds me of my grandfather, to whom I’m very close and is also not afraid of giving his honest assessment of things. Mr. Kreh spoke with the sincerity of a person who has seen many things and is not afraid of saying what he thinks. To be clear, I am not criticizing Mr. Kreh in this post. And, I am not at all upset by his response, please read on. Mr. Kreh shared with me his honest opinion (everyone has theirs), and I respect him for it.

As we stepped out of the elevator, I proceeded to ask Mr. Kreh, “So, in that case what do you think about TFO making their own tenkara rods? You know about that, right?”

Tenkara Lefty Kreh TFO

About two weeks ago, NY journalist Morgan Lyle first reported that TFO was eyeing the tenkara market, ” ‘TFO hopes to bring some tenkara tackle to market within a year’, partner Brandon Powers said. He’s never used a tenkara rod himself.” In the article, Power stated, “This is definitely off our radar screen, so we’re kind of getting a crash course in tenkara.”

Unfortunately, while attempting to build some credibility in the tenkara segment, in the original report TFO stated that Misako Ishimura, a good friend and supporter and co-author of the first book on tenkara, Craig Mathews of Blue Ribbon Flies, and Yvon Chouinard were “pro staff”. While Mathews and Chouinard agreed to review their prototypes (as they may also evaluate of our rods), TFO’s claims were a bit overstated. I called Misako, who confirmed she never advised them on tenkara, had no idea they were developing tenkara rods, and the only interaction with TFO regarding tenkara was to gift the guys at TFO one of our rods!

Neither Mathews nor Chouinard are on their payroll or exclusively working with TFO on tenkara. They confirmed they have talked to TFO about tenkara, and may review rods to “help anyone make a better rod”, as they review our rods. In fact, Mr. Chouinard confirmed he did not want his name associated with TFO’s tenkara rods and the first prototype he saw “was terrible” – TFO then asked to copy Chouinard’s 20-year old tenkara rod!

After we were out of the elevator, Mr. Kreh continued his response regarding TFO and tenkara: ” I don’t think they are going to offer it. Yes, I know about that, but they will probably drop that. They tried to make some rods but they didn’t turn out well at all. It is very difficult for them to get the right mandrels and to make them work and match. I don’t think they can do it.”

While you may have assumed I would have taken his “assessment” personally and badly, I was actually very happy to see the level of “buy-in” on tenkara from one of TFO’s most prominent advisors (interesting quote from the link, which points to TFO’s page on Mr. Kreh: “There is an old view of fly fishing that has circulated around the sport fishing community for too many years that fly fishing is an “elitist” sport. This view, which has long been troublesome for Lefty, has been perpetuated, in large part, by the fact that fly fishing gear was very expensive.”)

Of course, he is only one person saying tenkara – a method of fishing that has been around for hundreds of years, thriving in the US for the last 3 years since we first introduced it here – is a fad. There are others who have made the same statement when we first started. Whether it would be a fad or not was one of the things that kept me awake when I started Tenkara USA 3 years ago…until it no longer kept me awake.

I realized tenkara was no longer at the risk of being fad when some of the most prominent names in the sport embraced it, when our customers continued telling everyone about it, and when someone got a tenkara tattoo. I realized that the only reason tenkara could ever pass by and be perceived as a long gone fad was if I made poor decisions and went out of business – we are the main driving force for tenkara, promoting the method and spreading it – and yes, if we run out of business, tenkara may end up being perceived as a fad that came and went.

We are looking forward to TFO’s entry into the tenkara market. While not pleasant to deal with a company with deep pockets, it reinforces the fact that tenkara is here to stay. It will help introduce many people to the method, and by default to our company via our videos and other content. Our main concern is the fact that neither TFO and not a single person there has any idea whatsoever of what the method really entails, no one from their organization will go learn tenkara – the method. Tenkara TFO….what do you think?

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Tenkara at upcoming Fly Fishing Shows

On January 16, 2012 • Comments (2)
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On Thursday I head to the East Coast to participate in a couple of Fly Fishing Shows. Please come by to check out tenkara. And, don’t miss the casting demonstrations – especially the ones right before Lefty Kreh’s!
SCHEDULE:

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On January 9, 2012 • Comments (5)
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As we try to spread the word about tenkara, advertising can be a powerful tool (though not nearly as powerful as you spreading the word to friends and family!). We only advertise in magazines that have introduced their readers to tenkara. Their readers will be more predisposed to knowing what tenkara is, and we can then drive our brand and reinforce the concept. Advertising in magazines that have never covered it will do little for tenkara.

Recently, I was creating an ad for the California Fly Fisher magazine, a large format, “tenkara-friendly” magazine in California . As I worked on a full-page ad, I placed a rod on top of its open pages. As it turned out, the rod was the same size as a spread! Taking a full spread on any magazine can be an expensive proposition. But, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to display a rod at “actual size” in its pages. It turned out pretty well. We’ll see now what the responses are like.

What do you think about the ad? What about print advertising in general?

Tenkara advertising at California Fly Fisher, actual size

Two pages later, our friends Ralph and Lisa Cutter of the California School of Fly-fishing, and tenkara-certified instructors, published their own ad. I really like the imagery and simple uncluttered design of their ad. Not quite a mountain stream, and Lisa still has a reel in her hand, but certainly mountain/backpacking territory good for tenkara.

And, their article on page 20-21 on “Winter Stuff” (clothing and layer suggestions for winter time fishing) is right on, and very educational. At the end of the article they talking about how “icing guides and frozen fly lines are the bane of every cold-weather angler” and “simply dunking rod and reel in the water…” I imagine the article was written pre-tenkara, as they probably realize there are no guides to freeze, no reel, and one can even keep his gloves on!

I took photos of these ads, so please forgive distortions, but thought it would look better than a proof of the ads.

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Tenkara at the Denver Fly Fishing Show

On January 7, 2012 • Comments (0)
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Being at the fly-fishing shows has been much more fun than I thought it would be! Originally intimidated by the prospect of participating and introducing tenkara to the large Fly Fishing Show audience, I have realized this was unfounded. Tenkara was very warmly received by hundreds of anglers who stopped by yesterday and today.

Daniel Galhardo of Tenkara USA showing the tenkara lineup

Today was our second day at the Fly Fishing Show supporting our dealer, the Rigs Fly Shop.

Rigs fly shop, tenkara, Denver Fly fishing show

These two days went by as in the blink of an eye, not a moment to stop and I am not complaining. I have given 3 presentations so far, and several casting demonstrations (2 official ones) – showing to a lot of people that tenkara is not dapping after all.

Tenkara casting demonstration

It has been great to connect with a lot of customers, many whom I was meeting for the first time, and some whom I had already met. We – meaning myself, the great folks from Rigs and yes! our customers – introduced loads of people to tenkara in these last two day. One of the coolest things to see was our most passionate customers stopping by the booth and hanging around and introducing friends and passersby to tenkara. To all of you who have stopped by today and who stop by tomorrow, thank you!

It was also very pleasant to reconnect with John Gierach, Ed Engle and hang out with Steve Schweitzer, author of the super useful book “A Guide to Fly Fishing Rocky Mountain National Park”. These guys are very well known in the fly-fishing scene here, with their badges clearly stating “celebrity”. So, being able to spend time talking to them and know they are into tenkara, lends a lot of comfort to our work here.

Thank you to Jason Klass, of Tenkara Talk, who took a couple of nice pictures, posted on his website and allowed me to use them here.

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