This is the first installment of a new series of blog posts we’d like to bring to you. The Tenkara Guide Spotlight will bring some of the experience and knowledge of the professional guides in our Tenkara Guide Network to the spotlight so we can all learn from tthem. You’ll see a diversity of tackle preferences and techniques used and hope this will help you in finding your own tenkara.
We start the series with Jim Mitchell, a full time fishing and hunting guide form the Bitterroot Valley in western Montana. Jim is a consummate professional and a super nice guy. I’ve had the pleasure of fishing with Jim a few times, and always find it an enjoyable and informative experience. His to the point answers give a nice glimpse into the thinking of a professional guide.
Where do you guide tenkara anglers and how long have you been guiding?
I started guiding in 2001 and became an outfitter in 2009. I guide float and wade trips on Rivers and Small streams in Montana.
Do you guide only tenkara or also western fly-fishing?
I guide Western and tenkara fly-fishing.
About how many guide trips and tenkara guide trips do you do in a season?
I guide about 150 client days per season 10 to 20 of those are tenkara
What would you say are the advantages and disadvantages of guiding with tenkara?
A few advantages to tenkara are the simplicity and a drag free drift. One disadvantage is casting distance on big rivers and that is irrelevant when tenkara float fishing from a raft.
What are your favorite Tenkara USA rods for guiding on your favorites and are your personal favorites different that what you guide with?
What types of rigs do you fish (i.e. single dry fly, indicator rigs, dry dropper, etc.) ?
I fish single dries, dry dropper, double fly indicator rigs and nymphs without indicators. The one thing I have not tried is streamers
Has there been anything about fishing and guiding with tenkara that has been a surprise to you compared to your initial impressions of the fishing method?
The freedom. It’s nice to leave the big bag of flies and equipment and just take a small pack with a few essentials.
As a guide, what are your thoughts on using few (or one) fly pattern?
It’s fun to do at times, but I am not a one fly guy.
Do you have a favorite fly? What is it?
A prince nymph for the nymph. A Purple Haze for the dry.
Do you have a fly-fishing or tenkara based online blog? What is the URL?
It’s a hunting and fishing blog, but I don’t update it often.
Montana Hunting Fishing Adventures Blog
Do you have an social media presence for your services? What are your Facebook or other social media accounts names?
I imagine there are many reasons why people fish: to enjoy the great outdoors, to get away from it all, to heal, to think, to improve; the list is truly endless. Growing up in Maine, fishing was something special.
My mother and aunt tell me the most wonderful stories of reading below deck in the heat of summer. The family dog Topsy, kept pépère (my French Canadian grandfather) company while he spent weekends fishing off the side of his boat on the many lakes of Maine.
Several months ago I was devastated to lose my Uncle Al whom I attribute to opening my eyes to fishing. Since this loss I have found it difficult to pick up my rod though I always keep it close by. I remember being a child and feeling so special driving to the Gulf of Maine with the important task of keeping the eels in check (they sloshed around in a bucket on the floor of the car). The Bluefish were running and this was just the treat we hoped to entice them with. This trip is one of my most cherished memories of time spent with Uncle Al.
My tenkara journey began a couple years back, not long after the flood ravaged Boulder Creek. For me it was a time to mend my relationship with the creek, build trust, and reacquaint with all the wonder and beauty it has to offer.
This past weekend I braved the water once again, and under the guidance of a most admired friend, Allie. Allie is tremendous. She’s not only an amazing fly-fishing guide, skilled hunter, and leader of the Rocky Mountain Lady Anglers, she’s also a trusted friend. Living over 2,000 miles away from home can be hard and I have such fond memories of us fishing together on holidays.
With Allie by my side I was happy to find the strength and courage to move forward and honor my Uncle with each cast of my tenkara rod.
When I first heard the term “flyathlon” I was not quite sure what to make of it. It sounds exciting and definitely piques my interest. As I could not for the life of me recall the lessons I thought I learned my high school Latin class I conducted an on-line search.
The world wide web suggested that “athlon” comes from the Latin for “competition”. Looking up flyathlon directed me to the Rocky Mountain Flyathlon website.
The Flyathlon is a competition comprised of “run, fish, beer”, one runs a course, stops to catch a fish and take a photo of it, and at the end, winner or loser, drinks some beer with other competitors.
For the second year in a row tenkara was present at the Flyathlon in the hands of the Conrad family. Steve Conrad participated last year, and this year brought his son Tony along.
After the event, Steve posted on his Facebook page: “Made it back home after a weekend off the grid running the Rocky Mountain Flyathalon. My oldest son Tony & I run 12 miles caught fish (Tony 1, Me 4) and drank more than our share of beer. I only did one superman that finished in a beautiful tuck and roll. We’re already making plans to return next year. Love it!”
If you want to learn more about this event from Steve, you can hear his conversation with Daniel on this Tenkara Cast episode.
What do you think? Would you take up a challenge involving fishing, running and beer?
In this latest episode Daniel, who has been described as a “rock-climber disguised as a fly angler”, but sometimes as a fly angler disguised as a rock-climber, discusses how he found his two big passions in life, rock-climbing and tenkara fly-fishing, as well as how they fit together and have inspired him to start Tenkara USA. Without knowing where the episode was going to go, Daniel concludes that one shouldn’t dismiss an activity after a quick glance as you may get hooked when you actually try it. And, that some activities are great complements to each other and bring us balance.
Referenced in this episode:
Daniel brings up the newly published book by one of his climbing heroes, Hans Florine.
Giveaway campaign: (the Tenkara USA giveaway will be on the week of September 19th).
The Fly Fish Journal with Daniel’s current story on combining climbing and tenkara fly-fishing: The Flyfish Journal – issue 8.1
by TJ Ferreira
Sometimes it takes a nice relaxing camping trip to give my mind respite. A time to look, listen, and learn. Although camping can be a bit of work, the down times are a wonderful way to recharge one’s mind and body.
My wife and I camped this past weekend at a very small and remote PG&E Campground in Northern California. This was one of those “tenkara +” moments for me. The goal of this trip was rest, eat, sleep, talk, wander, listen, look, learn, and sure… some tenkara too.
It is probably true that tenkara never sleeps for me. I mean, I work for Tenkara USA so my job is to talk about tenkara all day long. Not a half bad job. Then comes the weekend and what do I tend to gravitate to? Fishing. LOL! Tenkara fishing that is.
Do you all carry tenkara gear in your modes of transport? I do. I aways have a pack with a tenkara rod or two, lines, flies… the basics. I am always on the ready if I see a pool that entices me or extend my second rod to a stranger inquiring about what I am up to.
This camping trip was no different. I chose this campground as it was near a creek, and I had read it was once a great fishery but has since died off. A mix of California drought and a growing population of otters have made fishing at this creek very difficult. But I knew fishing would be possible so I went prepared.
Upon our Saturday arrival we set up camp. Once done, the wife and I were lazy bones. Never did my mind stop thinking of tenkara. Waiting for that dusk awakening time for my best chances of catching a few trout “in the style of tenkara”, as a buddy of mine Mike Willis calls it. Most the day was spent listening to sounds from the forest, looking at wildlife that meandered by, bugs and flying insects that have no clock and they seem to work 24/7.
I only fished about one hour on Saturday but did catch a nice small wild brown. I was happy as the creek that skunked me a few weeks prior (when I went there on a recon outing). A nice pat on the head and off the brownie went to serve someone else “hello” in the near future.
Sunday was another day of laziness, listening and eye-balling mother nature at its best. Dragonflies on parade, yellow jackets and meat bees hovering around you every time you decide to snack (this is diet control for sure), but all day I was waiting for was dusk. Dusk tonight meant I would hit this creek much harder than the day before.
Mounted up with wet wading gear I hit the creek for two hours this fine Sunday. The creek only yielded me one more brownie, but a little bigger today. This creek was most generous as it tries to rebuild on the past, slowly but surely, even when the odds are stacked against it.
Sneaking like a tenkara angler has to learn to do, I heard some crunching in the weeds near the creek. I stood motionless as an otter swam within one foot from my feet as it worked its way down river. How cool was that!
I could tell the locals in charge of this area are trying to re-grow the fishing here. A few 4×4 posts with survey boxes were at the creek and each night I was proud to fill out a form to tell them thanks. Every day I caught myself a little extra energy boost, that I know will make my tenkara grow even more after this fine trip.
So what did I learn on this trip?… patience for sure. This creek was very poor in quantity but the quality and wildlife were rather spectacular. I went camping to chill with my wife, and that I did. Tenkara + patience was at hand on this trip and for that I am thankful.
Even if one does not catch double digits of fish, remember there is much more to tenkara than just fishing. Look, listen, and learn. Each trip you can bring something wonderful home if you head out with an open heart and open eyes.
Much like a forest that never sleeps, neither does my tenkara. It has become part of my being. I am living tenkara +.
** Remember to listen for new sounds when out in nature. I told my wife that these sounds were made by a Velociraptor: https://youtu.be/LXyfFX3EGAw. Hehe.
Our friends at Vedavoo, a company with a loyal following among the tenkara crowd for its packs, just released a fun video where they use tenkara rods to slam some good size fish in Wyoming with the crew from Pig Farm Ink. The video includes an incredible trico hatch that turns the fish mad, and a broken tenkara rod – NOTE: do not bite your tenkara rod blank when fishing! Enjoy video below, and get out this weekend!
A couple of months ago a friend turned me on to the app Storehouse. I immediately started playing with it as a story-telling medium and loved the format. The first story I created with images and videos I have captured was “Tenkara with Yuzo Sebata“. I intend to create a series of stories of fishing and learning from different tenkara teachers. Here’s my story of “Tenkara with Hisao Ishigaki”. Hope you enjoy it.
My teacher Dr. Hisao Ishigaki, whom most of you have read about by now, has just arrived in Boulder. While he couldn’t make it to this year’s Tenkara Summit, he put aside a week to come visit us again and share more of his passion for tenkara internationally.
Dr. Ishigaki arrived today at around 1pm. I drove him to my home, which is an hour away from the airport. We had some lunch. Then I expected Dr. Ishigaki, who is 67 years old, to want to take it very easy today. But, he is a devout fisherman and as I should have known, couldn’t wait to get on the water. At 3:30pm Dr. Ishigaki said he wanted to go fishing later; he needed an hour to take a short nap and then would be ready to go at 4:30pm. That’s the kind of energy I really want to have!
At 4:30pm we readied ourselves and drove to Eldorado Canyon State Park. Though it was not a fish-in-every-pool kinda day, the fishing was still terrific. He was mesmerized by the high cliffs that surrounded us. And, we lost ourselves in time in that canyon. We did what I consider to be my long run when I visit “Eldo” and covered some good ground. We left as it started getting dark and we felt we had reached what seemed to be a logical place to conclude our evening of fishing.
I captured some beautiful images today, and am excited to share them all at some point. But, I think what I want to do for now is share one fun image of Dr. Ishigaki per day this week. Here he is with one of the fish that didn’t want to pose for a picture.
Do you have any questions you’d like to ask Dr. Ishigaki? I’ll be compiling questions submitted here, on our Facebook page, and via Instagram (#tenkara #questiontime or #ishigakiweek) and will go over them with him. We’ll post those either in writing, as a video or in our new podcast.
Hans Florine is best known for his rock climbing career, which includes setting the record for the fastest ascent of El Capitan (climbing 3,000ft of vertical rock in 2 hours and 23 minutes…in a place most people take 3 days to climb).
Last year I got to meet Hans, someone who’s greatly inspired my own interest in rock climbing. He was interested in teaching his young son how to fly-fish and realized tenkara would be a great tool for that. A couple of weeks ago he came to Boulder and we connected for a morning of fishing followed by an afternoon of rock climbing. Here’s a short video I made of him talking about where tenkara fits in with his climbing lifestyle.
It’s been overdue for sometime, we know. But, I’m happy to announce we finally built up the functionality on our website for you to download the digital version of the Tenkara Magazine.
You can order the 2014 and the 2015 versions online. The 2015 is available in two electronic formats, one is the original layout of the magazine, the other is a narrow layout optimized for reading on a phone or tablet. Either costs $4.00 (print version is $9.00). The 2014 magazine is only available in one electronic format, the original layout, and costs $2.50.
Sorry I have been very absent from posting recently. Right now I’m in the middle of a very large writing project that is consuming a lot of my time and just about all of my brain power. The business is keeping me very busy when not writing. And, when I can, I have been fishing to support the large writing project and future blog posts. But, those are just excuses! I thought you’d enjoy a few images we captured recently. Some tenkara inspiration in case you can’t go fishing right now. I have been active on our Instagram page, so please follow that if you don’t yet. More blog posts to come in the future, I promise.
A large brown trout is released in healthy condition. Image by Doug Heggart.
A double tenkara hookup in Wyoming.
A rainbow kisses the water
“Elegance is achieved when, having discarded all superfluous things, we discover simplicity and concentration. The simpler the pose, the better; the more sober, the more beautiful.” Paulo Coelho.
Long exposure to fishing is good for the soul
a rainbow tail
fishing among araucaria trees in Argentina
a great fighter caught on the North Platte in Wyoming
Three years ago, on January 22nd, 2012, I rode an elevator with the legendary fly angler Mr. Lefty Kreh. In the 30-second elevator ride I was able to ask Mr. Kreh what he thought of tenkara, and his response was, in short, “I think tenkara is a fad and it won’t last long.“. I wrote about this experience. Within hours the post went viral, with nearly every fly-fishing blog reposting it in the following days and, by my estimates, well over 700 comments being written in response.
Fast-forward to January 24th, 2015 and we officially have a change in the status of tenkara in the fly-fishing world. On that Saturday morning we were getting ready for the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, when Mr. Lefty Kreh appeared in our booth looking for me. Oh, oh…was I about to get an earful for publicly writing about our conversation? Not at all. Mr. Kreh said he wanted to talk to me about our conversation three years earlier, to “clear the waters” as he put it, about his comment on tenkara being a fad.
I confess, I had wanted to talk to him in the years since but never felt very comfortable approaching him. I never felt there was any animosity between us, but he is Lefty Kreh, a celebrity usually surrounded by many people. I was delighted to see him coming over. He sat down and we chatted for a good 20 minutes. Those around me will tell you I had a smile from ear to ear, Lefty, after all, is an angler I have looked up to since I started my career in fly-fishing, and I rejoiced at the chance of chatting with him for longer than 30 seconds. Two of my favorite things about having created a business in the fly-fishing industry are that I can talk to like-minded people all the time, and that it has put me in touch with those I had looked up to since I first learned I could imitate bugs with hooks and feathers.
Lefty told me that in the several decades he’s been fly-fishing he’s seen many things coming and going, so tenkara could have been one of those. But, he has had a change of heart and has been looking into tenkara a lot and “no longer think[s] tenkara is a fad”. In fact, he said, tenkara has “many great applications, particularly for the trout angler and for teaching people how to fly-fish.”
I was particularly delighted when he told me we have a great website and that he’s been spending a lot of time looking into tenkara right here. He knew a lot about tenkara, and could tell me about the knots and the flies, and more. And, yes, Lefty has fished with tenkara and has been experimenting with it too.
By far my favorite part was when he told me:
“make sure to keep it [tenkara] simple; you are doing a great job, just continue to keep it simple.”
Here’s the opportunity for the trip of a lifetime. Join me for a week of tenkara in Patagonia, Argentina in March.
Tenkara USA founder, Daniel Galhardo, will be hosting a week-long Tenkara Week, in Argentina Patagonia. The Patagonia Tenkara trip will take place March 5-12, 2015.
Below is an essay by Brian Lindsay and his fishing journey, which eventually led him to tenkara. Hope you enjoy the reading.
My father never said much. He was a quiet man. He lived a full life in secrecy. It was the nature of his work, and his life, until he passed away quietly. He left me with many mysteries to discover for myself, including his love for fishing.
This first thing I remember in my life was the smell of bacon frying at a campsite. I started my first year of life on a fishing trip through northern Canada. We camped and fished a lot when I was young. I was aware of it all. My mother tells me now, that my father, an “avid outdoorsman,” was fishing one day while being irritated by my noisemaking habits. I was running my toy cars back and forth on the bottom of his aluminum boat. He recalled later, and throughout his life, that he had never caught more fish than on that day.
Yesterday I showed you the clip of the crazy dancer starting a movement. In today’s video you can see the tenkara movement happening. Here’s the Tenkara Summit 2014 video.