Lefty Kreh, TFO and Tenkara

On January 22, 2012
Comments (70)

“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, 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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70 Responses to Lefty Kreh, TFO and Tenkara

  1. Jigidy says:

    A guide in the Bahamas once told me (about casting) “There’s the Lefty way and there’s the right way.”

  2. Jeremy says:

    Daniel San since finding and fishing Tenkara I have enjoyed fishing even more. It won’t be a fad for me. I will always have a Tenkara rod when I fish. I think you’ve done a great job presenting this method of fishing. And a great job presenting Tenkara USA to people too. I hope you and your company thrive.

  3. Chris Schatte says:

    I do understand Mr. Kreh’s point of view somewhat. Your the startup guy and he is the “establishment”. In our small town here in Texas, we are the established business in our area of expertise. The only way we can do this is to stay true to our commitment, but embrace change. Take the “new” product and make it seem as that it was ours from the start. The same quality of product and service that we have always provided. We have “fads” that go back 20 years with repeat and new customers each year. In today’s business climate one cannot afford not to. Thank you Daniel for making a perceived fad into a mainstream idea.

    • Hey Chris, I also understood where he was coming from, he is known for making 100+ft casts using only the tip of his rod, and as someone pointed out on our Facebook post, back in the 80s Mr. Kreh said that 9ft fly rods had no place in fly-fishing (apparently there is a picture of him breaking a 9ft fly rod with his knees to make that point in a fly-fishing magazine, which I’d simply love to see). Thanks for the comment.

  4. Christopher Haddad says:

    While I do not think Tenkara is a fad and I think that TFO produces a product that is not as good as most people think, referring to Lefty as a “nice OLD man” is condescending and reeks of “young elitism”.

    • Hi Chris, very good point. I never meant to sound condescending by that term, but have edited as it does sound like that. To be honest, I meant it more like a grandfather figure. I am very, very close to my grandfather, and Lefty does remind me a bit of my own grandfather. I also do not meant to criticize Lefty, and was not upset by his comment as I mention toward the end of the post. I am happy to have had that interaction and hear his honest opinion, that’s all I can ask of anyone I encounter, especially someone with his status. That he could easily have a conversation with me about a differing opinion makes me respect him.

    • Catherine Chapman says:

      That you, Christopher, for your respectful remarks regarding Lefty Kreh. I also found the Daniel’s condescending and capitalizing on Lefty’s talent to promote the tenkara rods. (I fish both traditional and tenkara and like both.)

      • Catherine, I was not interested in “capitalizing” on this. I didn’t see how mentioning a conversation with one of the greats, and his lack of interest for the method could be considered as a capitalizing opportunity. And, I didn’t think the tone of what I wrote was condescending, and expressed my apologies if it came across that way. I was just sharing an experience I had.

  5. Jason Klass - Tenkara Talk says:

    Lots of things to play on here but the most interesting to me is the notion of tenkara as a “fad”. Rock & Roll has only been around for about 50 years (conservatively). Tenkara has been around for hundreds of years. All the conservatives in the 60s that called Rock “a fad” were proven wrong in the span of a few decades. So, what does that say about tenkara? The truth is the old generation is out before they know it these days. Lefty was good in his time, but this is a new era. We need to build on the new, not the old to evolve. I will take the tried and true wisdom of the past and blend it with the up and coming to help progress our sport. A nod of the hat to tradition with a tip of the hat to innovation!

    • Catherine Chapman says:

      I agree that an appropriate nod to tenkara is deserving but I think Lefty deserves more a “was good in his time” and “old generation” nod. Yes, tenkara goes back hundreds of years. So does traditional British/Irish/Scottish fly fishing. I appreciate innovation but think it is a reach to suggest that fly-fishing will be improved by “building on the new, not evolving from the old.” I agree that “true wisdom of the past and blend it with the up and coming” is a progressive attitude. (I fish both tenkara and traditional……………. I suggest regarding history of fly-fishing one might wish to read the article by Michael Russell titled “Origin of Fly Fishing”. His opening comments: “Fishing. Take a rod and a line and throw it in some water. Splash it around a bit and wait until something tugs. If only it were that easy. The truth is, fishing as a sport is not as easy as most people think and is a lot more complicated than just throwing your line is some water.” Just my opinion that Lefty and Mr. Russell know more about fly-fishing than people may realize.

      • Catherine Chapman says:

        I neglected to mention another comment in my reference to Michael Russell’s article that I find very interesting: ……………..”Fly fishing goes all the way back to around 200 AD. The first reference to it was written by Aelian who was born around 170 AD. Early in his life he knew nothing of the sea. In his early writing “On The Nature Of Animals” he writes about a certain way of catching fish supposedly invented by the Macedonians.”

  6. Rob says:

    I am sure, knowing Mr. Kreh for many years that it is his personal opinion and he only gave his name and input to TFO
    But that TFO is telling stories and pertinent lies is a big mistake and I bought my last rod from them.
    Maybe one day I will try a Tenkara from you.


    • Hi Rob, I actually really appreciated hearing his personal opinion and have a lot of respect for Mr. Kreh. Not so much for TFO trying to come in with a bit of overstatement before even making a working prototype….

    • Catherine Chapman says:

      Thank you, Rob, for stating my case. I have tried and enjoy my tenkara and it is perfect for areas of the Davidson River and for sticking in my backpack when I hike.

  7. Leigh says:

    I think I would’ve chosen the word “niche” over “fad”. I don’t see Tenkara overtaking the fly fishing world, but i can see some staunch devotees.

    • Completely agree, it is a niche indeed and yes, it will never overtake w.fly fishing or other sports, just offer a new segment within fishing. I appreciate the comment.

      • Catherine Chapman says:

        Touché. (I don’t mean to sound disrespectful to Daniel but he hit a nerve regarding Lefty Kreh. He is a dear family friend and I have nothing but the utmost respect for him and his contributions AND I use a tenkara rod in addition to traditional rods. Lefty is one of the most progressive fly-fishermen I know and he has expanded the knowledge and understanding of “acting like a bug and thinking like a fish”, to quote my father I don’t mean to sound as if I am slamming Daniel personally but I do think that considering the niche marketing opportunities for the tenkara would contribute enormously as he moves ahead with his products.

  8. Tom Sadler says:

    This is a great write up of your interaction with Lefty and the backstory of TFO.

    You point: “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.” Is right on. I am glad you are not losing sleep over that any longer.

    Those of us who have spent time really getting to know tenkara know it is not a fad, we know how well it works, how it expands the fly fishing experience and how it helps bring people into fly fishing.

    The desire for info on tenkara is certainly in creasing here in the Mid-Atlantic region. I will be at two or three shows for Mossy Creek Fly Fishing to talk tenkara. I will be giving presentations and demo’s at three TU events in the next couple of months and have been interviewed about tenkara in Field and Stream, Garden and Gun and a couple more regional papers. That is not to brag, merely to illustrate the desire to learn about tenkara.

    I suspect there some in the fly-fishing industry who would welcome that kind of interest, fad or not.


  9. Todd Towle says:

    Hello Daniel,

    This conversation reminds me of the same reactions I’ve heard in other activities I participate in now and in the past. The same “fad” remark reared it’s head when snowboards entered the skiing scene. Telemark skis and the technique were ridiculed upon arrival. Even though the tele turn was the original downhill turn. Curved ice tools were considered a joke. Even spey rods and casts had a reputation as a steelhead and salmon tool only. Just look at all the spey/switch rods, lines and reels available today. All of these tools and techniques still have a strong, passionate following.

    One constant plus in any sport (as long as it’s ethical) is change. Just look at the above tools and techniques and see where they are today. Ask anyone involved in the ski industry what saved them and their response will be snowboarding and shaped skis. From what I’ve seen in shops lately something new would be more than welcome.

    Those who don’t wish to introduce themselves to a new tool or accept it will have a negative vibe towards something different.I think Tenkara style fishing is a change many anglers are unwilling to consider due to their current successes. That may or may not change over time. Only through change does growth take place.

    Personally I’m intrigued by the style of Tenkara. So much so that I may wade into the new waters of Tenkara and take one step back and turn around this season.



  10. Matt "statikpunk" Donovan says:

    I think those that dismiss Tenkara as a fad are obviously ignoring its history in Japan. Certainly it’s no “fad” in Japan
    and it’s no “fad” with me, for my style of fishing in the mountains of nevada, its tailor made. and it’s exactly what I have been looking for, for years now.

    the thing that worries me about this post is that, here are all these potential companies, on the verge of producing rods for a style of fishing that they have little or no knowledge of. that can only end in an inferior product. which in the long run I think will do more harm than good. Daniel has dedicated a large portion of his site, and his life to the study and practice of Tenkara. And that is what I feel like I am supporting when I choose tenkara USA rods over the few other brands out there, and why tenkara USA will continue to get my buisness no matter who starts making rods.

    I truly hope for the continuation of Tenkara. That in the near future that people will not be able to just pick up a poorly designed wal-mart tenkara rod and say “well that sucked, I guess this Tenkara fishing isnt for me.” because as we all know we have already seen a lot of that from the crowd that thinks there is no reason why a crappie pole shouldnt work just fine for Tenkara.

    • Thanks for the comment Matt, totally agree with it, and indeed what concerns me the most is companies introducing the rods and having no idea what the method entails or even what it is. As was reported, the associate at TFO has never even tried tenkara!

  11. Thomas V Davis says:

    I am new to Tenkara, having bought two rods in the 3 months, but I do not see Tenkara as a fad per say. Fly fishing itself is somewhat faddish — remember the huge influx of people into fly fishing after “A River Runs Through It” played in movie theatres? Also, every year “new” rods are introduced. These are supposedly better than the past — as if fly fishing was not really fly fishing without these new rods.

    I have been western fly fishing since 1990 (and tying flies since 1975) and I still love it dearly. But Tenkara has opened a whole new world for me. I love its simplicity, and its unencumbered artful style. Will I give up western fly fishing? — not likely. But Tenkara has refreshed my love for fly fishing, and I plan on continuing with it fad or not.

    Tom Davis
    Inkom, ID

  12. Dave says:

    I had the pleasure of go to The Fly Fishing Tradeshow in Marlborough, MA this weekend. I was planning to see Lefty Kreh and the speaker before Lefty caught my attention. It was Daniel and he was speaking about Tenkara. After the presentation, I bumped into Daniel and when we were talking, I was surprised to hear that how often nymphs and wet flies are used with Tenkara. I fish almost exclusively subsurface in New England and I like to Czech Nymph a bit. So I bought a book about Tenkara and read it on Sunday. I can’t wait to get my own Tenkara rod and give it a whirl … as soon as I’m done skiing this winter :)

    • Dave, it was a pleasure meeting you! I was very happy to give a presentation right before Lefty, and honored too. I suspect many of those watching my demo on Saturday were just lining up to watch Lefty himself. I actually watched him after my demo, and it was interesting to see that most things I taught in my demo went right against what Mr. Kreh teaches (e.g. use the wrist).

  13. ruthless says:

    As one of the less known advisory staff for TFO. I would love to learn Tenkara, it truly interests me, almost as pure as handlining. I think it would be a killer method from a kayak. Talk about sleigh ride.

  14. Stephen McGowen says:

    The father of American soft hackles, Jim Leisenring wrote in 1951, ” I fish for my pleasure and you fish for yours. That is how it should be.” We should all practice that methinks.
    Lefty thinks tenkara might be a fad. So what ? Doesn’t affect my fishing at all.
    People have the right to say what ever they want…its the First Amendment. You also have the right to ignore what people say.

    • Stephen, that is a very good quote. Lefty’s opinion was too good to ignore in light of TFO wanting to pursue tenkara, didn’t upset me and will not likely change anyone’s opinion about tenkara. As I learned through Facebook, apparently he also predicted that 9ft fly rods were a fad back in the 80s, and there may be a picture of him breaking a 9ft fly rod in a magazine.

  15. Albert Yi says:

    Call it a fad for all I care! I really appreciate everyone’s efforts in the grassroots development of tenkara in the USA by people who care for people who care. It’s a bit selfish of me to say this but I’ll say it: I’d rather be one of the few people on the stream looking forward to skittish fish and pocketwater with a historical craft honed by people whose livelihood depended on it. Daniel, you should’ve given Lefty the classic American response: “Don’t knock it ’til you try it!”

  16. David says:

    I don’t think tenkara will be a fad for a few reasons. One of them being it’s just too much fun. Another one of them being it’s very effective. One afternoon last fall while fishing from a kayak with my yamame rod I caught 62 trout and a few bluegills on the side.

  17. […] shot, etc., they seem to think tenkara is “limited”, “boring”, or “a fad“.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there is actually lot more […]

  18. Chris says:

    Tenkara a fad? Not a chance. It’s here to stay… For certain waters, it’s the best possible method of fly fishing. Leave Lefty to his own devices… This is the new fly fishing era, where a double haul on a trout stream is obnoxious, and where a rod, a line and a fly are all that’s needed to chase trout in cold, clean water. Lefty is a legend, but Tenkara has centuries on the wise old man of fly fishing.

  19. Paul Arnold says:

    From everything I have read, Lefty is a nice guy — in addition to being a master fly fisher. Yet, his opinions as to tenkara are apt to be honestly biased on the subject of tenkara. After all, he designed a line of rods for Temple Fork, and that pretty much puts him in direct competition with any tenkara rids that Temple Fork decides to sell. It’s rather like a tennis-racquet maker in the early ’50s declaring that racquetball is only a fad.

  20. Craig says:

    ALOHA Daniel!
    Fly fishing with a line reel and rod, or Tenkara style is just like surfing. Whether you do it standing, laying down on your belly, with a paddle in your hand, shortboard, longboard, 1 fin, 2 fin, 3 fin 4 fin, no fins, it’s still Surfing. I’m proud to say and glad that I can do all styles of Surfing. Same with Fly fishing. As with Surfing, the best guy is the one with the biggest smile on his or her face!!

  21. Anthony says:

    In Pittsburgh Lefty’s comments would qualify him as “jag off”. That aside, the really scary thing is the seemingly p*ss poor approach that TFO is taking toward their entry into the tenkara market. If TFO produces a sub-par product and then backs it up with a limited understanding of tenkara, the damage to tenkara’s profile could be significant. A major failure by a major company could make the “fad’ statements a self fulfilling prophecy.

  22. eddie says:

    Hi Daniel, it was good to meet you at the show, and I am looking forward to exploring tenkara fishing as soon as the water softens up.
    Lefty’s comments to you seem rushed and perhaps a little defensive (considering that both of you are in the “industry” and in a strange way, forced into opposing camps). I suspect that if the two of you had met in a more relaxed, less charged setting (like at a fishing camp), a discussion like the one you and I had would have ensued. He probably would still dismiss the technique as situational and a niche, but it wouldn’t have come off as quite so…dismissive.

    Having said that, tenkara style fishing is a trend or fad in the same way that flyfishing is a trend or fad (in the grand scheme of “fishing”). Flyfishing is a technique that is situational and a niche. Long after TFO gets bought out by Nike or Dick’s and eventually the brand disappears, people will still be flyfishing and some will fish tenkara style. TFO is a trend (fad).

    • I wonder about that Eddie. He was nice about it, and just seemed to have his mind fully made up on that one. interestingly we had to bump him out of the casting pond for one of my demos and even though he was at the booth right next to the pond he never bothered watching a second of my demo. He probably still thinks its dapping. That is the only disappointing part, and if we were fishing together would indeed be completely different.
      It was great meeting you at the show!

  23. […] Lefty Kreh, who may just be the most recognized authority on fly fishing ever, told Tenkara USA founder Daniel Galhardo that, “Tenkara is a fad and it won’t last long.” Talk about candor. What’s more interesting is that Daniel posted a recap of the conversation on his blog. […]

  24. Alan Nogee says:

    Well, I thoroughly enjoyed both your demonstration and Lefty’s at the Marlborough show. As a relative beginner, I have no reliable opinion about whether Tenkara is likely to turn out to be a fad or not, but your demo was great and I’m looking forward to trying Tenkara sometime. I love the idea of being able to put the light rod in a daypack and have it readily accessible. If I had to guess, Tenkara will have a long future.

  25. Rob Mellors says:

    As one respondent has already said, but it was the first thought through my mind. Tenkara started in Japan a long time ago. Fascinating to think Europe and Japan evolved flyfishing in separate cultures and admittedly different techniques, but nevertheless flyfishing. Strikes me Tenkara is a highly practical technique for given situations. As an avid flyfisherman I’m definitely going to give it a go. As for it’s longevity. Well the Japanese have been doing it for a long time – that’s good enough for me. Oh and when I was a young boy fishing the canals of England we used long roach poles with just line on the end, no reels, and whilst I’m out of touch with coarse fishing in Europe using pole is still a technique that is used decades later.

  26. […] I find it ironic that just recently I pontificated on the matter of Tenkara being the result of damage incurred to your fly rod after I’ve removed the reel–and subsequently the stripping and snakeye guides–with great force, and now word has it that my good buddy Lefty Crayfish has proclaimed that “Tenkara is a fad and won’t last long.” […]

  27. Jason McG says:

    I think one of the main reason Tenkara will not end up being a fad is that it dovetails too ideally into the ultralight backpacking scene. Reels are comparatively heavy, bulky, expensive and therefore don’t really justify themselves on trips where traveling as unburdened as possible is a priority. Tenkara accentuates the experience of being outdoors, and the addition of just a few ounces of gear not only makes me much more self sufficient in terms of food but gives me something fun to do whenever I hit a stream or lake.

  28. Dave Southall says:

    No way will Tenkara be just a fad. The way it is being taken up by some of the top UK flyfishers, including some professional guides clearly shows that. Just about everyone I’ve introduced to Tenkara are ‘sold on it’.
    Many of the UK converts, including myself, rarely use our conventional gear nowadays.

  29. […] TenkaraUSA Windknots & Tangled Lines Field and Stream Troutrageous! Fontinalis Rising Roderick Hawg-Brown Eat More Brook Trout Owl Jones […]

  30. TJ Ferreira says:

    I think the only “fad” that will be happen is the many poor quality tenkara rods that other top manufacturers try to make in the USA over the coming years without going through the learning process of studying tenkara like Daniel has and travel to the source, learn from the master, and actually learn to make fine rods. The fad is they introduce their 1st rod in late 2012 and by 2013 it is no longer in their catalogs and being discontinued. So yes it will be a fad but not for Tenkara USA and the rest of enthusiasts that keep buying the rods from makers that care. tj

  31. […] “Tenkara is a fad and it won’t last long”, Lefty Kreh, the legendary fly-caster and face for T… […]

  32. […] TenkaraUSAWindknots & Tangled LinesField and StreamTroutrageous!Fontinalis RisingRoderick Hawg-BrownEat More Brook TroutOwl Jones […]

  33. well to twist another lefty comment,
    Lefty Kreh uses the fast internet to throw bad comments even farther-

  34. Blacky says:

    Sorry Daniel but, it is a fad “in this country” and although the fly fishing fringe is always attracted to the obscure and new, Tenkara isn’t really that big of a deal. Lefty is correct and told you the truth, he doesn’t hold back and he has been correct in almost all of his predictions about the fly fishing industry for many years. Sorry to say this and I hope you don’t take it the wrong way but, Lefty has forgotten in the past week more than the collective lot of you folks will probably ever know about the fly fishing as well as the general fishing industry. Yeah he is old school and an old guy but, still sharp as a tack. I know he isn’t attractive to you granola chewing types and you younger guys probably don’t view him as cool but,he has a knack for observation and he has a lot of common sense. He sees this for what it is, a pole with a hunk of string and a so-so tied dry fly that you fly fishing geek types have become all hot and lathered up about. I am sorry if the truth hurts and you are using his private comment to you which you, initiated via your question to him to further your cause. A pretty lame marketing scheme and a cheap classless act on your part putting this out to the general public via blogs etc. Guy never did anything to you yet, your feel like you can just go and use his name to stir up a hornets nest, how pathetic.

    • Blacky, thanks for taking the time to post your opinion here.
      I think one can hardly think I used his comment to me to “further my cause”. He spoke with candor, and gave me his opinion, and I respect that. I am sure Mr. Kreh has seen a lot of fads coming and going over the years. Though, I’m also sure he’s seen a lot of things, even in fly fishing, coming and staying even if he predicted they would soon be gone. Thirty years ago many probably thought Spey would be gone soon. So, I understand where he is coming from. I did not take him wrong, I respected his comment very much, and mostly wanted to point to the irony of TFO copying rods and thinking of tenkara as he told me it would not last long.
      But, as the many other comments here indicate, tenkara is a method of fly fishing, and for the comments of people who have used it it is likely here to stay. Only time will tell who is right.
      I think you can hardly call us “so-so tied dry fly that you fly fishing geek types have become all hot and lathered up about.” Tenkara doesn’t use dry flies, and I think most tenkara anglers can hardly be called geeks when they are not over analyzing casting mechanics, bugs, flies, etc. Your comment is your honest opinion, and like his I appreciate that. I could not ask for anything for honest opinions. Though, I’d think it would be better that you refrain from using remarks such as calling us “granola chewing types”, “you younger guys” (when referring to tenkara anglers in general as many are probably your age or older), or “geek types”.
      I didn’t initiate this to be a fad, but rather to provide a simpler alternative to the way western fly fishing currently is.

  35. TJ Ferreira says:

    Well I am not young and not much into granola yet I love tenkara.

    Go figure. 😎


  36. Lefty is one of my favorite people in the entire fishing world. I’m amazed at his encyclopediac knowledge, skill, humor and patience – not to mention his candor and energy. (BTW, Lefty, happy 87th birthday this week.) His judgments also are usually right on target,

    However, when we began marketing Waterwisp dry flies around 15 years ago, Lefty said, “They’ll never sell and you probably won’t last long.” He’s partly right. We don’t have a mass market but folks who use our dry flies keep coming back for more. So Lefty may be right on the mark about Tenkara, but on the other hand…….Time will tell.

    Personally, I find Tenkara the most exciting flyfishing advance – if that’s the correct word for a system that pre-dates cane fly rods by at least 200 years – since the advent of glass and carbon fly rods.

    And I’m looking forward with considerable anticipation to using my new Amago rod in the coming fishing season.

    Jim Greene

    • Dear Mr. Greene,
      It was a real pleasure meeting you at Somerset. And, thank you so much for the kind gift of one of your flies. I have put it in my “museum”.
      Thank you also, for taking the time to comment on our blog. I appreciate reading your insight and experience.
      Sorry I didn’t get to come by and spend much time at your booth, the couple of times I tried to make my way there you looked pretty busy.
      Hope the show went well for you guys.

  37. […] has been a fair amount of discussion of late about whether tenkara is a fad. Labels are funny things, the minute you apply one someone wants to fight with you about the […]

  38. Man I love this post. These are the kind of stories that belong in entrepreneurship textbooks. Awesome stuff!

  39. […] Is Tenkara fishing a fad?  Could Tenkara be some sort of cult that is brainwashing the fragile young minds of the fly fishing world?  Could Owl Jones be right? […]

  40. Harold Brown says:

    I am an older man that has taken up Tenkara style fishing and enjoy it very much. I am grateful to Daniel for his efforts in introducing it to North America. I am saddened by those that are attacking Daniel without understanding the sport and his passion for it. It is obvious Tenkara means more to Daniel than simply a way to make a quick buck. Tenkara anglers are enthusiastic about the sport as they should be if they enjoy it. Slandering them for their enthusiasm for the sport is a bit unfair. Daniel has done a good job of presenting the foundation for the sport and I am confident it will continue to grow and have a loyal following for many years. I hope everyone soon cools down so we can relax and enjoy our sport and our fellowship as fishermen.

  41. Corbin Hauen says:

    I believe fly fishing (and any sport/hobby) is all about enjoying oneself and catching fish… and you should use whatever tool feels right and works best. Tenkara is another method of fly fishing, use it where it works best and use western method other places. Heck if dapping works best, use that too, Walton would.

    I can’t wait to get my Amago to test it out in SE Wyoming!

  42. […] Galhardo and his crew are doing over at Tenkara USA and on their Blog, I especially like this post about Lefty Kreh’s take on Tenkara. Here is another great post on How to Choose the Right […]

  43. Erik H says:

    Each to their own and if you have fun doing it what difference does it make…

    There is a beauty to a PROPERLY cast fly rod. I have Fly Fished for nearly 25 years. I have never owned a tenkara rod nor ever plan too. As a matter of fact i have never seen a person fishing tenkara in east tennessee. However with that said its like snow skiing in my opinion — they changed the skis over the year to make it easier and people are having more fun on those skis with less training and practice..

    Each sport has its fans — the artificial bass fishermen hate live bait throwers and corn chuckers (del monte warriors)
    skiers hate snowboarders — fly fishermen hate tenkara casters — in the end who gives a chit…..just do it

  44. Brett says:

    Funny to read this article in 2015 and see how far Tenkara has come…it is also funny to note the Mr Chouinard did end up with TFO and has his “Fitz Roy Trout” stamped right next to Temple Fork Outfitters branding on their rods.

    Question for Daniel — how did this not happen with Tenkara USA…I believe that you and Yvon would be a better match than TFO! 1% for Planet, shared vision, etc. I would have loved to see two of my favorite companies working together!

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