This time Daniel talks to Jason Klass, the prolific tenkara blogger behind Tenkara Talk. They talk about the 10 years of tenkara, discuss the use of the term “tenkara masters”, and more.
After their conversation, Daniel also speaks his mind about our support and solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement. After all, our mission to improve our environment is only driven by the people who will enjoy it, and they must be alive and feel safe to enjoy the environment for which we work so hard for.
Daniel Galhardo: This is Daniel Galhardo, and you’re listening to the Tenkara Cast, the podcast about the simple Japanese method of fly fishing, tenkara. In the Tenkara Cast, I’ll be sharing information with you on techniques, history, gear, and philosophies, as well as tenkara stories from anglers all over the world. This podcast is brought to you by tenkara USA, introducing tenkara outside of Japan since 2009. It is only possible we create content such as this podcast and all the videos that we create because of your support, so we thank you so very much for purchasing Tenkara USA rods, lines, and flies. I hope you enjoy learning more about the simple Japanese method of fly fishing, tenkara.
DG: Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of the Tenkara Cast. My name is Daniel, I’m your host, and today I have a very special guest here with us, Jason Klass from Tenkara Talk. Jason and I have known each other for over a decade, and we’ll discuss what got him into tenkara, his experiences with it, his history, and a couple other cool topics that we were talking about earlier. We had a conversation earlier, and last minute, we were like, “We should really talk about this in a podcast.” So here we are, a couple hours later, recording an episode for you. Hey, welcome to the show, Jason.
Jason Klass: Oh, thank you, it’s awesome to be here.
DG: So tell me, you’ve been an instrumental part of tenkara, and you’re the most prolific blogger on the topic pretty much anywhere, actually. There’s not… I don’t think there’s anybody even in Japan that blogs as consistently and has blogged as much as you have. Why don’t you tell us your story of getting into tenkara, first of all.
JK: Well, I remember, back in 2009 I had a website where I was trying to sell fly fishing gear that was compatible with ultralight backpacking. And I was just doing a random Google search, and I came across your site, which you had just started, maybe, I don’t know, six months before. And so at that time, you were a pretty small shop, and I called you, and you gave me the rundown on the phone about tenkara. And I’m like, “Wow, this is perfect, this is perfect for ultralight hiking.” And so we talked, and then you offered to send me a rod, and you sent me an iwana. I still have that iwana, by the way.
JK: It was the old one with the green bands. I still have it. And I took it out fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park, and I caught a bunch of cutthroat trout, and I’m just like, “Wow, that was perfect.” So I was hooked from then on. Now, it’s been over 10 years, it’s been almost 11 years. But I just… It was perfect for here. Because if you think about it, a lot of the high elevation streams we have here in Colorado, they’re identical, almost, to the high mountain streams in Japan, where tenkara was invented. So yeah, so it just made sense, and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s not a philosophy or anything like that for me, it’s just practical.
DG: Yeah, and you also have a very long history with fly fishing and the outdoors, that’s one thing oftentimes people maybe just think that you just came outta the scene, into the scene outta the blue, which for tenkara, you might have done that, but you had a long history with fly fishing, and also with writing about outdoor activities, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your history before tenkara, and then we’ll talk a little bit about the after tenkara.
JK: Well, it’s a… I like to combine sports, so I can combine tenkara and backpacking really easily. It takes… It used to be, “Oh, God. I’ve gotta lug all this fly fishing equipment and all this heavy stuff and everything.” But with tenkara, it’s a no-brainer.
DG: Well, I was mostly curious about your actual fly fishing experience ’cause sometimes tenkara has this thing where there’s a lot of people that never fly fish before and they get into it, but you actually have a… You were a very experienced fly angler when you discovered tenkara, weren’t you?
JK: Yeah, so some people push the envelope with tenkara, and I’m not one of those people, I don’t saltwater fly fish for tenkara. I mean I do a lot of saltwater fly fishing, but I don’t do tenkara for bonefish and for barracuda, or tarpon, or anything like that. I don’t do that.
DG: But you… But before tenkara, you had some experience with that. I think that’s what I was trying to understand, your pre-tenkara fly fishing experience. ‘Cause you worked for a fly shop, and you had mentors…
JK: Well, I work for a fly shop right now.
DG: There we go.
JK: And I don’t… Okay, to me, part of me wants to respect the… It’s not even respecting the tradition, it’s just using the right tool for the right job. And I don’t know, for me, I like to feel, I like to hear the scream of the reel when I hook a bonefish, so I’m not gonna use a tenkara rod for a bonefish. You can do it. Karen Miller does it. But I don’t know, to me, it takes some of the joy out of it. I like to hear the reel scream. I like to hear the drag go, and getting the backing and all that stuff.
DG: So why don’t we talk a little bit about that. So over almost 11 years of tenkara, and early on we had the forum on tenkarausa.com That was very active, and there have been all kinds of stages that we have seen as we introduce tenkara to the US. Do you remember some particularly intriguing stages of tenkara being introduced to the States? ‘Cause I have a few in mind but I wonder…
JK: One of the things I remember is everyone wanted to… Not everyone, but a lot of people… One of the questions was this, “Can you add a reel to a tenkara rod?”
JK: Remember that?
DG: Yeah, absolutely.
JK: Yeah, so, well…
DG: As a matter of fact, I remember a very funny post that you did, where you were talking about being a tenkara, maybe outlaw is the term that you used, where some regulations in different parts of the States, or a couple of different countries asked for you using a reel, and you’re like, “Well, I’m just gonna Velcro this line holder into the… ” I remember that.
JK: Yeah, I think if I remember it correctly, that was 2006, and it was in Pennsylvania.
JK: But I remember that stuff, and I don’t know, it’s like… I think everyone has to discover their own tenkara, and whether that’s… You use a furled line, a level line, whether you use an elk hair caddis or a traditional tenkara fly, it doesn’t really matter, everyone has to discover their own tenkara. And after almost 11 years, I think I’ve discovered my own tenkara, and if people don’t like it, I don’t care, and if people want to follow me, I don’t care, and if people wanna debate me, I don’t care. I’ve got my own tenkara, and I think everyone needs to find their own tenkara. And yeah.
DG: Yeah. No, I completely agree with that. I mean, we give them a starting point. I think you and I are very aligned in that sense of, yes, there is this method of fly fishing from Japan, they’ve refined the techniques over centuries, there’s a lot to learn from them, but sure, you do you. But I think you and I, what I liked about you over the years is that we have been giving people a good starting point, and they take that information and they do what they want with it. And I think that’s our job, we provide that starting point, that inspiration, and then people find their own tenkara. I like that way of putting it.
DG: So one thing that I was interested in asking you, too, is you’ve been very consistent. It’s very easy to start a blog, and when you become really interested in something, you’re very enthusiastic about it, but it is very hard to keep up with it. Even myself, I wrote a lot about tenkara, my blog was very, very active in the beginning. And after a while I was like… I felt like I didn’t want to write a whole lot more, and then I got sucked into writing the book, and I think I got a little bit burnt out, then I moved on more to this podcast. But what is it that drives you, that has kept you going with the Tenkara Talk for as long as you have, and how many years have you been doing the Tenkara Talk now?
JK: Now, it’s over 10 years.
DG: Wow. Yeah, you started pretty early in your tenkara experience…
JK: Well, I started right after I talked to you.
DG: That’s right ’cause you had the backpacking thing, but Tenkara Talk was pretty much the same time, since you had Gear Talk before, which is outdoor or backpacking equipment.
JK: Well, and I still have that. I just haven’t been posting there, but well, I also had some personal issues that came up that prevented me from writing, but no, I’m still… I’m gonna keep it up. I’ve seen so many websites come and go over the years, Tom Davis and other websites, but it’s okay…
DG: So what is it…
JK: A lot of people, they have this ambition of writing a blog or being creative, and then they give up because they realize it actually takes work.
DG: Yeah, and what…
JK: You’ve gotta be focused, you’ve gotta be… You’ve gotta have ideas, you’ve gotta be focused, you’ve gotta do the work, and a lot of people just… They’re not willing to do it. They love the idea theoretically, but they just don’t do the work, and so I don’t know, I think, boy, I’ve got, what, 600… No, let’s see, well, 500 and something, well, whatever, over 500 posts.
DG: So what is it that drives you to keep posting, to be consistent when you’re able to? ‘Cause you’re… That’s not like your full-time job or anything, so there’s something there that’s driving you, and I’m curious about that.
JK: That’s it. If you’re passionate about something, you’ll do it no matter what, and I don’t know, for years, I’ve given away free information with no expectation of anything in return, and I’ll keep doing that for the rest of my life. I don’t care about…
DG: I think we should get into the… Oh, go ahead, sorry. My bad.
JK: No, go ahead.
DG: No, I was just gonna say I wonder if we should get into the meat of the conversation which we started this morning that you were bringing up. What’s that?
JK: The master stuff.
DG: Yeah, ’cause I thought that was a very interesting conversation that we were having…
JK: It was. Yes, it was. Okay, well, I’m game if you are.
DG: Yeah, no, absolutely. So, this morning, we were talking about something unrelated, and then you brought up this post that you were thinking about writing, specifically about the term “tenkara masters.” And there was some really interesting points that we discussed, but why don’t you tell us what it is that you were maybe planning to write or what is it that… ‘Cause it’s not… What I liked about that conversation we had this morning was not that you had this answer or really particularly strong opinion, it was more like, “Here’s an opinion, and I’m questioning the use of this term,” and we had a nice back-and-forth from a cultural use of the term, tenkara masters, and that kinda thing. So do you wanna do elaborate on that or how…
JK: Yeah. No, actually, you educated me on some points that I didn’t think about, so I really do appreciate that.
DG: It’s a nice back-and-forth, so I liked it.
JK: Yes. So my point, my contention was I don’t like the use of the term “master” to refer to Japanese tenkara anglers. That was my contention. And Daniel educated me about how in other languages, like Brazilian Portuguese, and Japanese and stuff like that, it’s a different usage. So I didn’t realize that. And it was funny because my background is in linguistics. Well, philosophy and linguistics, but… So I didn’t get that, so he schooled me today.
DG: Well, I wouldn’t say I schooled you because I did agree with the points you were bringing up, because, after all, too, we are speaking in English, we are primarily driving content in English language. And my point was, and I think you had a very valid point where you brought up was like, I really don’t like the use as much, the use of the term tenkara masters when referring not so much to Japanese tenkara anglers, as actually to the masters. And I’m gonna use this carefully, a little bit, so it’s not like we’re like… People are referring to all Japanese anglers as tenkara masters, as much as a few specific people. And it is a term that I myself stopped using as much, even in my book I was pointing out that I just call ’em my teachers. And I use that word “masters,” I think, once in quotation in that chapter because, yes, I think in English language, we’re not so used to using the term master. And sometimes that comes with a negative connotation or just with some baggage, and…
JK: Yeah, but I think in our conversation this morning we talked about exactly that, so it was like, you said, “Yeah, he’s not my master, he’s my teacher.”
DG: Yeah, and he’s a tenkara master, because that was a point that somebody brought up many years ago. They brought up the same thing to me, it’s like, “Why do you use tenkara masters?” It’s like they’re… And the interesting thing was, by definition, a master is somebody who acquires a high level of skill but is also willing to teach it. It’s not just somebody who’s highly skilled in something, but also somebody who’s willing to share it. And by that definition you are also a tenkara master ’cause you’ve been sharing this stuff with people. And of course, we usually feel uncomfortable. I feel highly uncomfortable when people try to call me a tenkara master, just because it’s a weird word in the English language. But I’ve had people from Italy or from Brazil call me a “mestre”, and it doesn’t feel quite as wrong, it just feels a little softer for some reason. But by definition, you, Jason Klass is a tenkara master because you have a high level of the skill…
JK: I am not. [chuckle]
DG: And you’re sharing it, and you’re laughing at it because… The same way I do, right? Because it is a little uncomfortable. But then I was talking about in Japanese, yes, if you ask one of the Japanese teachers, Dr. Ishigaki, Masami Sakakibara, are you a master? There’s always gonna be this humble part of them, they’re like, “No, no, no, I’m not a master.” But at the same time, they are highly skilled, they’re teaching a lot of people within Japan and outside of Japan. And not only that, but in Japanese, most people refer to, for example, Sakakibara Masami or Yuzo Sebata, they will refer to them as “Shishou,” which is, it’s like a teacher, it’s a mentor, it’s almost like a master, it’s hard to translate a lot of times the words exactly, but the connotation is the same, somebody who has the skill who’s willing to teach it.
JK: And we had this exact conversation this morning on the phone, and my point was you would never call Gary Borger a master, “Oh, my master.” You would never refer to him like that. Never. You would never call Gary LaFontaine that, you would never call Jimmy Houston that, you would never call Billy Houston that. Never. You would never refer to them as master.
DG: Although, I do have to wonder if we were to Google or… I wouldn’t be surprised if we find a reference to Gary Borger, for example, as a master of fly fishing. I think maybe the way that the term is used, and we’re getting into semantics here.
JK: No, it’s not master of, it’s… We just had this conversation, Daniel, it was like, master of versus master. Like Master Gary of bass-fishing. Those are two different… The connotation is different.
JK: So I’m not sure I… I don’t know. I don’t like it.
DG: Yeah, no, and I agree with you.
JK: Hey, it’s semantics. It’s semantics.
DG: One, I think that’s why we’re doing the podcast episode because you’re not the only person to bring that up, right? So some people… Multiple people, as a matter of fact, over the years have had a problem with the masters term, and I think my… The reason I was interested in making this podcast is because there’s this back and forth about it, or is it wrong to call a person master? Because we are referring to somebody who’s from Japan, and there’s this Orientalism. There’s this…
JK: The brand.
DG: Romanticism that we imply or is it okay?
JK: Well that’s exactly our conversation that we had this morning.
DG: Yeah, and that’s why we’re recording this to share with other people.
JK: It’s hard to have the conversation twice.
JK: I think both of us are gonna get some… I think we’re both gonna get some pretty strongly worded emails.
DG: I don’t care. I don’t give a damn. I think it’s a good conversation. And I think the whole point is also questioning, or it’s not having an answer, that’s what I like about trying to do this podcast is that I see it as more of an intellectual exercise as opposed to trying to provide the answers, ’cause I recognize I don’t have the answers to everything. And English is my second language, so who am I to say what that word master really refers to. I’m not the right person for that. But I guess my question to you based on this conversation, should we continue referring to some of our teachers, some of these people that we’ve learned tenkara from, should we continue once in a while referring to them as masters? Master of tenkara or a tenkara master, not necessarily my master, but a tenkara master or a master of tenkara.
JK: No, I don’t think so.
DG: What do you think we should refer to them as?
JK: Just ask them?
DG: Yeah and that’s where… I think that’s where you get caught in this conundrum. It’s like we ask them and they’re like, “No, just tenkara fisherman.”
JK: No, look. They’re just regular guys, I mean…
DG: With a lot of experience though.
DG: Yeah, and they have a lot of… But look, I mean, I catch as many fish as Dr. Ishigaki does, so I don’t consider myself a master. I’ve been doing this for 10 years, I don’t consider myself a master. Yeah, what makes me a master? Do I have to levitate over the stream and catch the fish?
DG: Well, no, I think that’s where… If we look at a dictionary and we’re trying to interpret the usage of a word based on modern dialect, if you will. But if you look at a dictionary reference by all definition, those folks are masters, you are a master, maybe I am, but at the same time, there’s the cultural element to it where we don’t feel comfortable using that term, unless maybe it’s martial arts for some reason.
JK: Well, yeah, that is… Yeah.
DG: And I was bringing up the…
JK: That’s exactly my point. That’s exactly my point. Tenkara is not a martial art. It’s not a religion, it’s not a cult. It’s…
DG: I thought it was a cult.
JK: Well, it used to be, not anymore maybe, but no, it’s not, it’s just fishing, man.
JK: It’s flinging a line out in the water with a fly on the end of it and catching a fish, that’s all.
DG: Yeah, and I don’t disagree with you, by the way. I wanna make that very clear.
JK: No, I know.
DG: I think the reason we decided to record is because there’s a nice back and forth, and I’m actually in agreement, as I mentioned in my book I don’t use the term masters because it’s written in English. I prefer the word teacher because we are all learning tenkara from somebody, and I think that’s the bottom line.
DG: It’s really hard to… Well, almost impossible, but really hard to learn tenkara in a vacuum or to learn anything in a vacuum, whether you’re learning from somebody directly in person or via a video or via podcast or via writing. You do have somebody that you’re learning from. Regardless of the skill.
JK: No, I agree with you. It’s always easier to learn if someone shows you hands-on. It’s always easier.
DG: Not only easier, but I think that’s the only way because even with tenkara. Somebody can definitely be on their own in the water, but the basic information, they’re gonna have to get that somewhere, right?
JK: Yeah. No, it’s… Hands-on is always the best way to learn. I remember I was learning to code and I took an online course and just really couldn’t do it, but then someone showed me how to do it. I’m like, “Oh, okay, that makes sense,” alright? So it’s… It’s just always better. Well, it’s the same with casting or cooking or anything.
DG: Yeah, absolutely, and… But what is it in terms of tenkara, after doing it for almost 11 years? What are your current interests? ‘Cause I feel like we’ve always… We all go through a little bit of different phases in our interest within an activity in like fly tying or we become a little bit more interested in the writing part or events. I mean, is there a certain thing that you might be focused on in the moment?
DG: Probably tying. I like tying because it’s infinite, it never ends. You cannot… There’s always something else you can do in tying. You can get your casting down perfect, you can cast with any rod and any line, anything. You can perfect that. But the one thing you can never ever finish is tying, because there’s always one more thing you can do. If you don’t like that pattern, put a bead in front. If you don’t like this pattern, change your thread color. Tying is infinite. You’ll never ever, ever finish tying. You’ll finish your casting eventually. You’re gonna get it down to perfection. You can do that, but you’re never gonna finish tying.
DG: With that being said, just one maybe last question that I have for you, what is the main advice that you would give somebody who wants to fly fish? Right now we’re looking at a very large number of people who are interested in some activity that allows them to socially distance, that also puts them in a place that is low-risk of catching whatever is going around, the COVID stuff specifically. So a lot of people are trying to get into fly fishing, and luckily I think tenkara shows them an easy way to do it. But what advice would you give to the people who are starting today? ‘Cause you and I have been doing it for a long time, and sometimes, I think we easily forget that there’s a beginner, there’s always a new person who doesn’t know the stuff that we talked about 10 years ago. And I think it’s important to revisit those things once in a while. So, what would you say to somebody who wants to get into fly fishing right now?
JK: Yeah, it’s hard to go back to the beginning. I would say get a simple rod. Get an Iwana or a Sato, and just a few flies, and go to a bluegill pond, and catch a few fish on the bluegill pond. All you have to do is cast it out there, twitch it. I’ll give you bluegills, and then you’re gonna get rewarded.
DG: [chuckle] Yeah.
JK: Then after that, go back home and order the fly tying kit and then tie your own flies, and then go back to the bluegill pond and catch a fish on the fly you tied yourself. Doesn’t matter for… It doesn’t matter if it looks perfect, just trust in your own instinct. Tie it, throw it out there, twitch it, and see if you get a fish. And the first time you catch a fish on a fly you tied yourself, you’re gonna be so amazed and so satisfied, so rewarded.
DG: I wonder if you… Oh, you tried really hard to avoid using the word “hooked” in there. I’m pretty sure…
JK: It’s a cliché. It’s a cliché.
DG: It’s too cliché and I could see you’re avoiding to use that word.
JK: Yeah, ….
DG: But you’re gonna get hooked, right? Yeah, wow, Jason, it was very nice to revisit this over a decade of shared experiences. But actually, that reminds me of something that you touched upon the other day on a post that you did, and I enjoyed reading that. And I think we shouldn’t finish this episode without writing about it. What I gather from this post is that your main takeaway from tenkara over the last decade has not really been about fishing, it was about something else. Do you wanna talk about that? You know what I’m referring to, I’m assuming.
JK: I do not.
DG: I thought it was a very nice posting that you said like one of the… Well, it was the thing that you’re grateful for, in terms of the relationships?
JK: Oh, yes. Yes. So, yeah, I’ve met some of the most amazing people in the world. I’ve traveled all over the world to meet tenkara anglers, I’ve traveled… Well, I’ve met you several times, we’ve fished together. I met Dr. Ishigaki. I’ve met Tenkara no Oni. I’ve met so many people that I never would have met if it weren’t for tenkara. And now I’m just grateful for that.
DG: Yeah, and I think I wanna leave it there because I realize I… So, when I sign books for people, I write, “Fish simply,” and most of the time I also write, “And create good memories.” ‘Cause I think that in the bottom line of it is that tenkara is giving us this opportunity to have some experiences, whether it’s creating memories with people or in nature. But there’s also these beautiful relationships that sometimes we feel like if we’re only looking online, we miss that aspect of it, and we don’t quite realize how important those are. But one of the things I’m the most proud of of creating Tenkara USA and sharing tenkara has been exactly that, the number of friendships and the community that has been created around it. So I appreciated hearing your… Or reading your post the other day about that because that’s one thing that I enjoy.
JK: Well think about it, Daniel, I mean you brought hundreds of people together at every summit, and they were all grateful to meet each other. These are people who… They only knew each other online, and then now all of a sudden, they get to meet each other in person. That’s pretty cool.
DG: Yeah, it is cool. Alright, so let’s wrap up, and we’ll have to have another conversation at some point, hopefully not in 10 years, but sooner, we’ll find some other topics to cover together, I would imagine. But I’m glad to see you starting to post a little bit more on Tenkara Talk, and I’m trying to post a little bit more in Tenkara USA. And hopefully, we’ll give all the listeners to this episode good content. And I’ll make sure to put a link to your blog tenkaratalk.com on this podcast page as well. And then we’re gonna have a transcript and that kinda thing. But if you go to tenkarausa.com/podcast, you can find the Tenkara Talk episode and find information about Jason in there as well. So thanks so much, Jason, for your time, it was a pleasure talking to you. And I do think we have to go fishing pretty soon here, I haven’t been fishing too much. I’ve been a little caught up with work, but looking forward to that this summer.
JK: Okay. Likewise, Daniel.
DG: Alright, thanks. So that was a really good episode. I really enjoyed speaking with Jason. But we are recording this episode in the middle of some really difficult times in this country, a country that I have adopted as my own. As most of you probably know, I’m an immigrant, originally from Brazil. Came here for high school, decided to stay. It is my country. I love America. I’m an American citizen. And it’s tough. It’s tough to know exactly what to say. I’m a white guy. And it is actually easier for me being a white person who is an immigrant living in this country than I think it is for a lot of African-Americans, who as we all know, have had a very, very hard time for decades, and continue to see police brutality, and really are part of a system that has systemic racism that continues putting them at a disadvantage in a lot of different ways. It’s heartbreaking, I’ve been pretty much on the verge of tears just watching what is happening. Yes, there is violence out there in the protests. There is things that are going on, looting. Although for what we can see, it’s not usually or not often part of the protesters, definitely not the protesters who are really trying to instil change, but they are angry, as I feel angry, for watching what is happening.
DG: So I wanna just take a couple of minutes just to let you know if you’re a person of color, we support you, we are behind you, we listen to you, we’re hearing you, and we do wanna be part of the change as well. And Tenkara USA is gonna be behind the movement towards anti-racism. That’s one of the things that I’ve been taking away, I’ve been trying to read a lot on the topic, educate myself. As I mentioned, I’m a white guy. I can see what people are going through, but it’s hard for me to really understand the struggles of living on a daily basis with some fear that something could happen on your way home, that you could be stopped for a trivial reason that could really easily escalate. So I do wanna start moving towards more of this anti-racism, see what it is that we can do to improve things in this country, to let people know that it is not right to witness our neighbors facing police brutality and other issues just because they are a person of color.
DG: And yes, the heartbreaking thing has been that this has been a little bit of a divisive issue. It has been heartbreaking to see some of the comments online, especially within fly fishing community, where I felt like there’s no room for debate here. It’s just, yes, black lives matter because today they are facing an incredible amount of struggle. And they’re not saying that other lives don’t matter, black lives matter, too. And I think that’s the gist of what we wanna get here. And there is no ifs and buts. Right now, we need to instill change to prevent black lives from being lost, and that’s all there is to it. We can address other issues, we can talk about other problems down the road, but right now we need to figure that piece out so that we can move on to the next piece and the next piece.
DG: So this is not a political podcast. I’ve been trying my hardest to stay away from discussing politics, but at the same time, we do live in a political community. We live in a political society where politics are part of our daily lives. And I cannot continue to ignore that and pretend like all is well, and pretend like all we can do is just provide some refuge from what’s happening around the world, because we live in the world right now. If you’re concerned about clean air, clean water, environmental issues, none of those matter if there’s no… If people cannot live and they cannot enjoy those. The whole point here is we’re trying to make the world a better place possibly through fishing, so that people can continue to enjoy those, the fruits of our labor in terms of making the world a better place. So I would be completely just…
DG: It would be weird for me to not bring this up on the podcast because it is oftentimes a rambling podcast. Yeah, this time, we had a guest here, but I do bring issues that are at the forefront of my mind as I run Tenkara USA. And we sell rods, we sell flies, we sell lines, but that doesn’t matter if people cannot enjoy ’em. And so that’s my soapbox right now, but mostly, I’m bringing this up because we cannot stay silent. So there are things that you can do. I’m probably not the best equipped person to tell you all you can do. I’m not a person of color, however there’s a lot of resources out there that you can be reading on things that you can do, and it can be speaking up. That’s probably the most difficult thing that we can do right now, but it is probably the most necessary thing to speak up when you witness some kind of racism, even though what I’m seeing is a lot of people thinking that they’re not racist. “There’s no racism,” what they’re saying, when in reality, there is, and we need to point those out.
DG: If you’re a person of color, I hope that we’ve been doing right for you, by you, I guess. And if we can speak up more, we will. Let us know. I’m not trying to bring up a debate here. I’m just trying to let you know that we are aware of it. We’re listening. We’re trying to do better, and we wanna learn how to do better as well. So that’s my soapbox for today, but I really am looking forward to a moment in time when we don’t lose so many lives, whether it is through… That we don’t lose so many lives through any of the invisible threats that we have right now, one of them being racism, the other one being COVID.
DG: I hope you get out and enjoy fishing. If you have an opportunity to do something for the planet, do it, do something for your community, do it. I think you’ll find it gratifying, but mostly, we’re all in this together, just like we’re in COVID, we cannot continue thriving, living, enjoying the fruits of our society if we have this and any other invisible threats going on in our society.
DG: Thanks so much for listening. I really hope you take my message for what it is. It is not an argument, it’s not a invitation to have a discussion about that. I’m not the person to do that with. It is an invitation for us to all do better. So thanks so much again for listening, and hopefully, you’re content with listening to my podcast and following Tenkara USA on social media and other channels without feeling like we’re trying to divide. We’re just trying to be a part of unifying a community that we’re part of, the fly fishing community. Thanks again. Until next time on the Tenkara Cast.
I would like to comment on the previous podcast episode, “Conversation with Jason Klass, and more.” TUSA has set the standard for tenkara fishing in the US and many places globally. The products, customer service, and website content are second-to-none and offer a positive contribution to the tenkara method of fly fishing culture. A primary reason I have remained a loyal TUSA customer is the added benefit of providing the Tenkara Cast podcast. I know it must take a great deal of dedication and long hours to produce such high quality media at no cost to the consumer. For that, I am grateful.
With that being said, I was greatly disappointed in the content of this specific podcast. From start to finish, it had an air of conflict, arrogance, and negativity. This is unlike previous episodes which provide the listener with excellent guests and content to promote the tenkara community in a positive light, not create division. From the discussion on, “What is a tenkara master” to racism; it felt more like watching a conservative, nightly news debate than promoting the positive sport that so many have come to enjoy.
I would like to encourage you to be more aware of your content and what impact it will have on the public. The Tenkara Cast podcast is a reflection of you, your company, and the entire tenkara community. DG made the comment, “I don’t care. I don’t give a damn” in regards to people being offended by the episode’s content. That was an extremely arrogant comment to make. What if your customers “did not give a damn” about TUSA? What would your company look like next week, next month, next year?
Things you may want to consider: try to make sure your future guests will add a positive view of tenkara and not take away from it. Make sure the message you are sending out to the listeners embedded in the podcast represents your company’s values. If you need to produce regular content for the podcast and do not feel up to the challenge, consider asking a guest to host the episode occasionally. Ask yourself before uploading the podcast, “Would new listeners want to take up the tenkara method of fly fishing by listening?” “Will current tenkara anglers be uplifted, inspired, and educated after listening to this episode?” Lastly, a company does not have to be political to be relevant. Consider staying in the lane of tenkara fishing. People are being bombarded with negative media from all sides, especially with the addition of COVID-19 . The Tenkara Cast should be at least one media outlet that invigorates the simple method of fly fishing without adding to the media frenzy, stress, and chaos.
I hope you receive this reply with an open mind and heart. Thank you.
Thank you for taking the time to write Mark. I appreciate the feedback and can see how I came across. Thanks for sharing that, I’ll carry that with me. – Daniel