Tenkara Interactions – “Are you the tenkara guy?”

On July 24, 2013
Comments (11)

Yesterday afternoon I left the house to run some errands. As I stopped at a traffic light on the way home, the woman on the car next to me started waving. I assumed she needed directions. I turned off the music and rolled the window down.

“Are you the tenkara guy?”, she asked, excitedly.


“My daughter took a class with you recently and has been talking about tenkara all the time.”

Unfortunately the lights turned green and we had to drive off. But I was thrilled that she recognized me or the car and took the time to say hi. I thanked her for doing that. And, yes, I felt kind of famous.


Ten days ago I went for a hike with my wife and our dog. It was our first time on this trail, behind the NCAR building here in town. As it was on a weekend the trail was relatively busy. A hiker was coming down as we climbed up. He smiled, as all other hikers did, passed us, then stopped and turned around.

“Are you Daniel? The tenkara guy?” (I am assuming he asked me if I was the tenkara guy…but I don’t usually carry a recorder)

“YES! You fish with tenkara?”


We chatted for a bit, and then went on our way, hoping to cross paths on a stream sometime.


A little over a month ago I headed to a coffee shop in town, Boxcar coffee roasters. I had heard great things about the place, so I went to check it out. I had to do some writing and needed good coffee to do that. A little past 20 minutes into my writing session a man, about my age, approached me.

“Hey, sorry to interrupt you, but… are you the tenkara guy?”


“I saw the sticker on your laptop, and you looked familiar. I watched a lot of your videos on Youtube…”

We chatted for a few minutes, when our conversation got the attention of the couple that was sitting on the next table. They turned around and asked if we were talking about tenkara, and inevitably, “are you the tenkara guy?”


We talked at length about tenkara, I invited them to an outing I was holding a few days later.


I was completely dazed from some anesthetics after visiting my dentist a couple of months ago. My wife was driving us back home and stopped to get food on the way. I stayed in the car but opened the doors to have fresh air. Then a man came by, startling me a bit.

“Hi, I saw your tenkara license plate…are you the tenkara guy?”


He probably thought I was high on drugs, but I was able to tell him I was just coming back from a procedure and was a bit dazed. I thanked him very much for saying hi and apologized for my state.

Luckily we met again a couple of weeks later at a talk I was giving. I was in much better shape then.


When visiting a local sporting goods store, the clerk saw my tenkara t-shirt and said, “tenkara? Do you work for them?”. “Uhhh….I guess so”, I replied.


Over the last several months, since moving to Colorado, I’ve had about a dozen such interactions. I confess, I absolutely love it. I has made me feel very welcomed to our new home. But, the coolest thing is to see in person through such interactions how much tenkara has grown since I brought it over to the US. These are just the casual interactions that I’ve had the fortune to have, where people took the time to stop and say hi. I am always very grateful when that happens.

Besides my own interactions I know there are dozens if not hundreds of interactions like that happening everyday! My doctor said someone was telling him about tenkara a few days ago; a few weeks ago a good friend of mine said he was grabbing lunch when he overheard three people very excitedly talking about tenkara; my banker said his colleague came to talk to him about going fishing and asked him if he’d heard of tenkara before….

Have you had unexpected tenkara interactions? I love how that networking is happening and would love to know if you have a story like that to share.

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11 Responses to Tenkara Interactions – “Are you the tenkara guy?”

  1. David says:

    On the hammockforums Brandon Waddy ( of warbonnetoutdoors hammocks) is know as The Warbonnet Guy. TWG. However, he was known as the Warbonnet Guy before most people knew his real name.

    Kudo’s for Brandon “The Warbonnet Guy”.

    Seems only fair you have become TTG, The Tenkara Guy. ;- )

  2. Daniel,

    I’m still waiting to meet another tenkara angler on my homewater, but now people are finally stopping me and calling my Iwana “tenkara” by name.

  3. Stephen says:

    A few times I have met fisherpersons hiking out while I am hiking in. We always stop and exchange a few words and they always ask “where is your fishing rod?” I usually carry my rod stuck down my shirt in order to have my hands free for bushwhacking. Tenkara is scarce on the ground here and they are always astonished when I produce the collapsed rod. Enjoyable moments.

  4. Michaela says:

    Usually people always ask me about my method of fishing and I will explain that its Tenkara,but when fishing at a local lake last week I was really surprised when I heard a voice exclaim
    Tenkara!!! and turned around to greet a young man walking his dog,as it turns out he is from Japan and was really happy to see
    an iwana Tenkara rod landing a large bluegill. We both shared
    a happy moment !!

  5. Nice! I’ve been recognized a few times but it was when I was writing for my ultralight backpacking blog, not tenkara. It’s definitely a good feeling. When I recently bought my new car, the salesman saw the custom tenkara plates on the Jeep I was trading in. His brother apparently fishes tenkara and knew about Tenkara Talk so I guess that’s the closest I’ve come so far, LOL.

  6. KzRoder says:

    Fishing the Swift River just a few weeks after moving to Massachusetts, a fellow angler stopped on his way in to his fishing spot to ask Peter and I about our Tenkara rods which he recognized. Awhile later, he invited Peter to try the pool he was fishing as he was very interested in seeing a fish hooked and brought in on a Tenkara rod. I haven’t been fishing that long, but I’ve never heard of an angler inviting a fellow fisherman to try a pool he’s been fishing successfully. It’s either the inherent friendliness of New England fishermen or Tenkara enthusiasts.

    • Ha, that is truly awesome! And, I can say for sure I have not heard of an angler (a stranger at least) inviting a fellow angler to try a pool he’s been fishing, especially successfully. I don’t know if I would have the same luck as you guys, you probably just a much nicer aura :)

  7. Thanks Daniel! I know I’ll never be “ichiban” but I’d just like to be”up there”. :)

  8. tsegelke says:

    I have run into more and more people on the creeks in CA aware of or curious of Tenkara.

    I am also starting to be recognized in the Fly Shops as the guy who fishes Tenkara.

    I just got back from Lassen National Park, and there was a few Japanese campers who were very excited to see me fishing Tenkara on the creeks in the park. It was a very interesting conversation, and I even got compliments from a gentlemen whom I let try my rod for a few casts. His comment was that he had no idea that you could find a quality Tenkara Rod in the US. When I mentioned that I have an extra rod with me, and he was welcome to join us, he almost became upset that the family was moving on to another destination that evening. He thanks us for our generosity, and I was able to learn some things by watching how he stalked the spring creek, casted, and played the fly.

    It was awesome to meet others with interest and experience in Tenkara.

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