Tenkara Summit Info

The 2013 Tenkara Summit will be in Harrisonburg, Va. on May 11 and 12, hosted by Tenkara USA and Mossy Creek Fly Fishing.
The plans are coming together and the details are starting to shape up.
Here is some early information you can use for your planning.


Open online at: http://www.tenkarausa.com/product_info.php/products_id/157
Follow the directions carefully to be sure your registration is complete and accurate.

DAY 1 – May 11, 2013

$25 for event and lunch
Location: Holiday Inn Harrisonburg – 1400 East Market Street, Harrisonburg.
 9AM – 5PM: Main event – presentations, casting, tying demos and more.
6PM – 10PM: Tenkara Social with band at the hotel.

DAY 2 – May 12, 2013

$75 for lunch and guided afternoon clinics.
Location: Riven Rock Park, 6 Last Left Lane, Hinton, VA.
Schedule: 10AM – 12PM: more demos outside at the park (no charge, included in Day 1 fee)
12 PM on: Lunch and guided clinics.
Riven Rock Park information


There is a block of rooms available at the Holiday Inn. You will want to stay there if you are from out of town so you can enjoy the tenkara party that evening.
Room rates have been negotiated for $89.
To book a room please call 540-433-2521 and tell operator you’d like to book rooms under “Tenkara Summit 2013″ room block.
Or visit the Holiday Inn website, enter dates, and group code TSB.
Please note the last day for reservations under the room block is Friday, April 26th, 2013.
Camping options will be posted on the Mossy Creek Fly Fishing website soon.

I will post updates as they become available, so please check back.
Hope to see you at the summit!

New Tenkara Book Coming!

Tenkara COVER_HRmedDavid Dirks is a outdoor writer and columnist for The Times Herald Record in Westton, NY. He is working on a book using the insights of actual tenkara anglers here in the US. When I got a note from David asking if I would be willing to share my experiences on tenkara fishing, I was quick to say yes.

Now David’s book has been sent off to the editor and he sent a copy of the cover and the table of contents so I could give you a sneak peek.

Tenkara Fly Fishing Insights and Strategies

1. Ancient Tenkara: A Short History
Short history of tenkara fly fishing
2. The Essence of Tenkara Fly Fishing
3. Tenkara Fly Rods
Selecting Tenkara Rods
4. Tenkara Lines & Tippets
5. Casting techniques for Tenkara
6. Tenkara Flies: Traditional Flair with Practical Applications
Insights for fishing traditional tenkara fly patterns
Match-the-hatch versus traditional tenkara one fly
Tenkara Advantage: The art & science of manipulating the fly
Other fly pattern applications for tenkara (traditional American dry flies, nymphs, streamers and bucktails)
7. Tenkara Fly Patterns: Traditional meets Non-Traditional
8. Fishing with Tenkara (Note: focuses on how to fish each of the following types of water effectively using tenkara equipment)
Pocket water
9. Tenkara Fishing Strategies for Small Water
10. Tenkara Strategies For Larger Water
11 . Tenkara Strategies for Fighting Fish
12. About Our Tenkara Contributors

This will be a great book for all tenkara fans and those wanting to learn about tenkara. It is expected to be available by the end of March and will be both in print and ebook.

You Say Tenkara I Say Kleenex

The ever-attentive Mr. Klass of Tenkara Talk fame offered an interesting twitter observation:Screen Shot 2013-02-01 at 5.56.57 PM

For those just tuning in, there has been a bit of a culture war within the tenkara ranks for a while. Apparently it stems from what is and what is not tenkara. The discussion has taken a variety of forms from rods, to flies, to lines. It raised it’s ugly head again apparently (although I missed why).

Personally I think it is a bunch of hooey. Tenkara isn’t trademarked, and the translation in Japanese isn’t even precise. At this point Tenkara is like Kleenex. How many of us say “bathroom tissue?” You almost feel compelled to lock your jaw and extend your pinky if you do…

So to squabble over what is and is not tenkara seems pointless, unless there is some other game afoot. Probably not an unfounded suspicion truth be told.  It reminds me of the old guard of fly-fishing who didn’t want women fishing and looked down their collective noses if you didn’t just fish a dry fly upstream. There goal was to exclude others. Is that what you want? In any event it is unseemly and looks silly to folks just discovering tenkara.

Jason is correct tenkara is fixed line fly-fishing. Just like using a cane pole, bobber and a worm is fixed line fishing. The obvious difference is one uses a fly and the other does not. That is all you need to say when that subject comes up.

If what I do is not what you call tenkara, so be it. Call it fixed line fly-fishing if it makes you happy. It is still fly-fishing and it is still fun and to me that is the whole point of being out there.

The Tenkara Roundup Vol. 1, Issue 3

The jungle drums are beating, With the tales from late last night, Cause stories bear repeating, For everyones delight. – from Jimmy Buffett’s Coconut Telegraph

Well the virtual coconut telegraph is certainly filled with tenkara tales and as the man says, “stories bear repeating…
2013SummitposterHere is what caught my eye recently:

  • The best news first! Mark your calendars! The 3rd Tenkara Summit will be in Harrisonburg, Va., May  11-12, 2013. Mossy Creek Fly Fishing will be co-sponsoring the event and everyone in the shop is excited about the chance to show off the great tenkara fishing opportunities here in the Shenandoah Valley! Day 1 will feature indoor clinics and presentations and a chance to socialize. In the morning on Day 2 there will be free outdoor demonstrations on a local river. There is a $25 registration fee for the event. Guided clinics with lunch the afternoon of Day 2 is available for a $75.
  • Those of you who have started to accumulate tenkara rods will be interested in this one. Troutrageous! has a great post on a DIY rod rack project that is tenkara worthy because it a) simple and b) customizable. Check out Tenkara Rod Rack on the Cheap.  Jason over at Tenkara Talk made one, check it out. You can bet that the Tenkara Guide will have one in the near future.
  • Don’t have enough rods? Need to know which rod works best for the type of fishing you do? Then check out  How to Choose the Right Tenkara Rod from the Tenkara USA Blog. Remember you can order Tenkara USA rods from Mossy Creek Fly Fishing and there is no charge for shipping.
  • Winter is a slow fishing season around here. We get out, but is not the hectic pace of the other seasons. For me it is R & R time; reorganize and repair. He is a great post on cleaning those tenkara rods before they sit out the season in your new rack. Check out Winter Maintenance of my Tenkara Gear.
  • Tenkara Talk  hits the nail on the head when it comes to tactics in his recent post on tenkara tactics, Be a Heron! Jason notes, “One of the things tenkara anglers place a lot of emphasis on is the idea that skill matters more than gear. As Dr. Ishigaki says, “you can’t buy skill in a fly shop”. And to me, concentration is just another skill we need to hone if we want to be masterful tenkara anglers (or any type of angler for that matter).”

Couple of non tenkara items but worth your time and attention…

  • The always worth reading Erin Block has a book out, The View from Coal Creek. No it is not a tenkara book, but if you are into bamboo rods and great writing then you need to get a copy.  As the Whitefish Press noted;“The View from Coal Creek is a reflection on fly rods, fishing, and life seen from the vantage of a canyon in Colorado, but these are props in a larger story about life, love, and tradition. Erin Block is a young, powerful voice carrying the torch and passing on lessons, values, and history of this great, literary and vibrant sport.”
  • American Angler released an iPad App. I gave up all but a very few magazines subscriptions and was thrilled that American Angler made the jump to iPad. See The iPad App is Live in iTunes!  “We built this in house,” explains Morris Sporting Group general manager Steve Walburn, “so we started with the most recently available print edition, which at the time was the September/October issue. As soon as we catch up to our print schedule, we’ll begin offering subscriptions.”Among other rich-media elements, the first issue includes a classic audio recording of Norman Maclean, at age 82, reading selected passages from A River Runs Through It, digitized exclusively for American Angler iPad readers. “It’s just one example of how we can stretch the boundaries of content in this new medium,” says Walburn. The next available issue will be January/February 2013.

Fly Board at L.L.Bean

Chuck Willey the Shooting – Fishing – Archery Program Supervisor for L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools has been putting together a compilation of flies mounted in a shadow box and displayed in the main room at the Fogg House in Maine as part of our Outdoor Discovery Schools heritage.

Chuck asked past instructors of the L.L.Bean Fly Fishing Schools for a fly that is either a favorite or one that speaks to our personality. This will be a great display and I was delighted to contribute a fly. Recently Chuck sent an update that included a photo and a listing of who has sent flies in so far. [Read more...]

Single Fly Tenkara

A question recently posted in the Tenkara Anglers facebook group asked about the single fly tenkara technique. The author of the post was looking for advice, reassurance and information about the technique, especially around selective trout and it got me thinking about my own views of the single fly aspect of tenkara.

one fly to rule them all

I admit to a pretty strong addition to catching fish on the surface. So I have been both skeptical and practical when it comes to the single fly technique. Fishing dry flies with a tenkara rod was so effective and fun that I was hard pressed to try something different. In fact if I can’t entice a fish to take a dry or dry/dropper, I usually just call it a day, scout out the water or go for a hike.

When Daniel Galhardo, founder and owner of Tenkara USA was in town I had the chance to fish the single fly method with him. After three days with increasing success I can say with confidence that it works. As a guide who specializes in the tenkara method it was especially rewarding to get first-hand coaching on tenkara fishing.

In the course of three days we had a lot of time to talk about our evolution as tenkara anglers. We shared similar paths to where we are as tenkara anglers today. So when I read Daniel’s response to the facebook question, I was struck by what a well worded insight into the single fly technique it was.

“Main thing to keep in mind is that you should know (or maybe believe) that it can be about technique as opposed to the fly choice. I have been in a few rivers where people told me I had to match the hatch at particular times, but I have also been stubborn in my pursuit of catching fish without paying much attention to the fly and have done well (and have started doing progressively better as I have gained confidence).

I have come to believe I can fish anywhere, including highly pressured waters, without paying attention to my fly. It is refreshing and liberating (this is my favorite part of it). Now, it is possible that I could have caught more fish if I had changed flies…will never know.

I think it mainly comes down to one thing: what do you want most? To think about the flies you’re using and trying to possibly catch more fish? Or, to have the freedom to not catch as many fish now, instead just keep casting that one fly to the water, and perhaps in a year, or two, or ten, feel that you have mastered techniques that allow you to fish one fly effectively?

There is NO right or wrong here. Absolutely not. It is all about what you desire. I really enjoy not having to think about my fly, and I now feel liberated to fly anywhere in the country and fish with my one box of flies. I like that.”

I won’t be abandoning my dry flies for just sakasa kebari, but I will be trying the single fly technique more often.

Fishing Tenkara With Daniel Galhardo

When Tenkara USA founder, Daniel Galhardo was in town we had a chance to hang out, fish and talk tenkara.

Meeting up with sensei Galhardo

Daniel was at Mossy Creek Fly Fishing on Saturday October 20th giving a presentation and casting demonstration.

Daniel starts his presentation

That afternoon we took a group of avid tenkara anglers to Mossy Creek for a hands-on clinic.

Starting the tenkara demonstration on Mossy Creek

Daniel demonstrates the downstream presentation

Daniel scouts a bend on Mossy Creek

Folks had a chance to get some fishing time with Daniel as well

Fred was the first to land a fish

A rainbow is landed

This fine Mossy Creek ‘bow sports a black sakasa kebari

Mossy Creek Fly Fishing co-owner Brian Trow, shot some great video of the tenkara action.

In the video, Daniel and Brian see a fish rise and start stalking it. Just as Daniel is set to cast, another fish rises and he turns his attention to that fish. He uses the “pause and drift” method to catch the fish. You will also see how he handles landing a large fish. Daniel fished a T-USA Ito, about 15ft of 3.5 level line, 4ft of 5x tippet and a Ishigaki Kebari.

Brian and I wanted to learn more about the “one fly” practice that Daniel and the tenkara anglers in Japan embrace so after our guests left, Daniel, Brian and I did some fishing on our own. Brian and I had committed to Daniel that we would only fish this way when we fished together. We took the opportunity of Daniel’s coaching to become more skilled in the tenkara style of fly-fishing.

At one point, while doing a downstream “pause and drift”, a fish bit the lilian on my tenkara rod. I was so shocked I jumped back screaming and fell down laughing like a fool. After breaking off a 20″ rainbow because I was to slow to move despite Brian and Daniel telling me to…

I at least found redemption with a nice brown a few casts later.

a nice Mossy Creek brown

After a day on the Valley spring creeks we headed up to the George Washington National Forest to fish for brook. We fished only tenkara flies on level lines using tenkara techniques.

I will confess to being somewhat skeptical of the “one-fly” method but after three days with increasing success I can say with confidence that it works. As a guide who specializes in the tenkara method it was especially rewarding to get first-hand coaching on tenkara fishing.

tenkara, it’s unreel!!!

Streamside Tenkara Seminar

Mossy Creek Fly Shop owner Colby Trow with a nice ‘bow using a Tenkara USA Ito

Are you interested in tenkara fishing on spring creeks? Then join us for the Mossy Creek Fly Fishing Streamside Tenkara Seminars. The first one is this Friday, July 27th, from 6:00 – 8:00 PM. We will have another one on Wednesday, August 22nd, from 6:00-8:00PM. Colby, Brian and I will be giving presentations and demonstrations on using a tenkara outfit for fishing on spring creeks.

As a guide for Mossy Creek Fly Fishing I know that experience and knowledge is as important to our customers as the products we sell. It is as much a reason for our success as the high quality gear and accessories we offer. We are always looking for fun and innovative ways to share that knowledge with our customers both new and old. This year, tenkara has exploded in our region. Tenkara outfits are the hottest selling items in the store. Not a day goes by when we don’t get asked about it.

During the summer our local spring creeks are a spectacular fishing option. On the water we manage, big bugs and big fish are the rule. Using a tenkara outfit has proven to be an exciting and highly effective way to catch big browns and ‘bows.

This “hands-on” seminar will give you a chance to:

* Cast the full range of Tenkara USA rods and learn which rod is best for different fishing conditions.

* Learn about the different types and lengths of line and which one is best to use for various fishing conditions.

* Learn about setting up your tenkara outfit for spring creeks.

* Learn the “go-to” flies for the various summer spring creek hatches.

* Learn tips, tactics and techniques for successfully fishing spring creeks.

To sign up, call the store at 540-434-2444. The cost is $35 person at time of sign up with Visa or Mastercard, first come – first served.

Space is limited to 15 participants so register early!



Guest Post – Are You Ten-kurious?

Tenkara fishing on a Montana spring creek

Editor’s Note: My friend Ben Bulis, who is running the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, wrote about his recent adventure with a tenkara rod. I asked if he would let me use it as a guest post on Dispatches. He agreed. Enjoy.

Are You Ten-kurious? I was, and I tried it! Tenkara… What is it? Tenkara (translated: “from the skies” or “from the heavens”) is the traditional method (no reel) of Japanese fly-fishing used by commercial fishermen in the mountains of Japan to catch Yamame, Iwana and Yamago. Tenkara originated in Japan more than 200 years ago, the rods, originally were made of long bamboo/cane poles.

Tenkara has been making it’s emergence in the U.S. market since 2009, thanks to Daniel Galhardo, owner of San Francisco based Tenkara U.S.A. Temple Fork Outfitters recently announced they too would be manufacturing a Tenkara rod and RIO now offers a Tenkara line.

I’ll be totally honest; I was more than a little skeptical about fishing without a reel! I have to say, I really have been enjoying the simple approach to fishing, and its effectiveness has made me a believer, Tenkara is here to stay. Learning a new method of fishing and pushing the limits on the size of fish I can catch, is what I like about it! With that being said, Tenkara, will never be able to replace my assortment of rods and reels, it’s just another tool in my quiver.

Tenkara, with its simple approach and ease will in my mind, be a gateway to introduce non-anglers children and adults, to the sport of fly-fishing. Anyone can cast a Tenkara rod effectively in less than 10 minutes! Both of my young children have picked up my Tenkara rod and have caught fish within 15 minutes on the river.

If you have the Tenkara itch, go ahead and scratch it!