Tenkara through immersion

It was difficult to forget fly fishing because my focus on it was quite sharp. I was specializing in small stream fly fishing using ultra-light lines, developing new techniques. I started with an Orvis 1-weight and got my 1-weight badge early on. I then graduated to using Loop reels and became affiliated and sponsored by Loop. The Swedish Loop founders taught me a lot about creating new fly lines tapered to my own style. I even made a monofilament fly line and used a long 0-weight fly rod gripping the fly line in my cork grip much in the way I fish tenkara today. I was sponsored by Thomas and Thomas and Loop and creating content on this relatively new and excited way to fish small streams at my own team approach web site, smallstreams.com My focus on fly fishing was sharp and I loved it very much. I was sharing my love of small stream fly fishing with Yoshikazu Fujioka from 1996 when he started making his own web site. I found him through a web search and contacted him. I had already been making small stream fly fishing content for a couple of years. Fujioka-san’s web site was my first look at tenkara, sawanobori and Japanese Keiryu.

In 2009, after nearly fifteen years of small stream fly fishing, I was introduced to Daniel Galhardo and he sold me my first tenkara rod.

That little Ebisu made me quit making bamboo fly rods. It made me quit my intense focus on small stream fly fishing with lite lines. Not because I didn’t like it, but because to me, it was the point of what I was trying to do in fly fishing, simplify the complex nature of using a reel in comparison to a fixed line that was a direct connection to the rod. In short, tenkara was not a limitation, I could catch any fish in the small streams I was fishing with a tenkara rod, it was not a limitation, it was a launch point into what I was looking for, taking away all that was unnecessary and focusing on skill.

Quitting fly fishing was the only way “I” was going to get better at tenkara. I didn’t want to be a fly fisherman that did tenkara, I wanted to be a tenkara “master”

Little did I realize that what I was reading was just a mind game I was playing with myself.

I quit fly fishing for the right reason, to focus on tenkara. To learn it, to understand it on it’s own terms. I began researching tenkara in Japan and started contacting Sakura, a very old rod shop in Tokyo that has been supporting tenkara fishermen since day one. Sakura and I came to an agreement, I think it was in 2010 that I would represent them in N.America. I began to set up tenkara anglers with Japanese rods. I saw that Chris Stewart was selling lines for Tenkara USA rods at that time and shortly afterwards began selling tenkara rods.

But I quit fly fishing, I stayed away from it because I did not want to mix it with fly fishing.

Of course what I learned, I used in developing my own tenkara method. It is what we do.

But I didn’t do fly fishing any longer, I quit.

I still have a fly rod, a beautiful mortised handled rod, “the purple worm” that hasn’t had a fish caught on it yet, it’s only been yard cast. That rod is beautiful, absolutely gorgeous.

But no more fly fishing.

Tenkara is what it is, open for interpretation, do it your own way.

My little story here is not a lesson, it serves primarily for those of you who wonder why I may write the things I do. I write them through my own experience.

I enjoy sharing and learning from my peers, I love it when experience comes to the table and I am able to learn from it.

But I no longer fly fish or use a spinning rod, yes, I’ve done finesse spin fishing, it’s what got me into fly fishing and ultimately into tenkara.

Like anything in life, I’m moving forward not forgetting where I come from.

Looking forward to the future, today is day one as far as I’m concerned.


Beyond the tenkara master
You are treasure of tenkara fishing

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Very interesting read indeed, Adam. Thanks for sharing!

Me, I was quite sceptical for many years, been fly fishing all my life so seen new stuff come and go pretty often. I honestly thought tenkara was such a trend. But there was so much appeal through its simplicity and minimalism, that I had to try it.
Once I got into it I realised that, to me, its fly fishing boiled down to its very essence.
It’s everything that I wanted fly fishing to be in the first place -both in practice and in philosophy, from the community it creates to the impact it has in other aspects of life. (it may sound highly pretentious, but frankly I don’t care)
The western gear is gathering dust, and I’m doing my last class with western gear next weekend. That’s nothing I ever would imagined.

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I am thankful for you Adam and all the other contributors who have provided such wonderful sites/resources for us…the masses.

The experiences you have shared and documented are invaluable. I could only dream of visiting Japan and connecting with the folk you have connected with. Just to give you the shout…I do like this forum, but equally liked and miss your forum.

I do agree a tenkara rod is the best engineering for small streams and arguably better for larger rivers as well. Whether it be tenkara, honyru, or keiryu rods…fishing them in moving water just make for a fantastic presentation.

Not sure if this helps at all, but I feel that other fishing disciplines help support and strengthen each other. Perhaps those fly rods can find new life. Their utility can be exploited better in larger bodies of water.

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Yes, beyond it.

Compass needle, I really like that.

Gathering dust…

Yesterday I had a huge revelation and it spawned this post.

The compass needle points me in a new direction.


Big big water and big fish. Time to develop those techniques and beyond that, the sea…

Stream | River | Lake | Sea

Today, September 14, 2017 is a very special day for me. I will remember this day, this tenkara day for the rest of my life.

I’m packing my backpack and going to cast a little, my casting game of accuracy and bone up. Getting on the plane tomorrow to meet new and old friends.

So excited to get started, but to keep focused on tenkara.


Today I received my paddle and pfd. The demo boat will be delivered today, I’ll have time for one visit before the back hauling season closes.

I’ll bring a 8m two hand rod with lines configured for floating line indicator nymphing, level line with markers and other lines for swinging streamers.

Also bringing my (TUSA) Amago and a couple of 4m class rods too for tenkara techniques.

My home will be a MLD duomid, a warm quilt, a Japanese stove and titanium things to keep it light. The river potable but carrying a Sawer filter.

My extravagance is three bags of firewood. Must have fire and some rye whiskey.

Sunday morning I’ll get up, let the air out of my sleep, and into my trip home.

I’ll fish a little and fold up my rod. Get in my tiny little raft with my home and float nine miles back to my car with my everything.

Imagine a thousand foot rock wall undercut with two hundred feet of crystal clear water below, a twenty foot deep whirlpool like you are in the clouds looking down.

Epic journey ahead.

I’m almost ready.

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It’s the beginning of a wonderful journey

Please take good care of yourself and have fun fishing

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My little one pretending.

I like pretending too.

I also like getting it done.


This is where I am headed.

I’ve been here many times before.


It is a powerful river.

I will respect it.

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That looks awesome, in the true meaning of the word.

Honryu through immersion.

Diving deep, solo, self help…

I have not been so excited about doing something new since I used to fly my hang glider cross country.

Big POWERFUL water.

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