Q: I’ve been involved with tenkara since 2009, and your website, Tenkara Talk, is one of the most comprehensive sources for tenkara info in the world. How did you get started on it? How did it evolve? What does the future hold for Tenkara Talk?
Tenkara Talk actually started as an e-commerce site I was running back then called backpackflyfishing.com. The purpose of the site was to sell gear that appealed to backpackers who also fly fished and were looking for ultralight fishing gear that would allow them to get the most out of their backcountry adventures without weighing them down.
I was searching for new products to carry online and stumbled upon Daniel’s site, which, at the time, was in its infancy. Back in those days, when you called up Tenkara USA, Daniel was the one who actually answered the phone. I talked to him about what I was doing and he saw some synergy so he agreed to send me a demo Iwana rod to try out. Once I got it, I was hooked. I took it up to Rocky Mountain National Park for a day and it instantly convinced me that tenkara was the perfect method for small stream trout fishing in the Rockies.
As soon as I came home, I enthusiastically called Daniel again and we worked out an agreement where I could sell his gear on my site. I was the first (and only until this day) online-only retailer to sell Tenkara USA rods so I quickly gained an intimate knowledge of his product lineup and Daniel taught me all the fundamentals that have shaped my tenkara career.
At some point, I decided e-commerce wasn’t really for me. I loved the customer service aspect of it and helping people get into the sport by answering their questions, but I hated shipping boxes, tracking inventory, and all the other things that go along with an online business. I realized I loved the sport more than profit and soon decided to switch the site over to be focused on content rather than sales. That’s where Tenkara Talk was born. But if you look around my site at some of my older posts and videos, you’ll still discover some references and even logos from the backpackflyfishing.com days.
As for the future of Tenkara Talk … there was a time when I was probably the most prolific tenkara blogger out there. Since then, there has been an explosion of tenkara blogs and there are a lot of people doing a better job than I’ve been doing lately. I’m currently going through several personal transitions so writing has been on hiatus for a while. But I plan to resume this spring once things settle down and get back to my normal schedule. There’s still a lot more to say about tenkara despite its simple nature. And I want to be back at the forefront of saying it.
Q: I remember a day when I took you to a hidden spring creek in a remote part of Colorado, and we had such a great time fishing. Do you have any trips that really stand out? Why?
I remember that day and it will always stand out in my memory–not only for the great fishing, but also because we saw so much wildlife and great scenery. Plus, I couldn’t complain about the company! And the fact that there’s only a handful of us in Colorado that are “initiated” into “Stream X” doesn’t hurt either. I’m always honored when someone deems me worthy of sharing their secret spot so thank you so much for that Paul.
As for other trips that stand out, there are too many to choose from and not all are related to tenkara. But one that is which stands out in my mind is a trip I took on the West side of Rocky Mountain National Park with Karel Lansky of Tenkara on the Fly and Joe Egry from Dragon Flyfishing. We did a long hike up North Creek Inlet (which seemed like forever before we even heard running water) but it was totally worth it. We had the stream all to ourselves the entire day and I probably caught 40-50 gorgeous brookies (I stopped counting). It was one of those days where the fish weren’t just cooperating—they were volunteering. It seemed like you could cast a bare hook out and still catch a vividly colored brook trout without even thinking about it.
We were all using tenkara and caught more fish than any angler is entitled to, but it was a great ego boost. And on the hike back down, we encountered several moose on the trail at arms-length, which was just icing on the cake. Every angler deserves a day like that per season or so. And that was ours. I’ll never forget it.
Q: Your presentation at the Tenkara Winter Series is about Effective Tenkara Presentations Anyone Can Make. Can you tell me a bit about what you’ll cover at our event?
Let me be clear … this will be a pretty basic overview of presentation techniques that anyone with some level of fly fishing skill will probably already know (injected with my own dry humor and hackneyed observations). My goal is to inform newbies of the most effective presentations and hopefully give more experienced anglers new interpretations to think about and experiment with. I’ll also have a Q&A at the end, which I’m hoping will spark some interesting dialogue.
Q: If you could take tenkara anywhere in the world, where would you fish? Why?
Japan…because I’d like to take it back home. I’ve been to Japan but that was years before I’d heard about tenkara and I regrettably didn’t fish there. I really lament that now. If the opportunity presented itself, I’d love to experience tenkara in the Japanese mountains where it was born. I know the fishing is tough, but catching exotic species like amago or iwana in tenkara’s homeland would be a dream trip for me. I don’t care about destinations that promise big fish. I care about destinations that promise meaningful fish, and meaningful camaraderie. While I’ve only been able to connect with a few fellow tenkara