Essay Tenkara Trout & Char

Does “Japanese” Tenkara Translate to Western Rivers?

Article in Pictures by Paul Gaskell

You sometimes hear it said by western anglers that the tactics developed in Japan’s mountain rivers “wouldn’t work in my stream.” Well, between myself and John Pearson, we’ve been testing that theory pretty hard over the last several years and, it likely won’t surprise you to hear that trout all around the world fall for the charms of simple kebari and Japanese tenkara presentation methods… So I won’t labour that point.

Instead I want to invite you to share just a handful of the wonderful experiences and adventures that tenkara has given me outside Japan. Those adventures, it turns out, can happen on a lunchbreak from work just minutes from home – or on a special tenkara vacation. All that it takes is to venture out on stream with some simple flies and stream skills. Tenkara is the perfect ticket to amazing experiences…

Paul Gaskell - Japanese Tenkara Western Rivers - Brown Trout

Ferris Bueller Trout from an urban stream… Driving between trout habitat survey jobs, I skipped lunch and explored a short section of river in a “post-industrial” English stream (love the halos round the spots!)

The Discover Tenkara Club Streams. Me and JP set up possibly the world’s first “tenkara only” trout streams in 2012 in the English Peak District. The whisky coloured water comes from the peat bogs that feed the streams and the trout are all wild (C&R, barbless hook and tenkara only).

Italian Paradise fishing. We were treated to a mind-blowing trip to the Italian Dolomites by Vito Rubino last year. The food, wine and all the people we met – including Christian and Helga (silent “H”) who are renovating the beautiful Farmhouse for visiting anglers – were just incredible. Christian “Nokill” (on Facebook) is pioneering wild fishing and C&R in the area; which includes marble trout, brown trout grayling and even wild brook trout populations.

Saitou-san’s “Suzutake” bamboo rod & Net. Again on local urban streams and “stolen” lunchtime sessions with a simple bamboo rod, horsehair casting line and, now, a Suzutake bamboo net to match! Wild trout and grayling in English rivers – and yet, at the same time, the chance to experience tenkara in a similar way to the original “Shokuryoshi” professional mountain tenkara-fishers.

The bamboo rod and net have already featured in Tenkara in Focus – and the Italian trip is coming up in future episodes too. Check out the Tenkara in Focus public Facebook group for more stories, updates and the chance to shape future episodes.


Paul Gaskell (along with John Pearson) blog at Discover Tenkara and have a free email tutorial service that teaches tenkara step-by-step. He is also one of the hosts of the video series, Tenkara in Focus and founders of Fishing Discoveries.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.

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