The following interview has been about a year in the making. When we interviewed Ichi Katsumoto about river peak in 2021, he briefly introduced us to Shoji Oshima, river peak‘s “tenkara tester.” In the time since we’ve exchanged several messages over social media with Oshima-san (and others), and despite the language barrier, he was kind enough to grant us this interview. With river peak’s popularity growing in the West, we thought this would be an ideal time to introduce Oshima-san to a broader audience.
Hello Mr. Oshima, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for the readers of Tenkara Angler. We would enjoy learning more about yourself, your fishing experiences, and your tenkara adventures!
Where do you live and what do you do for a living?
I live about 100 km from Tokyo, close to a mountain stream in Chichibu, Saitama. Chichibu is not only a tourist attraction, but also a very popular destination for mountain stream fishing. I work at a golf course as management and maintenance. I go fishing anytime when I can find the time.
What hobbies do you enjoy?
I enjoy mountain stream fishing, mountain climbing, and camping. I love nature very much.
How did you get your beginnings in fishing? Is it something you did as a child? Did somebody teach you how to fish?
When I was a child there was a mountain stream near my house, so I enjoyed swimming in the river and or fishing throughout the year.
I tried to learn how to fish from reference books and from someone nearby who was good at it, but that didn’t work out. In the end, I taught myself everything from scratch and learned by myself through practice and experiences. I started tenkara fishing when I was 15 years old.
What do you enjoy the most about tenkara fishing?
I enjoy when I cast the kebari where I want, the kebari moves as I want, and the fish appears when I want. The challenge of adding a variety of actions to the kebari to “lure” the fish is exciting. I am especially happy when the fish takes to my “lure action”.
It looks like you enjoy fishing in the headwaters. Do you have a favorite species of fish to catch?
Targets are mainly Yamame and Iwana. I especially like Yamane very much. Yamame is much more difficult to catch than Iwana, so I find targeting Yamame more fun and exciting!
I have a handful of friends that I enjoy fishing with as a group. Are there any tenkara anglers that you enjoy fishing with, or possibly admire from afar?
I have a group of about 6 kind of apprentices/friends now. I often fish with those friends. My group name 極一門 is pronounced “Kyoku Ichimon”, which means “Family of Master”.
I see that you started posting fishing videos to your YouTube channel about 4 years ago. Can you tell us about your videos?
We aim to be something no other channel is. Fishing methods and points of interest are explained. We are not hiding anything, rather we are showing everything to beginners so that they can understand it easily, even the fishing spots.
How and when did you start developing & testing rods for river peak? It sounds like a wonderful occupation.
I have been working at it for 8 years. I prefer full flex action rods and aim to develop rods that are suitable for Japanese mountain streams.
What characteristics do you like most about the river peak KIWAMI?
The best feature is that it is lightweight. Unlike fly fishing, tenkara fishing requires casting more often because the distance of the cast is shorter. The frequency of casts per day is considerable, so it is very important that the rod is lightweight not to put strain on the angler’s arm and body. The special shape of the rod also reduces rod vibration for accurate pinpoint casting.
What characteristics do you like most about the river peak POP STAR?
It is slim and easy to swing through the water, so beginners, women, and children can easily cast it. The rod’s action makes it easy to cast with thin lines. It is also easy to cast with less impact on the surface of the water to catch cautious Iwana and Yamame.
Are you testing any new, unreleased tenkara rods with river peak?
Yes, there are! It’s a TOP secret for now !!! You will see it in 2023.
What type of lines and kebari (or flies) do you use?
I use level line 2.0 to 3.0. The reason for this is to keep the line as thin and light as possible in order to less impact to the fish. Thin line is difficult to cast, but the KIWAMI tenkara rod makes this possible.
For the kebari, we use only simple Futsu ones. The Futsu is a versatile kebari that can be used for both luring and natural drift. During cold season, we sometimes use a bead-head kebari or a weighted kebari for fish that are at the bottom.
Do you have any tenkara dreams? Is there a certain place that you would like to fish in the future?
I would like to visit all the famous mountain streams in Japan. Also, overseas. I’d like to try to catch many big fish with tenkara in Alaska.
Do you have any advice to someone who wants to learn how to fish tenkara?
The first thing is to enjoy. Fishing should be fun.
To have fun, the most important thing is to have an “image” of fishing. The image should include the current of the river (surface, underwater, bottom), the direction of the fish, the movement of the fish, and the movement of the kebari after landing on the water. After having visualized all of this, then you can start casting. Each cast is corrected to bring you a little closer to your ideal fishing situation.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I did not ask you about?
Enjoy safe fishing!
Thank you for your time, we appreciate you allowing us to meet you and wish you well on your future fishing outings!
Editors Note: Additional thanks to river peak President Yuzuru Morimoto & Ichi Katsumoto for facilitating and translating this interview with Oshima-san.
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