Stories Tenkara

Tenkara Runs Through It …

Recently I spent a few beautiful fall days stalking the banks of meadow spring creeks in Wisconsin with Matt Sment. At the end of one of these days he surprised me with an idea. He asked if I’d consider coming on board with the Tenkara Angler team. Though he still had to run it by the other guys at this point. I’ve always been a person that has trouble asking for help. So my initial gut reaction was unexpected; I felt a flood of relief.

I’ve been running my blog CastingAround for over 10 years (though not very actively lately). Being a solo blogger can be a lonesome effort. And during my years operating Three Rivers Tenkara (now defunct), I’d often wished I had support. Some more heads and hands to help share the load. But I didn’t realize how much I wanted to work with a team until Matt put the idea out there. After a very brief moment of consideration it was as clear as a Wisconsin spring creek.

So I’ve landed here at Tenkara Angler, and moving forward I will provide you all with some creative and/or technical content. But I hope you don’t mind indulging me first with this somewhat sappy and sentimental post.

We fish our way upstream through life. The river winds this way and that, always hiding what’s around the next bend. In 2009 I found a thing called a tenkara rod lying along the bank of my river (well really it was an online ad by Tenkara USA that led to that first tenkara rod). I chose to pick up that rod and that has made all the difference.

Eventually I started a small business because of it. I’ve done artwork for several other tenkara businesses and events. I edited the first print magazine in America focused on tenkara (for Tenkara USA). I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed working on that magazine. I’ve been allowed to get in front of people to give presentations about tenkara. Standing in front of people, delivering a presentation for fun. I never saw that one coming! I only mention these things because they are puzzling and surprising to me even now. It’s amazing how the choice to buy a tenkara rod led to all of these significant events. Events that altered the course of my life and brought so many great memories. Tenkara was the river flowing through it all.

But more important than any of that are the friends that I made along the banks of that winding river. There are so many people in my life that only entered because of tenkara. I won’t list a bunch of names for fear of leaving people out – there are so many I could mention and you all know who you are. Among those people are the members of the Tenkara Angler crew: Michael Agneta, Jason Sparks and Matt Sment.

Tenkara Angler - angler fishing in mountain stream

I “met” Mike Agneta during the big blogging scare of the 2000-2010s. Remember those days when everybody had a blog? I can’t put a precise date on it but at some point we crossed paths in the blogosphere. I’m thinking I probably contacted Mike and said something like “Hey I see you’re from Philly, I’m from Pennsylvania too, Pittsburgh. I just found your blog Troutrageous! I’ve got a blog called CastingAround. I just put Troutrageous! In my BlogRoll, do you think you can add CastingAround to yours?”

Since that time I’ve hung out and/or fished with Mike in Utah, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Wisconsin. I think he wins for the most states. Though I don’t think we fished together in Utah or Virginia. Mike is one of the few bloggers from back in the day that’s managed to keep things going and vital with his creation of Tenkara Angler. Thanks for your efforts Mike!

Tenkara Angler - Tenkara Jam t-shirt

Jason Sparks … so I this is one of my earliest recollections. Way back in the day I created a Facebook group called “Eastern Tenkara”. There were loads of groups for western regions but not the east. Then along comes some guy with this rival “Appalachian Tenkara Anglers” Facebook group. It was instantly apparent that the guy behind Appalachian Tenkara Anglers had wayyyyy more energy and drive and charisma than I could ever hope to muster. So I gladly let the idea of Eastern Tenkara go.

Then at some point I did a shirt design for one of Jason’s famous Tenkara Jam events. Then went on to be a vendor and speaker at several others. I think I first met him was at the Tenkara USA Summit in Virginia. The timeline on all of this is a bit fuzzy. But I just want to say a big thanks to Jason for doing those Tenkara Jam events. I loved them! And I know they were a monumental effort to organize. Also I’d like to say that Jason’s photo should be in the dictionary (or Wikipedia) next to the word “raconteur”. Nobody tells a story like he does. If you’ve met him you know this is true.

Tenkara Angler - angler fishing in stream

I came to know Matt Sment through the company he cofounded and ran with Mike Lutes, Badger Tenkara. And also through the Midwest Tenkara Fest events that Badger sponsored in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin. Doing the artwork for the Tenkara Fest t-shirts and attending as a vendor and presenter are some of my best tenkara memories. Those events were fantastic. Since first meeting Matt as a fellow business owner, we’ve become good friends and I’ve enjoyed spending time with him along many streams and rivers. He tends to think about (dare I say overthink) tenkara and fixed-line fly fishing in a consuming way, just as I do, and we’ve had some great conversations. We’ve hung out and fished (conversed and over-thought things) in Wisconsin, Tennessee, North Carolina and Arkansas. Thanks Matt!

I could write similar things about many other friends. Tenkara has really shaped my life though the people that I’ve come to know because of it. Thank you to all of my tenkara friends, you’re the best! If you’ve made it this far I just want to say thanks for indulging these reminiscences. And finally thanks to Mike, Jason and Matt for allowing me to join them at Tenkara Angler.

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  1. Very excited to read your thoughts and insights more often. This is a perfect match and long overdue. Anthony is one of a small group of long time Tenkara advocates that have shaped my Tenkara skills and experience through online advice, Tenkara event meet-ups, and technique discussions. Anthony has always paralleled my dual love of Tenkara for both wet fly/Kebari techniques and tight line nymphing. I owe both Anthony and Matt Sment a huge debt of gratitude for their internet friendships and advice that have provided years of not only catching more fish, but also a love of the process, and an eye to making conscious and informed decisions about which Tenkara methods would make my personal experience the most fulfilling.

    1. Jeff, thanks so much for the kind and encouraging comment. It’s always great to hear that, in some small way, I’ve been able to assist or encourage someone in their journey.

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