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Origins Video Series Episode 4: Jerry Reitz

In the Tenkara Angler Origins Series we take a look at the stories behind anglers’ discovery of tenkara. Tenkara anglers tell us in their own words how they came to tenkara.

Recently I met up with Luong Tam of the tenkara company Tenkara Tanuki in Central Pennsylvania to hang out an do some fishing (more to follow on that later). While we were doing a bit of urban fishing in Bellefonte we ran into local angler Jerry Reitz and and his son.

This was something of a first for me. It was the first time I’d encountered another tenkara angler on a stream. Of course, that doesn’t count those times during events like the Appalachian Tenkara Campouts and Midwest Tenkara Fest.

It was really cool to get a chance to do an impromptu stream side interview with a fellow Pennsylvania Tenkara Angler.

Check it out in this episode of Tenkara Angler Origins.

Tell us a little about yourself…

As I was starting to write up this post I figured it would be fun to ask Jerry a little more about himself. His response follows.

“I was born an raised in central Pennsylvania (a little town named Pleasant Gap) and started fishing the local streams like Logan Branch, Spring Creek and the Bald eagle around 10 or 11 years old for just about everything I could possibly catch. But there was one type of fishing that challenged me the most and that was the PA native brook trout, or what some old timers refer to as the “hemlock trout”.

Growing up My grandfather would take me deep into the forests of PA to fish the small mountain streams for these elusive small fish, typically drifting little red worms. I fell in love with the challenge. But then as with most things for years I kind of gave up on trout fishing.

Kim and I started a family and both went to school; for her it was nursing and it was Environmental Management for me. And of course raising our two wonderful children Dylan and Jessica.

Then when getting back into the western fly fishing around 2012 my wife and I started watching some YouTube videos on this type of fishing called ‘tenkara’ and it instantly brought me back to the days of fishing the small mountain streams of PA with my grandfather. So in about 2017 we decided to buy our first rods (of course the cheapest ones we could find) and from there it’s been a true love of tenkara.”

How do you like to rig for the limestone streams you fish?

I’m always curious how people like to rig when they fish so I put that question to Jerry.

“While fishing the larger streams like the Bald eagle or lil “j” and some parts of Spring creek my go to rod “currently” is my Tenkara Rod Co. Sawtooth 12′ 5:5 action rod with level lines or sometimes a high quality double furled fluorocarbon or monofilament lines, depending on the circumstances. For the smaller streams my go to rod is the DRAGONtail FoxFIRE zx280 zoom fiberglass-hybrid and with this rod it’s a 100% level lines. Being that it’s a zoom rod I will use different weight level lines depending on the length I’m fishing the rod.

My rigs are kind of boring to most, I use mostly different traditional kebari flies. However, my favorite are traditional dry flies. Nothing is more fun to me than watching the floating take! I rarely use nymphs to fish. I guess my feeling is if I’m to nymph fish I may as well fish with my selection of tenkara style flies.

Now in saying that I truly like to learn from others and enjoy trying different bugs, you could refer to me as the bug switcher because I find myself changing bugs fairly often while fishing just to see what’s hot and what’s not.”

Tenkara Origins Jerry Reitz - Tenkara Angler

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