Depending on how deep down the tenkara rabbit hole you travel, you may have seen advertisements on social media for a “Backcountry Tenkara Fishing Masterclass” over the last month or so. We did too, and reached out to Ryan Jordan of Backpacking Light (an early adopter and advocate of tenkara in the United States) to learn a little bit more.
Did you know the Tenkara USA Hane was originally a totally different rod and a collaboration with Backpacking Light all the way back in 2009?
Ryan was kind enough to give us a preview of the materials and they certainly are compelling. I’ve now taken the entire class and found it really informative. See, I didn’t come to tenkara from a backpacking or backcountry hiking background. I was just a suburban city boy looking for a new fishing tool to add to my arsenal for some of the small creeks near my house. In reading the “backcountry” course title, I was sort of afraid that it would alienate anglers like me, so I chose to look at it through that lens. I’m pleased to say it does not.
A Masterclass Overview
What the 5+ hour long Backcountry Tenkara Masterclass does provide is chunks of topical information in multiple 15-20 minute video chapters. It starts with topics ideal for beginnners; basic gear explanations and “how tos” of line rigging and casting. Then it moves on to more intermediate subjects such as more advanced casting techniques, reading water, and how to approach fish. It ends with a handful of really interesting case studies on how to fish different types of water you may encounter in the backcountry, such as high gradient mountain streams and lakes. This was my favorite part.
An additional draw to this course is that they’ve committed to grow the library over time. Since producing the core content, Backpacking Light has conducted additional livestreams with TJ Ferreira & John Geer from Tenkara USA and Karin Miller from Zen Tenkara that have been (or in the case of the latter, will be) added to the curriculum. They also toss in a few coupon codes to add some extra value to the subscription.
The one thing you won’t find in this class are any deep dives into fixed line fly fishing, or what many refer to as “warmwater tenkara”. While anglers have proven tenkara rods are fully capable of catching species such as bass, panfish, and others, specialization toward those fish are not in this course. This tutorial is more a focus on trout in a traditional tenkara environment.
Now I Guess the Question is if this Masterclass is Worth Purchasing?
Well, we didn’t mention the price yet. This class runs $70, which might be viewed as a bit steep for the casual angler. (Luckily, if you happen to be a Backpacking Light Unlimted member, it’s included in that service) .
Backpacking Light has kindly provided a coupon code for all Tenkara Angler readers!
Save 10% off your purchase at their website using code TENKARAANGLER
For someone relatively new to tenkara, it’s absolutely worth $70! This 5+ hour masterclass presents everything you’d really need to know to get up and going with your tenkara rod, line, and flies in an extremely user friendly format. You could probably find similar, static information in a book, or by piecing together various YouTube videos, but the convenience of having this evolving library of video content in all one place is extremely appealing.
Now for someone with a little more tenkara experience, it may depend. You’ll probably find yourself only skimming the first few chapters of the “basics”, but I think you’ll still find quite a bit of value in the later chapters, particularly the advanced casting and the on-water case studies. What’s the saying, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”… No matter how much experience you have, you can always learn a few things from somebody with equal or advanced experience to yourself. As mentioned before, I really enjoyed the case studies, mentally comparing Ryan’s notes to how I’d approach the same water and scenarios. But then again, that might not float your boat at all.
In closing, it’s rare that an extensive library of new content gets produced for the tenkara & fixed line community. We thought it only made sense to bring this newer entry to our readers’ attention. Even as an 10+ year tenkara angler, it’s my opinion that there’s certainly plenty for fishers of all experience levels to learn from the Backpacking Light Backcountry Tenkara Fishing Masterclass.
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