2018 Instagram Tenkara Rod Popularity Contest

Earlier in the week, I thought it might be fun to throw up a quick little poll on the Tenkara Angler Instagram account, asking viewers a fairly straightforward question:

“What tenkara rod are you using? List your favorite in the comments”

Well, the community took that challenge and ran with it. Some people were very specific with their feedback, citing several different “favorite” rod models depending on the situation, while others just vaguely mentioned a brand, with no reference to rod model, size, etc…

So I gathered that information and made this infographic recapping the results.

InformalTenkaraRod Poll

While I’m no statistician, there are a few interesting things I noticed in summarizing the data. First, and not surprisingly, Tenkara USA was the runaway winner, not only in overall brand affinity (26%) but also rod models, with five of the top seven! The Sato was the overall winner with 10% of the vote, but the newcomer Hane came in second with 7%. Curious if the Hane’s strong showing is more a result of people just getting the new rods in their hands now, and that’s literally what they’re fishing… because remember, the survey wasn’t “what’s the best tenkara rod” it was “what tenkara rod are you using?”

I also took note of Tenkara Rod Co.‘s impressive showing. I’ve always recognized they sold a lot of rods, however, I never really noticed them being used or mentioned much in my personal tenkara circles. That said, the audience surveyed was from Instagram, where Tenkara Rod Co. has a huge following. Five of their rods were mentioned, with the Teton being the preferred model.

Finally, it was nice to see the community is exploring a bit, with various Japanese makers littering the results. Oni, Nissin, Suntech, Shimano, Daiwa, & Tenryu all seemed to split a highly representative “Japanese” vote, with Nissin scoring the top Japanese brand honors, but the Oni Type III the overwhelming favorite model. (#savethecamohandle)

In the end, this was nothing more than an exercise in entertainment. Almost 70 individual results were tallied over the course of a few days, so while it’s a sample size of some corner of our tenkara community, it’s certainly not a definitive one.

If you’re interested in the full results in raw data form, see below. Thanks to everybody that participated, maybe we’ll try a few more of these in the future. If you’re not following Tenkara Angler on Instagram, check us out HERE.

BRAND AFFINITY VOTES % TOTAL
Tenkara USA 17 26%
Tenkara Rod Co. 8 12%
Nissin 6 9%
Oni 5 8%
Badger 4 6%
Generic 3 5%
Suntech/Tbum 3 5%
Tanuki 3 5%
Dragontail 3 5%
Tenkara Times 3 5%
Daiwa 2 3%
Shimano 2 3%
Tenryu 2 3%
Three Rivers 1 2%
Patagonia/TFO 1 2%
Esoteric 1 2%
Zen Tenkara 1 2%
65 100%
ROD PREFERENCE VOTES % TOTAL
Tenkara USA Sato 7 10%
Tenkara USA Hane 5 7%
Tenkara Rod Co Teton 4 6%
Oni Type III 4 6%
Tenkara USA Rhodo 3 4%
Tenkara USA Ito 3 4%
Oni Type I 3 4%
Suntech TenkaraBum TB40 2 3%
Nissin ZeroSum 320 2 3%
Tenkara USA Amago 2 3%
Tenkara Tanuki 325 2 3%
Tenkara Rod Co Cascade 2 3%
Dragontail Komodo 2 3%
Tenryu TF39TA 2 3%
Nissin Royal Stage 360 2 3%
Oni Honryu 395 2 3%
Nissin Pro Spec 320 1 1%
$10 Broomstick 1 1%
Daiwa Enshou LT39S 1 1%
Three Rivers Confluence 1 1%
Garbolino (?) 10K 360 1 1%
Badger UNC 1 1%
Tenkara Times TRY 300 1 1%
Tenkara Rod Co Mini Sawtooth 1 1%
Tenkara Rod Co Sierra 1 1%
Dragontail Hydra 1 1%
Badger BadAxe 1 1%
Tenkara USA Iwana 1 1%
Shimano Pack Tenkara 1 1%
Badger Scout 1 1%
Patagonia Soft Hackle 10’6″ 1 1%
Tenkara Rod Co Grand Teton 1 1%
Tenkara Rod Co Owyhee 1 1%
Suntech Kurenai 1 1%
Tenkara Times TRY 360 1 1%
Tenkara Times Watershed 330 1 1%
Nissin Pro Spec 2-Way 360 1 1%
68 100%

 

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In Review: 2018 Midwest Tenkara Fest

It’s been a week since the Midwest Tenkara Fest (MWTF) wrapped up, so I wanted to take the opportunity to do a brief write up of the event for the benefit of those that could not attend.

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Once again, the MWTF was held at the American Legion in Coon Valley, Wisconsin. The facility itself is great, with ample room for vendors, presentations, and refreshments, plus it’s no more than 50 yards from a trout stream. Unfortunately, the area was hit pretty hard by rain the week leading into the fest, and Coon Creek was rather high and muddy the two days of the event. That said, the beauty of the Driftless Area is that there are plenty of fishable streams no more than a 10-minute drive from the event, so fish did not go uncaught!

Saturday morning began with a brief “Tenkara 101” class streamside by Matt Sment & Mike Lutes. The basics of rigging and casting a tenkara rod were covered, with several rods passed around for hands-on learning.

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After a brief intermission to allow everybody some time to go fishing, the event re-convened around 3 PM, with vendors opening their tables up for browsing.

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Chris Stewart (TenkaraBum) brought many Japanese rods, lines, and accessories for eager anglers to purchase. I even think he brought some lures, for those that stray to the dark side of fixed line fly fishing.  🙂

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Rick Munday was representing Dragontail/Nirvana on the Fly. While his almost full line of products were not for sale to be taken away at the event, Rick had quite a slick computer set up where customers could order whatever they wanted from the Dragontail website and have it shipped to their home.

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The Tenkara USA table was manned by Jeremy Shellhorn. The newest rod, the Hane, seemed to be the talk of the event. So many interested anglers stopped by to pick the white rod up and give it a flex or two.

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Streamside Leaders was also in attendance. Michael Moline had his full line of furled lines & leaders, tenkara rods, and flies available for sale. His display was quite extensive, you could almost spend an entire afternoon reviewing his wares.

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The aforementioned Matt & Mike were also happy to walk you through their Badger Tenkara product offering. During the casting demonstration, I heard quite a few people really acting positively toward their Scout model. Wouldn’t be surprised if some referrals came of it.

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The Tenkara Grasshopper Graham Moran pulled double duty, setting up a table to showcase his fly tying operation, 303 Flyworks

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…but also showcasing (and selling quite a few) wooden line spools from Tenkara Path.

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Finally, Tenkara Angler magazine was there too, with a small table with back-copies of print issues and signing new people up for digital subscriptions. I had a great time talking to readers both new and old.

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After ample time for fishing, shopping, and a barbeque dinner, the Saturday presentation schedule went well into the night, perhaps to 8:30 PM local time. The presentations were as follows:

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  • Graham Moran – Tenkara and Backpacking: Chasing the Thin Blue Line
  • Paul Vertrees (Video) – Tenkara Rod Nymphing
  • Matt Sment – Small Stream Tactics for Fixed Line Rods
  • Graham Moran (again!) – Kebari tying demo and Q&A

The Sunday program was really quite informal. No additional presentations, simply time spent to allow attendees more time with vendors, learn & organize groups for some local fishing spots to hit that afternoon, and some tenkara-themed giveaways, initially to be decided via spool card toss, but eventually decided on by the luck of the draw. 🙂 Virtually everybody still there at the end walked out with some sort of tenkara swag.

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And with that said, the event was over. Everybody was eager to take all they learned out to the water, and from what I hear, most did. Successfully, I might add.

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Tenkara Angler magazine would like to thank everybody who made it out to Coon Valley for the fest. The tenkara community is small in relative size, but it’s great to see it grow with each and every event. Also, huge congratulations for Matt & Mike of Badger Tenkara for organizing another successful Midwest Tenkara Fest. You both did an awesome job making everybody feel at home in the Driftless.

Paul Vertrees MWTF Notes & Articles

During Saturday’s Midwest Tenkara Fest presentations, Paul Vertrees made a special appearance via pre-recorded video to outline some lines and detail some nymph rigs that he felt would serve many of the tenkara anglers of the Driftless well.

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The video was well received, and Paul even gave Tenkara Angler magazine a quick little shout out, referencing one of the articles he had written for a prior issue.

As a follow-up, I figured I’d whip up a quick post with links to applicable articles in case anybody that attended wanted some additional information. The first two are by Paul:

The second two related articles are by Anthony Naples of Three Rivers Tenkara:

Oh, and should you be in Colorado and want to learn more from Paul first hand, he guides through Royal Gorge Anglers in Cañon City.

tenkarabanner

 

2018 Midwest Tenkara Fest This Weekend

In case you missed yesterday’s Tenkara Angler Instagram post, the magazine will be hitting the road this weekend, all the way north to Coon Valley, Wisconsin for the Midwest Tenkara Fest, hosted by Badger Tenkara.

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Tenkara Angler will be displaying at the ‘Fest for the first time, so if you plan on attending, please stop by the table – I’ll have physical magazines for you to page through, and free stickers (while supplies last). Plus, it’d be great to meet some of the magazine’s readers.

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If you live in the upper Midwest and are interested in the Midwest Tenkara Fest, more information can be found on the event’s website, HERE.

Hope to see you there!

Summer 2018 Issue: Call For Submissions

SUMMER 2018ISSUE

Did you enjoy the Spring issue? Are you ready for the next one?

Today we’ll “officially” open up the Summer 2018 issue for submissions (although it’s really never officially closed). I’m really optimistic about this next issue, as there are already two good articles in hand…

As always, any and all topics are fair game – fishing reports, gear reviews or releases, destination travel, essays, poetry, fiction, photography, art, whatever – as long as it’s tenkara, fixed-line fly fishing, or conservation related. Similar to prior issues, the tenkara community will craft the contents of the issue.

I’m headed to the Midwest Tenkara Fest in Wisconsin in early May, so I’m going to try and get some interesting material for the next issue (& Tenkara Angler’s social media) there. Fingers crossed…

(And don’t forget, if you are a company that submits content, please don’t hesitate to also submit an ad for your services; inclusion is the least I can do).

If you are interested in contributing, I’ve outlined some simple parameters for content submission HERE.

The deadline for content submission will be June 8th, 2018 (give or take a few days), with the target publishing date toward the end of that same month.

2019 Tenkara Summit Announced

The 2019 Tenkara Summit was announced by Tenkara USA on social media last night.

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Celebrating 10 years of tenkara in the United States, as well as the 10th Anniversary of Tenkara USA, the 2019 Summit will be held on April 13th in Boulder, Colorado. According to the posts, there will be some “cool things happening” at the event, so we’ll all have to just wait until additional details are announced (most likely) later this year.

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2014 Tenkara Summit in Boulder, CO
Interestingly, in recent years the Summit has been held in late Summer or early Fall, and this April installment will be the earliest since the May 2013 Harrisonburg, VA event.

What else does this mean? Well, it means there’s not going to be a Tenkara Summit in 2018… so if you’re interested in doing some fishing travel this year that involves a tenkara “meet-up,” fear not! Check out Tenkara Calendar for a list of upcoming events across the country.

Home by Tuesday: A Memoir of Solo Packing with Tenkara

Editor’s Note: This work week seems to be dragging on… so let’s take a few minutes and escape to the mountains, okay? Let’s access an essay by Erik Ostrander from the Tenkara Angler archives. “Home by Tuesday” originally appeared in the Winter 2015-16 issue; I hope you enjoy.

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Home by Tuesday
A Memoir of Solo Packing with Tenkara
by ERiK Ostrander

I don’t know the date, but I do know that it’s Sunday. I know it’s Sunday because I have to be home on Tuesday smelling like a rose with clean teeth and a pair of nice pants for a job interview. It’s a job I already have, but they insist on doing it all formal. It’ll be nice to teach for another year. It gives me time to forget what the date is for three months out of the year.

Except when I pick up the odd job here and there.

I just finished a week teaching a Mythbusters science class to a horde of 11 to 14-year-old, self-indulgent, self-centered, and overly hyper kids. My class is fun though. We light things on fire, break stuff, get dirty. You know, all the stuff that your parents never let you do. As soon as the class ended, after five days of high octane “fun,” I packed up the truck and left with the dogs for the mountains.

I know that getting away from humanity is not an original idea, but all I can think about is not seeing any more early-pubescent children. Unfortunately, the parking lot at the trailhead is packed. Truck after truck and cars with window shades are in nice rows along the side of the lot with the hill. The tree side is lined with parallel parkers. I find a spot furthest from the trailhead, back up into a row against the hill, and put my window shade up.

As I begin hiking into wherever my first night stay will be (I haven’t decided yet), my hopes that all those trucks and window-shaded cars were solo packers like myself change to doom and fear as the echoes and screeches of Boy Scouts radiate out from their camps. I try to pass by unnoticed as if their seeing me would validate that I was not alone in the vast area known as the high Uintas Wilderness. Wilderness being the noun that drew me here.

I have a certain amount of trepidation toward this trip, and it doesn’t come just from the Boy Scouts. I guess it’s my own fault. I am packing light with much of the gear coming out for its virgin trip and relying on the bulk of my food to come from fish that I will need to catch. I’ve never been to this particular area and am not sure what I may be getting into. It is also my first time out like this since I’d gotten sick a few years ago. Guinness, my Australian Kelpie, can handle himself, but I’m not completely sure about Wabbit, my new eight-month-old blue heeler puppy. Because of all these reasons, I chose an area labeled on the map as an “area of concentrated use”. It also has a ton of lakes and associated myths that the next state-record grayling could be had in one of the nearby lakes that are less traveled to. Eventually, I gravitate more towards the idea of a lake less traveled to.

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The remote lakes are, of course, less traveled to because they have no trail and, maybe, the hike is a deathly hike over granite boulders that grab and bite at the skin of your shins. The number of scratches and amount of blood that can ensue from a hike that boasts of having large fish is of such great amount as to scare off anyone who regularly shows their legs. I show my legs but as a badge of honor and bravery. One guidebook describes the hike to these pristine lakes as, “tricky boulder hopping,” and suggests you should, “not attempt this hike with full packs on. It is treacherous without packs – and downright foolish with them.” Oh, and “full of huge spiders.” I, of course, decide to go to these lakes with full commitment, and for me, full commitment means a pack. No day hikes for me, because what if the fishing was so good that I wanted to stay the night?

I pack a custom Zimmerbuilt pack as lightly as I can. One change of clothes in case I get soaked by rain or an absent-minded fall into an icy, glacier-fed stream. A silnylon tarp covers my bed and the dogs if they so choose. My trusty down sleeping bag of two decades gets smushed down to fill every single extra bit of room in the pack. It’s like my magic Tetris piece that always gets me a thousand extra points and advances me to the next level. The pack is a joy to carry, even though carrying 25 to 30 pounds isn’t really all that fun. Regardless, the craftsmanship of the pack is what bolsters my confidence to hike over miles of trail-less wilderness filled with skin-shredding boulders and angry spiders. I carry on, away from the echoing hollers of troops of Boy Scouts.

I also carry very little food, so I need to catch fish. Oatmeal, Clif bars, rice (or quinoa), and a little fruit leather are the only calories I bring with me… well, at least the only calories I can put in my mouth. I sustain myself on the trout that can sometimes be abundant but are always beautiful in these alpine lakes. A 4.0-meter tenkara rod is my hunting tool of choice. John Vetterli, a business partner and friend, makes some fantastic fluorocarbon furled lines, and a 6.0-meter line helps me get the extra distance I need to drop a little kebari within a couple of feet of that last dimple I saw that just might produce my next appetizer. Presentation is key, and a small foam box of kebari, dry flies, nymphs, and small streamers will almost always guarantee a trout or grayling to bite and make the line sing a beautiful tone.

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The hike is arduous. My legs ache from the effort and my lungs burn as they try to soak up the small amount of oxygen that is available at 12,000 feet (3600 m). The sweat falls as my body struggles to stay cool and I help it by splashing water on myself at every stream crossing. The dogs pant under their backpacks, but must be in better shape than I because every bird or squirrel gets chased away. I guess all those afternoons of sprinting after a bright green tennis ball will get you in shape (maybe I should do more than just stand there and give praise when the tennis ball is brought back to my feet). This hike is tough and I’m drawn back to the reality of the challenge with a fresh cut on my shin that drips blood slowly to my sock. I let one of the dogs lick my wound dry and continue on to the lake that boasts, or rather goads me on towards, dreams of big trout.

In the city, I love eating sushi and the raw fish that are often associated with it. However, I like my trout cooked. Trout cooked over an open fire are my favorite, but getting an open fire reliably while backpacking can be quite the challenge. During the late summer, thunderstorms roll in often dumping cold water that saturates anything that could be flammable. Throughout the day I collect fines and stuff them into my pockets to keep them dry or to heat up and evaporate the wet with my body heat. Fire steel and the sharp spine of a knife can throw a hot spark that, if you’re lucky and practiced, will dance on your dry fines long enough to generate combustion. I always try primitive fire starting methods for at least 45 minutes to an hour before giving up. A small splash of denatured alcohol for my cat-food stove helps the next spark to light my fire.

Finally arriving at the lake, I am greeted by a small spattering of yellow lily pad flowers. Beyond the yellow and green floating mass, I see little dimples radiating out all over the lake. The water by the edge is shallow and I can see clearly through the glacial water to see pairs of grayling cruising the water. My pack drops off my shoulders, I unload the dogs, and I stuff my pockets with a line-spool, tippet, and a fly box. My tenkara rod is in my hands as I beeline towards the closest collection of risers. Lillian slides out. Line loops over and cinches tight. Rod telescopes out as the line-spool unwinds line. I already have a small kebari tied on and in under a minute I let my fly go, casting a false cast and shooting my tiny, hackled imposter gently near a radiating ripple. I can barely glimpse a silver, shining torpedo of a fish turn towards my offering and gently take the bug into its mouth. Set! The calm explodes with a staccato tail dance on the water. The colors are like the silky shimmering dress that scantily clads a skinny supermodel. It is sexy. It is stunning. I turn my little grayling’s head and pull it towards me.

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The beauty of alpine lakes and their brookies, cutts, and grayling are best described through metaphor. When I fish a lake that rarely gets fished it’s as if I am the only man at the hippest nightclub. It is ladies’ night and all the women are dressed to get the most attention. I am in awe at how they flirt with me, and as I catch fish after fish, I have to decide which one will come home with me. This is every man’s dream.

For now, I am happy. I am smelly, standing in frigid water, socks and shoes wet. I still don’t know what the date is. I have a faint idea it may be Monday, and if I think real hard I might remember to get home by Tuesday.

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One of the Tenkara Guides, ERiK Ostrander lives in Utah.