The 2016 Tenkara Jam

The 2016 Tenkara Jam
By Stephen Myers

What do you get when you combine some of the most progressive individuals in fly fishing with hot food, cold beer, and the best wild trout streams in North Carolina?

Welcome to the 2016 Tenkara JAM!

The “Tenkara Jam” is an annual event hosted by the Appalachian Tenkara Anglers, a group of over 1400 tenkara fisherman that organize and mobilize via Facebook for one mass gathering every year, led by the group’s founder and spokesperson, Jason Sparks.

This year’s JAM, the 3rd annual, was held in Cherokee, North Carolina and surrounding waters. I’m proud to say that we had over 170 attendees, six rod builders, and 11 gear vendors attend this year’s show, drawing members from as far as Nova Scotia, California, Colorado, Wisconsin, Indiana, Florida, and more. The event featured a “jam” packed lecture series on topics like tenkara 101, focused fishing, minimizing frustrations on the stream, and even how to practice proper catch and release principles. Intertwined between speakers were a fly swap, rod demo’s, how to’s, gear showcases, mingling, and of course shopping from walls lined with the newest products from industry leaders.

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The event ran from 8:00am to 5:00pm on Saturday and 8:00am to 2:00pm on Sunday, serving lunch daily, and still leaving enough time to explore local waters such as the Oconaluftee River, Bradley Fork, Ravens Fork, and many other streams on the Cherokee Indian Reservation and in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

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It seems like it’s said every year, but this year’s JAM will really be the benchmark of excellence to model future events from. Big camp fires, late nights, new friends, and early mornings on the water set the stage for a terrific weekend. I can’t imagine being part of something that brings me more joy than this group of folks. While on the ride home back to Florida, I can’t help but to have even higher hopes for next year’s JAM, all the while feeling like this weekend passed by in the blink of an eye. This year’s JAM was a truly unique experience that I won’t soon forget.

Members were asked to share a few thoughts on this year’s JAM. Here’s what they said:

“My favorite moment was meeting so many nice people and watching a tiny trout leap out of the water across the river.”
– Ben Giacchino

“I liked learning to tie flies and meeting all of the tenkara celebrities.”
– Hugh Hill

“I liked the lack of stuff. I have gone to so many fly fishing shows and been overwhelmed by the gear. I love the simplicity of tenkara.”
– Kenny Brower

“The seminars were very interesting. I always learn something.”
– Dani Long

“Hands down, my favorite thing was the community. Tenkara would not be what it is without the people.”
– Joe Deppe

“I really enjoyed meeting with folks. It was great to see old friends and meet new ones.”
– Anthony Naples, Three Rivers Tenkara

“My favorite moment was getting my first tenkara rod, then bringing some nice brown trout to hand 30 minutes later.”
– William Yowell

If you’re interested in learning more about tenkara, we would love to have you join us as future Appalachian Tenkara Angler events, and on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/appalachiantenkaraanglers

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This article originally appeared in the Winter 2016-17 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.

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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.

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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!

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.

***EDIT: A few months after this article was first published, Tenkara USA announced they would be moving the anniversary Summit from April 13th to July 27th, 2019. Check Tenkara USA’s website for more info.*** 

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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.

Tenkara Invades Arkansas

Or maybe it’s the other way around?

In any event, this weekend’s Sowbug Roundup appears it will be the Mecca for tenkara in the United States over the next few days.

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The annual show, hosted by the North Arkansas Fly Fishers, will have a special spotlight on tenkara this year, with many different vendors, fly tyers, and “experts” in place to give presentations, instruction, and even sell a few goodies to the attendees.

CLICK HERE for the schedule of events & seminars.

Heck, there are even some raffles, one of which is a killer tenkara outfit with all the extras you’d need to get out on the water.

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So if you’re in the area, and this is of interest, make sure to head over to Mountain Home, Arkansas and the White River this weekend for some fly fishing and tenkara fun!

2017 Tenkara Jam

Thought it only proper to send out a quick post this morning, as a follow-up to this past weekend’s Tenkara Jam in Boone, North Carolina. Simply wanted to express extreme gratitude to all that participated; be it from an attendee, presenter, vendor, and (of course) organizer standpoint. The tenkara community came together as one and showed very well, we should all be extremely proud of the Jam.

I also can’t say enough about the many jobs Jason Sparks took on wonderfully as host, emcee, and educator, and if he’s considering “running it back” in 2018, Tenkara Angler would love to participate again.

As a reader, if you’re new to the magazine (& website) as a by-product of the Jam, welcome. It’s great to have you here!

Since Tenkara Angler was referenced in several of the presentations, I also thought I’d list some of the links to articles that were specifically mentioned for easy referral.

As a matter of fact, most of the presenters and vendors have contributed to Tenkara Angler in one form or another since the magazine’s inception in 2015. If you’d like to page through the various back-issues at your leisure, they are best accessed for free, HERE.