Traditional tenkara 

What is traditional tenkara?

 An efficient, tight line fly fishing technique utilizing rod, fixed line, and single fly developed on the mountain streams of Japan.

It’s 66 degrees in the mist covered mountains of a far away land of ancient traditions and mystery. Japan.
A lone man wades upstream in crystal clear high mountain water with tenkara rod in hand. He methodically scans the stream, moving with expert stealth, stalking his elusive goal. There it is, a small eddy of water below a beach ball sized boulder in the center of the fast moving stream. He crouches low, kneeling in the cool water, and casts his fly with the precision of a modern sniper.

BAM! The strike is hard and fast as the trout devours the fly. Success at last.

This is not what 99.9% of the world imagines when they think of fly fishing. For most, it is the image of a middle aged white man loaded down with a 20 pound fishing vest, relying on every little pocket stuffed with hundreds of dollars worth of flies, wiz-bangs, doodads, and gizmos guaranteed to make the trout jump into his net.

That same fly fisherman is pictured as standing thigh deep in a large, slow moving river like the Madison in Montana or Battenkill in Vermont. On a cool fall morning, he can be found casting a $1,000 fly rod with a $500 reel using a large, slow backcast to launch his fly. When a new Western fly fisherman catches his first trout, that fish is worth roughly $3,500 per pound.

japanese angler
In contrast, the Japanese Tenkara fisherman hikes up steep canyons in water that ranges from ankle to waist deep through crystal clear, fast moving mountain streams in pursuit of native trout species like Iwana and Yamame. His gear is minimalist – a collapsible fly rod that extends from 20 inches to as much as 15 feet in length, a furled or level leader affixed to the tip of the rod, a small box of perhaps a dozen simple patterned flies called Kebari, and his hand-crafted landing net. His cast is quick, precise, delicate and efficient. His first fish costs thousands less.

This isn’t meant to sound elitist. Western or Tenkara, each method of fly fishing has its strengths and weaknesses. Each has a rich, multi-generational history of traditions and skills. They’re just different.

In the space between the spaces in the modern Western fly fishing world, Tenkara has found a new generation of fans and addicts 10,000 miles from its land of origin. For the first time in its long history, Tenkara has left the high misty mountain streams of Japan and found a new home.

Welcome to our world of professional Tenkara fly fishing and guiding. As Tenkara USA Certified Guides, it is our privilege to introduce to you the History, Philosophy, Equipment and Techniques that make up traditional Tenkara.