It was difficult to forget fly fishing because my focus on it was quite sharp. I was specializing in small stream fly fishing using ultra-light lines, developing new techniques. I started with an Orvis 1-weight and got my 1-weight badge early on. I then graduated to using Loop reels and became affiliated and sponsored by Loop. The Swedish Loop founders taught me a lot about creating new fly lines tapered to my own style. I even made a monofilament fly line and used a long 0-weight fly rod gripping the fly line in my cork grip much in the way I fish tenkara today. I was sponsored by Thomas and Thomas and Loop and creating content on this relatively new and excited way to fish small streams at my own team approach web site, smallstreams.com My focus on fly fishing was sharp and I loved it very much. I was sharing my love of small stream fly fishing with Yoshikazu Fujioka from 1996 when he started making his own web site. I found him through a web search and contacted him. I had already been making small stream fly fishing content for a couple of years. Fujioka-san’s web site was my first look at tenkara, sawanobori and Japanese Keiryu.
In 2009, after nearly fifteen years of small stream fly fishing, I was introduced to Daniel Galhardo and he sold me my first tenkara rod.
That little Ebisu made me quit making bamboo fly rods. It made me quit my intense focus on small stream fly fishing with lite lines. Not because I didn’t like it, but because to me, it was the point of what I was trying to do in fly fishing, simplify the complex nature of using a reel in comparison to a fixed line that was a direct connection to the rod. In short, tenkara was not a limitation, I could catch any fish in the small streams I was fishing with a tenkara rod, it was not a limitation, it was a launch point into what I was looking for, taking away all that was unnecessary and focusing on skill.
Quitting fly fishing was the only way “I” was going to get better at tenkara. I didn’t want to be a fly fisherman that did tenkara, I wanted to be a tenkara “master”
Little did I realize that what I was reading was just a mind game I was playing with myself.
I quit fly fishing for the right reason, to focus on tenkara. To learn it, to understand it on it’s own terms. I began researching tenkara in Japan and started contacting Sakura, a very old rod shop in Tokyo that has been supporting tenkara fishermen since day one. Sakura and I came to an agreement, I think it was in 2010 that I would represent them in N.America. I began to set up tenkara anglers with Japanese rods. I saw that Chris Stewart was selling lines for Tenkara USA rods at that time and shortly afterwards began selling tenkara rods.
But I quit fly fishing, I stayed away from it because I did not want to mix it with fly fishing.
Of course what I learned, I used in developing my own tenkara method. It is what we do.
But I didn’t do fly fishing any longer, I quit.
I still have a fly rod, a beautiful mortised handled rod, “the purple worm” that hasn’t had a fish caught on it yet, it’s only been yard cast. That rod is beautiful, absolutely gorgeous.
But no more fly fishing.
Tenkara is what it is, open for interpretation, do it your own way.
My little story here is not a lesson, it serves primarily for those of you who wonder why I may write the things I do. I write them through my own experience.
I enjoy sharing and learning from my peers, I love it when experience comes to the table and I am able to learn from it.
But I no longer fly fish or use a spinning rod, yes, I’ve done finesse spin fishing, it’s what got me into fly fishing and ultimately into tenkara.
Like anything in life, I’m moving forward not forgetting where I come from.
Looking forward to the future, today is day one as far as I’m concerned.