The 2014 Tenkara Summit: A Report From The Grasshopper

Tenkara Summit 2014
Image Courtesy of Tenkara USA

I realize that this review of the 2014 Tenkara Summit is late in coming but I finally had a chance to get my thoughts in order and give you my take on the Summit before I read any of the other online posts related to the Summit. That in itself probably sounds like blasphemy to many of you but I have no excuse other than family and work obligations to meet.

Over the weekend of September 27 and 28, 2014 the Fourth Annual Tenkara Summit occurred in the new hometown of Tenkara USA, Boulder, Colorado. I made special arrangements to attend the Tenkara Summit as it was relatively close to home and also because I have not been to a Summit before. I had no idea what I was going to experience during this event. Sadly, I regret not having attended a Summit before now. What follows is my take on the events of Saturday the 27th of September. Due to previous family obligations I was unable to attend the activities on Sunday so I will not be able to say much about that.

Saturday started early for me as I travelled from Denver to Boulder with a great friend, Karel Lansky of Tenkara On The Fly fame, (which by the way is an awesome blog to check out!). I have to say that one of the fun things that comes about when traveling with Karel are not just the amazing conversations but the tenkara advertising that he does when driving his rig as evidenced in the picture below.

Tenkara On The Fly Rig
Photo Courtesy of Michael Agneta

Upon arrival we checked in at the attendee's table and gathered our name tags up before moving into the conference room of the hotel and finding a seat near the front of the room. I was truly amazed at the number of people who filled the room for this event and was even more impressed later on during the presentation that Daniel Galhardo of Tenkara USA gave, more on that later though. I was amazed and also extremely excited to see an entire room filled with people who were in Colorado to learn more about this wonderful fly fishing style known as tenkara. Looking around the room I saw lots of what I would consider the heavy hitters in the tenkara world including Dr. Hisao Ishigaki, Misako Ishimura, Daniel Galhardo, Karel Lansky of Tenkara On The Fly, Jason Klass of Tenkara Talk fame, and Michael Agneta of Troutrageous reknown.

Dr. Ishigaki
Photo Courtesy of Troutrageous

Michael Agneta
Photo Courtesy of Troutrageous

Karel Lansky
Photo Courtesy of TenkaraGrasshopper

Jason Klass
Farmed from TenkaraTalk

Misako Ishimura

The entire event started off with Daniel Galhardo, the owner and president of Tenkara USA, giving a great introduction to the schedule of the Summit before going into a bit of the history of tenkara in the United States and abroad, along with a brief history of his own experience of tenkara. He then gave an overview of the current developments that had been occurring within the tenkara community and the industry that had sprouted up over the last five years. I was pleasantly surprised to hear how things were moving within the industry from one of the current industry leaders and how excited and happy he was to see these things occuring.

Daniel also covered the changes that took place over on the Tenkara USA website, covering everything from the blog format to the Tenkara Guide Network, of which yours truly is currently a member. He also covered the need for environmental stewardship that is needed across the country and around the world when it comes to our rivers and streams. One thing that I really enjoyed hearing was his call to each and every angler to pick up trash while fishing. The suggestion of carrying a bag and tying it to your waders to carry trash out was a bit of a forehead slapper for me as I had not really considered doing that. I know, I was even disappointed in myself for this one. I think the subject of environmental stewardship is one we all need to hear and be reminded of each and every day whether we are on the water or not.

If you need proof of how serious Mr. Galhardo is of the need for active environmental stewardship here is proof from a fishing trip I did with him last year. I have to admit I have never seen someone with such a big smile on their face after landing a bottle fish of this size.

Daniel Galhardo and his Powerade Bottle Fish
Photo Courtesy of TenkaraGrasshopper Media 2013
After Daniel's presentation, Dr. Ishigaki, who for many of us might be considered the tenkara Sensei we all wanted then gave a very interesting presentation on tenkara and also the visual acuity of fish. I had not expected Ishi, as he introduced himself, to have such a great sense of humor. During his presentation he covered everything from his background to his interest in the fish that he targets while fishing in Japan. 

Ishigaki Kebari
Photo Courtesy of Tenkara USA
Ishi is a proponent of the One Fly theory and give his reasoning behind his belief in this decision. (If you are interested in my post on the One Fly theory you can follow this link which will also be included at the end of this post My failed attempt at the One Fly theory.)  Dr. Ishigaki stated that he uses a size 12 hook because in his opinion a fishes visual acuity is not very good and also the fact that in faster water, like the water common to Japanese streams, the fish cannot be selective about many things but size does matter. 

Dr. Ishigaki also covered his basic equipment list and the advantages of tenkara over what many would call "Western Fly Fishing". He then covered his use of different line lengths that he uses and why. What truly shocked me was the fact that he uses a line up to 9.5 meters long which is almost double the length of the tenkara rod he uses. 

Dr. Ishigaki also did a Question and Answer session with all the attendees which was absolutely eye opening and fun as well. 

After a wonderful morning of presentations the attendees were provided with an amazing lunch and beer from the Up Slope Brewing Company. Along with the time to eat and socialize there was a small vendor room and also a kebari tying room. I was one of the tiers that day and was very happy to be asked by Daniel to tie one of my favorite patterns. I must admit I was a bit shell shocked by the fact that I was scheduled at the same time as Dr. Ishigaki and Joe Egry. Never thought I would be tying flies in the same room with these two amazing individuals. 

Joe Egry
Photo Courtesy of Troutrageous
After lunch we returned to the conference room to be entertained by our local tenkara magician, Dennis Michael, who performed magic tricks that were almost all tenkara related. The only thing that I was truly disappointed by was the fact that he did not produce a massive rainbow trout out of thin air. That's just me though. I am not sure I have laughed so hard during a magic show before.

Dennis Michael's Comedy Magic Show
Photo Farmed from Facebook
The afternoon was rounded out by a presentation by the local Trout Unlimited chapter on the state of the rivers in the northern Front Range after the devastating floods of 2013. Rocky Mountain Anglers then gave a presentation to the attendees on places to fish when we were free. And then what I feel was a great close to the afternoon was a presentation by Steve Schweitzer on his new book on the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area of Colorado. With humor and honesty, Steve showed us all some amazing images from the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. For a sneak peak, no pun intended, click Fly Fishing The Peaks.

After Steve's presentation and some closing comments from Daniel the attendees had some time to go fish before an evening of just relaxing in the hotel bar and socializing. I was able to fish with Karel and Michael Agneta before grabbing a burger with them. After a quick dinner we went to hang out at the bar and I was able to chat with Dr. Ishigaki. I am very pleased that I was able to spend even just a few minutes with this great man.

Dr. Ishigaki and TenkaraGrasshopper
Photo Taken by Dennis Vander Houen
At the end of an amazing day Karel and I returned to Denver. Sadly, I was not able to attend the fishing activities on Sunday but will make that my goal for the next Summit. 

I know this has been a long review but I wanted to cover all that I could. I hope that we get to see tenkara continue to grow and that the Summits only get bigger.

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