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Daniel W. Galhardo Interview of Tenkara USA - PaFlyFish.com

Published by Dave Kile [davekile] on 07/19/2009 (7315 reads)
Tenkara is the traditional Japanese method of fly-fishing. Only a rod, line and fly are used. Daniel W. Galhardo recently founded Tenkara USA and has attracted an avid following of people who also appreciate this style of fly-fishing that is particularly well-suited for fly-fishing small streams and backpacking.



1- Dave: Please tell me how and when you got started into tenkara.
Daniel: I have been fishing my entire life, and fly-fishing for the last 12 years. Progressively I went through phases of trying different methods of fishing, from cane pole fishing using telescopic rods and bait as a young kid in Brazil, to lure fishing, to fly-fishing, and finally tenkara. Until I discovered tenkara the complexities only grew but added little to my overall fishing experience. A couple of years ago I came across a book called“Angling in Japan”. It was published in English some 70 years ago by the Japanese Board of Tourism and described the various fishing methods practiced in Japan. Ironically, tenkara, the only traditional fly-fishing method in Japan, was the smallest chapter in the book. Having lived in China during college, and being married to Margaret, who is Japanese American, prompted me to do more in-depth research on this unique combination of Asian culture and fly-fishing. About a year ago on a visit to Japan where I stopped at every tackle shop I saw, I became personally familiar with tenkara. I was quickly sold on its simplicity and effectiveness, and, being a small-stream aficionado, found it was what I had always been looking for.

2- Dave: What was one of the most interesting or surprising things that you learned when traveling in Japan about tenkara?
Daniel: Two days before departing for our trip to Japan I learned about a region in Japan where fly-tying and rod-making are designated as official traditional crafts. In the city of Kanazawa we visited a family that has been tying flies for 20 generations – over 430 years – from the same shop. They started as needle makers and soon were making flies for Samurai to go fishing. Later I learned those rods and flies are actually for “Ayu fishing” not tenkara. Nevertheless, this was still extremely impressive. Japan has many very narrowly defined methods of fishing, and though some are very similar at a first glance they have important distinctions. Ayu fishing for example, uses flies and long telescopic rods, but is not really considered fly-fishing as casting is not required to get the fly to the fish, it’s a bit more like dapping. They also have cane-pole fishing with telescopic rods for carp, and stream fishing with telescopic rods and bait. All rods and equipment are very different and highly specialized. Among all these methods, tenkara is the only real fly-fishing.

3-Dave: Tell me what inspired you to start Tenkara USA?
Daniel: During our trip I bought a tenkara rod and started thinking of all the waters I could fish when coming back to the US. Upon our return I fished it a lot and realized it was perfect for every stream I fished, and the long rod was much more effective at fishing most of them. Holding a fly in place on the other side of a current was probably the main advantage of using such long rods. I fell in love with it, the simplicity, technique, effectiveness, not to mention history. Also, as a backpacker, I really liked its portability and the full setup is so light. I started looking around and couldn’t find other tenkara rods or much information at all. After asking myself “why?” and coming up with no good answer I decided I had to introduce tenkara to anglers in America, a pretty ambitious goal considering it’s a foreign way of fishing that does not target the biggest fish in the rivers. But, I know that not every angler is after the biggest fish, most are after the experience.

4-Dave: What makes tenkara so appealing to someone already fly fishing in the traditional [western] style?
Daniel: In May of this year, Dr. Hisao Ishigaki, one of the leading authorities in tenkara fly-fishing in Japan, came to give a presentation and demonstration in the Catskills, at an event hosted by the Catskills Fly Fishing Center and Museum. We spent a lot of time together, and the two reasons he says he likes tenkara are: 1st simplicity, 2nd it’s about focusing on your technique and presentation not the gear, and whether you catch fish or not is up to you. For what I see simplicity is drawing most people to try it, and the technique is making sure people stick with it. I would also add it’s a very effective way of fishing, and in Japan it’s commonly said that tenkara outfishes western fly-fishing 5-1. Lastly, tenkara provides the most direct connection between fisherman and fishing; though he’s not talking about tenkara, to borrow the words from angler and writer Ed Engle, "What I like most is catching a trout in the most direct way possible. My most memorable fish have been the ones where there was as little between me and the trout as possible.”

5-Dave: Tell me about the Tenkara equipment and what kind of costs should someone expect to get started.
Daniel: In tenkara there is only a rod, the line, and a fly, the essential elements of fly-fishing. Dispensing with the expensive reels, and expensive lines, which don’t really see use in small stream angling, an angler can get started with high-end tenkara gear set at $150. That is compared with approximately $400 and up for good quality western fly-fishing gear.

6-Dave: Are there special flies for tenkara or can one use traditional materials.
Daniel: Any fly will work, I personally still use elk-hair caddis on most of my fishing. However, some traditional tenkara patterns were developed to work very well with tenkara rods. The long rods give anglers a lot more control on the presentation and manipulation of flies. The reverse hackle of some tenkara fly patterns is a distinct feature that works well to give the fly a lot of “life”. In tenkara one is more concerned with presentation and “giving life” to the fly, rather than the perfect imitation of insects.

7-Dave: Is there any special amount of training or time needed to learn the tenkara style of fly fishing?
Daniel: No special training, that’s the beauty of tenkara, it is easier to do. The main thing for experienced fly-fishermen is to remind themselves to slow down a little, and shorten the casting strokes. Nevertheless, tenkara can also offer anglers something that may take a lifetime to master. There is a huge variety of casting techniques that one can learn and practice with tenkara and there’s already enough to learn about reading water and presentation to be encumbered by gear. Like Dr. Ishigaki said, it’s about the technique; and the nuances of reading water and properly presenting a fly don’t come overnight.

8-Dave: Have you seen much interest in tenkara in Pennsylvania and if so why?
Daniel: Pennsylvania is currently the 4th state with the largest number of tenkara anglers in the US, following California, Colorado, and Utah. Watching Mr. Joe Humphreys’ videos before launching Tenkara USA made me think of Pennsylvania as a natural state for tenkara fly-fishing. All the techniques and places Mr. Humphrey was showing made me constantly think, “What if Joe Humphreys had a tenkara rod in those videos?” Though counterintuitive to think of using such long rods for small streams, I have found the long rod gives you control and precision ideal for all but the brushiest streams. The shorter casting stroke, the ability to cast with a flick, or even better, the perfect tool for the “bow-and-arrow” cast that Mr. Humphrey made popular, make tenkara a very effective and versatile tool even in the Pennsylvania brush streams. And, if the streams get too brushy, then you also have the ability to shorten the rod a bit as they are telescopic.

9-Dave: Tell me where do you see the future of tenkara going?
Daniel: In these first few months in business we have seen a very large and growing following despite our “zero-marketing-budget”. I wanted to see the interest for tenkara growing in a completely organic way, where anglers learned from other anglers about its simplicity, effectiveness and other reasons to do tenkara fishing. I believe anything good is spread by word of mouth. I didn’t want ads to convince anyone to do it and have it become a fad. Tenkara is nothing new, it has been around for hundreds of years and is still practiced in Japan for a reason. It is always going to be a small-stream fly-fishing niche. But, much like Spey casting was introduced for anglers pursuing large fish in large rivers, tenkara deserves its place for anglers pursuing a different angling experience in small streams. There is a very passionate group of people that got into tenkara in the past few months and I believe may soon retire their reels; I expect that number will continue to grow with people who will find the tenkara simplicity, “refreshing”.

10-Dave: Where should people go if they want to learn more or get started with tenkara?
Daniel: Just go to your nearest or favorite stream! I believe angling is not a science that requires years of theoretical learning, or countless hours of instruction. It requires going out there and fishing. The best way is to learn 3 simple knots, go out there, and fish. Though theory and specific knowlege is interesting and will always help a bit, the industry has made angling seem difficult and intimidating by introducing a lot of complexity to it. The most difficult element of learning western fly-fishing is casting, tenkara reduces that dramatically and I hope it will make it easier to introduce more people to fly-fishing. To learn more about tenkara, one may visit our site, www.tenkarausa.com . Our site also has an active forum where members can discuss tenkara and connect with other anglers, though I’m afraid there may not be a whole lot to discuss in the long term since in the end it’s just you with a rod, line and a fly.

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The comments are owned by the author. We aren't responsible for their content.
Author Thread
Raff
Published: 2009/7/23 15:26  Updated: 2009/7/23 15:26
Joined: 06/21/2009
From: West Chester, PA
Comments: 111
 Re: Daniel W. Galhardo Interview of Tenkara USA - PaFlyFi...
I'm curious about checking these out. Are there any shops in the Philadelphia area where I can try it out prior to taking the $$$ plunge?
Andytechie
Published: 2012/7/10 11:24  Updated: 2012/7/10 11:24
Joined: 06/28/2012
From: Here
Comments: 1
 Re: Daniel W. Galhardo Interview of Tenkara USA - PaFlyFi...
hey...i am so into this idea....i am getting a rod today....where do i go?



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