October 30, 2016

American Angler - Shopping Small

Subscribing to a few fly fishing magazines, it's always enjoyable to see the occasional familiar face and/or name tucked within the pages.

In this month's American Angler, Zac Sexton wrote a piece on several small businessmen making names for themselves in the fly fishing industry such as Joe Goertzen (Goertzen Adventure Equipment), and friend of the Troutrageous! blog, Scott Hunter (Vedavoo). It was also pretty rad to see Cameron Mortenson from The Fiberglass Manifesto blog briefly mentioned as helping popularize leathersmith Lee Slikkers' bamboo rods, custom reel cases, and fly wallets. 

It's refreshing to find small batch artists receiving recognition of their skills in a large publication such as this. You'll not only find out more about the backgrounds of each of the three featured, but there's also a nice inset on page 20 that notes about 10 additional craftsmen.

If you have access to the November/December issue of American Angler, it's definitely worth a look, especially if you're in the market for a special piece of fly fishing gear that will likely last a lifetime.

October 27, 2016

Funny Money

I didn't really talk about it much on the blog, but if you're friends with me in the other social channels, you may have caught the fact that after the recent trip to North Carolina, I headed West to San Francisco for a few days for work.

Well, about that trip. I was supposed to take a "red-eye" flight home on Thursday night, but Delta evidently sent the wrong sized plane, or straight up overbooked to the tune of 50 passengers, so I got bounced to a flight the next morning. Kind of an inconvenience, especially because I was assigned a dreaded middle seat on my 6 AM make up flight, but shit happens.

Anyway, for my troubles, I was provided with $600 in Delta dollars for a future flight to be booked over the next year.

So where should I go (and when)? I'm looking at this opportunity as an extra long weekend fishing trip or something; it will not subsidize my normal family vacation or annual planned fishing trips. Smells like a Spring or Summer trouting excursion to me...but since it's pretty much free, I'm definitely open to suggestions in comments...

October 25, 2016

Tenkara Tuesday - 2016 Tenkara Jam

After last week's post that really wasn't a true recap of the 2016 Tenkara Jam, I thought it probably right to do a complete recap for those that are interested, but weren't able to attend. And for those who don't care about the Jam, well, this will be my last post about it, I promise. :)

The Tenkara Jam was held on the 15th & 16th of October, in Cherokee, North Carolina. Cherokee is a pretty interesting mountain town, one that borrows from it's Native American heritage, but mixes in quite a bit of tourist kitsch. It's also a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which means excellent outdoor adventure opportunities, including fly fishing.

Attendance of the Tenkara Jam was pretty impressive, particularly on Saturday. I believe organizer Jason Sparks posted on Facebook in the following days that over 170 people attended the event. That's a lot of people! And while many were already experienced in the dark art of tenkara, there were probably just as many newcomers, interested in learning what the fuss was all about.

The Jam Crowd

I was at the Jam not only as "fanboy," but because I wanted to promote my other endeavor, Tenkara Angler magazine. To say that it was well received is an understatement. It was really cool to meet several of the magazine's contributors that I had only communicated with via email or social media. It was even cooler when somebody came up to the table and said, "wow, I didn't know there was a tenkara-only magazine, how do I subscribe?" By the amount of business cards and stickers I handed out, I'm pretty sure it was a mission accomplished.

Tenkara Angler magazine table

However, I wasn't the only vendor at the Jam. There were many purveyors of tenkara goodies in attendance. I'll run you through a few highlights below:

Daniel Galhardo, Tenkara USA

Some prototypes (left) and current models (right) from Badger Tenkara

Anthony Naples of Three Rivers making a sale

TenkaraBum's booth was amazing

The extremely personable Luong Tam of Tanuki

Riverworks Tenkara's new product line - available for pre-sale now

Was happy to see Drew and Lars from Tenkara Rod Co. at the event

Chris Zimmer and his packs - a crowd favorite

Streamside's Mike Moline

Oh, and I can't forget fly shops Rivers Edge Outfitters & Trekka Outfitters as well as the main Jam table, where Jason Sparks' beautiful family was selling jars of tenkara jam, Boone Barrs, fly tying vise stands, and David Taylor's fantastic antler carvings.

But no, that's not all...the presentations were all top notch as well...

As you may be able to see from the flyer above, there was quite a bit on the agenda, and I have to say despite having mountain streams a stone's throw from the event hall, each presenter kept the room's attention with extremely entertaining content.

Jason Sparks kicked off the first day with opening remarks and an "intro to tenkara" of sorts that got everybody up to speed on the basics. Jason's energy is amazing to witness. I often refer to him as a tenkara evangelist, but not in an over the top way.

Jason Sparks

He was followed that morning by the Executive Director of the Outdoor Writers Association (and more importantly, tenkara guide) Tom Sadler, Anthony Naples of Three Rivers Tenkara, Daniel Galhardo of Tenkara USA, and Rob Worthing of Tenkara Guides, LLC.

Each brought a little different perspective to the table. Tom's presentation was a mixed bag about everything, borrowing from his experience as a tenkara guide, as well as his encounters with other tenkara anglers and fishing personalities over the years. Tom is a fantastic and relatable speaker, should you have the opportunity to listen to him speak, take it.

Tom Sadler

Anthony focused on creating and defining your own tenkara, blurring the boundaries of what you might think to be acceptable and blazing your own trail through experimentation and self-discovery. It's one of those things that really appeals to me as an angler. There is no right or no wrong, there's only what works for you. 

Daniel's presentation featured a humorous video showing how it only takes one "crazy person" and a few early followers to start a movement. He also gave a few tips on simplifying your fishing in the name of reducing frustration and finally, presented Jason Sparks with an Ambassador award on behalf of Tenkara USA, a very nice touch.

Daniel congratulating Jason

Rob's "Advanced Casting" talk was perhaps the highlight of the first day. Borrowing from well-established sports training techniques combined with motion capture software, Rob broke down not only the motions required to become a more skillful caster, but showed us how in real-time through the use of video.  It was kind of like watching a football analyst diagram a play on TV using the "telestrator."

Rob Worthing

Day two was much of the same, simply with different presentations.

Chris Stewart of TenkaraBum opened up the day's schedule with a walk through all of the species one can pursue with fixed-line fly fishing rods. He started with examples of tiny fish such as shiners, slowly building up to some serious fish like carp, catfish, and musky. Tenkara may have originated in the mountains of Japan in pursuit of trout, but Chris showed how the same general set of tools can be evolved to attack much different angling situations around the world.

Chris Stewart

Luong Tam's (Tanuki) presentation about tenkara rod design and manufacturing was pretty interesting. He recently visited the factory in China that produces his rods. He was able to take many pictures, some video footage, and even passed around samples of raw carbon fiber. It's amazing how much of tenkara rods are actually still made by hand, with machine assistance (of course).

Dan Dutton

Finally, Dan Dutton spoke to ways to minimize fish mortality while catching (and releasing) your quarry. Some of the statistics he threw around were quite astonishing. Tips on improving fish handling were discussed, we were all introduced to the phrase "caudal peduncle," and I think left the Jam all a little more aware of and educated on this subject.

After that, the formal portion of the Jam concluded and we were free to mingle, or simply go fish!

I know I wrote a lot above, and truthfully, could have written a ton more, but in the interest of keeping this blog post somewhat readable, I'll just stop here. In retrospect, the 2016 Tenkara Jam was a fantastic weekend of tenkara camaraderie, chock full of new friends, gear, and educational experiences. I really can't wait until next year, wherever the venue.

Plus, the fishing and surroundings weren't too shabby either.

October 24, 2016

Fishing Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A week removed from physically being there, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has all but consumed my thoughts. The beautiful fall colors, the whisper of the trout streams, the ability to be amongst the crowds, yet still find the serenity of escape, are all haunting me (in a good way) as this Halloween month comes to a close.

Looking back, thought I'd share a few photos and highlights from the trip. There was so much water, I probably could have fished there each day, every day for a year and not fish it all, however having "base camp" in nearby Cherokee, NC, these were the spots I visited. 

The following spot runs right alongside the road as you head north through the park, past Smokemont Campground. A small footbridge passes the stream, and with a short walk, you can be totally removed from sightseers and picture takers. I went to this event after day one of the Tenkara Jam, as it was nearby and there was not a lot of daylight left.

I managed two small rainbows, and lost probably five or six more. Picking apart the pocket water took some time and before you knew it, I had lost track of the clock to the point where I was forced to wade back to the car downstream in the near dark. Not advisable.

Day two of fishing after the Jam took me back to a place a bit further away that I had first fished with Owl Jones & his buddy "Milliam" in 2012. It's nice to see that Mother Nature has reclaimed some of its roadside charms.

I found it to be a wonderful stream that fished far better this year than four years ago. It required a fairly long hike in and a lot of rock hopping, but it was totally worth the "inconvenience." Several rainbow trout greeted me in the lower stretches, before gradually changing over to brook trout as I gained elevation.

The final day of fishing was the best. Unfortunately, I needed to work from the hotel room a bit too long in the morning which wasted some hours I had intended to be on the stream. However, once I was able to get my affairs in order, it was certainly worth the wait.

Quite simply, the fishery was on fire, and utilizing my orange and white road kone kebari like a dry fly through the shallow runs and pools, I was able to bring many a fish to hand. As before, the fish were mostly rainbow trout, with some brook trout mixed in for good measure. I found it strange that I didn't encounter any brown trout during my three days of fishing, but I can't say that I minded, or that they were missed. 

After an experience like that, it's very difficult to leave the Smokies without a smile on your face. I'm now only faced with the dilemma of figuring out when to go back.

October 18, 2016

Tenkara Tuesday - Best of the Blue Ridge

So like...I don't ask you, my wonderful readers for a lot...do I?

How about you do me one favor...and if you're really good, you could do that same favor once a day until the end of October? Maybe I'm stretching it, but you'll see why in a second.

Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine is holding their annual "Best of the Blue Ridge" competition. For those with fishing interests (like you), there is a category for "Best Fly Fishing Event"...and the Tenkara Jam is one of the five nominated finalists.

So go HERE and vote.

But you're saying, "Dude, I didn't go to the Tenkara Jam, and would you shut up about it already?" It doesn't matter, you know tenkara is rad, and we want the fairly large Blue Ridge Outdoors subscriber base to know it too. There's no doubt if when the Jam wins, their readers are going to ask themselves, "what the heck is a Tenkara Jam," and look it up on the internet. Cue the curiosity...and the next thing you know they've got a new rod in their hand and they're just as rad as the rest of us.

So go vote...

Really...I wasn't kidding...

(and do it again tomorrow)

October 17, 2016

The Not Really A Recap of Tenkara Jam 2016

So, this week's going to be a little weird. After I get in a my last day of fishing in the Smokies today, I'm driving to Atlanta to hop on a plane to San Francisco for work (don't ask)...and I'll be there until Friday. Ugh. So basically I'll be away from home (and any semblance of normalcy) for a full week. As such, the recap of the 2016 Tenkara Jam and the associated fishcapades will probably be a bit delayed.

That said, doesn't mean I can't share a few pictures that I might have handy...

Pimped a few magazines...

 Saw a few friends...

Ogled a few rods...

..and a few more rods...

...oh, and a few more rods...

Listened to some great speakers...

Was in awe of Jason Sparks...

And even caught a few fish...

Good times.

Like I said, will give a real recap when time allows. Hopefully sooner than later. I'm certain others will be posting stuff like crazy this week in social media. So in the meantime check Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for hashtags like #tenkarajam or #tenkarajam2016. If you're checking #caudalpeduncle, good luck. (inside joke from one of the presentations).