Showing posts with label Interviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Interviews. Show all posts

February 15, 2019

The Itinerant Angler Podcast with Yvon Chouinard

Zach Matthews released a pretty solid interview with Patagonia founder Yvon Chouniard on his podcast "The Itinerant Angler" this week.

Photo: Patagonia

While Mr. Chouinard speaks quite a bit about the re-issue of his "Simple Fly Fishing" book and what he enjoys about tenkara and his quest to simplify, he also expands on many of the philosophies that make him one of the more unique businessmen and environmental philanthropists of our day (my words, not his).

Take special note around 12 minutes into the interview when he shares what he has perceived to be one of the most important characteristics of a fly when fishing... It's what makes tenkara such a killer set of techniques for catching fish in almost any situation.


September 24, 2018

Interview: Tyrone Espinoza, TyRoam Handcrafted Hiking & Wading Staffs

Today we're very fortunate to have Tyrone Espinoza of TyRoam Handcrafted Hiking & Wading Staffs stop by Troutrageous! for a quick chat. I've been a fan of Ty's work from afar ever since stumbling on photos of some of his beautiful wading staffs on Instagram this past summer.

It's been fun following some of Ty's adventures on social media over the last few months, including what looked like a very productive International Fly Fishing Fair in Boise, Idaho which made me want to reach out and learn more about his products and company.

I'm definitely looking forward to purchasing my first TyRoam wading staff in the not too distant future, and after reading this I think you'll be more than tempted to do the same. Enjoy!

Hello Ty, please tell us a little bit about yourself; where do you live, what is your background in the outdoors, be it hiking, fishing, or otherwise?

Growing up in Redondo Beach, Southern California in the 1960’s and 70’s, I have lived and played in the outdoors since I can remember - the original Coppertone baby. At a very early age of 7 or 8 years old I took to fishing big time. I remember saltwater fishing for bonito and yellowtail with my little brother Mark in King Harbor Marina using ultra-light spinning gear with 6-pound test. Fighting some pretty serious sportfish with our reel drag screaming and chasing down fish in order to land them. - and we landed plenty!

I’m pretty much a traditionalist and have always had a fondness for the outdoors and working with my hands - especially woodwork. Fast forward, today my beautiful bride Rosie and I live in Sacramento, California where we are very active cycling, weight training, hiking, gardening, ocean fishing, fly fishing, and tenkara - fixed-line fishing. Oh, I should also mention helping care for our small grandchildren, they’re a ton of “energy” - code for crazy wild! We love them.

Can you give us some information about your business, how & when did it start, what was your inspiration, etc…?

I began dedicating time to launching my business: TyRoam Handcrafted Hiking & Wading Staffs in early 2017 shortly after I retired from California state government as a healthcare administrator. Although, I really started field testing my handcrafted hiking/wading staffs several years prior and continually making modifications from lessons learned on and off the water.

I paid attention to all the little details I encountered during use such as leash length, best types and densities of wood, lengths of staff, different types of grips, different types of waterproof glues and varnishes, etc... I applied all the years of my field testing experience and acquired knowledge into the development and evolution of my wading staffs. I already have plans for the next evolution... it’s an ongoing journey. The old adage... once you stop learning you start dying... yikes!

The initial inspiration that provided the catalyst was when I was first looking to purchase a wading staff at local fly fishing shops I saw cheap uninspiring wooden staffs that weren’t more than overgrown Tinker-Toy sticks that were grossly overpriced. That is when I decided to make my own and put all those years of high school wood shop to use, only about 40 years later. In addition, it was a great outlet to unbury the creativity that had been stifled from decades of administrative purgatory - working for "the man."

There are a lot of great products out on the market today; if you had to explain why somebody should consider one of your staffs over the competition, what would you tell them?

I let the beauty and functionality of my staffs speak for themselves. Once someone actually sees and “feels” the quality and uniqueness of my staffs then they come to realize how special each one truly is. Those that get an opportunity to pick up and hold one of our TyRoam staffs can feel the craftsmanship. With each one I build it seems like a little bit of my soul goes into them. Likely because I spend considerable time hand-sanding them that it almost seems I get personally attached to each one. It’s silly, I’ve even come to put nicknames to some that customers seem to enjoy hearing the story behind the inspiration. I’m not aware of any competition that can say the same or put that much passion into their products. It seems like today businesses are focused on decreasing materials costs and time in order to maximize profits. That’s definitely NOT what we’re about. In fact, we’re the complete opposite. Our TyRoam staffs are 100 percent handcrafted, which takes considerable time, and, we spare no expense in only using the FINEST materials. Our gratification comes from someone using our staffs.

On the more technical spectrum: I use Brazilian hardwood, four coats of superior marine grade varnish that undergoes a light 600 grit hand sanding between coats for a super silky finish, rubber motocross grips that get tacky when wet, premium marine grade shock cord for the leash that withstands the sun and won’t degrade from the weather, industrial 1/8 thick vinyl tubing to protect the lower part of the staff from being wedged between river rock and low lying brush, and where the leash is piped into the wooden staff it is infused and encased with epoxy so it’s totally cemented and waterproof both inside and out.

As for the wood staining techniques I use to come up with some incredible designs... let’s just say it’s at the journeyman level. Oh, there is so much more at the micro level that are invisible to 99 percent of folks. One good example of this are the hog rings I use to bind the marine shock cord. I use galvanized rings that are rust resistant to further enhance the durability and functionality, then I use not one but two applications of commercial grade adhesive vinyl heat shrink wrap around the rings to form the leash. Yes, this is overkill, however, I design and make my staffs to be passed on from one generation to another. Plus, some of us Virgos by nature can be over the top - ha!

It’s all these details and my unwavering quality inspection that goes into each TyRoam staff. And, for those that like metal collapsible, folding, and, telescoping staffs... good luck! I’ve had these fail on me wading across mid currents only to have it get stuck between some rock and fully separate when trying to pull it free. Nothing against metal staffs... they serve a purpose. Frankly, I make my staffs for those that appreciate things made from natural materials, and, that recognize genuine craftsmanship and know they are holding something truly unique that speaks to their souls.

In your opinion, what makes a great hiking staff and/or fishing staff? Is there a difference between the two?

A staff that feels comfortable, durable, functional, and has the structural integrity to help you out of a challenging situation. Yes, in my opinion, the difference between a hiking and wading staff can be attributed to the weight, waterproofing, grip types, length, and type of material used on the base of the staff. I design and build my staffs to be more stout with a bit more density. I pay careful attention to the weight of my staffs so they can be fairly universal for both hiking and wading, however, leaning a bit more towards wading. I also use materials and applications more suited for wading, however, they double as nice extras for hiking as well. A couple examples of this are using waterproof marine varnish and motocross grips... they’re both nice extra compliments for hiking as opposed to a standard polyurethane finish and less expensive vinyl grip.

I noticed in your Etsy shop you also sell some tenkara flies (kebari), how did you find tenkara and what do you enjoy about it?

I was introduced to tenkara several years ago by a fellow fly fishing club member while fishing on the East Walker River, in California. Fortunately, he was very skilled in tenkara and taught me the fundamentals that helped tremendously in making the adjustments from traditional single-handed fly fishing to the tenkara fixed-line method. What I enjoy most about tenkara is the simplicity and that one doesn’t need a lot of gear.

My bride Rosie really likes it too for pretty much the same reasons. I also enjoy making the various tenkara type flies and learning how to fish them. Tenkara has also helped me in becoming a better fly fisherman. It has taught me to be more stealthy when approaching the water, especially when wading since you only have a limited reach with the fixed-line approach.

What is your favorite part about operating a small business such as TyRoam?

This may sound really corny... however, It never gets old hearing all the compliments from folks on how beautiful our hiking and wading staffs are. Rosie and I really like engaging with folks while participating at fly fishing fairs and expos - this part of the business is a lot of fun. On the subject of metal staffs... I don’t feel that any metal hiking/wading staff can impart such human emotion compared to a beautifully handcrafted hardwood staff. Especially when passed on as an heirloom or even a gift to a loved one.

Also, we here at TyRoam take into account how important it is to have plenty of our hiking/wading staffs built and designed for women. We’re not talking making them “girly,” however, having a staff with a touch of elegance yet outdoorsy flare that is also a 100 percent fully functional workhorse. It’s nice being the owner and calling the shots to equally include hiking/wading staffs designs for women.

What do you see in the future of TyRoam Hiking & Wading Staffs? Are there any short or long-term goals you’d like to share?

In the very near future, I’ll be introducing an additional leash option to the lineup - a full shoulder strap. I think this will be very cool and really compliment my staffs. Here again, evolution as to functionality. Also on the horizon, I have a prototype for handheld wooden fishing nets, and, carbon composite fishing nets. For this venture, I plan on repurposing materials to lessen our carbon footprint. When available, I’ll have them on my shop and search: TyRoam

Quick “fun” question – if travel & resources were of no concern, what would your “ideal” outdoor adventure look like?

Hiking and fishing of course, then ending the day with an ice cold Sierra Nevada pale ale and some smoked salmon. I would love to go on an extended full-service fishing excursion in a remote area of Wyoming during the fall to experience all the colors and beauty of nature hand in hand with my Rosie to share the experience. Did I mention, I’m also a romantic at heart too?

Finally, do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share that weren’t covered in the previously asked questions?

Yes. When engaging with both men and women it surprises me to hear some say “Oh, I don’t need a hiking/wading staff ... I’m not there yet.” Meaning, that somehow age and debilitation is associated with needing assistance from a hiking/wading staff. I don’t argue and simply let these folks pass. However, I think to myself that they’re missing the opportunity to ACTUALLY being able to perform better during their hikes and wade fishing WITH a hiking/wading staff.

I’m a very athletic guy, at least in my own mind, and I use my TyRoam staff for bushwhacking through thorny wild berries, parting a path through poison oak, climbing up and down railroad track embankments, wading through some pretty good river currents to fishing holes I would not be able to usually reach without having to swim to. In fact, one summer while on the lower Yuba River a juvenile rattlesnake was resting along the river's edge right in front of my favorite fishing hole. So, I took my wading staff and extended it as far forward as possible and very gently nudged the rattler that soon departed - then, I dropped into my spot and started fishing.

So, my long-winded point is that a hiking/wading staff is a very functional tool, and, tools are designed to make things easier and when used correctly be more efficient - it’s not a sign of being handicapped.

It’s truly been a pleasure to participate in this interview and share our TyRoam story - we’re grateful. We’re simply a very small independent home-based family business... a throwback to old-fashioned values with the nostalgia of old Americana.


Hey... it's Troutrageous Mike again... In closing, I just wanted to thank Ty for taking the time to do this short interview and allow us a peek behind the scenes of his company, TyRoam Handcrafed Hiking & Wading Staffs. I wasn't compensated in any way to publish this interview, I simply appreciate the small business and entrepreneurial spirit within the fly fishing industry. If this is something my readers find interesting, I'd love to feature more folks like Ty in the future. So, if you know anybody that fits the bill, just let me know.

March 22, 2016

Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop in SGB Today

Working in general sporting goods retail for almost 20 years, it's rare to see the niche of fly fishing get some exposure in industry media, especially when the retail press as a whole tends to focus more on big dollar categories such as apparel, footwear, or fitness & team sports equipment.

Sporting Goods Business (SGB) recently interviewed Brendan Bannigan of Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop in their 'SGB Today' blog.

It's worth a quick skim if you're interested in the business side of fly fishing.

April 14, 2015

Tenkara Tuesday - Interview With Robb Chunco of Creekside Kebari + Fly Co.

Welcome to Tenkara Tuesday.

As I started playing around a little bit more on Instagram last winter as a way to fuel the "Tenkaragram" project, I found that it broadened my horizons to what is going on in the world of tenkara, especially when it came to folks that weren't affiliated with any of the rod companies, nor doing the majority of their socializing on Facebook or Twitter. One of the first users to catch my eye was Creekside Kebari + Fly account that not only appeared to be tying really great flies, but taking stellar photos of them as well.

After a month or so in the making, I'm happy to present this week's installment of Tenkara Tuesday; an interview with Robb Chunco of Creekside Kebari + Fly Co.

T!: I understand that you & Creekside Kebari + Fly Co. are based in Buffalo, NY. What do you consider your home waters? Do you have a favorite creek or fish species, and what do you like most about it? (No need to give up secret spots) 
RC: Being in Western NY, we’re pretty lucky to be smack dab in the middle of some pretty amazing waters. Within an hour’s drive I could be at any one of a half dozen prime creeks. A little further out and another half dozen – that’s what’s cool about the area. If you've got the time to keep looking, you’ll keep finding water to fish. The Upper Cattaraugus, Hosmer Brook and Wiscoy Creek are probably the best known. The Lake Erie and Ontario tribs are legendary steelhead fisheries as well. 
I’ve gotta say that brookies are probably my favorite. They’re also New York’s official state fish, so I got that goin' for me. Which is nice. But I have a big soft spot for warm water fishing. If you've never taken a slab of a bluegill on a tenkara rod, then I kind of feel bad for you – those little SOB’s are a hell of a lot of fun!
But honestly, any fish on the end of your line is pretty hard to beat. Brookies, browns, bluegill or bass – I’ll happily catch them all. 


T!: When I think of Buffalo, 3 things come to mind. The Bills, wings, and snow. They’re probably stereotypical associations, like all Philadelphians (where I'm from) are insane for the Eagles and eat a diet of only cheesesteaks. What’s your opinion of the first two, and does it really snow as much as most people think there? 
RC: I’m just not a fan of football. Not even one little bit. But I do sort of admire the dedication of Bills fans. 
I dig wings (thank you for not calling them ‘Buffalo Wings’, by the way). I live about 2 minutes away from the Anchor Bar where they were invented. 
Snow. Oh, snow... Yes, it can get pretty crazy here at times. If conditions are just so, and Lake Erie isn’t totally frozen the Lake Effect snows can be quite intense. This past season the areas just south of the city got 7 feet of snow in 3 days. It was insane. The city proper got nailed pretty badly too. However, the other 3 seasons are known for being pretty glorious around here.

T!: How and when did you come across tenkara? What was/is appealing about it to you? I “found” tenkara not even a year after I started fly fishing...I love the efficiency, but am not one of those guys that has decided to abandon my reels all together. Still love a click & pawl on a 3-weight. Did you fly fish prior?
RC: I think 3 or 4 years ago or so, a good friend told me about it. It seemed really cool – I know the term “simple” gets used a lot, but it’s right on the money. It’s a truly simple way to fish and that simplicity can be pretty liberating. 
I had messed around with fly fishing a little bit before I got into tenkara, but was primarily chasing largemouth bass with a spinning rig and soft plastics. 
If anything, tenkara is almost fueling my interest in conventional fly fishing. The two methods both have their place and a tenkara rod is so portable it’s nice to be able to pack one along in addition to a fly rod. I’ve got a few Eagle Claw Featherlights with Martin clickers and a Cabela's CGR rigged up with an LL Bean Pocket Water reel. They're so buttery smooth.

Takayama Sakasa Kebari

T!: Tenkara tools can be simple, but let’s talk gear for a second...rod, line, fly box. I've got way too much tenkara gear, but am crushing on the Tenkara USA Rhodo, Sunline 3.0 level line, and a Tacky Fly Box to do my bidding at the moment. What do you use, do you have a preference?

RC: I have a Badger Tenkara “Classic” and a “Bad Axe.” I dig Badger because of their relaxed and approachable view on tenkara fishing – a “just get out there and do it” vibe. Their Badger Lite lines are really nice and I've been using 12’ & 14’ furled kevlar lines from Streamside Leaders. I really like the way they cast, but this year I’d like to look into using level line a bit more. Man, those Tacky boxes are nice, aren’t they? I love mine.

T!: And more importantly what’s INSIDE your fly box? I’d imagine you’re not a “one fly” guy...but who knows, you might surprise me…
RC: I’m not really a tenkara ‘one fly’ purist. I get it, but fishing different flies is fun, man. I’ve got a few of almost everything in my catalog. I love pheasant tail kebari and I really like killer bugs – both the Frank Sawyer and the Utah version. The traditional kebari with a silk loop for an eye seem to move really nice in the water due to the flexible eye, so I always have a bunch of those on hand. 
So many “Western” patterns work well with a tenkara rod – Adams, a few terrestrials, small poppers for bass and bluegill. Stimulators for a dry & dropper rig. It seems silly to not use them – why limit yourself?

Green Rock Worm

T!: What does your tying bench look like? Mine is always a mess. Do you have favorite tools (vise, bobbin, etc...) or materials to work with? I’ll be honest, those whip finish tools just confuse me.
RC: I always start out pretty organized and then it’s all downhill from there. If I’m tying up a whole bunch of the same pattern I’ll try to stage everything in a kind of mise en place. 
I've got a nice, simple and solid HMH SX pedestal vise and really can’t see myself needing anything else. It’s just rock solid. Zero BS. I like Dr Slick tools – I have their Micro tip scissors, a few ECO bobbins and their bamboo handle whip finisher. It seems like there’s a certain dark magic at play with the whip finisher, doesn’t it? 
Embrace it, dude. Embrace the dark magic.

T!: I've noticed you offer many different kebari patterns for sale. Where do you get your inspiration? 
RC: Well, there are a few “standard” offerings, but there’s usually a lot of daydreaming involved with pattern development. I scratch notes and sketches on scraps of paper all the time and when I sit down to tie, I’ll dig them out and try to make them work. I’ll sometimes try to translate a Western or North Country wet pattern into a tenkara pattern, but after a certain point it can get kind of moot. Why try to fix what isn't broken?
T!: What about the “+ Fly” part of your brand’s also tie English North Country soft hackle flies. While not mutually exclusive, tell us more about that portion of your offering? 
RC: It seemed like a logical second side to the shop. They’re quite similar to kebari in their structure, simplicity, and elegance, and also fish quite well on a tenkara rod. Tying them is a lot of fun and also a huge exercise in restraint. They just don’t look right with too much or too little hackle, and the silk thread has to be wound just so. Their history is incredibly interesting as well.

Snipe and Purple

T!: Have you tied flies for a long time? Your Etsy store is relatively new (November 2014); what made you decide to sell your kebari? Is there a "top selling" pattern yet?
RC: I’m still fairly new to tying, but I kind of hit the ground running. It just sort of clicked. My buddy who initially told me about tenkara had been telling me for years that I would really dig tying, and he was totally right.
I’m not sure when or why I decided to start selling them. I think I just wanted to see if I could actually do it, but then it turned into something a bit bigger. There’s no real top seller per se, but people do seem to dig the Caddis Larva kebari and the Pearly Gates kebari. I move a lot of Killer Bugs too.

Caddis Larva Kebari

T!: What else do you like to do beside fly tying and fishing?

RC: So many things to do, and not enough time to do them. I play guitar, and have a few analog synthesizers that I mess around with in a low key solo electronic music project. I like woodworking. I love photography. I love to cook. I've been a homebrewer since 1994. I snowboard and ride bikes when I can. I really dig camping, and now that my son is getting old enough (5 this year!) to come along with me, we’ll be doing quite a bit of that this summer.

T!: I believe I first noticed your flies on Instagram. It’s a social media platform that I've definitely spent some more time with over the last year. Is that your primary form of marketing, and what do you think of Instagram as a marketing tool?
RC: Instagram has changed everything for me. It is my primary form of marketing – I have a Facebook page and a Tumblr account too, but Instagram is a very powerful platform. It’s essentially a form of free advertising if you want it to be. 

March Brown Flymph

T! Bigfoot. Do you believe?
RC: Hell yeah, dude.

T!: What can we expect from Creekside Kebari + Fly Co. in 2015? Any surprises?
RC: I’d like to keep doing what I’m doing and grow at a comfortable rate. Tying these flies is almost as therapeutic as fishing them. I’ll rotate available patterns in and out and try to keep current with fishable conditions. Not exactly “hatch matching” as much as just being appropriate to the time of year, I guess.
As far as surprises go, well – everybody loves a surprise, and if I do have any it wouldn't be a surprise if I told anybody, right?

Pheasant Tail Kebari

T!: Is there anything else you’d like to say about fly tying, fly fishing, or Creekside? Feel free to say whatever comes to mind.
RC: I really appreciate your taking the time to notice my work, and giving me the opportunity to answer these questions. 
It seems like there can be a little bit of animosity in both fly fishing camps (tenkara and conventional) toward one another, and there really shouldn't be. The techniques each have their merits and limitations – what works well with one method may not necessarily work with the other, but they can cover each other’s backs. I've seen some downright nasty chatter toward tenkara online that sounded like it could have been happening in a middle school locker room. Lighten up! It’s all a means to an end, and who the hell cares how you do it?

A big thanks go out to Rob for taking the time to provide my readers a peek behind the scenes of the Creekside Kebari + Fly Co.  Hopefully we'll get to hook up on a stream together someday!

Robb Chunco is a husband, a father and a dude that likes to make little bug puppets and try to catch fish with them. If you’d like to see his work you can check it out on Etsy or Instagram.
All images used in this post are copyright of Creekside Kebari + Fly Co.


Are you a tenkara angler? Do you have a story, pictures, video, fly recipe, or simply a fishing report from one of your recent tenkara adventures? If so, I'd really enjoy hearing from you for an upcoming Tenkara Tuesday post! Feel free to send an email HERE, I'd love to publish your original contribution.

August 20, 2013

Tenkara Tuesday - Interview with Drew Hollenback of Tenkara Rod Co.

Welcome to Tenkara Tuesday.

On Monday the 12th, the little Tenkara community many of us participate in was stirred up by a Kickstarter campaign to launch a new tenkara gear supplier, the Tenkara Rod Co.  Always game for a good Kickstarter, I contributed to the campaign almost immediately after I saw its release on Facebook.

Well after an additional dose of social seeding courtesy of Jason at Tenkara Talk, and some good virality, this "project" got crowdfunded in less than 24 hours, which is really an impressive feat.  As such, I thought it might be interesting to reach out to Drew Hollenback at Tenkara Rod Co., and find out a little more about the product, the people, and the motivation to get into the Tenkara business.

Please enjoy!

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview Drew, I'm sure it's a really exciting time for you & your friends.
T!:  Your Kickstarter campaign was fully funded in something like less than 24 hours (full disclaimer, I believe I was backer #7ish).  How does it feel to have such a positive reaction to the campaign? 
Drew:  I am blown away by the amount of support we have received in the first few days of the project.  We were hoping to raise enough to fund our first small order and weren’t sure what to expect.  Tenkara is growing quickly and we hope to be a part of it.
T!:  You seem to be the "face" behind the Kickstarter campaign, but you mention "we" a lot in the video.  Who are the people behind Tenkara Rod Co.?
D:  There are two of us that currently make up the team here at Tenkara Rod Co., myself and my business partner Shane Humphreys.
 T!:  At the time of this interview, you had already raised much more what you were originally looking for (now over $15,000) and still had over 30 days left for people to contribute…how are you going to invest that extra “startup” back in to your company? 
D:  The extra funds will be used to stock up on inventory, beef up our site, and hopefully be able to get a couple of new rod designs going.  We would love to add some rods to the “quiver.”  We also have some fun ideas that should be totally new to the tenkara market. 
T!:  Your initial offering consists of two different 12’ rods, the Teton with a 6:4 rating, and the Sawtooth with a 5:5 rating.  Why did you decide on making those rods your entry into Tenkara and what will future customers find in each rod? 
D:  We decided that the 12’ 6:4 Teton would be a great all around rod. This length can be fished in those smaller streams that are a bit cumbersome but it can also go out on larger rivers.  Casting on that size and action is pretty simple and hopefully people just learning about tenkara will be able to catch on.  The 5:5 Sawtooth on the other hand is a little softer and a little more playful.  The Sawtooth might take a little more time to figure out but after fishing some of the other 5:5 rods out there we decided we needed to start with these.

T!:  I can’t help but notice the distinctive look to your rods.  The colors are appealing to the eye and the graphics are very bold & clean.  The same can be said about your logo.  Who does the graphic design work and from where is the inspiration drawn? 
D:  All of the graphics and design were done by our team here in Idaho.  We love simplistic beauty and that is what we strived for while designing the rods.  We draw inspiration from the mountains and streams of Idaho.  For example, the Sawtooth mountain range is extremely beautiful with a huge system of streams to fish.  Needless to say, the Sawtooth fishes well there. 
T!:  It’s tough to talk about Tenkara in the United States without mentioning the imprint Daniel Galhardo & Tenkara USA have made over the past few years.  I’m personally a big fan of his product line and have had pleasure of “talking Tenkara” with him on more than one occasion.   Have you fished with any Tenkara rods from “domestic” companies like Tenkara USA?  Have you fished with any Tenkara rods from Japanese makers?  If so, what makes your rods different? 
D:  I have been able to fish a variety of rods including Tenkara USA and TFO.  I have also been able to get my hands on a couple of Japanese rods (Daiwa Enshou and a Shimano rod).  They are all great.  We are trying to use the best materials available in our rods but while still maintaining an affordable price point.

T!:  Like it or not, some people are rough with their Tenkara rods.  As such, there are different levels of warranty support out there for broken segments (especially tips).  I haven’t read any specifics on your warranty “program”…are there any you’d like to share? 
D:  We are still working on the full details of our warranty program, but we will most definitely have a lifetime warranty on damaged rods and will have the specifics on our site as soon after our Kickstarter is complete. 

T!:  What goals, either short term or long term does the Tenkara Rod Co. have?  It may be a bit premature, but are there plans for additional products?
D:  We just want people to get out and enjoy nature.  Hopefully catch some fish as well.  So we will see where that takes us.  Tenkara is still relatively small here in the U.S. but anyone who has fished tenkara before knows how amazing it is and we expect to grow along with it. 
T!:  In the “About Us” section of your website, it is mentioned that you first saw Tenkara in Japan when you lived there a decade ago.  What were you doing in Japan…and how did you stumble upon Tenkara? 
D:  I lived in Japan for about 6 years growing up.  My father lived there when he was younger and wanted to take the family back because he loved it so much.  He is also a big fisherman and so we would often go hiking and exploring rivers and streams.  The thing that caught my eye about Tenkara was that no one had reels and they only used one hand.  I remember asking my dad what Tenkara meant and he said “heaven sent.”   That was my introduction to it.  Disclaimer: My dad did not and still does not fish Tenkara. I am still trying to convert him but it is a process. 
T!:  What’s your fishing background?  I know you’re based out of Idaho.  Were you a fly fisherman before Tenkara?  Brag a little bit, where do you like to fish and what do you like to catch? 
D:  I grew up around fishing.  My grandpa is from Emmett, Idaho and he grew up fly fishing the Payette (probably back when there were a lot more fish).  My dad has also always fished.  But I am by no means an expert fisherman.  For me it is a fun way to get out and enjoy nature.  That is why I love Tenkara so much, it is simple and gives me the maximum amount of time actually enjoying fishing.  When I would fly fish I would spend too much time worrying about the hatch or switching out flies, and to be honest even though I am an eagle scout I am terrible with knots.  With Tenkara all I worry about is fishing.  We end up fishing the Boise river a lot because it is right here in town.  The south fork of the Boise and the Owyhee are also pretty close so we end up fishing there too and it can be great at times.  But whenever I have the chance eastern Idaho or the Sawtooths is where I would choose to fish.

T!:  Describe your personal Tenkara experience.  Do you subscribe to the “one fly” theory?  Do you favor furled lines or level lines?  Do you believe in Bigfoot?  OK, the last one has nothing to do with Tenkara, but is still important nonetheless… 
D:  I subscribe to the “one fly a day” theory.  You will rarely see me change a fly during a fishing session.  I also prefer a furled line and that is what we will be offering with the packages on our Kickstarter project.  I spent a few years living in the Pacific Northwest so I absolutely believe in Sasquatch. 
T!:  Finally, I’ll leave this last question for you as an open forum.  Is there anything else you’d like to say about your company, rods, or to any of the readers out there? 
D:  We are young fisherman trying to pour our personalities and experiences into this project and company.  I am just really happy for the support we have received so far and we hope to continue growing, learning, and sharing our experiences with our supporters.

Thanks again Drew for providing my readers a peek behind the scenes of the Tenkara Rod Co. and a successful Kickstarter campaign. I wish you & Shane only the best in your future endeavors.


Are you a Western tenkara angler? Do you have a story, pictures, video, fly recipe, or simply a fishing report from one of your recent tenkara adventures? If so, Troutrageous! wants to hear from you for a future Tenkara Tuesday post! Feel free to send and email HERE, or check out this previous post for more information.

March 5, 2012

Interview with Val Kropiwnicki of VK Steelworks

Looking back at this year's Somerset Fly Fishing Show, one of the most memorable booths was that of VK Steelworks and its extremely unique flies.  As such, I wrote a post about it immediately following, displaying a few pictures, and the post received an extremely positive reaction from you guys, my readers.

To follow up on this, I contacted Val Kropiwnicki, the genius behind VK Steelworks, and asked if he would mind doing a quick interview for the blog.  Somewhat surprisingly, he graciously accepted my offer, which I present today.  I hope you enjoy...

An example of Val's work:  The Riley Hound.910.SSSP

Q:  So to open, I have to did you get started tying (should I call it tying?) and sculpting flies like these?

A: Yeah, call it tying, tying sculpture. I had a typical start for someone who grew up in suburban north central Connecticut in the late 60’s and 70’s. My dad was an outdoorsman and taught me how to fish and hunt. He also taught my siblings and me a bunch of other things like making stained glass, weaving, gardening, rod making too. People in general made more stuff back then. Tying flies was also part creative journey my parents laid on my brother and me. I didn’t tie or fly fish in my 20’s or early 30’s and it wasn’t until 2000, when I started teaching, that a coworker reintroduced me to tying and fly fishing. The artistic flies came out of a funk I had been in. A couple years back, in one of those moments where you ask your self “what the hell am I going to make next,” I then asked myself “well, what do you wan to do?” The answer had something to do with making stuff I could trade to upscale lodges for time on serious rivers. I have been tying artistic flies for two years now.

Q: I assume you enjoy you have a formalized background in art as well?

A: BFA Southampton College, Long Island University 1986

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration - the work of other fly tiers, artists, hobbits, possibly the use of hallucinogens?

A: My inspiration comes from life. I know it sound like a cliché, but anything that moves me good or bad is fair game for a piece of art. A song, a sight, people (hobbits are people too,) any of these can make their way into a piece. My art has also always been a way for me to deal with the world around me. If someone pisses me off - I make a piece of art about it. Something I want, something I want to change - I make a piece of art about it. The Korn song “Twisted Transistor” inspired my latest fly.

Q: What else besides fly fishing and art interests Val Kropiwnicki? I bet you're really into watching American Idol, am I right?

A: Nah!!! I could easily live without the “Boob Tube.” Although, there was this really cool show on one of the Spanish channels the other night, it was about the construction of a huge windmill somewhere down in South America. I didn’t understand a word being said but the imagery and pacing of the documentary was amazing. I was mesmerized into watching. All things design interests me, solving problems interests me too.

Q: When I stepped into your booth at Somerset, my reaction was "wow, those are crazy" that a typical reaction when someone sees your work for the first time?

A: The public reaction to the art I make is usually positive. Of course some people don’t get it but that is to be expected with any form of art. I have that curse though; the one that makes me not want to do what anyone has done before. I want people to see craftsmanship in my work. I want people to be able to come back into a work time and time again and find new things to see each time they visit. The Somerset show was cool in that I had middle-aged women and kids digging the work, older couples and hardcore fishermen, suits and other vendors all said some pretty cool things about the art.

Q: In addition to the steel sculptures and tied flies, I also noted you some art on canvas in your booth at Somerset. Do you prefer working with one medium?

A: I have never limited myself to one medium. I work in steel, I paint and draw, I make furniture and I make sculpture. I try to let the pull of creativity tell me what I’m going to do next. I am lucky in that I have a day job teaching Art. Teaching pays the bills and covers insurance for me, and my family. It also allows me to not be a whore with my art and limit the things I make to things that only sell. It only took me 25 years of building but I’m finally at a point where I build what I want when I want. It’s a good thing and I know I’m lucky and I don’t take it for granted, ever!

Q: OK, be you have a favorite piece to date? (Even parents secretly prefer one kid over another).

A: the Smith Trigger.611.BP is hands down my favorite. Barely functional, it represents everything I hope to do combining my metal work and fly tying. It, to me, takes on aspects of a machine, a machine made for catching fish.

The Smith Trigger.611.BP

*edit – since starting to answer these questions I made “the All Weather Floyd.312.SSCLP” and I’m infatuated with this fly for now.

The All Weather Floyd.312.SSCLP
Additional detail

Q: Not looking for any insider secrets...but what lies ahead for of VK Steelworks? Any interesting projects on the horizon?

A: I have a wine bar and a live edge black walnut dining room table on cue and plans for fly display that involves a fly, a bottle of scotch and 8 screen printed shot glasses. I am also collaborating with a plug builder on some one of kind striper plugs. I just finished a ring too. But I’m telling you, and everyone else, don’t even think about asking for matching earrings!

Popham Ring.212.SSSP

Q: Outside of the Fly Fishing Show & your website, where will people be able to see your art on display in 2012? What would be the best way for an interested party to contact you?

A: I don’t have any other fishing shows lined up at this time. I show all my furniture through Fair Haven Furniture in New Haven, CT. Kerry Triffin and his crew at FF are good people – they support creativity.

Q: To close, I have to ask... Have you ever been tempted to take one of your artistic flies and fish it...maybe an unknown species of sabertooth steelhead...or 'Nessie...would dig 'em?

A: I could probably take down a seagull or osprey too! Unfortunately, density rules apply and with all their extraneous metal they would mostly implode on the first back cast. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t been tempted though…maybe I’ll send you a picture when I do.


A huge THANK YOU goes out to Val Kropiwnicki of VK Steelworks for taking the time to complete and return this interview.  It was something he certainly didn't have to do considering all of the projects on his plate, but I'm extremely thankful that he did.

February 4, 2011

Items of Note

Some things popped up in the last 24 hours that I think are sort of newsworthy.  So this post is kinda like Wednesday Nibbles, just no stupid videos.

Blogger App for Android
Blogger Buzz announced yesterday the official Blogger App for Android smartphones.  Since I got my Android phone a few months back, I've tried a few "unofficial" Blogger apps, but to be honest have found them to be pretty clunky and lacking the features I was accustomed to. This one is really much better, a much truer Blogger experience.  Worth the free download if you have an Android phone and are on the Blogger platform. You never know when inspiration might strike.
Blogging on the move...

Cabela's Hardcover Catalog
They're evidently starting to make the rounds.  This is the first time I've received one, so I guess Cabela's is finally recognizing all of that gift card money I spend with them.  I assume that's how you get one of these as opposed to the standard softcover.  I just it too nice to sit next to the porcelain throne with the rest of my fishing catalogs?
10 pounds of goodness

Interview at Ben G. Outdoors
As if my ego wasn't humongously enormous already, blogbuddy Ben G. over at Ben G. Outdoors recently asked me if I'd like to do an interview for his blog.  Flattered & honored by the gesture I agreed, and he posted it to his site yesterday.  I always thought I'd end up featured on Abnormal Outdoors before BGO, but if you simply can't get enough of Troutrageous!, you can check it out at his blog HERE.
The coolest Ben since Franklin.

That's about it for today.  Really looking forward to this weekend.  This was a pretty tough work week.  Not sure if I'll get in any fishing, but you never know.

December 21, 2010

So Check This Out...

A little while back I was asked to be one of the Pottstown Mercury's Town Square bloggers.  It's basically a hodgepodge of bloggers that write about things locally.  While the other bloggers actually contribute useful information - like current events, traffic reports, cooking tips, and ways to improve family finances - this blog just kinda floats there in the current, like a discarded bobber.

I don't really call out the affiliation much here (shame on me), but you may have noticed the little "Mercury" banner over in the right sidebar of the blog upon one of your previous visits.

Well, they asked all of the bloggers to answer a short interview questionnaire the other day, and appears the one about Troutrageous! got published today.  Here's the link if you'd like to read it.  

If they had asked, I could have probably given them a picture that was not so pixelated, like this one below of me after a day of tenkara fishing with Dr. Ishigaki and Sasquatch, but on many levels, their image is kinda fitting.
The Three Amigos
[Note: Looks like they changed the picture.  
Unfortunately not to the one above.  
I love the instant gratification that the internet brings]

The point of this post isn't only to toot my own horn (*toot toot*) it's actually just to point out that if you're interested in going this route, local newspapers are affiliating themselves with blogs and bloggers all the time.  Just ask Shoreman.  If you're looking for a way to reach more readers, a simple email to your local newspaper's editor might just be an easy place to start.

Also, to anybody who might be stopping by for the first time.  I'm sorry.  You were probably expecting some really good fishing tips, maybe some top secret local places to catch a big brown trout or smallmouth bass.  You're not going to find that here.  (However if you know of any I'm all ears!)  Nope, just fishing related nonsense, self-deprecating humor, bad photoshop, and kinda funny YouTube videos.  Oh, and Lilly. Lots of Lilly.


February 22, 2010

FishFreak Online

Troutrageous! was recently approached by to do a link exchange.  I don't typically do this with retailers I've never shopped with before, so without knowing much about them, I agreed...but only if they answered a few questions for me (& of course my readers) first about who they are, what they do, and most importantly what they like to fish for! My questions were forwarded to Rhonda (one of the owners) and here are her responses:

What is FishFreakOnline and how did it start?
Fishfreakonline is an online fishing tackle store located in West Palm Beach Florida started in Dec of 2007. I've been in the photo business for over 20 years and was looking to get into something new. My husband is an avid fisherman and I could see the potential when he would come home from other tackle shops with 200-300 dollars worth of merchandise at a time.

There are a ton of online fishing retailers, why should I shop with FishFreakOnline?
We are dedicated not to just making sales but to building long term relationships with our customers with good old fashioned customer service.

What are your most popular brands or products?
Right now the hottest lures are the Bomber Badonk-A-Donk lures and Koppers Live Target lures. Most popular rods are the Skeet Reese signature rods.

Does FishFreakOnline specialize in a specific type of fishing?
No, although most of our sales are to bass fishermen

What are FishFreakOnline's thoughts on social media (Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc)?
It’s a great tool for new anglers to meet each other and find great tips. We love interacting with our customers on our Facebook and Twitter. It helps us find out what works and what doesn’t so we can offer the best products possible.

I'm assuming you're an angler, what's your favorite species to target?
I really don't have time to fish but my husband Don fishes all the time for largemouth bass and peacock bass here in Florida and usually takes a trip each year to PA for smallmouth bass.

If you could fish any body of water, what would it be and for what?
Don - Brazil for Peacock Bass

Following Rhonda's feedback, I checked out FishFreakOnline in greater detail and did take note of the nice selection of products in their store (especially for bass and saltwater), as well as a complimentary blog that speaks to all sorts of angling techniques in greater detail.

Considering my wife runs her own small business, I'm all for supporting the "small guy."  So if you're like me and not always sold on shopping a "big box" like Bass Pro, Cabela's, or even Wal-Mart, I'd suggest at least checking out FishFreakOnline before you make your next tackle purchase.  The prices appear to be more than competitive, they offer free shipping on most orders over $99 ($149 on rods), and most importantly seem like down to earth, honest folks.

This independent website review is not associated with retailer-supplied payment or free goods.
The only exchange of (intellectual) property was a link, which can be found HERE.