Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.

Guest Post – Are You Ten-kurious?

Tenkara fishing on a Montana spring creek

Editor’s Note: My friend Ben Bulis, who is running the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, wrote about his recent adventure with a tenkara rod. I asked if he would let me use it as a guest post on Dispatches. He agreed. Enjoy.

Are You Ten-kurious? I was, and I tried it! Tenkara… What is it? Tenkara (translated: “from the skies” or “from the heavens”) is the traditional method (no reel) of Japanese fly-fishing used by commercial fishermen in the mountains of Japan to catch Yamame, Iwana and Yamago. Tenkara originated in Japan more than 200 years ago, the rods, originally were made of long bamboo/cane poles.

Tenkara has been making it’s emergence in the U.S. market since 2009, thanks to Daniel Galhardo, owner of San Francisco based Tenkara U.S.A. Temple Fork Outfitters recently announced they too would be manufacturing a Tenkara rod and RIO now offers a Tenkara line.

I’ll be totally honest; I was more than a little skeptical about fishing without a reel! I have to say, I really have been enjoying the simple approach to fishing, and its effectiveness has made me a believer, Tenkara is here to stay. Learning a new method of fishing and pushing the limits on the size of fish I can catch, is what I like about it! With that being said, Tenkara, will never be able to replace my assortment of rods and reels, it’s just another tool in my quiver.

Tenkara, with its simple approach and ease will in my mind, be a gateway to introduce non-anglers children and adults, to the sport of fly-fishing. Anyone can cast a Tenkara rod effectively in less than 10 minutes! Both of my young children have picked up my Tenkara rod and have caught fish within 15 minutes on the river.

If you have the Tenkara itch, go ahead and scratch it!


  1. This sounds like something every keen fisher should try! It’s always good to try something different from what you are used to and it sounds quite easy so what’s the harm in trying it out?

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