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

Blood Knot Wins Big at The Drake Film Awards

One of the annual highlights of IFTD, the fly fishing trade show, is The Drake Film Awards. This was the 9th annual awards show and an especially exciting night was in store for Mossy Creek Fly Fishing and TwoFisted Heart Productions as Blood Knot took two awards in front of a audience of fly fishing industry pros.

As Brian and Colby said “it was pretty exciting to have Blood Knot get included in F3T, then get nominations in The Drake Film Awards, but none of us expected this…”

Brian and Colby Trow accept the award for Best Freshwater Movie at the 2014 Drake Film Awards

Brian and Colby Trow accept the award for Best Freshwater Movie at the 2014 Drake Film Awards

Colby’s post on Facebook captured the gratitude in winning the award, “Unreal. Overwhelmed. Utterly blown away. Thanks to everyone who supported the film. Nick and Kami Swingle Ladson Webb, Two TwoFisted Heart Productions for creating this film! Tom Sadler for getting us all mixed up in the industry. The Orvis Company, Tenkara USA, Art Webb with BCF, Virginia Tourism, and of course the lovely wives that put up with our shenanigans. Best Freshwater Film? Seriously. Thanks Tom Bie , The Drake Magazine, and F3T!”

Still pumped from the previous honor, the night got even more fantastic when they were called back to the stage!!!

Best Movie

Brian and Colby Trow accept the award for Best Movie of the Year at the 2014 Drake Film Awards

Colby on Facebook again, “BLOWN AWAY! We have no words. Thanks to everyone who has believed in our shop and guides. Nick Swingle Kami Swingle Ladson – We need to PARTY!!! The Drake Magazine Thanks for the love. Best Film…..really? This is insane. Party time!”

Then the smiles really broke out!

Brian and Colby show their appreciation to Tom Bie, The Drake's editor.

Brian and Colby show their appreciation to Tom Bie, The Drake’s editor.


There are two special people that make the video magic that is Blood Knot happen. Kami and Nick Swingle of TwoFisted Heart Productions are the brains behind the scenes and the camera that make it all come together. Colby and Brian shared the awards with Nick and Kami -fittingly on the banks of Mossy Creek, last Sunday.

Swingle Trow Trophys

Brian and Colby share The Drake Film awards with Kami and Nick Swingle. Photo by TwoFisted Heart Productions.


The Tenkara Roundup Vol. 1, Issue 3

The jungle drums are beating, With the tales from late last night, Cause stories bear repeating, For everyones delight. – from Jimmy Buffett’s Coconut Telegraph

Well the virtual coconut telegraph is certainly filled with tenkara tales and as the man says, “stories bear repeating…
2013SummitposterHere is what caught my eye recently:

  • The best news first! Mark your calendars! The 3rd Tenkara Summit will be in Harrisonburg, Va., May  11-12, 2013. Mossy Creek Fly Fishing will be co-sponsoring the event and everyone in the shop is excited about the chance to show off the great tenkara fishing opportunities here in the Shenandoah Valley! Day 1 will feature indoor clinics and presentations and a chance to socialize. In the morning on Day 2 there will be free outdoor demonstrations on a local river. There is a $25 registration fee for the event. Guided clinics with lunch the afternoon of Day 2 is available for a $75.
  • Those of you who have started to accumulate tenkara rods will be interested in this one. Troutrageous! has a great post on a DIY rod rack project that is tenkara worthy because it a) simple and b) customizable. Check out Tenkara Rod Rack on the Cheap.  Jason over at Tenkara Talk made one, check it out. You can bet that the Tenkara Guide will have one in the near future.
  • Don’t have enough rods? Need to know which rod works best for the type of fishing you do? Then check out  How to Choose the Right Tenkara Rod from the Tenkara USA Blog. Remember you can order Tenkara USA rods from Mossy Creek Fly Fishing and there is no charge for shipping.
  • Winter is a slow fishing season around here. We get out, but is not the hectic pace of the other seasons. For me it is R & R time; reorganize and repair. He is a great post on cleaning those tenkara rods before they sit out the season in your new rack. Check out Winter Maintenance of my Tenkara Gear.
  • Tenkara Talk  hits the nail on the head when it comes to tactics in his recent post on tenkara tactics, Be a Heron! Jason notes, “One of the things tenkara anglers place a lot of emphasis on is the idea that skill matters more than gear. As Dr. Ishigaki says, “you can’t buy skill in a fly shop”. And to me, concentration is just another skill we need to hone if we want to be masterful tenkara anglers (or any type of angler for that matter).”

Couple of non tenkara items but worth your time and attention…

  • The always worth reading Erin Block has a book out, The View from Coal Creek. No it is not a tenkara book, but if you are into bamboo rods and great writing then you need to get a copy.  As the Whitefish Press noted;“The View from Coal Creek is a reflection on fly rods, fishing, and life seen from the vantage of a canyon in Colorado, but these are props in a larger story about life, love, and tradition. Erin Block is a young, powerful voice carrying the torch and passing on lessons, values, and history of this great, literary and vibrant sport.”
  • American Angler released an iPad App. I gave up all but a very few magazines subscriptions and was thrilled that American Angler made the jump to iPad. See The iPad App is Live in iTunes!  “We built this in house,” explains Morris Sporting Group general manager Steve Walburn, “so we started with the most recently available print edition, which at the time was the September/October issue. As soon as we catch up to our print schedule, we’ll begin offering subscriptions.”Among other rich-media elements, the first issue includes a classic audio recording of Norman Maclean, at age 82, reading selected passages from A River Runs Through It, digitized exclusively for American Angler iPad readers. “It’s just one example of how we can stretch the boundaries of content in this new medium,” says Walburn. The next available issue will be January/February 2013.

Tenkara Is A Technique

With Tenkara USA owner Daniel Galhardo at the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, NJ

There has been a fair amount of discussion of late about whether tenkara is a fad. Labels are funny things, the minute you apply one someone wants to fight with you about the appropriateness of the label. Posts started flying on the blogs, questions popped up on Facebook and Twitter and a new tenkara controversy was born. Of course it has raised the profile of tenkara and in my book that is a good thing.

The fans of tenkara offered up some great commentary. Some of my favorites include: Field and Stream’s Fly Talk: Is Tenkara Fly Fishing a Fad?, Eat More Brook Trout:  The Fad that’s Built to Last… Tenkara Bum: Is Tenkara a Fad?,  Troutrageous! Enough ‘Tenkara Is A Fad’ Already… Unaccomplished Angler: Lefty Kreh declares “Tenkara is cool!”

When asked about tenkara my answer has been, “It is a fly-fishing technique that is very effective. It has pro’s and con’s like all techniques. Give it a try and see what you think.”

By the end of last weekend I was hoarse from repeating that response to curious anglers at the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset NJ. I spent time explaining tenkara in the Tenkara USA booth and selling rods at the Mossy Creek Fly Fishing booth.

The Mossy Creek Fly Fishing team

Explanation was more important than labels. Folks wiggled the rod, saw you could cast with it, visualized the way it would drift a dry or nymph or twitch a streamer and often enough decided to buy one.

Is tenkara a fad? Who really cares? I am going to continue to fish and guide with my tenkara rods and enjoy my time on the water.

If you want to know more about tenkara check out the Fish Tenkara section.

If you have questions or want to fish tenkara, drop me a comment.

Creative Craftsmanship

One of the things I really like about the tenkara community is how creative it is. Here are three FOUR good examples (See below for a recent addition).

trying to get creative...

Check out the moose antler tenkara line holder at The North River: The Magnificent Moose. This little beauty holds the line and a fly and has the inherent rustic charm of the moose antler. Hopefully Kiwi will resume his carving hobby and put a few on the market.

The second example is from My Leaky Waders: Do it Yourself Tenkara Line and Case: Go Furl Yourself. David took the “roll you own” or in this case “furl your own” challenge and produced his own line. He really showed his creative chops with the line case! Check it out. I have been working on some level line ideas and I am going to try his idea out.

Last but not least is from Tenkara USA via Angling Trade: Tenkara USA Updates Product Line for 2012. There are four notable items.

First an expandable rod: “the Ito is a rod that can be fished as a 13ft long rod or a 14ft 7inches long.”

How about going in the other direction and shortening the rod? “We have decided to play a bit with the telescopic functionality of tenkara rods, where segments collapse into one another and can easily be removed or replaced. For 2012 we have decided to offer an add-on option to our customers looking for a shorter tenkara rod.”

They reworked the traditional tenkara furled line. “We have greatly improved our traditional tenkara lines for 2012, making them more supple, easier to cast and importantly tweaking their design so they don’t “recoil” back when freed from a snag.

The tenkara nets are wonders of craftmanship. “We have improved the design of our original tenkara nets and added a new size to the lineup: now available in 9inches or 10.5 inches diameter.”

NEW 02/16/12: Take a look at this exquisite Tenkara fly box that Joel from A Year On The Fly recently completed. Check it out at My New Tenkara Box and wish him luck on his tenkara adventures!

Tenkara is gaining a following because of things like this. There is a rich history of creation and innovation in the fly-fishing segment of fishing and Tenkara is part of that history. Now it is showing how it adds to the fly-fishing in the future.

Tenkara Summit

Last month I traveled to West Yellowstone, MT for the first Tenkara Summit. More than 100 hundred people showed up to hear presentations, talk tenkara and see an on-stream demonstration.

Here is part of the write up by Daniel Galhardo on the Tenkara USA blog:

Originally we had expected, optimistically, that about 70 people would show up. The conference room was setup to accomodate 100 people, but that was not enough. Over 100 people showed up yesterday. People came from 23 different states, and from 3 different countries specially for the Summit (well, they did come to fish in Montana…). I’d really like to thank all those who came and helped make this an extraordinary event; it was the best crowd ever. Thank you!

The Tenkara Summit had the presence of special guests Dr. Hisao Ishigaki, the leading authority on tenkara in Japan; Chris Stewart of tenkarabum.com; Craig Mathews of Blue Ribbon Flies who gave a very passionate presentation about tenkara in Montana and showed some great clips of large fishing being caught; Ryan Jordan of backpackinglight.com as well as ryanjordan.com; and Tom Sadler who spoke about the advantages of using tenkara as a guide and as a way to introduce new people to fly-fishing so they can continue conserving the environment in the future.

Dr. Hisao Ishigaki, "Tenkara King"

Dr. Ishigaki is known as the “Tenkara King” in Japan. His presentation was a wonderful insight into the world of tenkara. He is a warm and charming story teller lacing his presentation with witty anecdotes of his tenkara exploits.

Chris Stewart, Daniel Galhardo and Dr. Ishigaki, share a panel discussion.

Ryan Jordan of Backpacking Light

Craig Mathews talks Montana tenkara



It was a special honor to part of the summit and to learn from fellow tenkara enthusiasts!

One personal highlight was to have lunch with Craig Mathews and Yvon Chouinard. Those two were the reason I got started with tenkara so it was a special treat to spend time with them both at the summit.

Dr. Ishigaki showed his tenkara chops during an on-stream demonstration.

gearing up for some fishing


Watching Japan’s Tenkara King put a tenkara rod through it’s paces was fascinating. It was also reassuring to see that my on tenkara technique was not so bad.

Tenkara King does his thing

Double team tenkara



In case you missed it…

Here are a few things that came up on the radar screen this week…

read it all after the jump > [Read more…]