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2017 Tenkara Summit Review

2017 Tenkara Summit Review

by October 14, 2017 0 comments

Welcome to the 2017 Tenkara Summit Review

The Tenkara Summit 2017 has come and gone. Having volunteered this year, as I have done in years passed, I gained some amazing insights. I wanted to share my 2017 Tenkara Summit review. This post may come off as long winded but I want to cover all the key events here.

Pre Event

My departure was a bit frenetic, passing children off to Grandma, while still trying to remember everything I needed for the Summit. There were lots of tears from my daughter because Daddy was leaving. As for my son, he was not the least bit happy that Daddy was going fishing without him. Thank God for Starbucks to calm my nerves before officially getting on the road.

Once on the road, I drove in silence with the windows wide open. Living in Colorado I often forget how beautiful Colorado is. Driving up the canyon to Estes Park is still shocking to me every time I make the drive. The devastation wrought by the flood of 2013 is evidenced by the number of homes that are still standing although uninhabitable.

Pre-Summit Tenkara River Time

tenkara summit 2017 Angler Crew

Arriving in Estes Park, I met the crew from Tenkara USA. We headed out the the Big Thompson (T) thru town and a little past town. The group was substantial in size and names but so worth fishing with these guys. Our group consisted of guys like Daniel Galhardo of Tenkara USA, TJ Ferreira and John Lawrence Geer of Tenkara USA, Dr. Hisao Ishigaki, Chris Hendricks of Chris Hendriks Fishing Experiences, Mike Willis of Reverse Hackle, Steve Conrad of Rocky Mountain Anglers, Chris Fahrenbruch, Mark Bolson, and Ed Baldridge.

Dr. Ishigaki Chris Fahrenbruch

It was a truly amazing experience fishing with these guys, although I have to admit, watching Dr. Ishigaki-sensei fish was an experience to never be matched. He is truly the consummate tenkara angler with one of the most beautiful casts I have seen in a long time. Watching his presentation techniques was absolutely fascinating. With the wind blowing as hard as it was, most anglers would have simply given up. Dr. Ishigaki was able to consistently place his kebari upriver into the wind. This is a technique that I will be learning to perfect myself. Unfortunately, we had a few half hearted takes but nothing to net.

After a short time we decided to move to another location in hopes of getting into more fish. Everyone got into at least one fish before we went back to the convention center to complete setup for the main event on Saturday. Friday night ended with dinner and a few drinks before bed with a group of volunteers.


Tenkara Summit 2017 Audience

Saturday was one of the most exciting fun filled days of any Tenkara Summit I have been a part of. After a very early morning breakfast, which by the way was amazing, everyone headed to the convention center to welcome the attendees. Before long time had flown by and the first registrants started arriving. The excitement level was palpable as more and more people poured into the convention space. Best of all, almost every seat was occupied before the welcome speech by Daniel Galhardo. Those seats that weren’t filled, were by the end of the day.

With over 300 attendees, Daniel welcomed everyone to the Summit. One part of his welcome got the whole room murmuring when he announced the new version of the Hane at an amazing price! Daniel also let the attendees know about an absolutely amazing deal only available at the Summit. I am not sure I have seen so many adults squirm like this before, as the anticipation of a new rod and killer pricing almost became unbearable for those there.

Matt Sment – Still Water and Presentation Techniques

One of the first presentations of the day was also one of the most eye opening for me. For the first time I was able to listen to Matt Sment of Badger Tenkara talk about optimizing casting distance using a number of different techniques. As a tenkara guide myself, while still being a student of tenkara, I was reminded of techniques that would guarantee me a higher catch rate. I am going to do all I can to incorporate these techniques into my personal tenkara along with my clients!

One specific thing Matt discussed rang true with me. It even reminded me of a occurrence the previous day. Matt talked about how body positioning can take away or give you distance. He stated that by positioning your feet properly and turning your upper body to where you wish to present your fly, it is possible to gain or lose up to seven (7) feet of casting and presentation. When fishing any fixed line system, seven (7) feet can be quite dramatic. Hearing this made me come to a realization that I had been self-sabotaging my tenkara success, and I vowed to take what he said to heart.

Angler Orientation in Action

As an example. while fishing Friday on the Big Thompson, I found a small pool next to the shoreline filled with hungry trout. I was downriver, crouched on top of a concrete culvert. Every time I casted towards the hole I fell short of where I wanted my kebari to land. I could not figure out what was going wrong. But, in 20/20 hindsight, I know now what caused my mediocre casting. It was my body positioning and overall orientation to the hole!

While standing on the culvert and casting upstream, I had oriented my body facing across the river. This orientation explained my difficulties presenting my kebari. Simply turning my upper body I would have been able to get the additional distance I needed. On Sunday, before going home, I went back to the offending hole and actually caught a fish using Matt’s techniques.

Steve Schweitzer – Fly Fishing Near Estes Park, Colorado

The legendary Steve Schweitzer, author extraordinaire, spoke on fishing in and around Rocky Mountain National Park! His first book, The Fly Fishers Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park put him on the well-known author list. Steve’s second book, The Fly Fishers Guide to the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area only cemented his position as an author of some repute.

Steve shared some of his favorite locales from both books that were within a short drive and hike from Estes Park. I can say that his best piece of advice was to get off the trail. Getting off the trail you have an increased chance of getting into some amazing fishing. Best of all, he shared tips on how to fish the locales he suggested. I hope that those who attended his presentation took his information and used it to their benefit on Sunday.

The Madding Crowds Draw Near

With the morning presentations ending on such a high note and the excitement of the Tenkara USA rod deal, the vendor area opened to the attendees of the Summit. After the initial sales rush there were rigging demonstrations that appeared to attract everyone who either wanted learn proper rigging or wanted to speed up their rigging. Lunch was provided during this time, and was really very good.

Mark Bolson and I were able to share our experiences tying kebari with a number of people. Having people watch you tie flies can be a bit unnerving. I did my best to answer every question I received to the best of my ability. I really had a great time demonstrating kebari I personally use and gave out a few as well.

Adam Trahan

Adam Trahan did a demo on casting accuracy. The little that I was able to see was another eye-opening experience. Seeing his practice aids in person inspired me to make my own. There was an impressive number of people watching Adam and asking questions. At the conclusion of his demo, it was really awesome to see people practicing what he discussed. One individual spent almost an hour in the convention center practicing for a good hour by himself. I learned a lot of from watching Adam and definitely look forward to following his instructions in the future.

Sadly, I missed the casting technique demonstration by Dr. Ishigaki, but I am including a video of his demonstration here.

Mr. Yvon Chouinard

Yvon Chouinard Tenkara Grasshopper

The afternoon sessions started off with a bang! It was a truly impressive crowd who gathered for the presentation by Mr. Yvon Chouinard. It was awesome witnessing the level of anticipation and attention given to this great man. As a staunch environmentalist he is extremely outspoken when it comes to the natural world. For myself, listening to him, got me thinking how to become even more active in protecting the environment for my children and their children.

Mr. Chouinard spoke about the importance of getting kids into the outdoors and fishing in particular. Yvon teaches underprivileged kids to fish around the world. His passion for teaching children the art of fishing got me thinking about how I could do the same thing.

At the conclusion of Yvon’s presentation I witnessed how relevant his topic was to everyone at the Summit. Mr. Chouinard received a standing ovation, stunning me and that we need more people like Mr. Chouinard in our world! I hope that I get to experience presentations like this at future tenkara events.

Dr. Ishigaki – Advanced Tenkara Techniques

Dr. Ishigaki

The final presenter of the day was Dr. Ishigaki. With a focus on advanced tenkara techniques, he shared those things that a beginner might not be aware of. I find little nuggets of wisdom in every one of his presentations. In the future, I would love to attach a microphone to him to hear him while he fishes.

An open panel discussion, moderated by Adam Trahan was held at the conclusion of the Summit. All of the questions asked were things I was curious about as well. Being able to get personal feedback from the panel was beyond awesome. The success of the panel discussion was evident at it’s conclusion as well the next day, when people were still discussing it. Hopefully there will be more discussions like this at future events as well. I know I learned a ton in this short period of time as I am sure many others did as well.

With the conclusion of the panel discussion, the Summit came to a close. That did not mean the fun ended there though!

The 2017 Tenkara Summit Iron Kebari Event Hosted by 303 Fly Works

303 Fly Works

After a break for dinner a hefty number of people returned for the Iron Kebari Tying Event hosted by 303 Fly Works.

The crew of 303 Fly Works came up with categories for the participants. Each category had an amazing collection of prizes to the best entry in each category. The creativity of each participant was extremely refreshing and the fun level was out of this world. The band that was playing made timing each category a little crazier by being the timer. This was an event that was awesome to experience in person. And it was super cool to be a part of the 303 Fly Works team along with Steven Myers.


Sunday arrived clear and cold over the hamlet of Estes Park, Colorado. The conditions only warmed the hearts and minds of those still in Estes Park following Saturday’s events. For many participants, myself included, Rocky Mountain National Park was the backdrop to a continued experience.

The Hane Syndicate

Hane Syndicate

The Hane Syndicate entered RMNP to test the new rod. We fished above Moraine Park and all got into at least one fish, although Neil got the lion’s share of the fish as he is from out of state. Overall it was a successful trip and one I look forward to repeating in the future.

The 2017 Tenkara Summit Review – Conclusions

Tenkara Summit 2017 Volunteer Crew

To conclude, this was the best Tenkara Summit I have attended. Beyond the presentations were the connections I made with tenkara anglers here in Colorado and out of state. There will be Tenkara Summits that will occur in the future and I can only wait with an extreme level of anticipation to know when they are. And if this years numbers are any indication I can only see them growing exponentially from here on out.

The 2017 Tenkara Summit Review Resources

For those that were unable to attend the Summit, I have included a selection of presentation videos below.

Full Presentation by Dr. Hisao Ishigaki

Full Presentation by Yvon Chouinard

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