Tenkara Grasshopper Central

Tenkara USA Summit 2019

Tenkara USA Summit 2019

by August 13, 2019 2 comments

The Tenkara USA Summit 2019 has come to a close. I am stoked to share my thought on an amazing weekend for tenkara and friends. This years Summit was truly amazing on many levels.

A History of Tenkara USA

Back in 2009, Daniel Galhardo “officially” brought tenkara to the United States. (We will cover the “officially” in another post.) The day started with Daniel speaking about how he came to find tenkara. Something that I found very interesting was Daniel’s coverage of the history of Tenkara USA and the interactive time line on the Tenkara USA website.

I loved hearing and seeing the recognition of the Tenkara USA Core Staff. The TUSA family is clearly very important to Daniel. Speaking of his wife Margaret, his deep seated love shone brightly as they celebrated their wedding vows. Daniel also spoke proudly of his customer service staff particularly TJ and John, customer service gurus. And Daniel was very adamant in no forgetting Jeremy Shellhorn, who, in my opinion, is the quintessential tenkara artist. Amy Shellhorn was recognized as a member of the TUSA team making for a very complete full circle. Sadly, Faith was not in attendance in Saturday, but not forgotten.

An aspect of the growth over the last 10 years that Daniel shared was the Tenkara USA tenkara: the book. I feel this did help in many ways to cement tenkara in the Western World.

The Shirtless Dancing Guy

Tenkara has had a rocky history in the United States starting in 2009. If you watch the video above, I am sure that you will identify Daniel Galhardo as the “Lone Nut”! Luckily, for all of us who have become followers, we have our leader.

Tenkara likely would have been a little known style of fly fishing if it had not been for our “Lone Nut!” Even to this day it never ceases to amaze me the level of negativity that can bubble to the surface when it comes to tenkara. When lead by an amazing “Lone Nut” tenkara has gone from a fad to a rock solid part of fly fishing in the United States and around the world. By some reports, it has created a resurgence of tenkara practice in Japan.

The number of attendees of the Tenkara USA Summit 2019 was a picture perfect example of the growth of tenkara in the United States and around the world.

Tenkara Summit 2019 Attendees

The Crazy Dancer Awards

Tenkara has a history in the United States and the world thanks in part to Daniel and Tenkara USA. Mr. Galhardo recognized a number of the “Crazy Dancers” of the tenkara world. In no particular order, a number of individuals were recognized for their contributions to tenkara. Daniel and the team handed out awards for being “Outstanding Tenkara Ambassadors.”

  • Mike Willis, a great dude and good friend, although we don’t get to fish together often.
  • Michael Agneta, the brains behind Troutrageous and Tenkara Angler Magazine
  • Jeremy Shellhorn, the lead graphic designer for Tenkara USA. Check out his work on his site.
  • John Geer, one of my favorite Tenkara USA Customer Service reps.
  • Zen Hansen, Tenkara USA Social Media Extraordinaire
  • Bart Lombardo, the brains behind Panfish On The Fly.
  • Lou DiGena, an amazing kebari tier in my opinion!
  • Yours truly, the lack of brains behind TenkaraGrasshopper and GEAR Colorado Fly Fishing
  • Dennis Vander Houen, the creative artistry driving TenkaraPath.
  • Rob Gonzalez, the personality behind @tenkaratexas on Instagram.
  • Misako Ishimura, founder and champion of World Fly Fishing of Japan. Kind of a bummer that Misako was not in attendance.
  • Daniel Pierce II, an awesome guide based in Northwestern Maine. Find out more on his site Maine Tenkara Guide. Daniel was greatly missed as well since he was not in attendance.
tenkaragrasshopper with daniel galhardo at the tenkara summit 2019
The Tenkara Grasshopper with Daniel Galhardo

Tenkara Summit 2019 Celebratory Gear

Every time I go to a Tenkara USA Summit, there is some really cool gear to be had. This year was no different!!!! You can usually find the usual fare, t-shirts, hats, Tenkara USA Rods, and stickers.

Tenkara USA Rods You Say?

Oh yes!!! Along with the standard Tenkara USA rod fare there was a special 10th Anniversary Edition of the Ebisu, one of the original Tenkara USA rods. There was a huge level of excitement for this rod. (My review of the Ebisu will be coming soon as well! Bear with me!)

Besides the Ebisu, there were some really cool pins available based on the design of the Tenkara Summit poster, designed by Jeremy Shellhorn. Two water bottle sizes were offered with 10th Anniversary imagery printed on them.

Thanks to the Tenkara Community

Daniel concluded his part of the morning by thanking the tenkara community in attendance for their support of his work. He also raised a tear to the corner of my eye by dedicating the Tenkara Summit 2019 to a dearly beloved tenkara angler, Doug Heggart, the epitome of tenkara finesse. Rest in peace Doug, but save us a few in the Happy Fishing Grounds.

The Tenkara USA Customer Support Team

Customer Service is not an easy task for anyone. But, John Lawrence Geer and TJ Ferreira, the Tenkara Gnome make it look and sound easy.

As members of the Tenkara USA team, these two have dealt with some very interesting calls over the years. Everything from where to put a reel, to a woodchuck eating a handle are only some of the calls that they have received. It was also nice to hear that they have fun messing with each other as well.

Lest we forget, the infamous “Luke Skywalker Rod Extension Method”!!!!

Simple Flies by Morgan Lyle

Simple Flies has become my go to guide for tying simplistic flies. I have gained a ton of awesome ideas from Morgan’s designs and notes.

Morgan discussed some of his favorite flies from the book. It was very educational learning why he chose his favorites.

The Usual

The Usual is a very “ugly” pattern in the eyes of an angler likely many anglers. But as a dry fly it is an amazingly effective pattern. I have been fishing it for a few days and am totally stoked on it

The Killer Bug

Every angler I know has a confidence fly. With the resurgence of the Killer Bug and the creation of the Utah Killer bug confidence has a new name! I have been tying this pattern for a couple years with color variations. The Killer Bug is the pattern that always stays in my fly box.

The Clouser Peacock Herl Nymph

I have heard of some very strange patterns in my days fly fishing. But, this pattern takes it to a whole new level. This pattern is truly a simplistic pattern requiring only three materials.

With nothing more than a bit of lead wire, or no lead wire for that matter, peacock herl, and thread, you have a very productive pattern. This pattern might just be my new confidence fly!

Additional information from Morgan

Apparently, Morgan is working on a book on Tenkara. It had me intrigued when he spoke about this book. I can’t wait to see it when it comes out!

The Tenkara Panel

Following the presentation on Simple Flies by Morgan, Daniel, Jason Klass, and Morgan formed The Tenkara Panel. This panel discussion was emceed by Bart Lombardo. Topics covered everything from the past ten years of the tenkara industry, where it is going and even a few techniques.

The Manzanar Fishing Club

Time heals many wounds, but history has a bad habit of repeating itself.

The Manzanar Fishing Club is a gut wrenching movie about the horrible past that has been part of the history of the United States. Based on the internment of Japanese – Americans in camps set up shortly after Pearl Harbor was attacked. The movie tells that sad yet somehow uplifting tale of Japanese – American internees who were will to risk life for the chance to fish the rivers of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Cory Shiozaki and Richard Imumura, the brains behind the film, gave a brief talk before and after a viewing of the first 30 minutes of the film. During their talk, they spoke on many of the disturbing factors of the Manzanar Internment camp. They also spoke on the hardiness of the camp internees.

Additionally, both Cory and Richard sat down with me for a short TenkaraGrasshopper Hansha Podcast episode. I am really excited to be releasing that episode shortly.

Tenkara USA Summit 2019 that I missed

During a few breaks during the day there was a Vendor area open to consumers. The brands that were present included some of the most amazing artisans in the tenkara world currently.

The brands that were present included:

  • Zimmerbuilt, an outstanding designer of tenkara packs and carrying accessories.
  • Dave Burchett who makes beautiful8 fly boxes in the tenkara style.
  • TenkaraPath, aka Dennis Vander Houen, sold a bunch of his totally amazing amazing tenkara line spools.
  • Richard Kolodny, the brains behind Fly Fishing Artwork
  • Orvis had a table showing off some of their gear.
  • Tenkara USA, obviously.
  • Rocky Mountain Anglers
  • GEAR Colorado Fly Fishing, who was tenkara trips.
  • The amazing Steve Schweitzer selling his Fly Fishers Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park.

There were also fly tiers on site tying up kebari patterns galore. The tiers included:

  • Me, the TenkaraGrasshopper
  • Mark Bolson, the White Knight champion
  • Lou DiGena, who was sharing his kebari secrets with all.

Culmination of the Tenkara USA Summit 2019

After the festivities of the day, participants went their seperate ways. Some went fishing while others went to dinner. After going out for dinner or fishing, a large contingent of participants returned to the hotel for a casual evening of tying flies and sharing in a bit of ribbing each other.

Luckily, for the attendees, Takenobu gave everyone absolutely amazing background track to listen to while we were tying. There were even a few challenges thrown at the tiers, making the kebari tying even more fun.

Conclusions for the Summit

All in all, the Tenkara USA Summit 2019 was a hit for me! I got a new rod to fish with. I met lots of great people and even caught up with some old friends. There were some new people I met who are fans of this site that I got to meet for the first time.

I will definitely be doing more Tenkara USA Summits in the future.

Thank you to Daniel Galhardo and the rest of the Tenkara USA Team on a job well done. Where will you be in 20 years???

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2 Comments so far

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  1. Bart
    #1 Bart 17 August, 2019, 09:11

    I was great to finally meet you in person!

    Reply this comment
    • Graham Moran
      Graham Moran Author 19 August, 2019, 00:06


      It was really cool to meet you in person at the Summit. I look forward to fishing with you in the future. And who knows, we might even do a podcast together. I am stoked to be able to put a voice to a name. Let me know a good time when we can book something.

      Reply this comment

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