With the Tenkara Winter Series only days away, the Zen Crew is busily working hard to put together a great day for you. Presenters, fly tyers, fish art, special offers, amazing raffles, t-shirts, even cookies. Zen has you covered.
Chris Krueger is a fly designer out of Fort Collins, CO, USA where he owns and operates Rocky Mountain Fly Design. Learning to tie at a young age, Chris grew up fishing his patterns and designs throughout the waters of Northern Colorado and Wyoming. Tying commercially since the age of 16, he immediately developed a lifelong passion for the art and craftsmanship of fly tying. Now a teacher by day and fly tier by night, Chris combines his two passions and spends the year working with youth, teaching fly tying, demonstrating at shops and fly shows, tying commercially, and spending time on the water. Chris finds his true fishing passion throwing articulated streamers for large predatory trout in Colorado and Wyoming. He is a Pro-Team Member with Regal Engineering, Whiting Farms, and a fly designer with Montana Fly Company. Chris was a 2015 Tenkara Winter Series tyer and is back again to show off his new designs perfect to use with tenkara.
Q: I've been involved with tenkara since 2009, and your website, Tenkara Talk, is one of the most comprehensive sources for tenkara info in the world. How did you get started on it? How did it evolve? What does the future hold for Tenkara Talk?
Tenkara Talk actually started as an e-commerce site I was running back then called backpackflyfishing.com. The purpose of the site was to sell gear that appealed to backpackers who also fly fished and were looking for ultralight fishing gear that would allow them to get the most out of their backcountry adventures without weighing them down.
I was searching for new products to carry online and stumbled upon Daniel’s site, which, at the time, was in its infancy. Back in those days, when you called up Tenkara USA, Daniel was the one who actually answered the phone. I talked to him about what I was doing and he saw some synergy so he agreed to send me a demo Iwana rod to try out. Once I got it, I was hooked. I took it up to Rocky Mountain National Park for a day and it instantly convinced me that tenkara was the perfect method for small stream trout fishing in the Rockies.
As soon as I came home, I enthusiastically called Daniel again and we worked out an agreement where I could sell his gear on my site. I was the first (and only until this day) online-only retailer to sell Tenkara USA rods so I quickly gained an intimate knowledge of his product lineup and Daniel taught me all the fundamentals that have shaped my tenkara career.
At some point, I decided e-commerce wasn’t really for me. I loved the customer service aspect of it and helping people get into the sport by answering their questions, but I hated shipping boxes, tracking inventory, and all the other things that go along with an online business. I realized I loved the sport more than profit and soon decided to switch the site over to be focused on content rather than sales. That’s where Tenkara Talk was born. But if you look around my site at some of my older posts and videos, you’ll still discover some references and even logos from the backpackflyfishing.com days.
As for the future of Tenkara Talk … there was a time when I was probably the most prolific tenkara blogger out there. Since then, there has been an explosion of tenkara blogs and there are a lot of people doing a better job than I’ve been doing lately. I’m currently going through several personal transitions so writing has been on hiatus for a while. But I plan to resume this spring once things settle down and get back to my normal schedule. There’s still a lot more to say about tenkara despite its simple nature. And I want to be back at the forefront of saying it.
Q: I remember a day when I took you to a hidden spring creek in a remote part of Colorado, and we had such a great time fishing. Do you have any trips that really stand out? Why?
I remember that day and it will always stand out in my memory--not only for the great fishing, but also because we saw so much wildlife and great scenery. Plus, I couldn’t complain about the company! And the fact that there’s only a handful of us in Colorado that are “initiated” into “Stream X” doesn’t hurt either. I’m always honored when someone deems me worthy of sharing their secret spot so thank you so much for that Paul.
As for other trips that stand out, there are too many to choose from and not all are related to tenkara. But one that is which stands out in my mind is a trip I took on the West side of Rocky Mountain National Park with Karel Lansky of Tenkara on the Fly and Joe Egry from Dragon Flyfishing. We did a long hike up North Creek Inlet (which seemed like forever before we even heard running water) but it was totally worth it. We had the stream all to ourselves the entire day and I probably caught 40-50 gorgeous brookies (I stopped counting). It was one of those days where the fish weren’t just cooperating—they were volunteering. It seemed like you could cast a bare hook out and still catch a vividly colored brook trout without even thinking about it.
We were all using tenkara and caught more fish than any angler is entitled to, but it was a great ego boost. And on the hike back down, we encountered several moose on the trail at arms-length, which was just icing on the cake. Every angler deserves a day like that per season or so. And that was ours. I’ll never forget it.
Q: Your presentation at the Tenkara Winter Series is about Effective Tenkara Presentations Anyone Can Make. Can you tell me a bit about what you'll cover at our event?
Let me be clear … this will be a pretty basic overview of presentation techniques that anyone with some level of fly fishing skill will probably already know (injected with my own dry humor and hackneyed observations). My goal is to inform newbies of the most effective presentations and hopefully give more experienced anglers new interpretations to think about and experiment with. I’ll also have a Q&A at the end, which I’m hoping will spark some interesting dialogue.
Q: If you could take tenkara anywhere in the world, where would you fish? Why?
Japan…because I’d like to take it back home. I’ve been to Japan but that was years before I’d heard about tenkara and I regrettably didn’t fish there. I really lament that now. If the opportunity presented itself, I’d love to experience tenkara in the Japanese mountains where it was born. I know the fishing is tough, but catching exotic species like amago or iwana in tenkara’s homeland would be a dream trip for me. I don’t care about destinations that promise big fish. I care about destinations that promise meaningful fish, and meaningful camaraderie. While I’ve only been able to connect with a few fellow tenkara
Rob, let me start by saying it’s great to have a fellow tenkara guide as a presenter! You and your partners at Tenkara Guides LLC in Salt Lake City, Utah, were among the first professional guides in North America. Tell me how you three got your start?
Tenkara Guides was founded in 2011 by three fishermen with zero interest in business. Erik, John and I met at the very first tenkara gathering in Salt Lake – an event Erik and John had organized back in 2010. John is a Utah native. He was working for a fly fishing outfit in California at the time, thinking about moving back to his home state. Erik and John met on one of the early tenkara forums, but had never met face-to-face until the day of the event. I was in the middle of a year of bumming it, living out of my Jeep, traveling around the country, following the fishing and rock climbing seasons. The three of us hit it off real well. We did a lot of fishing together that year - obsessive, gluttonous, nonstop fishing, five or six days a week, for eight to twelve hours a day. We fished as a team, hitting the same stretches with different techniques. Sometimes we fished in parallel, sometimes we leapfrogged, and sometimes we fished the same holes. But we always stayed close enough to study each other and share ideas. Thanks to that team approach, my fishing skills grew exponentially that first year, and I think the other guys would say the same. By the end, we had fished most of Utah’s public waters, and were intimately familiar with our local stuff. We had so much fun that we didn’t want it to end. We wanted to share it with other people. So we started guiding. Tenkara Guides was born out of fun, not business. The day it stops being fun is the day we shut our doors.
As a tenkara guide, have you had any clients and trips that stand out? What made the trip so special?
There’s quite a few trips that stand out. You never forget those days when the water is boiling with risers, you’re clicking with your client, and you’re on the top of your game. Of course, that doesn’t happen every day. Sometimes none of those things line up, and you end up with a day you only wish you could forget. But if I were to pick just one, I’d pick our first TROutreach trip. We started TROutreach with the goal of introducing impaired individuals to the art of fly fishing with an absolute minimum of adaptive equipment. We wanted people to walk away with adaptive skills that would allow them to enjoy a lifetime of fishing with significant independence beyond the confines of a guided trip. Our first TROutreach trip included guys and girls missing arms, missing legs, missing two, three, and even four limbs. The trip wasn’t memorable because everyone caught a ton of big fish. In fact, a couple walked away without a catch that day. It was memorable because some of those clients had been my patients. Before I was a fishing guide, I was a doctor. As a doctor, I watched them recover and adapt to the point of leaving the hospital behind. That evening, I watched them outside, standing in a river, fending off mosquitoes, struggling to follow their drift in dying light. I have never walked away from a day of guiding more excited to guide again, or with more ideas swimming in my head, than I did that day.
Tenkara Guides teamed up with Masami “Tenkara No Oni” Sakakibara to conduct the Oni Tenkara School last year. Can you tell me how this idea got started, and how the event went last year? Will you put on another Oni Tenkara School in 2016?
We’ve fished with a lot of Japanese tenkara anglers, both in the US and in Japan. But Masami Sakakibara stands out. In Masami’s fishing, we saw in practice what we were working to accomplish. We learn something from every tenkara angler we meet. But Masami truly changed the way we look at certain aspects of fixed line fishing. We wanted to share that, and it just so happened Masami wanted to fish the Mountain West. The Oni Tenkara School was the result. The school was a three day, on-the-water intensive, fishing different types of water, using different techniques, rotating between Tenkara Guides and Tenkara No Oni himself. It took a toll on us, but the positive feedback made it worth the effort. The best thing was that students walked away with both new skills and new friendships, too. We plan on doing another Oni Tenkara School in 2016. There’s been too much interest for us not to do it again. In fact, we’re looking into expanding the concept. But doing it right means doing a lot of planning and prep. Keep an eye on the Tenkara Guides’ website and Facebook. As soon as we have solid dates, we’ll post them.
You’ve fished on six continents and four oceans…can you tell me a couple of your favorite places to use fixed-line fishing, and why?
Yeah, I’m kind of pissed I haven’t made it to Antarctica yet. Maybe someday. I will share one place I think is pretty unique - the greater Okinawa island chain. No trout there. It’s mainly saltwater fishing in a tropical to subtropical environment. In the Okinawan islands, I watched an eighty-year-old woman hand line a giant grouper off a Ryukyu limestone sea cliff. I dodged banana spiders to fish for carp and strange bass-like creatures up mountain streams, and chased hammerhead shark with a massive fixed line rod. I spearfished a little, and drank sake a lot (but not at the same time). At times, it really did approach paradise. Check it out sometime.
Your presentation at the Tenkara Winter Series involves Four-Dimensional Casting. Without giving away too many juicy secrets, can you tell me a little bit about that “four-dimensional cast” is?
We all know about casting overhand, maybe sidearm, with a tenkara rod. At Tenkara Guides, we developed a style that involved waving your rod in all kinds of crazy directions. We did it to catch the fish that everybody else was passing up, in the water that nobody else was looking at fishing. Then, we realized we could use those same crazy movements to improve our fly presentation in all kinds of situations on all kinds of water. Four dimensional casting was a way to describe what were doing to each other, then to our clients, and now to other anglers. Four dimensional casting involves breaking down a casting stroke into four basic elements, or dimensions – turning complex movements into a series of simple steps that can be practiced. Dissecting a particular cast into its basic dimensions allows you learn new casting skills, or polish ones you already possess. The goal is not to learn specific casts, but instead learn a systematic approach to building casting skills, creating adaptive anglers ready to creatively combine casting skills to meet the demands of a variety of conditions. Because each day of fly fishing poses a unique set of challenges, and the master angler is the one that produces each day.
Joe Egry was born in Kansas, but has lived all over the United States including California, Virginia and North Dakota, fishing a lot of waters in between. He caught his first fish when he was two years old. Joe began fly fishing in 1990 and tying flies shortly after that. He started tying flies commercially in 2004 and that summer began taking clients out on guided fly fishing trips in the Rocky Mountain National Park just outside of Estes Park, Colorado. He's also a Lifetime Member of the International Federation of Fly Fishers. Joe was a guest fly tyer at the 2015 Tenkara Winter Series and we're lucky to have him back. Come see his work and talk fish to Joe at the 2016 event on Saturday, March 12th.
Jason Haddix, originally a native of Illinois, resides in Wellington, Colorado. Having moved to Colorado at a young age he's had the opportunity to fully jump into fly fishing and more over, fly tying.
From such enthusiasm for the sport, has come the chances to work at several area fly shops, guiding and doing commercial tying. Jason has also become affiliated with several great industry pro teams such as Peak Vises, Rite Bobbins, Heritage Angling Products and Daiichi Hooks, just to name a few. In addition to pro team duties he's also a demonstration tyer, presenter at many popular shows and teaches tying classes.
Along the way Jason put his commercial tying skills to work and now makes a living running a full time commercial tying operation. His Colorado based business, Waters Edge Fly Co. produces flies for every taste and destination you can imagine. Come see is work at the Tenkara Winter Series March 12th at Jeffco County Fairground, Golden, CO.
Michael McFarland is one of our Zen Certified Tenkara Guides and he is also our Signature Fly Designer. Michael moved to Denver, Colorado about 10 years ago and really gravitated toward the Tenkara-style of fly fishing while routinely taking overnight camping trips in Rocky Mountain National Park. He's spent a great deal of time adapting various fly patterns to this method in order to add a little creativity to what most consider the traditional sakasa kebari. It’s a tendency that has proven both productive and interesting at the same time. Michael will be featured at the Tenkara Winter Series this year and he'd love to answer any questions you may have about tying or tenkara itself.
Connor Murphy has been fly fishing and fly tying religiously for more than 13 years. In addition to working as a shop rat/ guide/ instructor at St. Peters Fly Shop in Fort Collins, Connor is a Montana Fly Company fly designer, FFF certified casting instructor and long-standing exhibition fly tier. Currently a junior at CSU, when he’s not poring over notes in the campus library you can likely find him harassing local fish populations, reading or marathon driving north in search of adventure. Come visit him at the Tenkara Winter Series, Saturday, March 12th.
It's the first of February and the Tenkara Winter Series is only 40 days away! Posters are hung, blogs and blurbs posted and our fly tyers are shaping up to be one heck-of-an impressive and diverse group: Michael McFarland, Connor Murphy, Chris Krueger, Jason Haddix and Joe Egry. When I say these guys rock, I mean they really rock and bring to you a broad range of diversity with their unique styles and own patterns. Come out March 12th, meet them, and witness their personal take of tying for tenkara fly fishing. We'll be posting each of their bios every few days so you can see for yourself the talent that's coming to the TWS, 2016.
Greetings All and A Happy New Year to You! Just wanted to let everyone know that I've listed some great a options for hotels in the the immediate area of the fairgrounds. All are easily accessed and about 3-10 minutes away. Please make sure to mention you're attending an event and are requesting a Fairgrounds Event Rate. The Hampton Inn Denver West Federal Center is the official partner of the Jefferson County Fairgrounds and should provide the best discount. I'll also be posting information about where to fish in the area. Don't worry, there'll be a number of options that'll be open to fishing in early March.
The Zen Team is really excited about this year's event and presenters...and of course, our product release. Can't wait to see ya there!
It's taken quite an effort to find just the right venue for the 2016 Tenkara Winter Series, but we've done it! The Jeffco Country Fairgrounds is a perfect location and we're thrilled to be there. It's centrally located mid-way between Fort Collins and Colorado Spring in picturesque Golden. With easy access and surrounded by hotels, restaurants and beautiful hills, but only minutes away from downtown Golden and Clear Creek. The Fairgrounds has great parking and our spot is a short walk from the parking area. The room is comfortable and yet intimate for up-close presentations. Even better, there's a great outside area for casting demonstrations, etc.
If you have a popup camper or RV, you can even stay in their campground and make the Tenkara Winter Series home-sweet-home for the day, or better yet, the weekend. Come learn, explore, play and fish for the weekend!
12:00 - 12:30 Check & Settle In
12:30 - 1:30 Chris Stewart
1:30 - 3:30 View Art & Demos
- Fly Tying
Joseph (Joe) Egry
- Casting Demo
- Product Demo
- Lunch (on your own)
3:30 - 4:30 Kirk Deeter
4:45 - 5:15 Q&A Panel
5:15 - 5:45 Raffle
5:45 - 6:15 Share a beer & Socialize
Recently, the second event in the 3-part Tenkara Winter Series was cancelled. Well, to be more accurate, the event was rescheduled due to Old Man Winter finally blowing into town. I was frustrated to say the least but also glad that Colorado was set to get some of the much needed moisture that we were so desperately lacking. The sudden change in weather created an early morning ruckus in our household, as we tried to weigh in on the accuracy of the weather report and the domino effect of inconveniences that would be caused by cancelling the evening event. Would it actually snow as much as the meteorologist was predicting? Would people be angry? Would people drive in the weather? Would it be safe? If we rescheduled, would Kirk Deeter have another available date? Would the facility be flexible or would they charge us for the space anyway? Would we be able to reach everyone and contact them in time? What to do, what to do? Well, after what felt like a thousand phone calls, a decision was made to cancel and reschedule the event. Kirk was not feeling safe driving from his home down south and we were worried about attendees getting stuck and not being safe on their way home from the evening. We scrambled to contact people and spread the word wide and far so that no one would make an unnecessary, snowy drive. As the day progressed we felt more and more confident in our decision as being the prudent and responsible thing to do. Even more reaffirming were the “thank you’s” we were getting as people heard the news. In the end, I think we made the right choice. No one seemed frustrated and many were relieved….and just to be sure no one would be left in the dark, Adam and I drove to the La Quinta where the event was scheduled to take place and planted ourselves in the lobby for an hour in an effort to catch any unsuspecting anglers. Two. That’s the number of people who showed up and had not heard the news. Nervously I asked where they were from. One gentlemen said he lived about a mile away, and the second gentleman had actually walked to the event he lived so close. I almost fell on my knees! I was so thankful that only two people had not heard the news and amazingly, they only lived a stone’s throw away from the venue. To top that, they took the rescheduling of the event in stride, with grace and understanding. I took a long sigh.
The next task was figuring what to do next. When was the event location available? When was Kirk available? When were we available? Well, several options were considered, but not as many as one might think, due to the multiple schedules we were working with. In the end a plan was made. We would combine the February event with the March event since many were already planning to attend this day anyway. The event location was available. Kirk was available. Chris Stewart even suggested the idea and, it might add a whole new twist and energy into the last date of this year's Tenkara Winter Series. Hours had to be changed because we now had twice the material to cover. In the end, I think it will be good, great in fact! The March 21st event will begin at noon and will include both Kirk Deeter and Chris Stewart as well as both artists, Anthony Naples and Mark Boname. We’ll also have 3 or 4 fly tyers including Joseph (Joe) Egry, Michael McFarland and Chris Krueger with the possibility of another. We also are planning a discussion panel after both presentations so people can ask questions and get different views or takes, on the same topic. This should be dynamic and an incredible opportunity to learn something new from some of the best. The March event will go until about 6pm.
Oddly, I’m looking forward to this last event with even more excitement. To have that much knowledge and experience in the room will surely be fantastic. I feel horrible for inconveniencing anyone. I am hoping everyone who intended to come and may have scanned their personal calendar in March, will still be able to come even though hours have been changed. In the end, I do believe we are offering more “bam for your buck”……which still is going to Trout Unlimited – a great cause. Come out and be a part of this charged and exciting event. Hear from both ends of the spectrum, a traditionalist, and anything but. See outdoor and angling photography from incredibly talented artists. Mingle, talk and witness some amazing fly tying. The Tenkara Winter Series is back on and even BETTER!
URGENT: Tonight's event has been CANCELED do to weather. We will be combining presenters on March 21st for an entire Tenkara Party. Check back for details.
For anyone traveling to the #TenkaraWinterSeries, you can stay at the La Quinta Inn & Suites for a special price of $90/night. That's good for a room with two queen-sized beds or one king-sized, and you can use it the night before, the night of, and the night after each event! Once you have your ticket, just call La Quinta at (970) 622-8600, and tell them you're with Zen Fly Fishing Gear.
Now there's no excuse not to check out the great local fishing!
Zen Tenkara and Trout Unlimited team up
Zen was born on the Big Thompson River and it’s a river near and dear to our hearts. As a way of giving back to our community and caring for our waterways, Zen has committed to donating all profits from The Tenkara Winter Series to Trout Unlimited and their Greater Thompson Watershed Coalition, formerly known as the Big Thompson River Restoration Coalition. Their current focus is on restoration after the 2013 fall flood that wiped out most of the Big Thompson River canyon, destroying plant life and fish habitat. The new coalition will continue this work but also represent the entire Thompson watershed. So, Zen and TU would like to thank you for supporting this event and their environmental efforts.