Appalachian Tenkara Jam

TenkaraJam.com is the official site for the event.
AppalachianTenkara.com is managing traffic for a short spell during the remodel.

We are currently refreshing the website with a new look and mobile ability. The vendors and presenters lists are being updated. We will have the new site operational very soon.

Registration will begin immediately upon the launch of the new site refresh. Thank you for your patience!

What is Tenkara Jam?

In 2013 we had our first Tenkara Jam event in North Carolina. It is very safe to say that the weekend was a huge success in every way that we can think to measure it. It became apparent very quickly that we would need to do this again. So, what is it?

Going back almost four years, Lance Milks and Jason Sparks were talking over the concept of having a multi-vendor, instructional, all things tenkara exhibition event. It was chewed on for some time.

We had a good handful of ideas that we pulled together and started planning. We found a great location to hold the event. We found some very “tenkara smart” anglers eager to get involved and make a presentation. We invited several tenkara rod manufacturers to come in and set up shop, a true first in the US.

Everyone was excited about the “business end” of this. We settled on eight speakers and nearly as many tenkara vendors/ brands to be represented.

We had topics that covered a range of things like tenkara 101, kebari history, line options, big fish wrangling, warm water species, and more. We heard from popular fly fishing personalities like Tom Sadler, Joel Hays, Robert Worthing, Matt Sment, Adam Omernick, John Cianchetti, Lance Milks, and Al Alborn.

The attendees ranged from having never before fished to avid fly fishermen to professional fly fishing guides and tournament anglers. There is no doubt about this next statement, they all got something from this weekend.

The list of participants was impressive: CocodrieFlyFishing.com, Tenkara Bum, Zen Fly Fishing Gear, Tenkara USA, Mountain Troutfitters, Badger Tenkara, Riverworks Rod Company, Tenkara Customs, and a show favorite, Zimmerbuilt.

If counting, they all probably got dozens of things from it. From how to hold the rod to how to cast a 26-foot line to how to tie the centuries-old “takayama sakasa” kebari. There was an incredible amount of serious tenkara information shared in those two days.

About Appalachian Fly Fishing Community

The Appalachian Fly Fishing Community is designed to bring together fly fishermen into a supportive and engaged community. We have been very successful in growing our online membership over the last many years.

Bringing this community of like-minded anglers together in the real world was the next step. Bringing the tenkara community at large the “Tenkara Jam” presented a way to achieve that.

We are crazy enough to do it all over again. We have added several organizations that are interested in and supportive of our movement. We expect another round of solid presentations to impress you. We are looking forward to repeating the awesome collection of rods and products like never before seen.

We assure you that there is nowhere else in the world outside of Japan where you can ask questions about and put your hands on over one hundred different fixed line rods in a single room.

On top of the production we are creating, and probably the single best part of all of this, the tenkara community comes together.

You will meet people you have only chatted with online. You will be able to ask questions to one hundred other tenkara anglers that do it just a little bit differently. You will sit next to people that have never heard of tenkara before two days ago and you will get the chance to tell them your story. You can be the factor that makes a difference for them.

Here we are now coming back. The event will be held on the campus of Appalachian State University in a state-of-the-art facility. We are pushing to add great new features, new vendors, and new presenters all wrapped up in a new setting.

We believe that the fishing experience in Boone, NC, and the fantastic waters surrounding our High Country in the Blue Ridge Mountains will prove to be a lifelong memory.

Let Me Tell You a Little Bit About Tenkara

History

Tenkara is the traditional Japanese form of fly fishing dating back to the 8th or 9th century. Though the first written reference to Tenkara was in 1878. The term Tenkara became popular in Japan thirty or forty years ago, before that it was commonly referred to as “Kabari Tsuri” (meaning fishing with a feathered hook).

Tenkara was used not as a leisure sport but as a means of gathering food for the commercial fishermen who would catch and sell fish to local inns. Because of this, not much has been documented about fly fishing in Japan.

However, it’s interesting to notice that similar styles of fly fishing have been practiced throughout many regions of the world, such as northern Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Russia, and others.

Before reels became widespread, fixed-line fly-fishing, such as Tenkara, was practiced in many parts of the world. Tenkara is the only method that has remained popular and continues to be practiced.

Fly Fishing Gear

Using only a rod, line, and fly, Tenkara focuses on simplicity.

Tenkara was developed and refined over centuries. Each element in Tenkara fly-fishing, being vital and necessary in the sport of angling, was perfected to be the best at its use.

Unlike in western fly-fishing, where rods were originally made of wood, and thus too heavy for comfortable use of long rods, Japanese anglers used bamboo.

This light material allowed for the favored long rods to be continually improved upon, whereas in the west the angler’s creative energy was spent devising ways to reach farther with shorter rods.

Fly Fishing Rods

The telescopic design of the Tenkara rods is the fundamental and most distinctive feature of Tenkara fishing. The rods are long, each piece telescopes and fits inside the other, and they have very sensitive and soft action.

The extended length of the rods makes them well suited for fishing in streams, where keeping the line off the water at a longer distance provides a significant advantage: the current will not drag the line with it.

The collapsible feature also removes ferrules used in the travel fly rods, which allows for a very smooth curve and bending action through the rod. The Tenkara fly rod setup is ultralight, the rod weighs an average of 3 oz, and by not using a reel or fly-line several more ounces are cut.

Every rod will have a different feel, and the feel of the rod (how much it flexes) is primarily a personal preference for softer or stiffer rods.

To explain the flex of a Tenkara rod, an index ratio was developed. With these rods, the bottom parts are stiffer and the tip parts are more flexible.

Most Tenkara rods are classified as 5:5 or 6:4, where a 5:5 rod indicates 5 bottom parts are stiffer and 5 tip segments bend more easily. A 6:4 rod indicates 6 parts are stiffer and 4 tip segments bend more easily, and so forth.

7:3 and 8:2 rods are considered more specialty rods for those who prefer fast rods or are pursuing larger fish and want the rod to help them land the fish.

Lines

In Tenkara, as in western fly fishing, the fly has virtually no weight so the line is what is being cast forward.

Though traditional lines were made of furled horse hair, modern lines are made from monofilament, fluorocarbon, and even tying thread.

The traditional Tenkara line (furled line) is made to cast in perfect balance with Tenkara rods – with power, precision, and very delicate presentation. Traditional lines come in a fixed length (10 1/2ft or 13ft) and are super quick and easy to set up and use.

Level lines are a special formula of fluorocarbon and have been selected based on their castability and higher visibility. Level lines are dense enough to be cast but very light so they can be kept off the water for a longer distance.

To the end of either line, simply add between 3 and 6 feet of tippet. There is no need for a leader to be used with Tenkara.

Fly (Kebari)

Tenkara’s long history may suggest that thousands of fly patterns were created and used. However, Tenkara’s focus on simplicity is also evident in its flies.

Most Tenkara flies are tied using only thread and a single feather. Tenkara fly-fishing often focuses more on the techniques of presenting a fly rather than the appearance of a particular pattern.

The idea of giving life to a fly by motion makes Tenkara flies very versatile and effective. Motion in a fly is an important aspect of Tenkara fishing and is made possible by the light fixed line used, where the long rod allows the angler to precisely control the motion of flies.

Often traditional Tenkara anglers learned to tie and fish with only one fly pattern. This is a big difference between western fly fishing and the hundreds of flies that one carries.

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