June 18, 2015

Oni Tenkara School

This past weekend was the first Oni Tenkara School in the US. It was sponsored by Tenkara Guides LLC and Team Oni USA. The event was held near Salt Lake City, Utah and instruction, as well as fishing, was arranged Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I had to work Saturday and Sunday, but I did get to participate on Monday.

I drove down from Idaho early Monday morning and met up with the group on the middle Provo. The day was bright sunny with the promise of temperatures getting into the high eighties. When I arrived at the parking area there were two other tenkara fishers already there. Soon the others began to arrive.

Rob Worthing getting ready for some wet wading

Brain Schiele talking to Erik Ostrander 

Brent Auger, Brian Schiele, Erik Ostrander, Jacob Johnson, Frank Nadel, Rob Worthing (left to right)

After everyone got settled and geared up we received some instruction in the parking lot, then headed out and started fishing the Provo. Many of us went our separate ways but others followed Erik and Masami “Tenkara No Oni” Sakakibara to various fishing spots. I was one of the loners, as I prefer to fish alone (that's part of my personality disorder :) ).

Despite the large group, the bright sun and many people casting, the fish were pretty cooperative. Using heavy weighted competition jig hook nymphs I tallied about 25 trout for the hours I fished. Most were small, by provo river standards, but still they were fun. I'm not proud, I like 10 inchers as much as 16 inchers. I fished a Nissin Royal Stage 400 7:3 with a 12 foot #3 line. I often used two flies in tandem, New Zealand style.

I had a chance to watch Masami Sakakibara fish up close and personal. I don't speak Japanese and he doesn't speak english, so most of our communication was through eye glances, gestures and nods.  It was a delightful experience. As stated everywhere, he is very graceful with casting and with line control nearing perfection -- even despite some wind. I didn't see him hook any fish, but most of us were fishing heavy, right along the bottom.

Erik (with hood on) giving personalized instruction to one of the guys.

Oni fishing the Provo.

At lunch we were treated with grilled brats by John Vetterli, of Tenkara Guides LLC. It was great to once again talk to Erik Ostrander, Rob Worthing and John. I've learned a lot from all of them, and they each have their own style of fishing and instruction.

I had brought along a few of my tenkara rods and it was fun to share them with anyone interested. Chris Stewart was there and it was great to talk to him about certain rods. If you've never met Chris, he's as kind and unassuming as you'd expect. He very friendly and eager to answer any questions a person might have.

Chris and I

Even Masami tested some of my rods. We had a very nice "conversation" regarding the Tenryu TA39TF as well as Oleg Stryapunin's new WaterShed 330 6:4. He seemed to like both but was more impressed with the latter.

Masami Sakakibara and I

I had to leave early in the afternoon to drive back to Idaho, but I had a great time. It was a wonderful experience to "talk" to Masami Sakakibara and fish with him. It was great to meet tenkara fishers from around the country, Chris, Frank, Brian, Brent, Jacob, and everyone else.

I want to thank Tenkara Guides LLC for sponsoring this event, and I hope that it won't be the last.  I'd love to participate again in the future.


  1. This was a really good post. Other than a few pictures I saw on Facebook, I've been eagerly waiting a nice recap from someone. Thanks Tom!

  2. Thanks Tom for sharing your experience of the Oni-juku with us!

  3. I'm happy you were able to attend even just one day. It is always great to see you.

  4. It was great to finally meet you Tom! I hope you come down again or maybe I can even come up your way.