July 8, 2016

Tenkara Guides Oni School 2016

Last year I was able to attend the Tenkara Guides Oni School for one of the three days, the last day. I enjoyed it so much that when the same opportunity came this year I jumped at the chance. But true to my life, I once again could only attend one of the three days. This time is was day one.

We met at Sundance Resort and as we waited for everyone to gather we introduced ourselves to each other. It was great to meet, and in some instances, meet again, friends from the tenkarasphere. The gathering was small and intimate. That makes this "school" a real treat. I knew many of the participants by their names, from forum posts and from communications that I had had with them via Teton Tenkara.

Masami Sakakibara and his wife came, and through an interpreter, were introduced to us. I have met and fished with him before, but it was still fun to be introduced again and have a chance to discuss rods and casting. While we were gathered as a group Robert Redford walked by, but he didn't seem that much interested in what we were about.

Sakakibara-san (Mr. Sakakibara) talked to us about everything from love and respect for the outdoors, to how he choses and configures a line, to rod use and casting. We spent about an hour and a half having one-on-one casting sessions with Sakakibara-san, where he would instruct, encourage, collaborate with each attendee. For some the instruction was hands on with Sakakibara-san putting his hand on the participants and guiding them through the mechanisms of a cast. For others, after he watched some casts, he would just say "nice" or "good", then move to another attendee. He speaks very little english, so most of his communication was with gestures or by example, but sometimes instruction through an interpreter.

From http://www.oni-tenkara.com/oni-blog/7684.html

After the casting sessions, we drove to the lower Provo River and broke into little groups for fishing. True to form, I went off by myself. I caught 6 browns in the 45 minutes that I fished before lunch. Unfortunately, my phone was nearly dead so I didn't take any pictures of them. They ranged from 10 inches to 14 inches. They were beautiful fish. The water temperature was 58°F, so I wet waded. The river flow was 51cfs, which was nice -- enough for the fish, but not enough to wash you away.

From http://www.oni-tenkara.com/oni-blog/7684.html

One of the attendees was Luong Tam, owner of Tenkara Tanuki. I briefly met him at last years school, but this year we had plenty of time to converse and share each others experiences with different types of tenkara rods. He is very knowledgeable and willing to share,  and we pretty much agreed on what makes an outstanding tenkara rod. He let me fish with one of his prototypes for a small stream rod. More about that in a later post. One funny thing though, Luong wears bright orange when fishing; I wear camo. Standing side by side we looked like a couple of deer hunters -- high powered rifle in his case, and archery in mine!

Luong Tam's prototype small stream rod. 

At 1300 we had lunch. We talked more, made new friends and refreshed more old acquaintances.

After lunch, about 1445, everyone was getting ready to hit the river again. I needed to get home as I was going on-call, and it was a 3.5 hour drive, so I left.

Anyway, it was a wonderful day. There was a great group of tenkara anglers, with some that I will hopefully be fishing with again soon (Alan Luecke and Jacob Johnson, I will be calling).  Thanks again to ERiK and John of Tenkara Guides, LLC for sponsoring the Oni School and making it happen. It was great to see them again as well. Of course, we miss seeing Rob at these meetings, but he was there last year.

BTW, I picked up from Sakakibara-san one of the first Nissin Zerosum Oni Tenkara Honryu 395 tenkara rods that has made it to the USA. It is a very nice rod, somewhat similar to its larger sibling, as you would expect. It was interesting to see him take it out of the plastic, carefully inspect it, cast it, and then give it his approval. I'll have more to say about the rod after I fish it. The 395 should be commercially available from Nissin in August of this year.


  1. Guess what I have in my little hand?
    A 395 Honryu!

    You still win the bet on who got one first
    John Vetterli
    Tenkara Guides LLC

    1. You're one lucky guy! It's a great rod. I was just casting it in the yard. What a nice rod.

  2. It was a real treat meeting you. Thanks for all insights and experiences you share with all of us. We are all better for it.