September 2, 2017

Some Changes and a Big Thank You

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. - John F. Kennedy. 

It's time for some changes at Teton Tenkara. I started this blog in January 2012 with the goal of sharing my journey into the world of tenkara fishing. I discovered tenkara in 2011 and found that it reinvigorated my passion for fly fishing. I was excited about what I had experienced in starting tenkara-style fishing and, being taught by my parents to give back and share what knowledge I had with others, I decided to enter the blogoshere.

A picture from one of my first blog posts in January 2012

Here on Teton Tenkara I have tried to take you with me on many of my fishing outings via the written word and through video clips. I have tried to review rods, lines, nets, and other tenkara related items in a detailed and systematic fashion, mainly so that you might have some idea if that item might work for you. I have periodically shared some of the tips and techniques that I have found on my tenkara path. I'm certainly not an important tenkara knowledge bank, but I felt that some of the mistakes I made or successes I had might enhance your experience on your journey. And, I have tried to maintain some posting volume regarding tenkara -- you know, keeping the blog alive. I know that others have done this better than me (Troutrageous, for example), but I wanted to play my part in sharing and giving back.

From my first "real" rod review -- February 2012. I measured rods, and did not take what was advertised at face value.

But now I'm getting tired. I'm not sure if I have anything of value left to share.

I have steered away from the philosophies and controversies regarding tenkara the past few years, mostly because others like Jason Klass of Tenkara Talk approach these topics so much better than I do. His questions are insightful and his answers are always thought provoking. I haven't shared many techniques lately because who am I to give advise. I have been told by many (mostly online, but occasionally to my face) that because I am not a guide nor run a tenkara equipment business nor have written a book nor have been to Japan that I shouldn't be giving tenkara advise. I have always (at least I have tried to) clearly communicate that I am not an expert, just some guy with a blog.

I even reviewed the guides -- this is (Erik O.) from my Tenkara Guide LLC trip in March 2012. 

So where does that leave the blog? Mostly acting as a travel journal and recording rod reviews.

There are some really good blogs out there that are basically travel journals. Small Stream Reflections and Tenkara Rising blogs record their outings much better than I do. Their blogs are such a pleasure to read. I have tried to journal my outings too, but I fear that that gets too boring for most readers. To avoid that boredom I've tried to be creative in my journaling, such as taking video in 3rd person view, like the video below:

Now we come to the reviews. I started doing reviews, especially rod reviews, because I couldn't find much reliable information regarding the rods. By reliable, I mean quantifiable data. Most all rod reviews use very subjective words to describe any given rod. In my reviews I too use those words, but I also tried not to take anything at face value, so I weighed, measured, compared rods in an objective manner. Chris Stewart does the best reviews, in my opinion, and I have often felt that my reviews are redundant to his. At one point there were few options for good quality tenkara rods outside of Japan, but now, as John Vetterli of Tenkara Guides LLC says, "it's hard to buy anything that's sh*t". You have to go really out of your way to buy a bad rod nowadays -- you can still achieve that goal, but you have to pretty much have to work at it. Because of this, I feel that my rod reviews are becoming less and less of value to the tenkara community.

So, Teton Tenkara is going though the change -- tenkaropause, so to speak. I'll post when I feel like it and not feel compelled to post something just to keep things up. I've removed the paid advertising (their contracts were up anyway) and "Donate" button from the blog. That way I won't feel guilty about not having frequently published material.

If a rod maker wants my opinion regarding a rod I'll be happy to do a formal review as I've done in the past. If I want to share a fishing outing or video, then I'll post it. But as for high volume sharing and information, that will be left to you guys on the newer platforms of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Most of the traffic goes there nowadays anyway.

With that, thank you for all your support over the past many years. Thank you for being loyal readers and contributing financially to the blog.  And thank you for your comments and criticisms. This blog's not going away, just changing -- taking a deep breath; a sigh. Thank you for being part of that change.

Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future. - Walt Disney


  1. Thanks Tom!
    Don't sell yourself cheap, You're one of THE BEST tenkara sources for sure and i love you and your efforts to keep it up!
    A big hug from this, always in debt, brazilian friend.

  2. Tom, wow, I don't know what to say! I cannot begin to tell you how much I have appreciated and how much that I've learned just from reading your blog. Especially, your rod reviews. I can honestly say that I purchased two of my rods based on your review and from answering my questions via email. As far as I'm concerned you, are in a group of tenkara anglers here in the USA whose knowledge and experience I value. I think it is good to have someone outside of the industry not only evaluating rods but also sharing what they've learned.

    I wish you well and will continue to check out your blog.


  3. Tom, I've always enjoyed your videos, esp. when you took the time to indicate where the little fishy was about to be hooked. And just the sounds of being on the stream. I understand your reasons for pulling back, but your blog will always be in the rotation of daily viewing (reverse alphabetic order: Troutrageous, Teton Tenkara, TenkaraBum, Tenkara USA, TenkaraTalk).

    Thanks for everything you've done (and will do)!

  4. Tom, thank you. For me personally, your blog has been the greatest online resource for my journey into tenkara. I follow all the blogs, groups, and people who are part of the tenkara community and I've found yours to be the most knowledgable and entertaining. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. This angler truly has benefited from and appreciates all you have written, captured, and shared.

  5. "Tenkarapause"... I like that mashup.

    Thank you for all of the time you've spent on this blog over the past few years. As a fellow blogger (thanks for the hat tip in the article BTW), I know how much time it takes to create consistent content, I can't even imagine how much time it took you, as your posts were not just regular in release, but always such high quality.

    Even if the velocity of posts slows, I know your influence in the tenkara community will not diminish, as you've created what many (myself included) consider the definitive resource in regard to rod review/comparison. I don't know that there's a better tool out there than your rod index for anybody curious about how a particular rod model behaves.

    Looking forward to the next chapter, and whatever that may bring.

  6. "I have been told by many (mostly online, but occasionally to my face) that because I am not a guide nor run a tenkara equipment business nor have written a book nor have been to Japan that I shouldn't be giving tenkara advise." Tom, anyone and everyone who told you that did you and every tenkara angler in the English speaking world a disservice. Not one of those four things makes one an expert, let alone a master. You have been fishing with tenkara rods longer than most in the US, and that pretty much means you know more than most of the people who read your blog. You have fished with more different rods than anyone in the US, so you have a unique experience base that no guide, no gear seller, no author and nobody who has been to Japan a few times can match.

    As long as there are new rods (and there are new rods every year) there will be people who will want - and will highly value - an independent voice and an experienced hand. And even if the rods were all good, they're all different. The US market still isn't a place where you can go to the local fly shop and compare a half dozen tenkara rods yourself. Having Teton Tenkara has made comparison shopping a bit easier for everyone. I can't tell you how many times I have sent people to your blog, and I'd bet every other rod seller has as well.

    If you are taking a break, it is well deserved. If you are moving on to other things you will be sorely missed.

    1. Just because I'm a guide doesn't mean crap when it comes to opinions about any of this stuff.
      I use what I use and like what I like just like anybody else out there. Because I make a little money from tenkara does not make me or anyone else in the tenkara industry in the English speaking world an expert.

      I have used Tom's reviews probably more than the average tenkara angler because I am always looking for detailed science based information about rods and other stuff. I know because of Tom how to quantify the reasons I like a particular rod. I learned from Tom what my personal scientific data points are when it comes to tenkara rods and I use that information to make my purchase decisions.

      I know that if a rod falls into a particular set of parameters if I will most likely like it or not without spending a few hundred dollars to experiment and find out.

      Thanks Tom for teaching me how and why I like some rods more than others. You have both saved me a ton of money and encouraged me to spend a ton of money. At least I was spending that money a little more wisely.


    You can read a little bit more about Dr.Davis here.

  8. As someone who recently retired and became interested in fishing, I can tell you I have enjoyed and learned SO much from the videos. I came across tenkara from Ken Elmer in Ma. Two yrs ago I was confused. Watching your last posted video, I almost knew where you were going to put your offering. I look foward to the videos. Makes my morning! Enjoy your journey!

  9. Tom
    I check your blog every day. A new episode saves the day when I can't fish. One and only one of the brilliant parts is where you circle /arrow the strike. So useful for beginners like me! Perhaps I will take less for granted if there are fewer blogs
    Love and tite line
    Mark uk

  10. Tom,
    First let me say you are not just some guy with a blog. Your blog has meaning to anyone that is looking for a truly independent review of tenkara equipment. That includes not only your rod reviews which are the best but also things like nets, wading staffs, wading boots, clothing, and a myriad of other items. You are truly Mr. Consumer Reports of tenkara. No one else fills that role way that you do and I sincerely hope you can continue that part in some way. For me personally, I have bought most of my tenkara rods based on your recommendations, and for that I say thank you-your input has been much valued.
    Good luck in the future and please don't disappear.

  11. Tom,
    Although I do fish Tenkara though my type of fishing small streams is a perfect match for it. I have peeked in on your blog and each time I came away with something I could use. It is a great resource for Tenkara angling and will be missed. I wish you success in whatever you choose do jump into.
    Be well friend.

  12. I came across your blog about 3 years ago when I first discovered Tenkara and have been a regular follower ever since, eagerly awaiting and 'devouring' every post. I have learned such a lot from you. It is very evident that all the posts you made were from the heart, which is why your personal opinion has been welcomed and appreciated by fellow tenkara enthusiasts, not just in the USA, but many countries throughout the World ( I live in the UK).Your videos have given me and many others a lot of pleasure. Thank you.

    It will be good if you are able to make the occasional post to your blog but most of all it is time for you to enjoy your fishing without trying to make a deadline for posting or to have a camera perched on your shoulder watching your every move.

  13. Tom,

    Please do not underestimate the value you and your blog bring.

    Not sure what negative vibes you have run into to cause you to second guess its value but I have leaned on your blog on more than one occasion and really think it is one of the best in our universe. You provide a practical no-nonsense view.

    I totally understand the burden of reporting and documenting over just purely enjoying the sport. Its nice to leave the camera at home....and just take in the moment fully.

    Selfishly I wish you to continue, but totally understand if you are burnt out.

    At minimum, if you ever need contributions to pay for your site to remain as an archive, feel free to ping me and I will be glad to help.

    -Stephen Gressak

  14. Tom,
    You are the reason I discovered high quality Tenkara Rods. There is a lot of junk being sold out there on the internet. As has been stated in the comments there isn't a place to go and test various rods. Your willingness to spend money and give an honest opinion of various rods has made my fishing so much more enjoyable.

    As a fellow Idahoan, your videos have increased my catch rate tremendously even though I live on the other side of the state. I understand you wanting to take a break, but don't underestimate your influence, or appreciation. I personally want to thank you for all that I have learned from your blog. There is something very special about feeling like I have just tagged along on one of your fishing adventures as I watch and learn from your videos. You are not selling anything. You are simply sharing you with us and that is priceless!

    I appreciate your honest reviews. You have made it very clear that you are sharing your opinion and feelings about various equipment. I love your science behind what you do, and have bought several rods based on your reviews and experience. None have been a disappointment. I understand the change, but we do want to hear from you from time to time. Don't sell yourself short.

    1. As another Idaho boy, I bought my first Tenkara rod because of this blog. I rust started fly fishing last year, so all of this is new. Tom you are an inspiration.

      Please do not sell yourself short, and devalue your contribution. I am a researcher at heart and know quality - this blog is quality.

      Professional qualifications do not an expert make (always). I know this from lots of experience.
      Your blog is a constant source of learning for me.

  15. This is easily one of the best Tenkara resources I have found. Unlike a lot of sources, it's always clear that you are a guy who likes to fish and use Tenkara. It never feels like you are shilling for yourself or some company. This is my go-to site rod reviews, so I hope you will continue.

  16. Don't sell yourself short. I have learned a massive amount from your posts and videos. If you need to take a break, fish more, or whatever -- good for you, and have a great time. But please know that we will miss your regular posts, and will look forward to occasional ones. Thanks for what you've been doing!

  17. Thanks Tom for all of the insights over the years, it has been very helpful and educational.


  18. I appreciate all your posts. Thank you for your service.


  19. If a "tenkarapause" has ever been warranted, it is certainly appropriate in this case. I've been lurking around your site for several years, now, and I agree that you tend to sell yourself short. You deserve all the accolades you're getting. I'm sure I'm only one of many who, even though we've never met you in person, consider you to be a kindred soul in our tenkaraverse. Many thanks for your efforts, and best wishes as you ease off the throttle a bit. Just please don't stay a stranger. Hope to run into you on the stream some day. Maybe we can work up a tenkara jam somewhere in the western Rockies some time soon?

  20. Thank you everyone for the kind comments. I will keep the blog going, just at a more relaxed pace. Your comments have encouraged and buoyed me up! Thank you again!

  21. Tom, just wanted you to know you're blogs and reviews are regarded very highly indeed and are high on my resource list probably just because you're "not a guide nor run a tenkara equipment business nor have written a book nor have been to Japan".. So please get that ridiculous notion overboard. You have a open minded and clear view on things which makes your site valuable. To the point, no hidden agenda's, beautiful pictures and marinated in your obvious deep love and respect for fishing and nature.
    Everybody deserves a pause and change is a good thing for sure. But I sincerely do hope your site remains alive and your pace won't be too relaxed!
    Thank you. Michel T